Though I’ve now done this drive across California to Colorado more than a dozen times, nothing beats the thunderstorms that roar over the San Rafael Swell in the middle of nowhere, Utah. Each adventure across the 1000 miles that wander me from my childhood doorstep to my adult life, takes on its own meaning, its own personality, its own beauty. This drive has something to do with transition, but also comfort and confidence. And the lightning strikes on distant mesas provoke a particular philosophical muse.
I set the cruise control to 79 mph, switch on the A.C. and turn the volume up on Nashville Skyline. Most people take two or three days to complete this drive, but I’m driven to spend as much time with family on both ends of the journey, so I pack the entire route into one 18-hour period. Along the way, I’ll watch the sunrise above the Mojave Desert, breath deep the nostalgic smell of Creosote after the rain, ignore the lust and loitering in Las Vegas, slow down through the Virgin River Gorge of Arizona, enjoy the hospitality of a Colorado Brewery, and sing up the moon and the stars and the quiet as I whip over the Continental Divide into the lights of Denver.
In the end, I’ll have crossed through five states, burned 25 gallons of gas, and traveled farther than the vast majority of human beings alive today, or ever for that matter, will travel in their entire lifetime. While these numbers aren’t usually important to me, the sheer amount of open space and beauty and even experience that I’m literally gobbling up in a small window of time, astounds me. Our modern world grants us access to consume at a rate which I’m pretty sure our brains can no longer keep up with.
Just in the act of writing this post, dozens of links and photos related to the scattered topics and places I’ve mentioned appear as potential source material, all created by other people consuming at similar rates. In a moment, I’ll hit save or publish or delete, and as rapidly as the lightning makes contact with the desolate desert of Abbey’s subtle poetry, this piece of “travel impressions” will lift into space with its garbled thoughts and incomplete neo- post-modern pontifications.
“Fatigued Drivers Pullover!” The Utah Department of Transportation shouts at me from the other side of the white line. I am fatigued. I am on a wanderers overload. Thank goodness for the rest stop, the view point… the little trail that leads to the edge of Devil’s Canyon. For a few peaceful moments in solitude I can lean over the chasm and stare into the depths of the outrageous aesthetic that is 0 mph. I can laugh with the dark gray skies and float weightlessly on the wind with my friend the Raven, who really knows how to live.