FURTHERMORE GOES TRAVELING
My Masonic pet raven Brother, Furthermore, and I have been traveling
recently. This is what Masons do, of course, but it is always something of
an experience for both of us, as you can imagine. And this time, we
actually discovered a place more surreal than Furthermore.
Our odyssey began in Phoenix and involved three friends and colleagues. We
were heading for Cedar City, Utah, on the legitimate occasions of my
employer. Having finished our shooting (video, not the other kind) in Cedar
City, we were scheduled into Carson City, Nevada. They have a very nice
lodge in Cedar City and the old bird and I were sorry we arrived too late
for the stated communication.
Now, if you’ve ever looked—I mean really looked—at a map of Utah and
Nevada, you will have discovered this amazing thing: You can’t get there
from here. We examined all sorts of flight arrangements, including bizarre
connecting flights in other countries. We came to the inescapable
conclusion that the only way to get from Cedar City to Carson City is to
drive. That would be 500 or 600 miles on two-lane highways across parts of
southern Nevada that Nevada doesn’t even know exist. Being seasoned
travelers with a strong knowledge of rough and rugged roads, we decided to
divide the trip into two sections. Section one began in the early afternoon
of a Wednesday and took us as far as Tonopah, Nevada. Section two began on
Thursday morning and dropped us into Carson City in time for a late lunch.
It was an agreeable drive with agreeable company and plenty of time to read,
discuss current work-related projects and marvel at the landscape—truly the
most barren in North America. Even Furthermore was impressed.
Now, at this point, you must go get a map of Nevada. From Cedar City, Utah,
you head west on highway 56 until you reach the metropolis of Panaca, Utah.
This is a few miles west of Uvada, so you can’t miss it. At Panaca, you pick
up highway 93 and drive through Caliente until you hit the junction with
highway 375. Here, the odyssey really begins.
Highway 375 begins the famed Extraterrestrial Highway. It runs just north
of the equally infamous Area 51, where the U.S. government hides all the
aliens and their spacecraft. This made perfect sense to us. The aliens
could have been running a major intergalactic spaceport in this part of
Nevada and no one of our species would have spotted it for centuries!
Locals named the highway because this is where they are always spotting
flying saucers and aliens are always abducting someone. We were sorry we
had left some people at home, when we realized this. After a time, it
occurred to us—during one 35-mile straight-as-an-arrow stretch of
highway—that it wasn’t a highway at all. It was a landing strip. This made
us very nervous.
We did see a few aliens. Furthermore recognized them right away, which
figured. The first we saw were disguised as cows. They weren’t half as
clever, however, as the two who disguised themselves as an elderly couple
from Iowa driving an RV.
We also saw the Little AleInn, a small motel and gas station in the middle
of a place that gives new meaning to being nowhere. One of our group argued
that it was only a mirage and I was prepared to believe it until that
evening when we spotted a bumper sticker for the Little AleInn on the rear
of a Porsche. Well, right away, we knew the driver was an alien. No
self-respecting human being would put a bumper sticker on a Porsche, after
The Porsche was in Tonopah, a old silver mining town that is still in
business more from force of habit that any clearcut economic reason. The
mining theme is important in Tonopah. The high school mascot is a grizzled
miner who is pictured in cartoon form as he mucks away at the rock and ore.
I mention this for its educational value and to reduce any confusion on the
next point. The high school, according to large signs, are “The Fighting
Muckers.” This is a reference to the brief history lesson I just shared
with you and not, as Nevermore (Furthermore's non-masonic cousin) claims, a major typographical error.
There was also a sign in Tonopah, claiming that the community is the
official home of the Stealth bomber. We didn’t see any, of course, but then
that was the whole point of the Stealth, you know. The local lodge was on
the second floor of a building on main street, above the florist shop. It
was better in the old days when we were above the grog shop. Just an
From Tonopah, we continued up the Extraterrestrial Highway through Mina,
Luning, Hawthorne (where they are proud of their Convention Center, which
doubles on Friday nights as the local movie house), and finally up through
Fallon and back to civilization as we know it.
Anyway, enough of this travelogue. Southern Nevada is striking in its barren
beauty, lonely miles and far-ranging vistas. Just the sort of place you’d
want to visit if you are dropping in from the Alpha Centari quadrant.
Actually, it’s probably one of the great vacation spots of the entire
galaxy. Which accounts for the fact there is a very nice Best Western
property in Tonopah that is doing very well. I did wonder about the sign on
their complimentary continental breakfast, however. I mean, who ever heard
of a complimentary planetary breakfast, anyway?