Day 16: One More Day to the Pacific, Then One to My Daughter’s Home, Carson City, Epicenter of Choice in the Old Wild West

If the gods are kind to me I hope to make it to the Pacific Ocean today. I’m shooting for somewhere near Santa Barbara. I managed 480 miles yesterday, my longest so far. Could hear the waves of the Pacific in my helmet as sure as if I’d held up a conch shell to my ear. I got to thinking about Carson City and Virginia City yesterday as I rode closer toward them. They conjure up my past, growing up, watching a lot of Westerns. Being a kid at home, going to school, freedom still a long ways off I realize now that places like Carson City seemed full of choices. Heading to there yesterday I thought about my options, viewing them through the lens of those teenage years. I could go through the swinging doors of the Gold Dust Saloon and order some rotgut whiskey. Go to Murphy’s for a big porterhouse steak. Buy some new duds. Get a bath and a shave at Doc’s. Go watch a dancing show at Lizzie’s and maybe take a trip upstairs later. (My teenage angst years). I hear there’s a big card game at Lucky’s later tonight. I could try my luck and when my luck ran out, as it always did, I could sign on for a cattle drive.
I rode into Carson City and parked the old steed, Big Red, outside the city hotel. The old imagery began to drift away. There are still old saloons, but these have TV’s on the wall and sell beers like Leinenkugal Summer Shandy. Casinos, but mainly with people sitting alone with a machine, mashing buttons, people looking resigned to their fate.
I kept asking the town folk about where Lizzie’s was, but all I got were some dirty looks. Wait, I think one man stuffed a dollar in my hand.
Well, I plan to saddle up soon and high tail it to Santa Barbara today and if not, well, I might just sign on for a cattle drive.

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