Molly Fisk: There Ought to Be a Law

At this time last week I was in Southern Utah, gazing at red, pink, orange, cream, and yellow cliff faces, bright green aspen leaves, and a sky so blue it ought to be illegal. I don’t know where that phrase comes from — so X it ought to be illegal — but I assume it’s good. Illegal as in: probably involving so much pleasure there are laws against it. Luckily, looking up into a vaulted sky has not yet been regulated, and we’re still allowed to do it whenever we can find one.

Today’s hometown sky is blue as well, and I’ve gazed at it now and then, but things are different at home than they are when you travel. At home there are weeds, laundry, a sink full of dishes needing to be washed, and whatever your version is of people trying to find you and ask you questions.

I see that I did not start at the beginning of the story. Let me rewind.

Last week, a friend and I delivered a grandfather clock to Laramie, Wyoming. My friend deals in antiques, and the clock had been purchased from her website. Generally, she ships things to their new owners, but a grandfather clock is tall, ungainly, heavy, delicate, and not much fun to pack up. However, it fit perfectly, at a slight angle, into the back of her Sequoia, providing a fabulous excuse for a road trip. I was the lucky friend invited to ride shot gun.

Isn’t this language romantic? Road trip, riding shot gun, Laramie, Wyoming. Even grandfather clock fits in. Images of the Wild West come unbidden to the mind: sage brush, cowboys, stage coaches, herds of antelope, clean mountain air . . .  the  mythology unfurls before you. Delivering a foosball table to somewhere like Henderson, Nevada just doesn’t have the same allure.

Instead of a simple, there-and-back round trip we drove in a circle, crossing seven state lines before returning to California. 2600 miles in five days, and only one speeding ticket. We did see herds of antelope, one or two cowboys, unbroken miles of sage brush. Also fracking sites, oil wells, stern government warnings, and a quantity of those gigantic white three-bladed windmills. We passed astonishing poverty and signs of great wealth. We crossed the Truckee, the Snake, the Laramie, and four or five times the Colorado River. We soaked in Glenwood Hot Springs, ate at restaurants named Fork, Spoons, and Hell’s Backbone Grill, and used the bathrooms of eight or nine MacDonald’s.

Along the way we talked. My friend took photographs for both of our blogs. But mostly we were just looking around. This part of the country is vast and empty. A few cities, sure, a few little towns. But mile after mile after mile of open land, with no crops, no cattle, no nothing. I’m not sure most of us realize how huge it is. You could give all the homeless people in America half an acre each and still not use up Nevada.

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