From the www.thelunaticexpress.com
In the cold of 40 below zero, everything is sharp. The moon, one day from being full, is big and luminous and so clearly defined it looks like you could slice your finger on its edges. It hangs over the darkness of the Gobi Desert, glowing just enough to see a horizon that doesn’t end. The wind cuts like a razor; it slices and burns, and runs through four layers of polar fleece and down like I’m wearing a cotton T-shirt. The snow, blown across short brown grass, is so dry it’s like talcum powder. Trying to change a tire, a truck tire, in the darkness and cold feels like a battle with life and death.
I have been traveling for almost three months now and it’s a mark of road weariness that I started to think it wasn’t a very big deal to be bouncing across Mongolia squeezed into the cab of a 20-ton propane truck. It wasn’t exactly classic Lunatic; there’s no history of propane trucks blowing up in Mongolia and you can’t buy a ticket to ride on one. But I wanted to do it anyway, and I’m glad I did.
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Carl Hoffman is traveling for The Lunatic Express, to be published by Broadway Books in 2009. He is a contributing editor at Na…
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