Life Without Transit and the Perils of Car Ownership, Part 3


ratpag Enters the Wild West and Runs Into Signs, Signs, Signs

ratpag awoke on this Part 3 of our four part investigate series along the hazy, unclear border between the Middle West and Wild West.  We think this border was somewhere along the road exiting Mt. Rushmore, seen the day before, and bypassing the Crazy Horse memorial (not pictured) – someone named Crazy Horse surely had to be wild west and, anyway, we were just about to enter Wyoming.

We were pleased to discover a few rail lines not longer after entering the great state of Wyoming.  Sure, they weren’t necessarily used for carrying passengers and, sure, they were used to transport coal that had been strip mined along a 5 mile stretch of road we’d been traveling on, but they were trains!  Coincidentally, or perhaps not, we passed our first interesting sign of the day near this rail / strip mine:


Now, if you look closely, you’ll see that this sign warns of a possible “orange cloud” that one should avoid contacting – and just beyond that you can see the rail line!

We didn’t dare stop for further analysis of the rail line and continued on to yet another fueling station – our second of the day!  Here we found our second sign – only given second thought because ratpag is watching Breaking Bad five years too late:


Are all automobile drivers addicted to crystal methamphetamine?  ratpag could only assume that, yes, they were and wished that this ride-along conclude soon before we had become (presumably) life-long addicts.

Our auto now filled up with yet more fuel, we continued along the long and lonely motorways of central Wyoming.  Here, shockingly, we came upon the third interesting grouping of signs – this time very much in the middle of nowhere:


If you look closely, you’ll see that this sign denotes the Oregon Trail and this site is that named Independence Rock, so called because travelers of the Oregon or California trails wished to reach this point by Independence Day with the belief that, by doing so, they’d reach their destinations before the first mountain snowfalls.  Huh.  So ratpag learned something on this trip.

ratpag was growing weary.  Surely these travelers hadn’t traveled by rail or transit if they were so worried about mountain snowfalls and it had been days since ratpag had either seen or heard the sounds of rail or transit itself.  “Let’s get moving…[ratpag] isn’t feeling well.”  And so we disembarked and made haste towards Salt Lake City.


And there it is, in the blinding white light, one of Salt Lake City’s light rail trains.  ratpag proceeded to one of the nearby watering holes to imbibe on several incredibly cheap, tasty beers before heading back to the rail line and kissing its greasy, dirty tracks.  ratpag was then reprimanded by a uniformed officer and warned to “get the hell away from there” or else he’d “tie [my] c**k to the tracks and drive the train over himself.”

ratpag woke up groggy the next morning but excited to start the last day of significant automobile travel.  The team broke camp early and set out on Interstate 80 west towards Nevada and, finally, California.  Long, scenic expanses stretched out in from of us as we wound through the mountains and drove plainly through the desert.  ratpag grew tired early – it had been a long trip – and gave up the reins to the New Jersey correspondent for the final time at a Jack In The Box in Winnemucca, NV.  We were living like kings.


We refueled one last time in Reno and crossed the Sierras to end the last big day of driving in Sacramento.  “Sacramento?!” you might wonder?  Yes, Sacramento.  ratpag wanted to pay its respects to the seat of government that is, thankfully, plowing through thick and thin to bring us some kind of real high speed rail in this country.

And so we leave you with one last part, Part 4, of our investigative series to come as ratpag is reunited with full, unencumbered access to public transportation and our final thoughts on life without transit.

Transportation Cost Calculator and NYC MetroCard Comparison:

Fuel:  $442; Parking:  $39; Tolls:  $29 = Total:  $510 = 4.55 New York City Monthly MetroCards


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