Friday, September 21, 2007

Saturday: Nevada Desert

After our day in Yosemite we'd spent the night at the Austria Hof Lodge in Mammoth Lakes CA. A ski lodge which had a great bar and restaurant but which failed to deliver on the basics, like in-room coffee and hot water.

Saturday's agenda was always going to be a tough one: over 400 miles across the wastes of the Nevada desert.

This was our view most of the day

I'd had it worked out that we'd drive on the Extraterrestrial Highway, to the North of the "test area" otherwise known as Area 51, and reputed hiding place of secretly captured alien spacecraft. Our car's SatNav, however, had different ideas, and our female Australian-accented guide kept telling us, "A better route is available". Foolishly we listened to her, and before we knew it we had gone considerably off course and found ourselves headed towards Las Vegas. We pulled over at a junction by a small building that at first we hoped was a gas station, but which on closer inspection turned out to be the Cottontail Ranch brothel, long-since closed down judging by the boarded up windows.

Damn! If we'd only we gotten here five years earlier, the brothel might have been open for business.

We decided to turn left instead of right towards Las Vegas, in an attempt to return to our original route: we were hoping to see something of Area 51, or get buzzed by some F-111's, or at least see a diner with some ET cuddly toys for sale. By this time we were low on petrol so the left turn was a bit of a gamble, but Kevin was driving and his logic was that, the faster we went, the quicker we'd get to a gas station, and he bombed along for around an hour at, although I won't go into details, considerably faster than the speed limit. I questioned the sense of this but not strongly enough to effect any change in our plans, so instead I sat in the back and quietly fretted about how we would survive if we were to run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere.

My worries were unfounded, as it turned out (although Kevin had no way of knowing that! -- how annoying.), and around 70 miles later we cruised into a small town in the middle of the desert called Tonopah Station, and we gave our trusty Chevy Trailblazer a well-needed drink of petrol.

Check out the sign: only in Nevada!

Our tank refilled, BP took over the driving as we turned right onto Extraterrestrial Highway. Three things happened within the next two hours: we didn't find any sign of either Area 51 or an Area-51-themed diner, I fell asleep, and BP was done for speeding.

There's no justice is there? There's Kevin, bombing along for around an hour at, let's say, slightly over the speed limit, then BP takes over and almost immediately gets copped. We were cruising along when a police patrol car passed us in the opposite direction, flashing his lights. We thought we'd got away with a warning, but one glance in the rear view mirror was enough to convince us that yes, he had turned around and was now chasing us. It was unusual to see anything coming the other way, let alone a patrol car.

When we finally pulled over the officer sauntered up to our window and told us that he'd clocked BP doing 84mph in a 70mph zone. Our revelation that we were British and on our way from VMworld in San Francisco to Provo, Utah drew interested oohs and aahs from the officer, and for a while we thought we'd charmed him into letting us off with a warning, but then he returned to the driver's window to inform us that he was writing BP a citation, but citing 80mph rather than 84mph in order to reduce the fine. BP was given a ticket for $87, to be paid to the Alamo County Court. He called them some days later and ended up paying $90, including a $3 surcharge for paying by credit card.

BP's citation

We spent the rest of the day driving at exactly 70mph.

The SatNav's trip computer. Note the maximum speed (Kev?), and the current, post-citation speed.

Nevada is great and all, but the scenery is a bit... well... flat. It's no wonder we'd tried to "speed" through it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your mom's flat; i live in nevada.