Railroad Tunnels, or Becoming Elliot Saving E.T.

Last weekend I went on a bike ride through the railroad tunnels near the Hoover Dam. There were five of us, in different states of being chilly. The sun was still on its way up, and the rocks were still emanating cold. I was the last one to arrive, about 10 minutes late. As I pulled my bike off my less-than-stable rack, I listened to the guys talking about life, the universe, and everything. As I pushed my bike up to join our mob, someone laughed because I have a brrrrrring brrrrrrring bell on my bike, and then we headed off.

The railroad tunnels are a series of archways blasted into the sandstone near the dam, with stretches of trail between them, giving you a beautiful view of the lake. The train tracks and the gravel bed they laid on are long gone, ripped up to become a track someplace else. Even the timbering is gone – the bit that’s there now is reconstructed. They’re mostly straight shots, but one of them turns slightly. It’s completely dark in them, even during the day.

We pedaled along the sandy trail, in sweatshirts and jeans. The sand beneath our tires sounded like the woosh of a speedboat cutting through water. Inside the dark tunnels the sound multiplied. I looked up and saw both of the Steves as the stood on their pedals, speeding up as they passed into the light going out of the tunnel, going as fast as they could.

Once we were all on the stretch of trail between tunnels I glanced behind me, then back in front again. I started hearing the theme to E.T., and wishing that one of us had a milk crate on the front of our bikes, with a small, glowy alien in a blanket. It would have been perfect.

 

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~ by jesstracey on December 13, 2011.

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