If you drove around our River Ranch, you would take some dips and turns over several miles of non-paved road. In fact, just getting there would take you across four miles of gravel road. Even before you get to the property line, the road changes from gravel to dirt. In the case of the picture at the left, it's puffy dirt, with rocks beneath it. It's not something you would take your car on, unless you don't mind getting dust in your trunk (as well as all over your car).
Yes, Virginia, there are still non-paved roads in this country. A writer friend of mine's NY editor once asked her to remove a reference to a gravel road from her manuscript. The editor said "there aren't gravel roads in America anymore."
There are probably more non-paved roads in my county (Whitman, Washington) than paved. They say Alaska is the last frontier. Well, the west is still quite "wild." When I was a girl, I fell in love with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I grew up outside of Seattle, but I knew, after reading the Little House books, that I would love to live on a farm. The interest grew when I looked in World Book Encyclopedia when I was about 10, and saw a most welcoming picture of a farm, complete with red barn and grain silos.
If you stood on the ridgeline and looked out, away from the wheat field, you would see, across the canyon, a fingerlike projection of land, and the meandering river below it. A railroad line once went through this area. I zoomed my camera, and took a picture of the tunnel that cuts through the fingerlike projection.
My husband and two of our kids once walked through the tunnel. He said it was the scariest thing he'd ever done. (And that man has done many scary things. He's a pilot. 'Nuf said.) [What made it scary was that our kids were with him, and their possible lack of safety worried him. Otherwise, the man is fearless.] The railroad apparently blasted out the tunnel. The blast left a pit in the center of the tunnel. My husband said it was so dark that you couldn't see a thing, thus he had no idea how deep the pit was. He and the kids worked their way along the edge--hugging the rocks--and finally made their way through to the open air and sunshine.
Below: A picture of the fingerlike projection. This is the side the hubby and kids came out, and where I was waiting with our younger child. Because the county now owns the land where the tracks used to be, and because the views are beautiful in this area, the county turned it into a popular bike trail.
However in order to get to the tunnel, you have to cross the river, which isn't (easily) possible anymore. There used to be a bridge, but during the fall firestorm of 1990, a field fire destroyed it.
Steptoe Butte in the background.