Things People Do Out West, Part Two

The first time I saw the Vatican I had a fan-girl moment: this was a place I’d seen my whole life on television and photographs. It was so familiar yet famous, it felt surreal to walk through that space. I had a similar experience when I was living in Nevada, mostly during my drives past the Bonneville Salt Flats just over the border in Utah. Here was the stunning landscape that appeared in one of my favorite movies, Wind (1992).

One of the best scenes of this film is of Jennifer Grey testing a sail rigged to an old pickup truck. There’s so much wind on the Salt Flats that the vehicle moves on its own. (Side note: Bonneville is best known for landspeed records. I’m not sure if Grey broke any.) The white sail against a cloudless sky and the blinding brightness of the ground create a magical scene. Herb Ritts couldn’t resist a similar play with contrast when he set Djimon Hounsou on a rocking half-circle in Janet Jackson’s video for “Love Will Never Do (Without You).”

My turn on the Salt Flats unfortunately didn’t include any large-scale toys. But I still had fun listening to my feet crunch on the surface, jumping (since that’s what the landscape inspires one to do), and resisting the urge to taste the ground.

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