The Highway to Hell

As I made my way to Oregon, passing through Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada, I was blissfully unaware of the stretch of road that was about to make my trip miserable.

It all started with a simple sign stating `Next Gas Station – 178 miles`. “Eh, that should be fine”, I thought to myself as I made my way down the highway with a full tank and a fine mix of Rammstein, Trentemoller, Smashing Pumpkins, and Bob Marley. It was dark out, and although I wasn’t able to see much of the landscape, the lack of lights revealed that I was in for some more ´nowhere´- driving. Since I had already crossed most of Nevada and was close to the Oregon border, I expected to be entering civilization again soon. Right…

Intently watching my Odometer, I wondered where on earth my next turn was. Many of the signs along the road where blank and when even the reflectors on the side of the road disappeared, I yelled a loud “Fuck!” and searched for a place to pull over. I found myself in complete darkness in the middle of nowhere and was slowly but surely running out of gas. Fantastic. After I drove onto a field, as there was no such thing as a shoulder, I stared at the useless piece of crap google calls a map and cursed myself out for having been too stingy to invest in a road atlas. I had exactly two choices: Follow the road and hope it ends up in some town or turning around. At this point I lost my cool and curse words were about all human language I was capable of producing.

As I was racing back on the so-called highway, I noticed a faint light in the distance. “Maybe that´s a house? Or a light pole. Or a human with a ….. Wait! That´s just a star”. Disappointed I directed my gaze back to the road and caught sight of the creature that was about to cause our deaths. I slammed into my breaks as hard as I possibly could and came to a stop several feet in front of the beast. A DONKEY? Seemingly unaware that I almost crashed into him going 70, the ass (pun intended) gave me an unimpressed look. After a short awkward moment, he went on his way.

At this point, I was growing gray hair by the second and felt the overwhelming urge to scream, cry, and strangle someone all at the same time. Fortunately, I found my turn shortly after escaping death and headed down the highway I hoped would soon reveal the gas station. Driving on fumes, I reached the pump after another 45 minutes. I was ready to kiss the ground and hug a few trees! I inserted my card into the machine, which in turn communicated “Card Invalid” on its little screen. I tried one card after the other and soon found myself punching the thing in frustration. This couldn´t be true! After another several minutes of pleading and inserting cards, I realized that I had found myself a private gas station.

It was windy and cold, past midnight, I had not had a signal for the past three hours and the only sign of life came from a assembly of trailer homes on the property. Axe murderer, kill me now! Reluctantly, I made my way to the closest home. It looked nice enough from the outside and even had some simple flowerbeds going on around it. I knocked on the door and as soon as the owner opened I began babbling of needing gas, being lost, and desperation. I flooded the poor guy with an half-unintelligible sea of words, including plenty of curse words, and then stared at him as he processed everything with a confused look on his face. “Yeah, there ain´t much out here. We don´t even live here, we are just here for work”, he said. “Pipes”, he added when he saw the confusion in my face. Although I had no idea what on earth he was talking about I nodded.

Long story short, the good man bought me seven gallons of gas and I made him write down his phone number so I could pay him back. We shook hands, and once more I headed off into the darkness. Exhausted I arrived in the next town about an hour later.

Since I had to take the same route on my way back, I took the chance to take some daylight pictures of the area. Interestingly enough, I did not see the private gas station nor the trailers again. Just endless naked nature.

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This picture was taken from the top of a mountain range. Notice the tiny looking road at the bottom right.

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A dust storm in the distance

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