There are at least 3 roads leading from civilization to my hometown of Bishop, CA and all of them travel through the middle of desolation. There are very few towns, very few other cars and no cell phone service. The closest airport is four hours away in Reno but nonstop flights are practically nonexistent and even the flights with detours in Denver (not my favorite place ) are usually super pricey. I tend to start my drive in Las Vegas where flight costs are subsidized by the casinos and the drive home is an hour longer.
I made this drive on Saturday in a rented PT Cruiser even though I had been promised an inconspicuous Ford Focus. This is the 3rd time a rental car company has stuck me with a surprise cruiser and I have to assume this is some elaborate practical joke for the people of Hertz.
Once you escape the clutches of Vegas suburbs you can kiss civilization goodbye. You'll pass through the Las Vegas Paiute reservation and the Air Force base in Indian Springs which skirts the edge of Area 51. There will not be any aliens or government secrets to spy on -- only a minimart with the claim of "Last Gas Before Area 51!" One assumes that aliens have access to alternative fuels.
The only real town you'll pass through is Beatty which, though it was once featured on an episode of that Aaron Spelling SNL show as a rough and tumble cowpoke town, is actually an old mining town which now is mostly occupied by the gas station Eddie's World. I discovered Saturday that they're laying claim to the title "most beautiful gas station in the world" which I guess might be true -- they do have a turret outside. I tried to twitter from here with that sunset picture on the left but it turns out Beatty is not exactly iphone friendly. For some reason the market at Eddie's World specializes in bulk dry goods. There are no nut trees, gummy bear factories or pea plants within 200 miles of the outpost but the store is filled with 2lbs bags of snack food. I bought some rice crackers on the theory that they were more healthy than corn nuts which is probably not at all true.
Outside of Beatty the road is peppered with whore houses my favorite of which (yeah, I have a favorite whore house, doesn't everyone?) is "The Shady Lady" which is housed in a trailer. I guess I can imagine some trucker needing some loving on the road and even imagine maybe paying for it (imagine, not condone) but I'd think that even a dirty trucker dude would be all "a trailer? HELL NO." Apparently not.
There are two ways to get from Beatty to Bishop, the normal way and the Horst Klemm way. Dad's way is admittedly about 50 miles shorter than the other way but it also takes you along a windy mountain road that prohibits speeds in excess of crawling so I fid his claims that it's faster somewhat dubious. The road is also famous for making people who don't usually get car sick demand frequent puke break (and by people I mean me). This has no effect on Dad's insistent that this be the road of choice for my entire childhood. Regardless of the speed and high probability of barfing I'm enough of Daddy's girl to always take his road -- assuming I can find it. The turn off appears suddenly in the middle of dessert, it used to be marked by the Cottentail Ranch (that's ranch as in "we have girls who will sleep with you for money" not, "we have cows") but that was raised a couple of years ago and now I have to consider the implications of not being able to find my way home without the becon of a brothal to light my way.
CA 168 travels through the White Mountains and would be beautiful if i didn't drive it every time I wanted to go to Wet Seal from the ages of 10-18. In the 85 miles from NV to the 395 turn off in CA I passed 4 other cars and almost ran over 2 mice, a rabbit and a fox. I also almost got into 45 car accidents as I tried to push the PT above 45 on curve after curve. I eventually made it to town, passed the radio station, the BBQ Bills, the feed store with a huge red horse statue outside, the garish dutch bakery in the middle of town, the sad empty former home of KMart, and my parents house. It was probalby worth the 11 hours of travel time.