Coming back from Boise was the trip going in reverse except that the views and sightlines are all 180° off so that it is really never the same trip. I might not be the best authority on this, however, as Michele and I have driven across Nevada – probably – more than 20 times and, to me, it never seems the same. And all the trips are great, but maybe, it is an acquired taste. One trip, I remember, it was snowing – but right on the edge of the freezing line – for the whole trip which meant that every mountain pass had wet snow and every valley was misty rain (except for worrying about what the weather would be like in Utah – our destination – the trip, ensconced in our heated car, was magic).
The Owyhee Mountains seemed much more mountain like this time around and, what seemed like richer farms and ranches coming in, now seemed poor.
After the oasis of Boise with its soft green-ness, even the green floodlands of the Owyhee River seemed lost in the endless, late summer, Dry.
As we drive through the high desert, watching it float by us as if on TV, we chat and joke, we listen to Eileen’s iPhone music collection, we sense, more than hear the ever present car noise. But, when we stop, when we get out of the car, it is a deep quiet. In Scenes in America Deserta, Reyner Banham talks about the silence of Drylands, Silence heat and light. The silence flowed back around us, like a filling pool, as I switched off the engine of the car….In Basin and Range, John McPhee quotes Freeman Dyson It is a soul-shattering silence. You hold your breath and hear absolutely nothing….You are alone with God in that silence. We weren’t alone, and our chatter followed us out of the car when we stopped; but the background silence was always there. One one stop, Eileen and I took pictures of each other, and I think Eileen’s better captures the silence and immensity of the space.
At one point, as we drive along, I watch a truck – on a parallel road but in a life sharply divergent from ours – throw-up a dust trail. It starts me thinking about how hard it would be to sneak up on somebody out here. We left Boise after lunch and now the sun is getting low as we get close to Winnemucca and the Interstate. The mountains are soft in the fading light and we start thinking about where we will have dinner in Reno (a Thai restaurant south of the airport won) .
To be continued….