Ambivalence is a sign reading fault line: six miles. Clearly this means the quake-ridden California coast is near. On the other hand, the odds of being gulped by the Earth in one seismic swallow have risen. A few explosions brought clarity, but that was later.
I dawdled along another valley floor, enjoying the art of the young and bored. Not all of the juveniles in Nevada use their free time fully involved in the practice of shooting red octagons. Some take rocks and arrange them to form their names, or symbols. I observed a peace sign, heart, and two interlocking female symbols. Is there a hot lesbian love affair burgeoning nearby?
As I mused, creating a back story for the carpet-munching romance, the first bomb fell. The ordnance detonated miles to the south, the news and noise taking a minute to arrive and wake me from my reverie. From the moment the first boom sounded they had my full attention.
The navy has a large air station in Fallon and they were using the barren landscape nearby for target practice. Over a dozen bombs fell before I left the valley, a bright orange burst followed by a small mushroom cloud, then the brief audio delay before the "bang!" I couldn't help but wonder if it were a bad idea to blow the shit out of an area adjacent to a fault line. On a positive note, at least they don't test nuclear weapons here anymore.
Apparently I sent a subconscious request for expert advice, because as I completed these thoughts a man pulled up in his truck to check on me. Obviously he turned out to be a geologist, so I asked him my question. He said there was little chance of an earthquake being caused, but I should be worried about one of the planes accidentally dropping their payload on me. Thanks, I guess.
The geologist was out searching for gold. He told me that despite all the ghost towns, Nevada is still a great place for those looking for shiny riches. Only two other regions on the planet produce more gold. Do you think they still get a bronze medal for that?
I escaped the firing line by mid afternoon and encountered a sight yet unseen in the high desert. Large dunes are not a regular feature in Nevada. The landscape is much different from that of the Sahara or Arabia.
Sand Mountain is the exception. Coming around a turn I saw what looked like a six hundred foot pile of dust swept into the corner of Lahontan Valley by a giant robot maid. ATVs, hikers, and sandboarders scurried up and down the dune like ants. I gaped in amazement at the natural wonder, the third largest of its kind in the United States.
I stopped shortly after. All you can eat sushi in Fallon, followed by sleep and a day of rest on the morrow. After six straight long days I'm not ambivalent about that.
21 miles/3671 total miles