Out on the Razzle in America

United Kingdom
Freelance writer, literary graduate and minor lad. In America for pleasure, not business. I've never been before, so I thought I should. Should I have done it all at once? Can it all be done at once? Only one way to find out...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Nevada, Ruby Mountains, California and Yosemite

The Ruby Mountains are yet another undiscovered wilderness, and have been described as "the only thing worth seeing in Nevada, if only anyone knew about them". A series of spiky peaks, punctuated by beaver dams and containing a wholesale abscence of rubies (though they'd named them by the time they released their mistake), they provided another pit-stop on the long road to Frisco.

Hiking up the trail to a plateau that I'm not sure ever really existed, I came across a well made up lady with very clean blonde hair, bedecked in full camo and brandishing a pair of large binoculars and a very large bow. She looked dejected, apparently, despite the mountain goats, occasional doe and multiple beavers, she wanted a big buck to impale. Not entirely knowning what to make of this strange coupling of mascara and bloodshed, we pointed out that we were wearing brown and would be walking on the left side of the stream, then made a hasty retreat.

Heading downhill the following morning, I can concur with the nameless quotation at the beginning of the post. Nevada is a state of dust-devils, occasional downpours, jagged mountains, roadside brothels and military bases where America practises bombing itself. Of course, there is Vegas, and moreover, there is Reno.

Like a garish Blackpool of the desert, Reno rears up after the salt flats as a fluorescent mirage, promising stimulus of every kind after the monotony of the road. Pottering about after checking in to a dubious-looking motel, I stumbled into a pawn-shop, to be greeted with racks of guitars, DVDs, and a wall of guns from .2o to .50, and a row of eager looking hispanic gangbangers admiring the array and making notes of the prices. Having determined that we would only buy a gun if we won loads on the slot machines, we took off to the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino, for a grand buffet indeed, including very unlocal crabs and a disappointing steak. Then, to the bright lights and clockless interiors of the area's second most famous town.

Having won a handful of cuddly toys and lost several dollars, I wondered whether I could reinvest my winnings at a bar. The only one with any people inside, due to the fact that it was Wednesday, and Burning Man was soon, was a grubby rock bar, where to my disappointment they did not take cuddly toys as payment. They did serve one dollar pints however, and the locals were so amused by the arrival of foreigners that multiple free drinks and chasers were forced our way. Reno really is a bit horrible, but it works for it, to paraphrase the description given of me by a very attractive girl in a sailor's hat. I think I would have to agree.

Following the mild debauchery of Reno we headed away from the fallen of civilisation, back into the wilderness and to Yosemite and Tahoe. Several highways, winding mountain roads and impressive vistas later, we arrived in Yosemite, to find half of it on fire, the rest filled with smoke. While it made for some very nice sunsets, it meant that we could not access the valley, and all of the most attractive scenery. We made a sweeping tour of the smoke-filled sequoia groves and left, but not before being warned by a patrolling man in camp that Sasquatch would come through our camp tonight, like every night. This was made funnier by the fact that the gentleman looked like Sasquatch himself. It was only later, when a bear ran about the camp, that we realised that the man was a ranger, and that Sasquatch was the bear's name. Apparently, this bear thing was not a ruse after all.

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