We left the Area 51 Alien Center and continued along the two-lane desert highway towards Beatty, Nevada. The storm clouds continued to hover overhead and I kept my hands tightly on the wheel to keep our car on the straight and narrow as gusts of wind continually barraged us. We entertained ourselves by listening to the Let’s Not Panic podcast archive until a new distraction appeared.
A white sign stating in bold black letters that fresh jerky was ahead. No other information. Just fresh jerky somewhere in the distance.
Clearly, someone had anticipated Mona and I traveling down this road. Mona once asked me if, forced to choose, I would give up bacon or jerky for the rest of my life. There was no contest. Jerky is our favorite snack for the road or the trail. I would give up a lot of things before I would ever give up jerky. For example, breathing. I’m pretty sure that in the absence of jerky I could hold my breath until jerky appeared.
After a few miles, the sign appeared again. Fresh jerky ahead. And again, no other information. Where was this jerky? How fresh was it exactly? They were taking great pains to emphasize its freshness without providing any other relevant information such as where it could be found. Apparently, this was the freshest of the fresh jerky. That’s why the adjective took precedence over the location.
I was so preoccupied by the mysterious jerky that I barely enjoyed swerving around the tumbleweed that passed in front of our car as I yelled, “We can’t stop here! This is bat country!” And that was something I had been enthusiastically planning to do ever since we decided to visit the desert. What a waste of a Hunter S. Thompson reference.
Ever nearer now, we continued to see the signs. There was jerky. And we were getting closer.
As we pulled into Beatty, the signs came in rapid succession. Now in red print there it was. Fresh! Jerky! Ahead! I hit the brakes and swerved into the gravel parking lot in front of a trailer that promised we had finally found our destination. Our manna in the desert. Our jerky.
Some may question why we would go into a random trailer and buy food. The answer is simple. The people by the side of the road sell the best food. When I travel throughout Kansas, anytime I see a guy with a smoker in a parking lot near an empty highway then I know he is going to have the best barbeque. Just like how the best sweet corn is bought from the back of a pickup truck. Those are the rules.
Inside the trailer, there was a variety of jerky on display as well as locally sourced honey available by the jar. We perused the walls where the varieties of jerky in vacuum sealed plastic wrappers. Behind the counter, there was a woman chopping up a variety of meats into small samplings. She invited us to taste samples of the jerky. I was grateful for the opportunity because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choices. There was beef, elk, venison, and buffalo. We veered more towards the gamier meats. While living in an area where red meat and especially beef is very popular, I’ve always had a particular affinity towards buffalo. When we sampled the buffalo jerky, I was sold. It was deep and gamey with a rich, smoky flavor. We bought a pack for eight dollars and considered it a bargain.
Later on our hiking and camping trip with Trail Mavens , we found out that most of the women we were with had never had buffalo meat, let alone buffalo jerky. I chopped up our purchase into small pieces so everyone could have a sample and stored the remaining half in my pack.
Unfortunately, Mona and I would not get to enjoy the remaining delicious jerky. I left my pack on the floor at home and our dog, Chelsea, was clever enough to pull it out of the pocket and devour it. So there’s someone else in our house that would defy all constraints of time and space to get to jerky other than me. Our dog.
We did not receive any compensation from the delicious meat merchants or Trail Mavens for this post.