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Where the West Hasn't Vanished

Why didn't I read Mark Twain's "Roughing It" a long time ago? It is an enjoyable book, especially for a traveler in the American West.

Of course a modern reader will become envious of Twain. He crossed the West in an Overland Stagecoach when America was mostly empty. Those days are long gone...

...But not completely.  Today I crossed one of the few empty places that still exist in the McMansioned West. How marvelous!

Surprisingly there was a Verizon signal. I pretty much carry in my head a map of Verizon-spewing cell towers. There must be a new one out here. I still can't believe it.

Upon reaching the metropolis of Datil, NM, I made the classic mistake of asking a local where the new cell tower was. A question like that always draws a blank look from my victim. You'd think they would want to know.

Few things benefit an independent lifestyle like curiosity in knowing 'how things work' in the things that your life depends on. Cell towers aren't the only example.

For instance, it has been most gratifying to have some small successes with my new camera, which I chose largely because it has a rotary knob to select the lens aperture. A hurried situation might force you to use 'Auto' mode. But it is no fun.

I always choose the largest apertures that the camera allows. The result is a foreground and background that are out-of-focus. That's great. For one thing, it makes the photograph look more three dimensional.

But even better, it is a photo-metaphor for how our brain works. We focus on an object, usually in the center of the screen. The periphery is optically fuzzy, and we practice fuzzy thinking on objects there.


Ted said…
Oh yeah? I can do better than your Gila Mountains example (wink): yesterday I drove Nevada highway 6 from Tonopah to Ely, 170 miles with no gas or services of any kind! Sure, there was occasional Verizon service, surprisingly even a tiny bit of 4G LTE in one section, though for most of the journey it was 3G, 1xRTT, or nothing at all.

Other than a missile range (the sign for it anyway), a few ranches, some abandoned structures, and one oil refinery with non-pumping pumps in the distance, it was pretty much the same as when Mark Twain came to Nevada early in his life. I think he traveled across the state further north, however.

It was quite a refreshing and somehow fulfilling experience. I've been feeling great ever since for some reason.
Yes, indeed. Nevada is the last great state of the American West. (Clark County excepted.)
Ted said…
Yeah, if you ignore Clark County the entire rest of the state only needs one area code: 775.
Ed said…
You can exclude Washoe County NV also. It has been Californicated by the people escaping the Bay Area.