Tag Archives: Nevada

Wasteland America Road Trip: Montana To California And Back In 2020

Jacob:
Last week we drove. A lot.

The Drive There

Lo had a medical appointment in San Francisco, and normally we’d fly there (sometimes there are even direct flights) and stay with friends, but these are not normal times. As if a global pandemic weren’t enough, the whole west coast has apocalyptic forest fires and apocalyptic air quality, so we brought along our whole-house air filter in the back seat:

Lo:
At least I got to take some pretty pictures while we drove and take advantage of my love of photography and composition as a type of story telling.

Here’s Red Rock, Montana in a drive-by black and white.

Jacob:
Heading south on I-15 we passed something that looked like a dozen McMansions jammed together. Turns out it’s the headquarters of a shady multi-level-marketing company.

Lo:
Except they claim to not be that shady. That’s the fun part about all of these. Every one always claims to be better than the other. Every poison less toxic. Every one ignoring the rules around dosage dependency.

Jacob: This was the last blue sky we’d see for a long while.

Jacob: The charger we stopped at in Twin Falls was right next to the Snake River bridge and visitor center. It was incredibly smoky. The landscape here is beautiful, but felt so alien under an orange sky.

Lo: When we made it to Twin Falls we decided to stop and actually look at the Snake River. It’s this beautiful green color slithering its way through a deep gorge in the Idaho plateau.

Lo’s mom and her siblings lived here as children. She told us upon seeing this picture that this is not the original Perrine bridge. She remembered, even though it has been over 50 years. Human memory is amazing.

This is the eighth highest bridge in the United States with an elevation above sea level of around 3,600 ft (1,100 m), and an approximate height of 500 ft (150 m) above the Snake River. Idaho is an optical illusion – it’s flat because it’s the top of the plateau.

Yeah, that little dot is the sun.

We passed by this strange fence facade again. We’ve drive by it a few times – before on our way to Rigby for the solar eclipse. Lo was happy to grab a picture of some of the more unique features of the drive.

Jacob: This was one of the longer and more desolate stretches of drive – US 93 from Twin Falls to Elko. Most of the drive was on interstates, but sometimes you just can’t get there from here…

On the second day the road out of Elko felt like it could have been endless.

Power lines stretch across the desert and yet traces of agricultural activity and taps into aquifers are still obvious amongst the windblown landscape.

We pulled off the highway in the Nevada desert and drove around a little. This is the smallest underpass I’ve ever seen, barely wide enough for one car at a time.

Jacob: I have to wonder if they put up the sign just in case, or in response to someone escaping…

This was just a few doors down from the charger in Lovelock, NV. It was very convenient to access, just off the highway, but the town has seen better days. This yard and garden must have been beautiful once. The house itself was once a lovely, small two story.

I guess this exit just doesn’t have any capacity right now.

We missed the sign, but apparently there had been a rock slide?

For those that know Lo, there’s a hidden message she’s been trying to catch a picture of for years and finally succeeded.

At the Truckee charger a dog lounged and slept in the parking lot while his owner sat and picnicked nearby. Would not be moved for cars – nope, nope.

The Donner Summit rest area picture has no filters. That’s the color of the light filtering through the smoke.

So of course we looked up what in the world was going on. And… Oh. That makes sense.

There were *a lot* of portapotties along I-80. We suspect this might be due to all of the rest stops in Nevada along I-80 having been closed.

We got to Vallejo and wandered around the parking lot while the car charged. Here Lo managed to snag a few pictures.

We saw no shortage of interesting vehicles on our journey. Some chose unique intimidation tactics to keep other cars out from in front of them on the highway.

Our AirBnB in Richmond, California had the unpleasant surprise of a broken window. We managed to create somewhat of a seal and set up the air filter. It had the lovely benefit of a garden with citrus trees hanging over the fence.

Even the caution signs have opinions in California.

While in Richmond we did see a pack of wild turkeys taking over an Arco. Perhaps all of the humans staying home has lead to wildlife reclaiming its territory.

The sun continued on its tangerine and purple haze way.

And Back Again…

After the UCSF appointment we drove through the Castro. This was once our neighborhood.

Though there are many things we don’t miss about San Francisco, there are many things we do miss. There’s a sense of membership to a community here that is lacking in other places we’ve lived. This is where Jacob and I joined NERT. This is where we attended neighborhood watch meetings. A part of us will always be here.

It wouldn’t be the Bay Area without ridiculous and impractical, yet eye-catchingly hilarious furniture design. Seriously.

We saw a variety of interesting vehicles. This one might be an M1117? Someone that knows these better than we do, please confirm.

We ended up getting right behind the vehicle. These weren’t the only military vehicles we saw on the road being shipped places. Who knows where they’re going *shrug*.

By Tuesday afternoon, the air in San Francisco had finally started to clear up, just in time for us to leave. We had originally planned to head back Wednesday morning, but we both were itching to get home, and hitting the road Tuesday night let us get home a full day earlier. So off we went.

