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And so I departed Friday at 1:00pm for Las Vegas. The drive began identically to one I took with Ilya some time ago when we drove down I-10E to the Ontario/Upland area to pick up one of his friends. This portion of the drive, along with the merge onto I-15N and the fifteen mile extension between the Ontario Freeway and the Barstow Freeway was quite jammed with traffic. I’d say the first fifty or so miles took almost two hours to complete. Once on I-15N towards Vegas it was smooth sailing all the way to Nevada. The drive was fascinating for a variety of reasons. I drove past several federal correctional facilities, which are always fun to see on the side of the highway. There was an abandoned amusement park with old, decrepit waterslides stretching into the sky, which appeared to be inaccessible from the freeway. Calico Ghost Town is visible while passing through Yermo.
When driving cross-country, I’ve seen a lot of weird road signs. In rural areas, I might even see a homemade exit for a personalized dirt path called something like “Ben’s Road”. By far the weirdest exit I’ve seen in quite some time was witnessed maybe ten or fifteen miles outside of Baker. It was called Zzyzx Road (Wikipedia), which takes you through Zzyzx, California. Zzyzx is the first town on I-15N that borders the Mojave Desert. Here the temperature skyrocketed into the triple digits to numbers I haven’t seen since my all-too-brief stay in Yuma, Arizona when my car’s thermometer registered 120 degrees. I stopped in Baker for gas and a bite to eat. Baker (Wikipedia) is the gateway to the Mojave and Death Valley. It borders the Mojave, but Death Valley is no more than a 45-60 minute drive down Death Valley Road. Baker is also the home of the world’s tallest thermometer. Although I didn’t see what it registered on Friday (my car said 104-107), on Sunday it registered between 107-117 degrees. Needless to say, it was a little warm outside as I stood at the Mobil station waiting for my car’s gas tank to fill. The drive continued around the perimeter of the Mojave all the way to Nipton, where the route turned sharply North towards the California/Nevada border and the town of Primm. From there it is maybe an hour to Vegas.
I arrived between 5:30 and 6:00. I checked into the Monte Carlo, inquired about the lowered room rate Ian saw online, and then dropped my bags off in our room (13th floor, on a hall that seemed to be entirely populated by highschoolers, which was quite vexing) and sat in the sports betting room for another hour or two until Matt called. He arrived at about 8:00, we hung out and talked, had a beer, and waited for Ian. Once the three of us were checked-in and ready to head out for the night, we hoofed it all the way to the Wynn and slowly made our way back down the strip to the Monte Carlo over the course of the next nine hours or so, stopping along the way for copious amounts of liquor, gambling, girl watching, and greasy bacon cheeseburgers at 5:00am. We returned to our room as the sun was rising. The temperature, it seemed, never dropped below 90. It was already uncomfortably warm just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. Some of us were pretty drunk and chatty (Matt), some of us had been up for over 24-hours (Ian), and all of us except Matt lost money. Although, if I hadn’t been watching drunk Matt at the ATM, he might have actually gone through with a $2,000 withdrawal when he meant to type $200. With night one over and the following day already in progress, we decided try and crash for five or six hours.
Upon awakening, we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel’s cafe and then spent the next several hours poolside, ogling beautiful girls and enjoying the “lazy river” pool. At some time, I’m not sure when, we showered, dressed, and headed to the buffet to claim a free meal (well, two free meals for the three of us). Gross amounts of food were consumed. Really, quite sickening amounts. To think about the amount of food that was both ingested and wasted is still quite astounding. I think, individually, we ate about as much as a developing nation family consumes over the course of a few weeks. From dinner we walked over to New York, New York, then the Luxor, then Mandelay Bay (where a big boxing match had just ended). I’m pretty sure everyone except Ian lost money, but at The Luxor it was almost worth it, considering they had scantily-clad, dangerously-young girls dancing seductively in sexy lingerie for anyone who might be playing at one of the casino’s blackjack tables. From Mandelay Bay we took the tram back to Excalibur and then walked back to the Monte Carlo, where we split up and played/drank for a few more hours. I finally won back some of the money I lost, to the point where my losses were pretty much negligible. Slightly less drunk, slightly less tired, we eventually crashed for the night while watching–what else–Showgirls.
I apologize for blurry photos. I was drunk. You can tell because they get progressively blurrier. So drunk, I forgot to take a single picture Friday night.
(this one is of a really foxy girl — take my word for it!)
On Sunday we each made early exits for the airport (and me for my car) — if you consider afternoon to be “early,” which maybe you do if you’re unemployed and habitually sleep late like I do. The drive home was peaceful, I started to feel like I was dozing off as I neared Baker so I stopped for some yogurt and a soda to tide me over. As I drove through the Mojave, I challenged myself to kill the A/C in my car and roll down the windows and enjoy the desert heat for the most sweltering hundred-or-so miles of the journey. I’m finally back now, eyes bloodshot, legs sore, and ready to restart my job search.
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