Previously, our Border-to-Border crew slopped through mud near Mono Lake, explored the California ghost town of Bodie, and ventured into the Smoke Creek Desert. This month they push north through western Nevada and Oregon.
Mile 1126, N40"40'23, Guru Road, Nevada: Two slabs of igneous rock were neatly positioned along the edge of the road, their vertical faces hand-inscribed, possibly by stone tools. The first proclaimed, "Destination Unknown," the next one, "A Story With No Beginning and No End." Every ten feet or so there was another, each bearing a contemplative pearl of wisdom-or at least whatever was on the sculptor's mind at the time. We were on Guru Road somewhere in northeastern Nevada, a short dirt track meandering through a literal museum of contemporary reflection. It was a bit ironic, though. While we knew our destination (the 49th parallel at the Canadian border), we had no idea through which of the 2,000 miles along the U.S.-Canada demarcation we would pass. And as for a story with no beginning, we started at the Mexican border, of course. But that was more than a thousand miles ago. We had another thousand to go and not a clue as to where our route would take us in between. That was the beauty of a trek like ours: A couple weeks off work, a few good maps, and the rest was a blank slate.
To the north lay the pool-table-flat expanses of the Black Rock Playa, its fissured and desiccated skin stretching out like a sea of alabaster. In the distance the great Black Rock rose above the desert, casting its inverted shadow across a vast and shallow lake at its base. The decaying remnants of an 1800s buckboard wagon and the weather-faded tracks of the Applegate-Lassen Emigrant Trail lay between the two-this was our target for the night. Turning on SPOT, which had been tracking our progress since we left Mexico, we nosed our borrowed Jeep Overland JK onto the dry lake.