Nevada Series: The Hat Tree

Hat Tree near White Horse Pass
“Hat Tree” near White Horse Pass

Out on the fringes of populated areas, between cattle guards, farm houses and abandoned mines, lies roadside tributes left behind by passing travelers, who hang things on trees. Shoe trees, glass bottle trees, bra trees, and hat trees can be found at various locations in the Silver State. Recently, however, it has become infamously well known (to the locals who know about the adorned trees) that an inebriated individual with a chain saw took to the much beloved Shoe Tree. The world kept spinning, however.

Dumb question: Who gets drunk and decides to get his saw fueled, tops off the bar oil reservoir, sharpens each tooth on the chain, and heads out to cut down an idiosyncratic, obscure icon? I picture a Dick Dastardly-type guy with a greased mustache which curles out at the ends, plotting in a drunken stupor, saying to himself, “I’m a-goin’ to take a saw and take care of that menacing juniper full of shoes once and for all!” Further in my mini-imagined scenario, he takes the tree with all four hundred shoes and ties it up on some train track nearby. What a d-bag.

At any rate, for those who care, there still is a bottle tree, a bra tree, and a hat tree waiting for puzzled looks from passersby, who may just stop and add to the ongoing peculiarity of Nevada’s long and lonely by-ways. If you’re going to seek them out, try hard to leave your beloved souped-up saws at home. And bring an extra shoe, bottle, hat, or bra.

Trucking Vistas: New Mexico and Texas

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Windshield horizon (with a low resolution camera phone).

Drove from Little Water, New Mexico to Wichita Falls, Texas today. I’m taking a lift arm section off a LeTourneau L-2350 wheel loader (I’m geeking out here, but if you care, it’s basically a gargantuan earth mover used in the mining industry) to Longview, Texas from Elko, Nevada. This makes my first trip to Texas in eleven years, and my first time below the panhandle of the state.

Commercial driving (aka: trucking) offers unique opportunities to a person who experiences wanderlust: you get to see a stupidly vast amount of country and almost never get to enjoy it to the fullest. The quandary is you are getting paid by someone to transport goods from A to B; you’re not getting paid to stop off at a Navajo fireworks stand and stock up on dirt cheap M-1000s which may or may not go off in the packaging. OK, that could be justified as part of one’s mandatory half-hour break, but the point has been made.

The sweeping landscapes in New Mexico and Texas feel like they were ripped out of coffee table art book or a cinematic masterpiece. The ache I felt just watching it all go by could easily have been accompanied by a John Williams orchestral piece. In fact, I often have an imaginary, revolving soundtrack going on for everyday life. I’m driving along and on a sunny day, and (BAM!) suddenly Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” becomes part of a completely fabricated montage sequence.

I’m rambling towards the point of incoherency so I shall wrap this post up, crawl into the sleeper and drift to sleep to the sound of the CAT diesel engine, torrents of rain and the flash of lightning.

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The obligatory food shot!