Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting to Vegas: Phooey on you, I-22

That was the main thing on my mind going west to Vegas last Thursday morning...the unfinished Interstate has miles and miles open, but where you really need it (the ass sides of Memphis and Birmingham) it's still a shitload of red lights and slow packed lanes of traffic.

Soon enough my girl and I made it to Interstate 40. That was a lot better. As we pushed close to 12 hours on the road, we pulled off at a rest area in Arkansas. Which BTW has the most rest areas on I-40, one about every 50 miles.

My girl brought out from the cooler the shrimp alfredo pasta and veggies she had skeptically prepared and packed before we left. From the crusty reaches of mu military surplus collection I broke out a German Esbit stove, US Army trioxane bars, metal plates and got the flame going. One one of the metal plates it took about 4 minutes before the food was hot and as tasty when fresh...the fact that we whipped off the road and were eating a home-cooked meal 5 minutes later, instead of fast-food garbage, added a lot. Dessert was Cold Stone hot chocolate made with milk in a Swiss alpen "volcano" stove.

Right back onto the Interstate...the miles grew but I dared not look how much further it was. I had said I would drive all day and all night and let her take over at dawn, and that was what I did. I guess she stayed awake until midnight talking before nodding off, head on my right shoulder, rest of her curled up in the passenger seat of the Civic.

Albuquerque puts out colored beacons on the highway overpasses and the viaducts are color-coordinated with the pavement color and color of the embankments. Really. Almost etheral in the wee hours.

Deeper into New Mexico mountains I almost fucked up and let us run out of gas while I had The Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. playing and I got a little too into it. The low fuel light came on and I kept driving, looking. Finally with 350 miles on my 11-gallon tank of gas I saw a station. It was closed but the pumps were open to credit card customers. It took 10.87 gallons to fill up the tank.

I think we were eastern Arizona when sunrise became visible. I think. I let her drive and sort of slept with the seat laid all the way back. When I woke I did not feel as weary and addled as I expected and got back behind the wheel. It was a few more hours to Vegas.

Made it to The Riviera. The place is humongous but I did find some parking in an unattended deck which I may or may not have have had the privilege to use. Took a spot right next to a door and from there it let us cut into the hotel, eventually.

It took too fucking long to register at the Riviera. It was like the airport, without any plane tickets.

I told my girl the tower we stayed in was probably pretty fucking swank around the time she graduated high school (1987) but it was clean, well-kept, on the Strip and not expensive... just what we wanted for our stay. I could not help thinking what it would have been like to have had run of that hotel room in 1987, when I was 20, while she dolled herself up for Friday dinner.

She had already said it was years and years since she'd gotten to go anywhere without for 4 boys, even for one night, much less 4 days together on a road trip. I kept seeing her smile getting ready, and I was proud to be the guy who took her off to have some fun.

Walked down the Strip to the was the most I've ever paid for a buffet but it was worth it: all the gourmet food upon which I could reasonably expect to gorge, and them some. Said hi to a few bloggers there, then me and my girl headed back out on the Strip. Mostly we did people-watching, a little gambling, and much admiration for my girl walking in the cold, in heels, looking hot and getting was a show I'd wanted to see.

The mix of people we saw walking the Strip, amazed me. Not in its diversity, so much as it seemed skewed to just a few types. Hot Asian women, often just 2 or 3 of them together, was a common sight. As were the college fraternity types hooting and hollering, literally...with the majority of people like us, just walking and seeing what we could see.

Back to the hotel room we went, then to the casino at our hotel. Drifted around inside the huge place for hours then made it back to our room, tired but excited to have one another to ourselves.

She got a text from a neighbor, saying her sons' car had a tail-light out, unaware she was very far out of town. She asked me what would be the best way to tell the boys to fix it, since she'd only said she was going out for the weekend, not to Vegas. I told her just to text, Fix your tailight, and nothing else, because they might think she'd seen their car on the road.

They bought it, asking, how do you know that?? with no reply from her except, Just fix it. Later when we got home, she told them we'd been to Vegas, and they did not believe her. All that time they'd thought we were lurking in town, watching them....LOL

It was with a grin we drifted off...I think. I barely put a dent in my fifth of Wild Turkey and she had a tiny nip of her vodka...we were just glad we'd made it to Vegas after 28 hours driving, to do what we wanted to do, by ourselves. And that is what we did...