Both of us had stayed up late on Thursday night watching movies, he gangs of new york, I before sunrise, and i slept a little later than i meant to. but at 9:30 I was up and about, and getting my stuff packed to take off. By 10 I was to Chris’ place and helping him pack up his room and car since his contract with his apartment was up. By 10:30 we were done and headed to the car to pray and leave. A quick gas stop and we were on the fifteen by 10:45. The weather was still pleasantly cool but it promised to be hot. Chris told me that he hadn’t slept that night, so I told him that he should sleep as we drove. We listened to bright eyes and made the all familiar journey north. Chris soon feel asleep and I drove on listening to the music. Leaving town is always a good feeling, there is a mystery in the road, and even if the trip doesn’t go right, at least you got away for a couple of days. Once we got to salt lake, I made a turn I never before had, west on interstate eighty towards Reno. And not just toward but to. We knew that Hawkins was a little delayed, but he was supposed to get home on Wednesday, so we figured he would be there by the time that we got there. I pointed her at about eighty and just swept along the desert, the smog started to clear out as we headed west, but it took longer than I had expected it to, the pollution gets trapped against the mountains and doesn’t blow out like it does in Colorado, and it just goes creeping across the plains like an old cowboy until a big storm comes through to blow it out. We were almost to the great salt lake by the time the skies were clean blue again. Our disdain for the atmosphere that sustains our life is fairly callous, I think, but I still drive across the country for a weekend, so who am I to talk. I don’t remember ever having seen the Great Salt Lake in person. I’m sure that I have, maybe as a kid, but I can’t remember. It’s true what Kerouac said, Salt Lake was the least likely birthplace of a Dean Moriarty. The road opens up into salt flats and strange stagnant pools a mile long and fifteen feet wide. The elevated roads, two lanes in each direction, are separated by poison salt water and surrounded as though crossing a narrow sea the long way. We cut right through the hundred and few miles to the Utah-Nevada border, and got to Wendover. With the heat and the windows down, we didn’t talk much except for music suggestions once Chris woke up, but we both could feel the heat of the desert coming on, and the anxiety of a new destination neither of us had visited in our cognizant years. I seem to have a vague memory of my mom putting quarters into a slot machine at Circus Circus in Reno to teach us some sort of lesson on the waste of gambling. We meant to stop for lunch in Wendover since we hadn’t eaten, and I was on the lookout for the right exit as we drove past the only exit that leads to downtown Wendover, so I used an emergency vehicle turnaround to get back to the exit and steer us to McDonalds. Skyler called to tell me to be neat when I moved into the house, I needed to be neat, I agreed. We got our food to go and ate in the car as we swept across the desert, the car was a gold ninety one ford, eighty one thousand miles on the clock. The air conditioning doesn’t work for one reason or another, and across the desert we skimmed with the windows down and the wind in our hair, the radio turned all the way up to drown out the wind. After Wendover we kept on until Elko, where we stopped to get gas at 3.25 a gallon. It didn’t seem fair to have to pay so much for gas, I could recall when it was less than a dollar all over the US. I recently finished reading the jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and much of what I do is shaded by that, I think of the cost of what we eat and the people that make it. We drove across the rest of the big desert uneventfully, Chris fell asleep again, and I sped up a bit, we were averaging twenty five miles per gallon and feeling fine. Hunter S. Thompson wrote about crossing the country to discover the American dream on drugs, Johnny Depp made a movie about it but I think that it is a lot more interesting lucid than impeded like a man on ether is. At about four thirty I called the number that I had for the Hawkins and got an answering machine, two minutes later my phone rang and it was Lyn Hawkins to tell me they had just picked David up at the airport, and he was in the shower. We were a hundred and twenty miles out or so, but I talked to Hawkins and he has a funny accent but was excited. We drove on with renewed vigor, crossing the desert that didn’t seem to end. Reno would have to come out of nowhere, because it has no suburban sprawl the way that towns like Phoenix do, when you know that you are coming up on the city when you are twenty miles away still. We crested a hill and saw Sparks, Reno’s sister city, and Reno, I suppose. It isn’t huge or as gaudy as Vegas, but it still has that Nevada feel, just a little outside morality. The sun stayed above us the whole time and we were sweaty and sunburned in strange ways by the time we got to Reno. We got off the highway just 13 miles before the California border, which would have to be the finish line for a different trip.

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