5:30 am. I pulled onto the road as the sun was throwing rays over the eastern walls, lighting up the western ridge with purples and reds and blues as the moon quietly disappeared like our money at the casino the night before.
Kingsbury grade tops out at just under 7,000 feet, and is perfectly crowned with the Fox & Hound, the producer of the $75.00 bbq basket consumed the night before, and subsequently still being felt in the morning. But time has come and I must be on, no matter what gastrointestinal war is being fought deep within.
The backside of Kingsbury falls down into, at this time of year, a lush valley marked with giant ranches, rivaling any Beverly Hills mansion in size and easily surpassing them in class. The sun has fully risen past the ridge and is a young yellow haze atop the grazing cows, reflecting off the meandering creek and weaving through the green grass. In three months these fields will all be yellow and brown, dried up from the summer’s heat. But right now, there’s nothing prettier.
I catch the 395 and head south to Mammoth. If you’ve never driven this route before, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can do it justice. The high desert is a special place. A collision of desert terrain and sheer size of the Sierra, and the road runs right down the middle. The 120 East heading through Tonopah Pass is closed. I must continue on to Bishop.
Out of Bishop I take the 168 East. There is nothing here. I don’t see a car for 40 miles. Left and right up and down and around corners, stretches of one-lane road bookended by volcanic boulders performing balancing acts that defy human capabilities until being spit out into once again another valley. This one not quite as lush as the first, yet all the equal in beauty. Desert. Flat desert on both sides of the road. To the right a gust of wind blows across a salt flat stiffing up a thunder cloud of white. Still, no cars.
The Nevada desert is the wild west. There is no better representation. Guns. Gambling. Prostitution. I pass a weathered white sign reading in cracked black letters, “SHOOT MACHINE GUNS,” but not before you play the “LOOSEST SLOTS” in the area. Superlatives may be unwarranted in this region as there doesn’t seem to be much competition presenting itself, but I’ll take their word for it. Up ahead a dirt road turns off to the right for about a quarter mile before running headlong into a pink, one-story, flat-topped building with a sign propped on top in all it’s unpretentious glory, “BROTHEL.”
The 93 continues through Vegas and down to Kingman where I join the 40 East to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Back in the high desert. Flagstaff sits roughly at 7,000 feet and is littered with Ponderosa Pines. It is beautiful and smells wonderful.
12 hours of driving and I am done. The road is still there and I will be back on it shortly. For now, beer and bed is all I need.