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Road Notes: San Francisco-Denver

Picnic on Donner Pass — No meat.

Plaque I'd like to see at the Donner Summit: “They Bit off More Than They Could Chew”

In Sausalito we had lunch with a friend of M's late husband. The guy is a Mormon with a rich history of womanizing, seven marriages, and big money made through less-than-honest business practices. This was in the Bay Area, where two of his many houses are. He drove up to the restaurant by the old Sausalito Boat & Tackle in a bright red Lotus, a $110,000 sports car. His attitude was distinctly patriarchal. Approval of me is perhaps pending, but I had his number in minutes, a rich phony hypocrite. The Lotus was the final straw for her.

Reno, a very sad place indeed. The glitzy casinos— cheesy, low-grade operations that do nothing to hide or disguise the overall bummer vibe of the place. The broken down losers on the street were never any kind of high rollers.

Across Nevada on I-80, it is difficult to find something decent to eat, but there is one good place in Winnemucca called The Griddle along the business loop. Recommended. Just down the street from the Winnemucca Inn, where I once had perhaps the worst breakfast ever. The grease-soaked fake hash browns were unfit for dogs. It may be worth noting that such places use the lowest grade of cooking grease the USDA will allow to be designated as food.

Wendover, on the Nevada-Utah border just before the salt flats, was nothing but creepy, even the sky. Weird noises and thumping on the wall in the motel. M, who likes to gamble a little, wouldn't even go into a casino there.

Utah. Weird. Mormons, and coming off the salt flats, like Arkansas with the alternating bible and pornography billboards, Utah's are alternating shady pie-in-the-sky business “opportunities” (Mormon) and strip/lap dance clubs. My friend Dave, a Colorado boy in Port Townsend WA, says, “Salt Lake is a slimehole, pure and simple.”

Terrible traffic in Salt Lake metroplex. Nevada and Utah, rivals for most boring states. And weird and dangerous. Highway 6 in Utah is the worst. Narrow two-lane road with very strong contrary winds across endless bleak desert, huge trucks coming the other way and assholes in big macho pickup trucks tailgating.

Highway 6 meets I-70 at Green River, where we stayed at a motel run by a one-armed man. The town's “best restaurant” — not very good — was full of hard core Americans — republicans, pro-war by default. It is scary but necessary to know this. The American tourist: Poodle-haired old women and the husbands traveling in RVs looking for satisfaction in retirement and of course not finding any. Worked all his life for a chance to see such as Mt. Rushmore and doesn't even notice all the garbage at the bottom of the sculpture, they never even bothered to clean up the rocks that got chipped off. And so it goes. Dave weighs in again on Green River: “That town is a real dump.” Crossing into Colorado, the land was alive, unlike in Nevada or Utah.

Into Colorado and over the 10,600 foot pass down into Denver, at its mere “mile-high” elevation. Through Vail, where Gerald Ford liked to ski. A lot of small towns with touristy knickknack shops along this route. One of them had a marina full of sailboats and a lake that appeared to be pretty much dried up.


Not a lot of friendly eye contact in Denver, I’ll have to call up recollections of living in Manhattan to deal properly with that. I’ve been in the land of fruits, nuts and flakes too long.

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