Monday, August 17, 2009

Ghost Roadtripping The American West

My best friend in West Texas, calling herself the Queen of Wink, was reading a book called Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, by Neil Peart, at the same time she was reading my Roadtripping Bloggings. She made note of how many of the places the Ghost Rider Roadtripped through in the American West were places I'd blogged about.

Neil Peart is in the Canadian Rock band, Rush. He is also a prolific writer. After losing both his daughter and wife in the course of a year, late in the last century, Peart decided to take off on a Roadtrip to try and heal his shattered soul.

Peart's means of locomotion is a BMW motorcycle. He started his 55,000 mile Roadtrip in eastern Canada, headed up to Alaska, then down to Vancouver. At about the 100 Mile House in British Columbia he was on roads I was familiar with.

I have now ridden as far as Belize with Mr. Peart. He has made me want to go deep into Mexico. It is a lot of narrative to try and describe so many miles covered, so the story jumps a lot of distance at times. And he does a lot of backtracking, particularly in the American West.

I forget where Peart crossed into America. Like I said, he does a lot of backtracking. I think when he entered America, Going-to-the-Sun Road, in Glacier National Park, was the first destination. I also remember he ended up in Boise for one night, and drove by Lake Coeur de Lene. There was talk of heading to Devils Tower, but something intervened and he set off in a different direction.

He Roadtripped through the Columbia Gorge on the first scenic highway built simple for the purpose of making it easy for motorists to experience the Gorge. I believe that highway was built in the 1920s. From Oregon he headed south, if I remember right, routing through Ontario in Eastern Oregon, on the way to Winnemucca in Nevada. I had my one and only auto accident south of Ontario on a foggy winter day on the way to Reno.

From Winnemucca he headed south and got on part of the Loneliest Highway in America and headed east, destination the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Somehow that didn't work out. It gets hard to remember. Like I said he's all over the place. I think it was Bryce Canyon National Park, next, where he hiked the same hikes I've mentioned hiking and stayed at Ruby's Inn. After Bryce he went into backtrack mode, heading back to the Loneliest Highway, driving the full length, then through Reno, then up to Lake Tahoe, heading south on, I think, Highway 49, til he got tired of all the traffic and took a pass over the Sierra Nevadas, passing through Bishop on his way through Death Valley National Park, then heading north, spending the night in Tonapah.

I've spent a night in Tonapah on two occaisions, at the same motel. One of the strangest motels I've ever been in. Strange in a good way. The rooms, huge, with big mirrors making the room look even bigger, huge beds, huge bathroom. I think it was called the Royal Queen.

After Tonapah, he headed towards Las Vegas via Area 51. At some point he heads to Los Angeles, but I think that came later. I think after Vegas he spent a couple days in Zion Canyon National Park, where he hiked to the Emerald Pools and talking of hiking to Angel's Landing, then the north rim of the Grand Canyon, then jumped south, deeper into Arizona, visiting Tombstone and spending the night in Bisbee.

After Bisbee he headed east to White Sands National Monument, then north, hoping to find the Trinity Site. I had the same hope and the same luck. Could not find it.

Then it was west, again, from Santa Fe, spending a night at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat before going to Moab and spending a few days, biking and hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Then south to Monument Valley, then quickly to Tuscon and Yuma, driving by the Algodones Sand Dunes, heading north on the east side of the Salton Sea, I think returning to Death Valley, before heading to Los Angeles. At some point he stopped at the London Bridge on Lake Havasu.

I'm likely forgetting some places Roadtripped to on this meandering journey and the precise order of the meandering. It seems like he rented a boat on Lake Powell. One of the reasons it is hard to remember this itinerary is at times there is very little detail, just a casual mention made in passing as the Roadtrip miles fly by.

Anyway, very good book. I recommend it.


Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

Oh, I'm so very happy :) I'm waiting to read about Belize, that's the one place in the book I've been.

Durango Roadtripping said...

That is wonderfully ironic. You've been to the most isolated location in the book, or do I mean primitive? Well, it's where he got all bit up by bed bugs. After Belize he returns home, leaving his bike in Mexico City, to return later to ride the second half of his healing journey. At least that how I think it goes. So, he is likely going to be in your neighborhood, Carlsbad Caverns and Texas.