Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I Love the West

A perfect flight west includes a big nap for the first four hours. If the gods are kind, I wake up just as we are leaving the Nebraska prairie, and starting over the Rockies. If it's a clear day, all the better. I like it when I can listen to the pilots, but at the very least, I like to look at the scenery.

The gods were very kind.

We flew further north than I expected; I'm pretty sure these are the Tetons. (Updated: Yeah. Okay. So not the Tetons. Most likely Utah.)

And then we only saw the northern-most tip of the Great Salt Lake. What eerie, isolating, strange and beautiful country this is. An acquaintance recently tried to tell me how much more beautiful the east is because it is "friendly." I like the wildness of the west. (Update: After obsessively studying a map, I think we were actually south of the Great Salt Lake.)

Basin and range. Basin and range. And mining.

I always get emotional when I see the Sierras swelling up on the western edge of Nevada. They really de-mark a cultural and geographical boundary. It's at this point that I know I'm close to home.

For the first time, I saw Monterey Bay from the plane. It's that arc of coastline in the center, just below the wing. I love having my perspective changed. I mean, I know that Monterey Bay is big and not that far from San Francisco, and the reason it takes 2 hours to drive from one place to the other is because those mountains are in the way. But it's one thing to study a map and another to see the entire landscape from the air.

Recognize this valley?

How about this landmark? I couldn't stand looking at everything by myself anymore and finally had to turn around and tell the woman behind me that Half Dome was just below. It would probably have been more interesting information for some European tourist.

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