My right index finger is beginning to throb mercilessly. It’s swollen and obviously infected in some way. It feels as if I hit it with a hammer and then – just for fun 🙁 – I do it again – and again – and again. It’s been getting progressively worse over the last couple of days and my whole body begins to feels the effects of the infection. I need some serious antibiotics but cannot get them without a prescription. I don’t want to get involved with the business of doctors unless I absolutely must – so I stuff myself with pain killers and grit my remaining teeth.
Yesterday, we enjoyed the day in Big Basin National Park. The weather was mixed sun and clouds with occasional snow showers on the higher flanks of Wheeler Peak. A ranger told us that every year – for the last 10 years – it had snowed on at least one of the days of Memorial weekend but I’m sure she meant a high altitude dusting. Ely, Nevada is quite a few thousand feet lower than the park and I wasn’t prepared to wake to this !
Today I planned to drive the 450 miles to Auburn, California – mostly along US 50 – dubbed ‘America’s lonliest road’ – but only if you’re from a big city 🙂 I knew the forecast was for more snow coming from the direction I was headed so I half-considered staying another day but in the end we decided that might make it even more difficult to leave – LA car, no chains, no snow tires. After driving through 150 miles of snowstorm – headed for Ely – the decision was probably a good one.
My only regret is that the curtains of cloud and snow gave only fleeting glimpses of the landscape that harbours such enticing places as "Silver Lake Springs – 71 miles" – down some muddy track which surely was an automobile graveyard for generations of adventurous spirits.
The only towns across the entire Great Basin west from Ely are Eureka and Austin. Both mining towns, they’re quirky and frontierlike, full of aimable, independent people. ‘Normality’ does not appear to be an option. A sleety Reno confirms it’s reputation as a pale imitation of Las Vegas. Donner Pass provides an opportunity to wrap my finger in snow which momentarily gives relief. By now, the combination of dealing with the pain and fighting off the lethargy of infection are becoming all consuming.
We stumble into Auburn and check-in. The friendly manager points me in the direction of a medical center. I register and get seen by a triage nurse in quick time and then wait 9 souless, tormented hours until a doctor becomes available. I’m not much for injections so the prospect of a minor operation which requires 6 shots is not welcome – partcularly at 5:30 am. I’m invited to watch but decline.
Stiff with trauma and lack of sleep, we return to the hotel. Other than dumping our cases, we haven’t used the room at all. I try to negotiate an extension with the Indian hotel mafia member who now mans the desk. I’m informed that this is not possible because the computer clicks over at 10:30 and will automatically charge me another night – so sorry. Ah well ! only 3 hours sleep until ‘tomorrow’ 🙂
Tagged: , memorial day , 2011