Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful." -Edward Abbey

Katie and I just returned from an epic road trip around the great basin. I have many thoughts and accounts to shared and document. This is the first: Along the way, which was long, over 2000 miles, I found many beautiful places. I did not expect the desert or the flat of the great basin to be beautiful or interesting or captivating. Generally, I expected an expanse of sand and perhaps snow, pricked with cactus and occasional oases. Actually, I expected to see some amazing things, given that Utah is home to some of the most visited national parks. In fact, I have briefly visited Moab and Canyon Lands. As the quote so eloquently describes, a desert is beautiful when it is allowed to be a desert. One cannot expect a desert to be breathtaking in the same way as a mountain range. In turn, one cannot expect a craggy mountain range to stun with the same force as a fjord-coastline. I have found much subtle and profound beauty in the desert and many things of interest in the great basin. The places that I passed through were, as Katie and I said so often, "nice to visit, but not to live."

However, the parts of Nevada that I visited were not even a nice place to visit, unless by moonlight;

Nevada by Moonlight

The landscape of Nevada is moonlit, quiet, cold,
salted by snow and peppered by starlight.
Our car follows the highway which cuts a straight
line through the sagebrush moors.

Years ago, I passed along I-80 and saw Nevada
in the sun...dirty grey, garish and dingy...hot and hostile,
littered with high security prisons, casino-run towns,
weapons test sites, toxic waste dumps and too much of not enough.

But tonight, in the moonlight, the light of the full
moon, under a curtain of stars, Nevada's wasteland
looks like a wonderland. The highway is lined
by haunting craggy mountain silhouettes, casting
moon shadows on valleys blanketed with silvery
sagebrush and dotted by lonely dark towns.

See Nevada by moonlight. See Nevada painted
by a pallet of shades of grey and violet, shadows
and stars, cool satin moonshine. See Nevada
as an outline, a hint or clue, a mystery
to be left unsolved under the falling snow.

Katie and I make camp in in Nevada

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