By Chuck Woodbury
That’s me in the picture. I’ve been going through my Out West photos again, from the years I explored the West for my “on-the-road” newspaper. But this photo is even before that.
I’d say I took this about 1987, back when I was writing magazine articles for whoever would buy them, which included some major titles like the prestigious Modern Concrete News. I can tell, looking at my pose in the pic, that I am freezin’ my little fannie off, so it was probably January or February.
It’s a self-portrait taken on a dry lake bed in northern Nevada. There are plenty of those old lake beds in the state. This one, like many others, is large enough to land a Boeing 747 and then take off again going the same direction. So go ahead and land your jet there if you have one. I remember racing that little RV around that lake bed at 60 miles per hour, probably singing a tune at the top of my lungs ’cause I knew there wasn’t any creature except rabbits and snakes for 50 miles. Most of the time, Nevada lake beds are totally flat, hard, and smooth as a new highway.
Right before I snapped that photo I took another one of me teeing up a golf ball and taking a swing. I’m telling you, that ball went forever. I hit a few balls and I recall I never found at least one of them.
I snapped the second photo of myself while pounding out words in a BLM campground along U.S. 50, near Austin, Nevada, probably on the same trip. That’s my first laptop computer and a battery-powered printer. And. . . oh, this makes me so nostalgic . . . that’s my old red coffee pot, from which I drank only the cheapest, baddest coffee (I had not yet moved to Seattle where drinking bad coffee is illegal).
AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE, that little motorhome was the biggest pile of man-made material to roll the Earth. It was a major leaker, making a rain storm both an outdoor and an indoor event. Its Dodge engine ran when it wanted, making each turn of the ignition key a nail biter. Still, looking at the photo, I feel warm and fuzzy all over, as in “Gee, I sure do miss those days, when I was a young guy, roaming by day looking for stories, and then roaming a rural tavern by night in search of a single cowgirl, but usually settling for a Budweiser.”