On I-80 on the way out of the San Francisco area, there was a brief traffic slowdown caused by, uh, this. Batteries can be scary if they catch fire, but not as scary as a gas tank…

As night was falling, we stopped to charge at a mall in Roseville, CA.

Lo got out and walked around. There are huge differences between the levels of permanency in the signage and overall social compliance to mask wearing and social distancing between California and Montana.

All around the stores were reminders to social distance, including Xs on the ground like one may mark up a stage for rehearsal.

Lo: An installation that struck me reminded me of The Freedom Of Speech Wall in Charlottesville, VA near where I went to undergrad.

What I Missed The Most:

  • Family
  • Late Night Movies
  • The Bars 😦
  • Baby
  • Shopping! 😦
  • My Wedding 6/6/20 😦
  • Football Games
  • Jorge Angel-a (?)
  • Friends
  • Fresh Air
  • andar con los compas
  • school and friends
  • the movies
  • CC and Damien
  • Tarrgh (?)
  • Human Kindness
  • Movies
  • Cierra </3
  • Play Outside
  • I miss go school

By midnight we were in Reno. The charger here was in a casino parking lot, so we had to maneuver through the disorienting maze that every casino town seems to be. So much neon…

Reno was a ghost town compared to its usual self. Admittedly, we’ve only been through a handful of times now, and we try to avoid stopping because of the crowds and traffic. Even the parking garages have the gates removed and no longer cost money. It’s surreal.

Near the charger was a giant piece of LED art that it turns out our friend Matt had worked on building.

Our final stop for the night was at the Town House Motel in Winnemucca. It seemed to be straight out of a time capsule from the 1950s:

Lo: More like 1960s/70s with strong elements of preserved mid century Americana at its best in my opinion. The rooms were very clean (though we also did a surface/touch-point disinfecting for our own sanity). This place would be great to use for photoshoots and as a filming location. I should have taken pictures of the swimming pool!

We saw this truck in Nevada. Thanks to my trucker friends and those that are familiar with Cyrillic languages, it means “drivers wanted” or “drive for us.”

At one of our charging stops in Idaho the car hit its peak charge rate of 250 kilowatts – about the same as the average power usage of 200 houses.

It being September, the tunnel was not icy.

Lo: I find Nevada beautiful. I know the American desert isn’t exactly what most people think of as magical, but I’ve seen rainbows from thunderstorms over this desert. Extreme weather creates gorgeous landscapes. I’m not experienced enough at photography to capture lightning yet.

Into Idaho from Nevada farming gets interesting. The suspicion is that Lo really wanted a picture of that horse.

Idaho has a booming dairy industry that ships across the western US via trains.

We’re welcomed back into Montana by this mansion of a fixer upper off of I-15. Lo keeps joking that she wants to move in.

Finally home! The smoke had followed us the whole way back, so we got the air filter back into the house in a hurry.

Jacob: After we got home I added up all the statistics for the drive. In just four and a half days, the total was:

  • 2,449 miles driven
  • 39 hours, 47 minutes on the road
  • 705 kWh of electricity used by the car – as much energy as in less than 20 gallons of gasoline
  • 20 charging stops at an average of 19 minutes each
We hope you enjoyed this whirlwind travel adventure post about driving to and from San Francisco in an electric car for a doctor’s appointment at UCSF. Road tripping during global pandemics is ill advised and we recommend anyone considering repeating this to take all necessary precautions to protect your own health and well being, as well as the well being of others.

Lo: If you want Jacob to author more posts, please drop a comment and leave a like. Let him know what kinds of posts you’d like to see. Your feedback is valuable ❤

If you see these photos posted elsewhere, please let us know. At this time a few are posted on Lo’s instagram, but mostly they are on this page only. Lo is still developing a unique watermark and is dealing with photo-stealing. If you would like to use any of these photos:

  • For unpaid projects, simply credit Lo and link back to this website.
  • For paid projects please send Lo an e-mail and we can exchange a fair use contract with more details.

Things That Influence My Writing: Montana Cow Mutilations

Newspaper clipping from the Billings Gazette, October 10, 1975

**Content Warning: This post discusses the killing and mutilation of animals by unknown perpetrator(s) over the past 50+ years in the United States. As a non-beef eater myself, reader discretion is advised**

While the world is caught up with everything that is 2020 (do you have your apocalypse bingo card yet?) I’d like to visit an ongoing state and national news story that captured my attention when I first moved to Montana in 2013. In October, 2019, new developments arose. I think it’s time to share this news with readers for the purpose of distraction. So, I’ll compile some basic information here. While I have some thoughts on what the possible explanations could be, I will save those for the end.

