All Livestock Must Be Restrained
So said the sign headed into this Nevada rest area, somewhere between Lovelock ("lock up your love" said the billboard) and Winnemucca. In the middle of day one of the four-day drive from California back to Ohio; landscape bliss. Nevada is a breathtaking state-- route 80 is like a long long corridor between mountains so beautiful and forboding they make you cry. Okay, they almost make me cry. There were several books that I read over and over when I was a kid, and a book of Best American Short stories was one of them. John Steinbeck's story, The Red Pony, was an absolute favorite. The red pony disappears (I recall) into the nearby mysterious landscape. Where I lived in Oroville, there was a road that turned away from our houses and dwindled away into the woods; I always thought that was the kind of place the red pony might have gone. Nevada is almost all like that, a place where red ponies disappear. There are those distant mountains, always, then up closer, miles of sagebrush that look like gray, scratchy chenille and suddenly lush areas with rivers or burned areas from the fire, like spilled black milk. Wish I could cut down one of the dirt roads and explore.
When in California, I went with some friends to the Donner Party museum and Alder Creek site. Thus the landscape had new meaning. At Elko, I stopped to get gas and saw some harsh/gorgeous mountains looming behind the town. They were the Ruby Mountains-- the Donner Party's first great misstep.
Listened all the way (uhhh ten hours) to Mark Salzman's True Notebooks, about his experience teaching creative writing to juvenile detention boys. Great book. It made me think a lot about the work I've done with women in prison. When I was listening to some of the first essays the boys wrote, my reaction was, "Hey, most of my women were never able to write anything like that!" One thought was that my women were much older-- had many more years to drink and take crack and get hit in the head by their boyfriends; they had more ill effects from the lifestyle. I was a little relieved when Salzman said later that there were some weeks when the boys only wrote about pussy and beer.
What I'd like to write about: maybe a nice little travel essay about how our reading influences what we see when we travel.