Last Thursday we played in Mammoth Lakes, California, a small isolated ski town near the Nevada border. There was a surprise snow storm while we performed a four and a half hour set at Shelter Distilling, an upscale spot in the heart of the downtown square.
Friday morning started our long journey into the Nevada desert, take Highway 6 diagonal through the state toward Salt Lake making our way toward Fort Collins, Colorado for a Saturday night show. Looking at the map beforehand, I noticed it looked strangely empty but it was nothing compared to the reality of the day’s drive. There was a sign stating that the next gas was 163 miles as it became my turn to take the wheel. I put in a City and Colour CD.
Soon after another sign declared that we were entering “Pioneer Country”. I couldn’t help but to imagine how this land may have seemed to the white outsiders from the East as they traveled in covered wagon through endless stretches of desert. The land probably looked very close to how it is today. There must have been moments of insanity, wondering if this desert would ever end. Regrets of leaving the comforts of a home behind, but above all a sense of adventure and naive optimism.
Virtually no trees, the land is still vivid with life: ravens, lizards, giant beetles. I kept looking around this vastness, this land that felt absolutely empty to me. Coming from years in Portland with always something, someone, an idea, a building, a flowering tree around the corner. We stopped at a “rest area” which contained a pull off, one small mysterious tree and a picnic table. I could hear nothing but the wind moving through the tree and the short sagebrush, an occasional bird call that I did not recognize. A weight seemed to lift from my shoulders. There is nothing but this land out here. Somehow no room for worries or thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday.
Eventually we emerged from this Nevada desert seeing first, of course, casinos at the Nevada-Utah border town of Wendover. The next day driving though the southern portion of Wyoming felt similar in that the land seemed vast, but it was rough and unkind: windy, broken roads, aggressive billboards. I couldn’t help but hold my breath and wish we’d get to Colorado sooner than later, which we did eventually. Greeted by rain, sun and a double rainbow, Colorado welcomed us.