Great Basin

Loneliest Road

The Blue Butterfly at the End
of the Loneliest Road

Notes on the ATVs, sand-dunes and biological diversity in the Nevada desert.

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Loneliest Road

This morning they broke into the truck, smashing the window and taking stuff, but that was in Barstow and now we're on the road, a warm breeze is filling the truck. Every auto repair shop in the next two hundred miles is closed for Memorial Day weekend, but Jane finds a guy who'll fix the window in North Las Vegas. His name's Steve and Steve will wait for us – he has ordered pizza to complement our arrival.

In a Russian accent with the crust in his hand, “You hear they're opening up Fremont Street to Prostitution?"

Steve is a big guy with a big loud Las Vegas shirt, and he has a shrine to Al Pacino’s Scarface in his shop. I ask if he’s a fan. He says as if embarrassed, “Scarface is just the name of my dog. This is to remind me of my dog.”

While his workers install the window, he says, "The idea of Vegas is anything goes, that's the way Fremont Street used to be. And now they’re going to bring it back. The hookers will be clean and there will be a lot of police, but they want to market the city for adults again."

Our talk with Steve about freedom is breezy, because breezy is how you talk freedom in Las Vegas.

I look out the door of the shop – North Las Vegas is nothing like the new-money facades of the Strip. North Las Vegas is run-down and haunted by vagrants and mid-day drunks. “Rough neighborhood,” Steve says.