How often have you thought about a town or city that you could find yourself living in? When you road trip across the United States you can’t help but be fascinated by towns and cities that you pass through. You probably have very little knowledge of the surroundings you find yourself in. This happens quite often of course if you have ever been out on the open road. It might be a town you stopped in for lunch in route, or just to fill up your gas tank.
There are stretches of road and railroad tracks that you may never travel again but when you look out your window you become curious. You may ask yourself what do people do in this town for a living, what do they do for fun? You try to place yourself in the town walking the streets and conversing with the town folk.
A lot of you have driven US Interstate Highway 50, the 3000 mile stretch across the USA. It’s called the “Loneliest Highway” for a reason because you can drive through long stretches of desolation and open space. I love these sections where you can easily drift into a trance unaware of the sights around you, but at the same time in one with everything.
On one such occasion, crossing Nevada, my radio was only broadcasting one or two AM stations and my CD player no longer worked. I saw in the distance a filling station and café which appeared like the cliched mirage.
I filled up the tank and walked into the cafe for a bite and to cool off. The temperature was hovering near a hundred degrees and I didn’t have air conditioning in my Jeep, just hot wind. I sat down at the counter and looked around to find myself sitting amongst at least ten to twenty other patrons. Some of these folks looked too comfortable to not be locals. This establishment must have been the only place around for miles to get a meal and cool drink. I ordered the standard fare for a roadside diner, burger, fries and a glass of bottomless iced tea.
I devoured the meal and was eager to get back on the road to reach Ely, Nevada by dark. As I was paying the waitress, a low flying aircraft screamed over the café. I almost jumped out of my skin. The roar of the aircraft was followed by a whooshing sound. The whole place seemed to shift sideways for a moment. I grabbed the counter and looked at the waitress and asked what in the world just happened. She gave me the one response that I wasn’t expecting, she said, “what?”
I looked her square in the eyes, “Ah come on, that,” I said and pointed above.
She laughed and just said, “Ah that happens all the time around here.”
After I paid and through the door when I heard a few laughs from inside. I guess this is a source of humor for the locals, watching passing-through patrons bouncing off in shock. I later on researched the place to make sure this wasn’t some UFO destination and those weren’t aliens in that café. Sure enough there was a Naval Air Base in Fallon not too far from the café.
This is why I find that road tripping is the true American pastime, not some sport played by kids and millionaires. The love of open road is the one thing that most all Americans have in common, certainly not religion and politics any more. The road trip is the last piece of true freedom that cannot be degraded unless your vehicle blows a gasket somewhere in Green River Utah.
Love live lonely highways, roadside eateries, and friendly locals and a stereo that’s works.