Last night I stayed at the local Baptist Church, which is the first church I’ve seen that actually runs an RV park adjacent to the chapel. I kind of tangled with the caretaker a little when we met. They have a self registration set up so I took a shower, plugged in my electronics (ever since my onboard USB charger went out, I plug in whenever I can) and got ready to set up in the grassy area by the chapel. Anyway he came along and didn’t like where I’d plugged in and dropped my phone when he unplugged it (ahem – that’s pretty frickin important to me these days) and then he informed me that church would start at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning so I’d “Better think about that.” Hmm. Was that an invitation to the service? No it was more like – get your frickin tent off the lawn before the congregation gets here. Not exactly the charitable welcome I’d gotten at other churches.
So I was polite, did as I was told and went to work on my blog. Then in about an hour the gusts really got gusty and he dropped back by. Turns out he’s a sweetheart after all and tells me that I can sleep in the hall by the chapel if I like because it’s likely going to storm tonight. Well, knock me over – I’m welcome after all. I was out in the morning before he was awake and I swept the entryway too just to leave a good impression for future cyclist travelers.
I really enjoyed Austin last night and I was a little sad to leave. I took my time getting out, had a big country breakfast at the local diner, and took pictures of a few buildings that caught my eye.
If Nevada Hwy 50 is the “Loniest Highway in America” I don’t know what to call NV 722, the route that I was on most of today. What’s lonelier than loneliest? Maybe the highway of the exiled? Or hermit’s highway? My entire time on the road I probably saw about 7 or 8 cars or trucks.
After I turned on to 722 all was good until I crossed over the first small pass and into the valley below. Then it kind of hit me that I was really in the middle of nowhere – no cell, no cars, no water but what I came with. Looking out over this vast expanse, with the highway disappearing into a dot at infinity (again), I could see an honest-to-goodness salt flat at the basin bottom just to make it look completely desolate. For a second I even had this paranoid thought – I decided to take this route based on the strong recommendation of a guy I met in Austin last night. He was setting up to play the sax in the town plaza and we got to talking and he said that Hwy 722 was, hands down, much better than following 50. It would involve some climbing but would be worth it because 722 goes over Carroll Summit and the canyon on the way up is beautiful, filled with hoodoos and such. So I told him – OK I’m sold, I’ll happily put in a little more effort for the added beauty. Then I left for the night.
So now that I’m out in this desolate valley, my mind starts to figure out new ways to torture me. “Psst, Jim. Who told you to come here?The sax guy. Who knows where you are? The sax guy. Where is everyone else? No one’s around. Who knew it would be completely devoid of people, or should I say, witnesses? THE SAX GUY.”
OK I know it’s ridiculous and probably I’ve watched too many Columbos as a child but it’s funny where you’re mind can go in an instant, especially when you’re in a situation that probably held for me a little bit of (entirely rational) fear.
In several places today the smell of sage (or multiple varieties of sage) was really powerful. As I pulled into my destination for the evening, and descended to a lower basin, I even collected some to bring back. The air was so thick with sage it was intoxicating.