Road Trip

On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert

“The Promised Land”
Bruce Springsteen

The speed limit’s 80.

When I used to drive from L.A. to Salt Lake, it was 55. This was long before Sammy Hagar decided he couldn’t drive that speed. But after getting a ticket in Nevada for going 70+, I never drove ten miles over the speed limit. And today everything’s computerized and they can track offenses.

You go through Vegas.

Oh, before that, we stopped in Baker, where I had to check out the World’s Tallest Thermometer. I thought it’d be like one of those thin glass tubes in the sixties, with mercury inside, but instead it was an advertisement for a gift shop, and every ten degrees there were LEDs. And Sunday it went all the way up to 113. Yes, you don’t have to go to France to encounter triple digit temperatures.

And searching online for the best place in Vegas for lunch, trying to avoid the Strip, we were steered to a place called Roma’s. Turns out it was much further than it looked on the map. About fifteen minutes from the freeway, an Italian deli and restaurant. I must say, the chicken parmigiana was not quite worth the trip, but the cookies Felice bought were.

And while we were driving through the neighborhoods in the extreme heat I couldn’t stop thinking of “The Goldfinch.” That’s the best part of the book, when they’re in Vegas.

And you wonder why people live there.

And then you realize there’s always something happening.

They were doing construction an hour or two past Vegas. And we sat in the car with the air conditioning on… You couldn’t do this in the seventies. I remember driving my BMW 2002 to the Palm Springs aerial tramway. Despite triple digit temps, I had to turn off the a/c and turn on the heat to cool down the engine. The temperature gauge was climbing into the red. But in Felice’s car, which her sister named Sylvie, we were cool as cucumbers.

Once we passed Vegas, we saw no Teslas. But before that, they were prevalent. We even saw a truck stacked with model 3s. And we also saw trucks with THREE trailers! And when they started to wiggle doing 80…

But just as they’ve perfected cars, they’re gonna disappear, at least the ones you drive. Oh, it’s coming. It’ll happen overnight. Like the internet killed CDs. And there will still be Luddites wanting to drive, but WHY?

And we’re driving along listening to Fox. That’s one of the virtues of Sirius XM, the news channels that are simulcast from TV. CNN and MSNBC were on weekend programming, I wanted to hear what the enemy had to say.

And then they start talking about Pelosi, and how she’s inside. And then Karl Rove weighs in and says AOC is outside, she speaks to social media, and she has power…and my eyes were popping out! I’d never ever heard that said before…they had go get it from…ME?

And shortly thereafter I got an e-mail from John Hummer, yeah, that Hummer, of Hummer Winblad, the financiers of Napster.


Subject: Karl Rove channels Bob Lefsetz

How’s that for a subject!

I had to laugh. Flipped on Chris Wallace Sunday show and Wallace was discussing the AOC /Pelosi kerfuffle, and essentially said, “well Pelosi controls the inside game.”

Rove had none of it and essentially said “bullshit, AOC controls the narrative and that’s all that matters.”

There you go, Bob. You’ve got Rove as as a convert!


And we’re driving past St. George on our way to Cedar City and I get it, why the people in the hinterlands vote Republican…LIFE IS HARD! You don’t want to see any money given away to slackers.

And in Cedar City we stayed at a Marriott Courtyard that had streaming services built into the TV. Never seen that before. You enter your credentials and…we pulled up “The Great Hack,” which everybody is texting me about, but then we had the dreaded bandwidth problem, it flaked out.

And one night in a hotel is so weird. You have to unpack to repack.

And then we were on the road again.

We left I-15 for I-70 and…

The landscape was totally unfamiliar.

I’d driven from Salt Lake to Aspen, to Keystone, to Denver…multiple times, but my memory did not serve me well.

Doing research, I found that that route was different. It probably still winds through the canyons by the river, with the train tracks alongside.

And the landscape got green, the desert was in the past, and we could see snow on the peaks in the distance and…

Suddenly, there were these formations. Let me try to describe it… Well maybe I’d say rocks out of “The Flintstones.” They were putty-like. And there was one round blob upon another. And oftentimes the top was flat and bigger than what was underneath it. And all research told me was I was in the Salt Wash. Oh, I found pictures online, but no description.

But this was not the case with the Ghost Rock and its brethren in the San Rafael Swell. These were buttes, stuck all over the landscape, as if you were on a completely different planet. I thought I’d seen it all, having driven cross-country multiple times in the seventies. But it turned out…

That was something you did back then. Flights were expensive. And unless you were 25 you could not rent a car. And when you were outside the metropolis…you were completely off of the grid.

As for cell service… You got phone almost everywhere. As for data?

So then we descend into Green River. Yup, just like the Creedence Clearwater song. I loved that, with its subtle change.

And the population is under a thousand. And we ate lunch at place literally on the river and wondered… Why did this town exist and who lived here?

Research told me it was a railroad junction. And then there was the guy who built a ferry and charged a toll. But now..?

So when we were done with lunch, we stopped to buy a melon, that’s what Green River is famous for. And the woman told us…

Living in Green River had its ups-and-downs. You could leave your car unlocked, but there was NOTHING to do. She kept on emphasizing this. To shop, to go to a movie, they had to drive over an hour. What did they do there before satellite TV?

Back on the road, we were driving through Fruita, and Wikipedia told me its nickname was “Home of Mike the Headless Chicken.”


So I did more research and there was even a picture! It was real. And it turned out Mike was a sideshow attraction. He earned 4.5k a month, equivalent to 50.5k today! But then he choked on a kernel of corn and passed, I kid you not.

That’s what I do. Assuming there’s LTE, I look up the deets everywhere we go. It’s fascinating! Actually, I’d like to go slower, to check in at all the little museums along the way.

You can’t stop thinking about Death Valley and the Borax 20 Mule Team. Or a western. Has anybody even walked on all this land? Doesn’t look like it to me!

And in Glenwood Canyon, there are all these signs about falling rock.

When I first drove out west with my family in ’66, I thought it meant rock in the highway, I didn’t think about the rock actually falling on us!

And speaking of rock, because of global warming, Mont Blanc is heating up. The snow melts and turns to ice, and the rocks start to fall, and people are dying climbing it! And in Chamonix, at Mont Blanc’s base, the temperature rose more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. And have you noticed the plethora of stories on global warming? Just like the stories on Trump’s behavior, they seem to get no traction, no one in the government is taking action, at least not in the United States.

And it’s hard to get used to driving this fast. Once you go 80…one false move and…

And if the speed limit’s 80, that means you have to drive..? I locked the cruise control at 85. Took me a while to build up to it. At first you feel this adrenaline rush, you get scared, you think of all the people who’ve died in the boonies…

And then you realize if you go slower than 80 people pass you and…

People in trucks go 90.

You get there faster, but do you miss something along the way?

I’m not sure. But just by being out there you see so much!

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