Autumn comes to Nevada as a scatter plot - after a hundred miles of sage, you’ll cross water and a moment’s patch of trees sprouting ochre. I remembered that Interstate 50 passed some alkali flats that would be excellent for shooting a music video, but this time I couldn’t find them, or not in the configuration I remembered.
Continental breakfast at the Best Western in Eureka. Tiny containers of chilled milk branded “Cream o’ Weber.” I can’t stop giggling. Cream o’ Weber, it’s skimmed off your labor! Later I meet the Nevada license plate “CLASSIE,” with gilt trim. Arf! What’s that, Classie? Arf arf! Timmy’s trapped in the workforce??!
Everyone’s talking up the new Mexican place in Eureka - now the town has two restaurants! - but no one’s there to meet me except a sign: “we will be close for fire safety.” So it’s back once more to the Owl Club. Server brings me a menu, server’s husband (the proprietor?) looks at me, bellows “What’s he doing in my seat?”, then sits down and shakes my hand. He goes to Reno every couple of weeks, he says; it’s the closest place to shop. The parking lot at Sam’s Club downtown is too crowded, he likes the other Sam’s Club. He got a great deal at the car wash I hadn’t heard of. After looking at the menu, I ask if there’s any way I can just get a grilled cheese, a salad and a beer. Of course I can. “Cheap date!” howls the proprietor.
The men’s rooms on the Berkeley campus deal with homosexual panic by scrawling a cock and balls on every available surface; at the Owl Club’s facilities things are more decorous. There’s one small-scale attempt at the female form, and someone has written “Frands you can kiss” as a release for who knows what longing. The acrostic “One Big Ass Mistake America” is proposed; someone counters with a joke about Rush Limbaugh’s prescription drug habit. “Fuck my life” offers itself in a looped adolescent scrawl, and now we have found a native informant on being a teen in Eureka.
A lot of the mining claims I work with are owned by local arms of huge Canadian companies, but sometimes you get more interesting properties that were staked by old-timers in the thirties or forties. The annual filing requirements on mining claims originate with the federal government and are thus obnoxious to the Western mind; in the files you find a lot of handwritten notes that may or may not comply with the rules. A special fee waiver exists for small miners who own ten or fewer claims, so many of the old-timers, today’s included, decide to pull a Lear and divide their kingdom among their daughters. This is legally questionable, especially if you have people living in the same household, and my report ends up spinning a full page of legal prose from the ramifications.