Can the concept of “nothingness” be beautiful?
I think so.
Imagine a highway where you drive 60 miles and don’t see another car the entire way.
Imagine a highway where the nearest person is perhaps 20 to 30 miles away.
Imagine a highway with no gas stations or businesses of any kind.
Imagine a highway with no lights or power. A place where cell phones don’t work (which is just about everywhere, if like me you’re unfortunate enough to have have AT&T).
There is a such a highway.
It’s Nevada State Highway 266, which is the desolate 60-mile stretch of asphalt that straddles across the Nevada-California border at a crux where towns and people do not exist. You’re more likely to see a UFO on this lonely road than another vehicle.
If you head West, the highway begins its path about one hour north of the sleepy desert town of Beatty, NV. The road empties out several ecosystems later about 20 miles south of Bishop, CA — located at the foothills of the gigantic snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain range. The other main junction from the West is California State Highway 395.
I’ve taken this incredible road perhaps two dozen times. I think of it as a well-kept secret — until now. When driving along it’s winding path, I feel the road is in control. Not me. I’m a passenger rocked into solitude within its bosom. Driving this highway is the closest thing I’ve experienced towards achieving complete peace. And honestly, it’s even a little frightening if you’re driving it alone. Especially at night.
The highway is a single-lane road, except for one short stretch which plunges through a narrow canyon. The rocky pass is so small that only one car at a time will fit through. But since there’s no traffic, passage is easy.
The road includes a barren desert with little to see but rock and sand. In fact, upon one’s first impression there’s no sign of life whatsoever. Then, prickly plants suddenly appear. Next, you see sagebrush. The road climbs upward and starts winding. You enter a drive through rocky cliffs. The curves are so intense, the speed limit is 20 mph. Then, the road quickly becomes engulfed by a forest of pine trees. Next, the road winds back down and eventually rests in a fertile grassland with grazing cattle. Then, the road winds up again through another mountain range, then through another short desert maze, another forest, followed by several canyons. Finally, you end up looking at the breathtaking central valley which is bordered by the majestic High Sierras.
This is an incredible journey. Yet, I’ve never heard or read anything about it. Perhaps the few that have driven this lonely stretch of highway want to keep it their secret. I don’t blame them.