by Reg Green

Thinking of William Shatner’s exemplary comment that he hoped he would never get over his wonder at seeing our globe from space, I remembered that Noel Coward once said that the bar of the pre-World War II Shanghai Club was so long that if you laid your cheek on it you could see the curvature of the earth.

Both comments gave me a little shiver. I handled publicity for the Blue Flame car that set a land speed world record of 622 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats race track in 1970 and seized the opportunity to do a small man’s version of that heroic event by driving a rental car at its absolute maximum speed on the same track. In this vast white empty wilderness I had the unnerving feeling that hidden by the earth’s curvature another rental car was hurtling toward me at its absolute maximum speed.


3 Responses

  1. What is this post actually about?
    I read it three or 9 times and came to the conclusion that it isn’t about anything.
    Do you think any reader cares about your rental cars?
    How about Nowel Coward? Maybe.
    Most people do not know who Noel Coward is. You didn’t help at all because you gave no context about him or why anybody should care about what he said about anything.
    Since you did not identify which cheek mr. Coward placed on the bar prior to his stupid observation, facial or ass, then the quote you gave to the reader is just silly.
    A message to writers: if you haven’t got anything to actually say about anything do not publish.

  2. I’m slightly familiar with that area. I remember reading that the salt surface’s thickness has been decreasing over the decades, going from a couple of feet’s thickness around the time you were out there to a mere couple of inches today. (This is happening over the entire flat, not just the part designated as the Speedway)

  3. And on the subject of unsettling thoughts, I mainly know that area as part of a briefly used, rather risky shortcut on the old westward Trail to California. It called for circling south around the Great Salt Lake and heading westward across the desert, making for the accordingly named Pilot Peak at its western edge (just a few miles north of the present-day Speedway). The ill-starred Donner Party took this route, and it was one of the causes of their failing to reach the Sierra Nevada range before winter arrived. I remember spending a long afternoon reading about the trail, which crossed some very rugged terrain (in the steep Sierra Nevada segment, travelers in some places had to haul their wagons over rock ledges with ropes and muscle power) and then on a whim, firing up Google to check out the area where the Donner Party spent the winter (Truckee, now Donner, Lake). As you can probably guess, it’s pretty well built up today: residential subdivisions, restaurants, and I believe I even saw a golf course (at the top of the blooming Sierras!). But what I think jarred me the most was a line on some travel website or other that stated there was “visitor parking available” in Cold Stream Pass, one of the sub-branches on the trail before all the civilization arrived.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New English Review Press is a priceless cultural institution.
                              — Bruce Bawer

Order here or wherever books are sold.

The perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Order on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK or wherever books are sold

Order at Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold. 

Order at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Send this to a friend