Not to be weird or anything, but, question: Did mountains suddenly become beautiful and interesting when I wasn’t paying attention? I thought epiphanies were just a literary device, but I’m starting to suspect I went into some kind of transportive Joycean fugue state on the Desert Companion Great Big Nevada Road Trip. It was the afternoon of March 26 (our first day on the road, we were so well-rested, excited, responsibly coiffed and clean!), and we were trundling up US 6, our RV pointed like a torpedo toward Ely. To the west of us, the Pancake Range stretched out in the afternoon light, and, in one of those increasingly rare moments of unself-conscious, mindless-but-mindful, obliviating timelessness, I became captivated (yes, captivated!) by the landscape of limitless color and form: the purples, blues, fiery oranges, yellows and dramatic reds, the gentle slopes and jagged edges, the sweep and span, rise and reach. It was like I’d stumbled on the Tinder profile for Gaia herself. Sure, I’d seen plenty of mountains throughout Nevada over the years, but now I suspect up until that Pancake moment, I’d never truly appreciated their beauty, variety and personality. I think I spontaneously started soliloquizing about how awesome they were, because Chris and Heidi were suddenly giving me looks of hapless parental concern. Then I snapped back to reality. My drooling mouth was still full of beef jerky, but beneath, I was fundamentally transformed.
Background: In case you missed it, for our May travel issue, Art Director Christopher Smith, Staff Writer Heidi Kyser and I spent March 26-April 2 driving around the state in an RV, searching for the soul of Nevada, and then Instagramming and blogging and tweeting that soul. For eight days, we wandered around small towns and climbed big sand dunes. We interviewed fascinating people and hung out with the bones of terrifying ancient sea reptiles. We ate lots of beef jerky. We explored old mining burgs in their humbler second acts and considered the historical wounds of the state’s Native Americans. We sampled the goods at backcountry breweries and toured cutting-edge power plants. We ate more beef jerky, and then we washed it down with roadside burger-hut milkshakes. Many of us Las Vegans think dismissively of the rest of Nevada as a sort of desolate backyard filled with rusted cars and old washing machines. (Okay, that’s true in Gabbs.) Heck, until this trip, I counted myself as one of them. But now, having traveled 1,400 miles around the Silver State, I can say with confidence and enthusiasm: It really is like the brochure!
Thus, a little how-to is in order. While a “typical” issue of Desert Companion spotlights a particular facet of Las Vegas, this special travel issue attempts to train the high-beams on everything else beyond Southern Nevada. And — at the risk of sounding like a brochure myself — while I hope this issue provides some good armchair vacation material, I can’t recommend enough taking such a trip yourself. You’ll not only have some great adventures in all that beautiful state that lies to our north, but it’ll also remind you that, as a Las Vegan, you’re also a Nevadan. And, yeah, those mountains!