Note: First published on Blogger on August 21, 2006
Unfolding the Map
I'm back, Littourati, from my vacation in California, and my mom says to tell you all hello! I had forgotten how beautiful the North Coast of California is during the summer. The wildflowers were out, the blackberries were practically falling off the vines, and the weather was beautiful! Now, we will make Sal's push to San Francisco, starting with today's entry in Creston. I hope you appreciated the preview map I left for you! Click on the image, of course, to see where we are!
"I was two weeks late meeting Remi Boncoeur. The bus trip from Denver to Frisco was uneventful except that my whole soul leaped to it the nearer we got to Frisco. Cheyenne again, in the afternoon this time, and then west over the range; crossing the Divide at midnight at Creston..."
On the Road, Chapter 11
Creston sits in a lonely place on the top of the world, and Sal passes through it in a blink of an eyelid. Suddenly, after climbing out of the Mississippi Basin, through the plains, and up the Rockies, the rivers suddenly flow with him toward the Pacific.
At the moment that Sal hits that point, let's freeze time. We'll just stop it. Sal's bus is suspended just like in a photo at this point along his journey. It's not necessarily the highest point -- he'll go over a higher point in the Sierras. Sal does not necessarily think it is very important, as he only gives it one line in the book. As he gazes out the window, he probably doesn't see much in the way of a community, if Creston looks anything then like it does now. Yet after all the miles, he has crossed the backbone of the United States, the Continental Divide, at midnight no less.
New Mexico, where I live, straddles the Continental Divide, and every time I drive over it, I get a little bit of a thrill and I'm not sure why. I know that I'm amazed that at that line, water begins draining toward the Pacific, instead of toward the Gulf of Mexico and that if I were a leaf dropped from a hand right over that point at a place where two hypothetical little streams emerge from springs on each side of the line, a little puff of wind would determine whether I land in one stream and head toward California, or in the other and roll on back toward the east.
It is also incredible to me that this country even has a "backbone." This place of once violent upheavals where rock came bursting out of oceans and plains and raised itself high above. Sal gets over the mountains easily, sitting on his bus and looking out the window at the scenery flash and Creston go by in a blink of an eye. But to the pioneers, those edifices of stone touching the sky over their heads may have seemed like yet another one of God's barriers keeping them from the promised land and the riches awaiting them. They may have even seemed like living beings themselves, blocking the sun's light early in the day, brewing up storms in their secret heights and throwing them outward, and finding other tricks to bedevil the travellers seeking to cross them.
I think that when any divide is crossed, whether it is emotional, physical or natural, we ought to pause and reflect for just a moment on where we have come from, and where we are going and how we feel about it in the now.
Okay Sal, you can go onward now, past midnight and down the nether side of the divide and on to the west.
If you want to know more about Creston...
You're probably going to have to go there. It is evidently very tiny, with very few structures about. It has no Wikipedia entry, and appears to be a place where both the railroad, US Highway 30 (Sal's probable route through), and Interstate 80 cross the Continental Divide. It sits at about 7100 feet. Here is one link, if you want to see what it looks like from the air on Google. Creston on Google Maps
Next up: Salt Lake City, Utah