Picking up trash along the 447
As you all know, it’s a long way from Wadsworth to Gerlach. Highway 447 bounces over seemingly endless hills, cuts through long valleys on its way to nowhere. Eventually, you can ride it all the way back to Cedarville, California – but somehow, I doubt I’ll ever make that trip.
447, though, is not the only highway around here. The 34 winds up into the hills, becomes a gravel road, and eventually leads you into Oregon. Jungo Road will take you to Winnemucca. Who knows how many roads spider out from this little spot?
Well, Taz probably does. He’s been working for Burning Man for years as the Nevada Systems Manager, making sure all those playafied computers run the way they should. Not an easy task. On top of that, he’s volunteered for several years to clean up the highways – all the highways, in every direction – in a 100-mile radius of Black Rock City. At first, he did it of his own volition, but over time it’s become part of Burning Man’s responsibility to the surrounding communities. It’s only fair, after all: we do tend to drop a lot of trash.
We first sped up the 34, into the hills where the cows graze in open range. There are hot springs and cool springs throughout this area, and the cattle were all gathered among the reeds to drink. Later, Taz happened across a cow that had died, and we took a little trip to visit the Jacksons – our neighbors at the work ranch – to let them know. Taz lives here year-round, and has for three years, so he knows most of the people in the area. He also knows his way around the mountains; we even took a few minutes to hunt for arrowheads in an obsidian field, way out the 34.
Later, we headed out to Pyramid Lake and started the real work. Dace and I sat in the back of the truck while Taz drove; Taz stopped whenever he saw trash, and we jumped off to pick it up. We covered 30 miles in a few hours, and found all kinds of treasures: toilet paper, baby wipes, diapers, beer bottles, and (my favorite) bottles of urine. Kids, just a suggestion for the future: next time you’re driving and need to go to the bathroom, just pull over! Thanks.
At any rate, it was a good day driving along a beautiful highway. Picking up trash may not be very glamorous, but in my opinion there are worse things in life… like working in an office. I’ll take blue skies over fluorescent lights any time. You know?