Altamont

 

Altamont Pass is an eerie place, a kind of passageway to the edge of the world. The terrain is dry and dusty, desolate and barren. The only sounds are the buzz of electrical and telephone lines and the constant rush of wind. Trails of ant cars make their way over the pass between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley, crawling between towering turbines and forgotten farms. An old railway cuts across the road at one point, and a large cross reading “JESUS SAVES” is imprinted across a hillside. Another slope is littered with the trash of those who pass through, but seldom stay. Large areas of dry grass are burned, haunting reminders of discarded cigarette butts. The whole area seems void of life. A concrete waterway and sparse wall writings are the only signs of life, save for the patrolmen who police the area.

It is a place of solitude. It’s no wonder, then, that a golf course and Sandia National Labs, a government national security site, are the nearest neighbors. The Altamont Speedway, home of the Rolling Stones’ infamous Free Festival so many years ago, is largely forgotten.