Alto Bonanza

I discovered my first Jedi superpower. I can shoot lightning bolts from my hands.

One week ago, I was in bustling Buenos Aires. Now I’m in a remote house on a high desert plain. The wide open spaces and dry air make me think of Colorado, and coming home.

There is no direct bus here, so I elected to rent a car. It’s a picturesque drive. I started in Mendoza and headed west, into the mountains. I saw what’s called the white wind–it looks like snow, but never actually touches the ground. I passed my earlier stomping grounds in Potrerillos.

The halfway point of the journey is a remote town called Uspallata. Brad Pitt has been here–it’s where the movie Seven Years in Tibet was filmed.

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” I’ve always loved that line.

Continuing north from Uspallata, the paved road turns to dust, or ripio. To my left were the snowy mountains. To my right was the desert. I passed two cyclists who looked exhausted. They wanted to know how much further until the road was paved again. I wasn’t sure myself.

I’m glad that I went this route. I’ve gotten some funny looks for saying that. But I don’t mean sitting in traffic on the daily commute to work. I’m talking about this–long, scenic drives through beautiful landscapes. My personal highlights include BC-99 from Vancouver to Whistler, Interstate 81 through the Shenandoah Valley to Chattanooga, and now Ruta 149 from Uspallata to Barreal. I’m even fine with driving across Texas–at least it’s flat and I can go fast.

The house is really a family-run bodega. I met another American in Buenos Aires who was coming to work here, and decided to pay him a visit. He showed me the vineyards, and we explored Parque Nacional El Leoncito, where a three-hour hike led us to a peak with great views of the valley.

I spent Saturday night enjoying family pizza night, then watching the daughters learn about static electricity. One would roll around on the bed, then touch the other, producing a shock. Of course, they may not have realized they were learning about electricity. They were just children playing. But then, the best education happens by accident when you’re having fun.

I turned off the lights in my bedroom. It was pitch black, and as quiet I’ve ever heard. As I tucked myself into bed, pulling the warm blankets close on a cold night, I heard a faint crackling noise. I looked down, and saw tiny blue sparks coming from my hands. Like Force Lightning from Star Wars. Of course, I know what was really going on. It was the same static electricity the girls were so excited by earlier, only now between my hands and the comforter.

Sometimes I miss being a child. Ignorance truly is bliss.


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