My friend Shaina and I went on a road trip through Northern California into Nevada and Utah and Wyoming and Idaho. I saw the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park . . . saw 2,300 miles of redwood trees and salt flats and bleak desert and bubbling mud and volcanic rock and snowy mountain ranges and green hills and yellow alien landscape. In Wyoming we found a secret hot spring beside the Snake River and soaked in it as the sun went down. In Yellowstone I saw a bison stampede pass over the road and Old Faithful erupted just as I got near it. It ruled!
And yeah, on the first night, I sure did get stuck in the Great Salt Lake Desert after driving onto it and immediately realizing that the ground was a millimeter of salt resting upon what was essentially a pit of fucking quicksand. I was just far enough out to be unrescuable by a tow truck. The tow truck would have also sunk, you see. The towing company in nearby Wendover, Utah, about 120 miles outside of Salt Lake City, tried to charge me $600 for them to drive a cute little sandcrawler onto the salt to hook me out. These scumbags totally run a monopoly on the salt flats because they’re the only towing place for like 50 miles, so of course they’ve got all the leverage in the world to extort the hell out of you, lest you stay there in the salt forever. I remembered that I had booked the car with a credit card that has all these travel benefits, or whatever, so I called them to see if I had roadside assistance. They said for $70 they would tow me within 100 miles. I said, can you just get them to wench me out of here? So the credit card company hired those assholes in Wendover to come get me, and covered the $600 charge. Whoa!
By the time the sandcrawler dragged my dumb ass back to the highway, Shaina and I had sat in the car awaiting rescue for something like 11 hours total. In all that time, only one car stopped to help us. This nice guy named Gus drove out onto the flats just as we had, a fatal mistake I watched in slow motion, to try to use the straps on his truck to get us back onto the road. His truck was so heavy that he just immediately sunk once his first tire hit the secret mud. Fortunately he was close to the road, so another truck pulled off and got him unstuck. Some park rangers stopped after they saw Gus get rescued, and walked out upon the salt to offer us food and water. They were friendly and hung out with us for two hours while we waited for the sandcrawler. Other than that, dozens if not hundreds of cars and tractor trailers drove by and honked and laughed at us. What the hell is that, y’all??
It was a good ol time. I’ve just never seen the sky that big and stars that bright. The air was so clean, and you could go anywhere and be alone, what with there being so few people. Just . . . man! what a cool place this is, when you really get down to it. Parts of Nevada and Utah and Idaho look like completely different planets. It is a strange and beautiful place.
We did get stared at, maybe harshly, for wearing all black in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where everyone is like a rich WASP-y Eddie Bauer-wearing Republican. We slept in the car at a nearby Elf Reserve so we were there every day. I even saw a M*GA hat at Yellowstone! The guy regarded me with total contempt. He probably thought I was gay pinko leftist Antifa Marxist goon. Hey baby, you ain’t too far off!!
Also: At Yellowstone, I saw a woman give us a thorough Terminator body scan, and then turn to her daughter and say, “California.” And you know what? I love it.
ALSO: I highly recommend getting a U.S. National Park annual pass. It’s only $80! Some of the rangers told me that they’re hurting because of covid . . . so yeah, c’mon, I had to get one.
(ALSO: Wow! I’ve seen almost all 50 states. I’m just missing Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire and Maine. I would love to drive to Alaska, which from Oakland is about 2,600 miles, but the Canadian border is closed because a bunch of racists bungled a pandemic. Well, what can you do.)
Anyway: here are some pictures I took along the way . . . in chronological order!
This Friday, my dear brother Delicious McCune and I driving up the California coast into Oregon. We’re gonna go to Multnomah Falls, Octopus Tree, Thor’s Well, Beacon Rock, Crater Lake and Wizard Island, the Oregon Dunes, Umpqua and Willamette National Forests, and as many hot springs as we can find.
I’ll tell you WHAT: I’m pumped as hell. Gas is cheap right now and we’ll all probably be dead in six months, so what else can a fine American like myself do in these dark times, if not bear witness to the beauty of it all before it goes down in flames? It is my civic duty, man.
P.S. Here is a picture of a casino gas station (yes) I stopped at in some shithole town in Nevada. I had been to it before on other road trips, but had never seen it at night. Its nightmarish hideousness seemed to me a perfect visual metaphor for my entire life:
I’m just kidding kind of.