I started off on the uphill this morning, scraping up to the top of Pinto Summit. There was insufficient shoulder and I was forced to duck behind the safety barriers whenever another semi came growling down towards me. When I reached the top I was pleased to learn this Pinto does not explode when you ran into the back of it.
On the other side the endless repetition was due to be interrupted by the town of Eureka. Part of me doubted any civilization could exist in such a landscape, but the map insisted upon its presence.
Sure enough, I rounded a bend and the oasis was real. The town was christened when a prospector, upon discovering gold here shouted, "Eureka!" The man must have been a classical Greek scholar, for the term Eureka*, which generally connotes a great breakthrough or epiphany, literally means "I have found it" in the language.
|Jackson Hotel and the Opera House|
I could understand the feeling, and considered yelling myself, except I am saving my last shred of dignity for Point Reyes. Eureka, like most Central Nevadan towns enjoyed its heyday in the late 1800s. Many of those older buildings have been preserved, including the opera house, Jackson House, and outhouse.
A shitstorm of controversy has swirled around the outhouse over the years. The palatial five seat crapper has been moved on several occasions and has even been the subject of a lawsuit.
Sadly, the Eureka of today has little else to offer. Many of the businesses have shut down. Broken glass and boarded windows are the norm. The oldest cabin in town, erected in 1864, is hidden behind a barbed wire fence, eliminating any quaintness the site might offer.
All the same, I was bummed to reach the city limits, bound for more of the nothing. I was stunned to crest the next hill and find a busy beehive of activity in the valley below. Two unnamed settlements, the county fairgrounds, and several large ranches were spread out before me.
I know I have complained often of man's degradation of nature, so perhaps my joy at these sights seems a tad bit inconsistent. Let me try to explain my point of view. What I despise is sameness, whether it be an endless mass of sagebrush or the urban tedium of strip malls filled with McDonald's, Starbucks, and other corporate clones. There is something fascist about such uniformity, even if I hesitate to compare Mother Nature's design of Nevada to Hitler's extermination of the Jews. I'll leave such insane hyperbole to our politicians.
I marched down and pasted this crowded valley and out into the next, which brough a return to the habitual. There was a little more goldenrod than usual at least. Small victories...
Dad picked me up about five and we headed back to Eureka for some high culture. The opera house was hosting a performance by Western singer Belinda Gail. She performed standards by Ferlin Husky, Andy Wilkinson, and Jack Hannah to a packed house. Her voice, like that of an angel covered in sugar and raped by Care Bears, captivated the youthful audience, several of whom could breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank. I particularly enjoyed her looks, as she in no way reminded me of sagebrush.
22 miles/3525 total miles
*The term's inclusion in the common lexicon is often credited to Archimedes, although since he had been dead two hundred years when the story of his Eureka shout was first told, the tale is most likely apocryphal.