My Pandemic Dreams
by Patricia Fua
I was raised differently than other “girls” my age. I could tell you a story, but best I present it as a nightmare…
I’m in a car speeding across the high desert. I know we’re going too fast, but I am excited. We have a mission and it is possible, and we are all cheering and willing this to happen. We were sent here to do this. It is 22 more miles to the Utah border and when we get there we have 1 minute, 60 seconds exactly and no more to turn this Pontiac 442 around and head back to Ely, Nevada. In another time zone. 60 miles away.
The premise: one state observing a time change to daylight, the other one not. 60 miles. No speed limit. It must be 1970 but I am not driving. Straight flat roads. Incredibly exhilarating. 120 miles total, 59 minutes driving time, no speed limit, over 400 horsepower. Will we get back home before we left? Or, will we cross into the twilight zone… It is then I look over to the driver because there is a strange sound, and the trance is broken.
Same dream… I am 11 years old. It is 3 am and my mother wakes me up. “Kathleen”. She is sitting on the edge of my bed. I am a 6 foot tall 11 year old girl, my mother is a dainty 4 foot 9 southern woman. Everything she does with me is executed carefully as I am all arms and legs and waking me up in the middle of the night can be dangerous. I need sleep.
“Come on. Your Daddy and I want to take you for a ride to see the antelope run”.
“I donwanna go. “
Same car. Midnight pearlescent blue Pontiac 442 (my mom had good taste in cars) 90 miles an hour.
“Johnny you are driving too fast.”
A grunt responds. I sit up in the backseat. It is a dark night in the high desert, but by now it isn’t dark anymore. The moon is full and it has lit the desert floor enough to cast shadows from the short trees. I look to see antelope but don’t see any so I go back to sleep.
This was usual behavior for living in Nevada in 1964. We had big cars because it was 320 miles in any direction from Ely Nevada to the next gas station. 325 to Salt Lake City over the Great Salt Flats and alongside the Dugway Proving Grounds. Or headed west to Reno “The Biggest Little City “ a simple jaunt 320 miles across the desert on Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway. with occasional flyovers on a lucky day outside of Fallon and the Naval Air Station Fallon
home to the Fighting Saints of VFC-13, the Desert Outlaws of Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. and the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center, NAS Fallon is Navy’s premier tactical air warfare training center.
Or a friendly, arid drive 340 miles through Caliente to Las Vegas progressing from the high mountain desert plentiful with water, to the Mohave’s edge.
Or the lesser travelled route to ‘Vegas, next to the Atomic Test Site through Tonopah by way of area 51 and Death Valley. Did you know there is a crater there where they practiced landing on the moon? It’s amazing what goes on in a state where the federal government owns over 81% of the entire state that is mostly uninhabited. Where I lived, in White Pine County it is 98% federal land.
Ah the driving through the desert. We loved it and looked for all of the colors of the desert in bloom. Knew all the back roads. It actually was something that people would do, sometimes to take an early morning ride they would follow the herds. My mother was an oil painter and she loved to bring the polaroid camera to take pictures of the sunrise so she could get the colors right. We were on a mission. It’s too early for me and I am being called again by the pillow in the back seat. I know if I don’t go back to sleep he will start asking me homework questions. “Kathleen.”
“ Yes Daddy.”
“ What are you studying in school?”
“ Manifest Destiny Daddy.”
The car started to slow down, so of course I sat up again to see what was going on.
There was an eerie stillness that has over all these years remained singed into my brain. The dark desert skies are lit by the moon and below that on the desert floor are iridescent dead sheep. As far as the eye can see.
“Go back to sleep Kathleen.” My father says in his deep tenor.
The car turns around quickly and we drive home even faster. I can hear my mother crying.
Flash forward to the nightmare.
Trump is driving the car. I need to get out. My father is no longer here. I am racing along in a vehicle at 125 miles an hour on a flat straight road through the middle of the desert, in the middle of the night with a crazy man driving. How do I get out of the car?
Am I dreaming or studying for the lsat?
Well it's not 1964 or 1834. But here we are, high powered machines driving hard out of control headed west, feeling exuberated, on a mission…
The Lincoln Highway
WHO KILLED THE DUGWAY SHEEP? WHY IT MATTERS FIFTY YEARS LATER
The Nevada Test Site
Before the US Mail
The Bonneville Salt Flats
Naval Air Station Fallon
NSAWC Vipers and Hornets
The Transcontinental Railway and the Golden Spike
NNRy The Nevada Northern Railway