Cow Mutilations

From the GIPHY keyboard

On October 2, 2019 the Billings Gazette reported a new report of 5 dead cattle being found in Salem, Oregon. While tragic, the random death of cattle in the Pacific Northwest would not turn heads under normal circumstances. These were not normal circumstances. Instead, this was the newest report in an ongoing series of documented cow mutilations throughout the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, with the majority of documented cases in Montana, dating back to the 1970s.

According to the original newspaper clipping from the Billings Gazette on October 10, 1975 (shown above) about 175 reports of mutilations were gathered from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho in addition to Montana at that time. At that time, given the cost of the equipment necessary to cause the types of mutilations and damages found, the issue stumped authorities, leading to the concern of a cult traveling throughout the country traveling “by helicopter”. Reasonably so, this was thought to be ridiculous.

There is a Wikipedia page on Cattle Mutilation as a general concept, but it is important to note that this page includes international and domestic horse, goat, and other unidentified livestock incidents. These non-bovine and international incidents have mutilation patterns not matching those specifically found in the mutilated cattle of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. That said, they may still be worth discussing for contrasting purposes.

The Investigation

From the GIPHY keyboard

The common pattern with these mutilations is that the sex organs and tongues are removed with all blood drained from the corpse. An investigative report mentioned in a 2001 article in the New York Times mentioned that a group that researches these incidents, The National Institute for Discovery Science, did find one interesting variation in a case in Utah where there was a hole in the head of one of the cattle with both BHT and Formaldehyde present, indicating that an embalming/preservation process took place. This group is/was funded by Robert Bigelow – a man that became obsessed with aliens and the Skinwalker Ranch – a place so notorious even the History Channel has added it to their questionable line up.

As their website is now defunct and it is hard to find information on anything other than his alien focused ventures, I am not going to spend much time focusing on this aspect for now.

I used the Wayback Machine to look up their website and I have to admit it’s hard to take this seriously. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20071009234743/http://www.nidsci.org/

Another common element between all of these cases? They remain unsolved. To give readers an idea of how extensive and compelling these reports are, there is an open case file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the recurring ritualistic serial mutilation of cattle. At this time, the FBI only investigates mutilations that occur on tribal land and all have been closed unsolved according to the Billings Gazette.

Private and public reward monies for information regarding cattle mutilations continue to accumulate, including a $25,000 reward for the recent mutilation in Oregon.

My Interest And Thoughts On These Events

From the GIPHY keyboard

Shortly before moving to Montana, on March 1, 2013, a rancher found more mutilated cows approximately 5 miles outside of Browning. Given how current it was in the news, this provided the opportunity for me to learn more about these incidents and start compiling information on this truly bizarre fascination.

Spoiler Alert: I don’t think this has anything to do with aliens. While I do not dismiss the possibility of life in this universe more intelligent than humans, I don’t think it is coming to Earth and messing with our cows.

I have 7 years of research and thoughts on these events and there are a few options regarding what I can do with this information. The option currently in the lead:

  • Start An Investigative Podcast/YouTube Series With A Funny Name

I would present each individual documented event in chronological order, the information available that I’ve been able to gather, any additional leads people are able to provide, and similarities between the events that I’ve been able to observe. This would then include leads from listeners that have been followed up on in later episodes.

The reasoning behind presenting the same information in two formats is because I want to be inclusive of non-auditory individuals, and those needing closed captioning and/or lip reading to assist with auditory processing. For more information on auditory processing disorders you can visit that website or read the Wikipedia page here.

Possible Explanations

From the GIPHY keyboard – credit to Trey Parker and Matt Stone

The big rule here driving my investigation: It’s Not Aliens. The perpetrators could be many things, but the response of “aliens” has become the standard cop-out. There is a lot of additional evidence, even from those that do believe aliens visit earth, to suggest these mutilations are not being performed by aliens.

I mentioned before that I have thoughts on alternative explanations. I don’t think these cases are going to be a “one explanation fits all” kind of thing. These potential explanations include: insurance fraud, publicity, public diversion from other questionable activities, ritualistic or cult activity, and intimidation. That said, I absolutely expect that there are potential explanations that I have not yet thought of. Who knows – maybe I will be proven wrong and there are aliens. I have to be open to that possibility, no matter how skeptical I am and how little I think it makes sense.

TL;DR

If you are interested in this kind of investigative podcast about the unsolved mysterious cow mutilations that have been ongoing throughout the United States for at least the past 50 years, please like this post and/or comment your suggestion for title of the series, what excites you the most, or if you have any thoughts you would like to contribute. If you think a friend would like to listen to this podcast or would have anything to contribute, please share this.

I’m excited to have as much input as possible in this 100% bizarre side project, even if you disagree with me and want to tell me you think I’m wrong; even if you insist that it’s aliens.

If this gains enough interest (100 likes) I will launch the first episode of the podcast.

Until then, I will continue to focus my efforts on reviews, my book becoming available for pre-order later this summer, “A Hundred Different Skies”, and my short story collection coming out early next year.

As always, thank you for reading. Without you, this post would have been meaningless electrons sent out into the void.