There is a stretch of Highway 50 in Nevada, between the towns of Fallon and Ely, which is referred to as “The Loneliest Highway in America”. I have now bicycled 200 miles down this road and I can say, without hesitation, that I can not agree with that humorous title. Even though there is not a gas station, restaurant, building nor structure, of any sort, within the 80 mile stretches between every town, there was much to witness at the mercy of Nevada’s high desert.
I was going 50 mph down the backside of yet another conquered mountain range, when a sudden wind gust blew with incredible strength from behind me. It jerked me forward with it’s force and then all went still. At that moment in time, I was riding as fast as the wind. I did not feel any wind resistance of any force, in any direction. This lasted for about ten seconds, and within that time, I heard it. I heard the sound of the middle of nowhere, Nevada. I heard nothingness. Not a bird chirping, a car driving within miles, the wind blowing nor a cricket cricketing.
Within this euphoric silence, I remembered that it was called “The Loneliest Highway in America”, let out a gentle laugh and wondered who coined this title. Then I recalled a story my father had told me when I was a young kid, at a time when I was not appreciative of what and who was in my life. I was walking around the house with a frown on my face, while still displaying my disapproval and anger, when my father asked me what was the matter. I told him that I was upset because my friend had a Gameboy and I didn’t. And I can remember word for word what his response was. He said, “Son, you will be miserable for the rest of your life if you concentrate on the things you do not have, instead of the things you do. You have a family that loves you no matter what, you have a home and you never have to worry about where you will be sleeping tonight or if its going to be on an empty stomach. There are children around the world that do not have these luxuries, and the last thing on there mind is a Gameboy. Life is perspective.”
I didn’t really understand what that meant, ‘Life is perspective’. He further continued with a story outlining perspective, which I do not remember word for word due to the short attention span of a seven year old. But I recall the gist of the story and I can improvise what was lost in memory. It went a little something like this…
Bob was injured in a car accident and was severely injured. He had broken both of his legs, cracked a few ribs and was confined to his bed. He was moved to a room with another gentleman whom had a terminal illness. This man’s name was Arthur and although he had months to live, he found joy in every moment of life. Because Arthur had little time to live, he was given the window bed in the room, and Bob was not happy about this. Bob was a bitter man and was extremely upset with his situation. He went on and on talking about how the driver involved in his accident was at fault and a horrible driver, not exactly in those words. During one of his many rants, Arthur politely interrupted Bob to share the news of a marvelous event unfolding outside his window. Arthur had announced that there was a parade going down the main street of their town. Within seconds, Bob’s disgruntled look turned into a innocent face of intrigue, best described as that of a child’s first visit to Disneyland.
Arthur detailed every specific of the parade, describing every single instrument in the marching band, the colors of all the balloons, the look on all of the faces of the astonished kids, even giving a turn by turn commentary of the movement of the parade. He painted the full picture of the scene, that way Bob could imagine what was happening outside his window, since he was not able to walk over to witness it for himself. Bob was thrilled with the way Arthur left no detail unmentioned. Bob was able to close his eyes and see exactly what was taking place outside Arthur’s window. Arthur sadly announced the conclusion of the parade and said that was one of the most beautiful parades he has ever witnessed. They both said goodnight to each other and Arthur quickly fell asleep.
Bob, however, did not go to sleep so swiftly. He was not able to go to sleep because he was still thinking about the parade. The magic had worn off and now he was upset that he didn’t witness the parade with his own eyes. He thought of how unfair it was that Arthur had the window bed, not even considering his condition. That night he wished that Arthur would leave, move to another room, therefore he would be able to take his place next to the window. With a frown on his face, Bob finally fell asleep.
Bob was awakened the next morning with a loud commotion surrounding Arthur’s bed. The nurses and doctors did all they could to save Arthur, but were unsuccessful. Bob was shocked, but yet being the selfish man he was, he couldn’t help but to think if he would now be able to move to the window. At the best time possible, considering the devastating events of that morning, Bob asked the doctor if he could move to the window bed. With a unpleasant look on his face, the doctor said he would have someone in here to move his bed. Bob was delighted, and could not wait to see the amazing scenery Arthur had so carefully described.
A few nurse came into his room to move his Bob’s bed. With quick orders, Bob hurried the nurses to complete the task at hand. The nurses first moved Arthur’s old bed out of the room and then focused on maneuvering Bob’s bed against the window. With his smile growing bigger as he neared, his bed finally came to rest alongside the blue curtained window. Using all of his strength, and every muscle in his body, he lifted his head for the first time in weeks. As he raised his head, the window sill became closer, and the view more plausible. He had a mental image of what the view should look like, based on Arthur’s descriptions, and it was about to become his reality. His eyes peered over the sill, and the picture was unveiled. Only it was not the one that Arthur had described to him is such detail. All that Bob was able to see, was the brick wall to the next building.
It must have been Bob that coined the title, “The Loneliest Highway in America”. For I have encountered incredible adventures, witnessed natural miracles and have met amazing people along this stretch of highway. But most of all I have found peace within myself. I have had the time to appreciate all of the irreplaceable people, family and friends in my life, whom have shaped my character, instilling a desire and drive to make a difference. So while Bob calls it, “The Loneliest Highway in America”, I like to refer to it as, “The Peacefulest Highway in America.” (And yes, I made up the word peacefulest, it works, depending on your perspective!)