The Loneliest Highway

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Once stretching from that mainstay vacation getaway in the East, Ocean City, Maryland, to San Francisco, US Route 50 is an empty stretch of “will we make the next gas station?” as it winds all out of Utah and through Nevada’s most gorgeous country. The Border Inn sits just over the NV line, a truck stop and RV park that affords guests cold beers, an old school jukebox, pool tables and good conversation from plenty of odd folks. The bartender seemed desperate to chat, leaving his post a few times to make small talk. A crew of local kids, younger 20-somethings, told tales of their goat that they use in lieu of a lawnmower, they pounded beers and partied in the bus, returning time and time again with more festivous desire, excuses to hang out and small meaningless gifts from the store inside.

But that was the previous night and in the aftermath dear Champ, that old VW bus cruiser so dedicated to making this trip, began the long stretch to Lake Tahoe, through Ely – an old west casino town, mining town and frequent cowboy movie set – through Austin – a half-horse town at the bottom of a corkscrew winder of a stretch of the highway – through Carson City – where the poor good bus died, after choosing not to do so in a dozen quaint small towns that would have been a joy to explore while waiting for her to get reworked – and on to Lake Tahoe.

The Carson City setback proved less painful than perhaps it could have been. Though stuck in what might be Nevada’s most horrible city, a small capital wrapped in the expansion of modern suburbia mixed with strip mall America, the sun poured a perfect purple set and a bike trail lead from the garage where she so conveniently died to the Gold Dust Casino which would serve as home for the night. Lake Tahoe taunted just over the mountain skyline, promising the glory of that crystal blue lake in the morning.