There are nice parts of Nevada. We're in one now. My sister and her family live in the Washoe Valley, between Carson City and Reno, with a beautiful view from the back yard of the Sierras and Washoe Lake. Quail and rabbits run through the yard, and the dogs are happy to have a back yard and lawn to romp on. If you remember back a couple of Christmases, when a bunch of my family joined us in Taos, Cooper and Ohso were the giant black Newfoundland and the little Manchester Terrier who kept Lucy and Heidi entertained. The four dogs are back together, but on Cooper's turf, Lucy is struggling for dominance, and ole Coop won't hear of it. We had a few dog-scuffles last night, and will try again today to ease them in to getting along together. Lucy's a tough one. I keep threatening to give her to the gypsies, but then I remember we are the gypsies, so I guess we just have to keep working with her.
Anyway, if the Nevada Bureau of Tourism has successfully done its job, and you're considering a visit here, remember one thing - fly. Go to Vegas. Go to Tahoe. Go hiking in the Sierras. Heck, go to Burning Man, out in the middle of nowhere. But whatever you do, don't make it a road trip. Like I said, Nevada has its tasty bits, but the long stretches of wasteland in between do not make for a pleasant day on the road. People are industrious here, always have been, but as in so many other rural places across the country, weather, lack of water, bad luck, and any number of other rotten conditions have left endless pockets of deserted homes, mines, businesses, even whole towns, easing their way back into the earth like grave markers for abandoned dreams.
Others are still trying. I have to admire their courage, but I sure wouldn't want to be them...
And Walker Lake, outside of Hawthorne, a surly little military town, surrounded by miles and miles of underground ammo bunkers, was a nice sight to see. The first moisture in two days.
Taking the back way into Carson City, things begin to look a little more prosperous, a little more familiar. The whore houses are the same as ever. More expensive now, I hear, but still housed in funky mobile homes on the outskirts of Carson, with the same names they've had for years and years - the Kit Kat Ranch, Moonlight Ranch, and Mustang Ranch all appear to be thriving, even in a bad economy. And my favorite landmark, the giant spider, made out of a Volkswagon, still stands proudly on the side of the road. I think I remember it living in another part of town, but I'm glad it's still a visible part of the countryside.
I lived in Nevada for about 13 years, way back when, and have had relatives here for as long as I can remember. This part of the state, and up to Lake Tahoe, are familiar old stomping grounds for me. Rick and I met in Gardnerville, when I was living there in a tiny condo, ready to give up on men, and hunker down to raise my kids and make a living the best I could. I was in danger of letting my life become another one of those abandoned dreams by the side of the road. I sure didn't see any of what was soon to happen coming. Rick for starters, and the move to Seattle, the pizza shop, learning to make beads, moving to Taos, and now this trip, making friends with the road, and all that comes with it. None of it ever would have happened if not for a start in Nevada. I have good feelings about this particular part of the state. I stepped outside this morning, and the air smelled just like honey. I can't explain it. Maybe someone's raising bees nearby. Maybe it's a reminder that life is sweet. Sure is sweet from where I sit right now. Yes, I think I can recommend a visit to Nevada. But I repeat - fly.