Day 2.5 – Arrival

Left Fallon, NV around 10:00 AM. I don’t know. It’s kind of a blur. I remember stopping at the Safeway in town, wandering the aisles trying to find a liter bottle of water and an energy bar for breakfast. I wanted to conserve calories because I’ve been over-eating like crazy, and I wanted to stem the guilt I knew I’d feel when I got to Vegas and gorged on a delicious buffet. Frustrating, then, to not immediately find that cold liter of water, and there didn’t seem to be an energy bar in the entire store. Plus, some dude cut in line in front of me at the in-store Starbucks and that was the last straw. I left Fallon hungry and thirsty.

The next town, though, was on the other side of the Walker River Paiute Reservation, 40 miles away, in a town called Schurz.

I discovered that the Malibu loses its breath over 100 MPH. Or maybe it was the heat; it never dropped below 95 all day yesterday, on my 386 mile blast down US-95 through the Nevada desert.

But around 70-85 MPH, it did just fine. Don’t look at me like that – the speed limit is 70 for most of that stretch, and I used the cruise control to my advantage, setting it about 9 MPH over the speed limit, and pushing it only when I was passing. I slowed to the speed limit when driving through towns (which caused some frustration for those behind me, but, whatever). I saw at least three folk pulled over by state troopers, and saw several more cops just out ‘n’ about, but I did not get pulled over. I’m either lucky or doing something right. I prefer the latter.

I wanted to take some pictures of the amazing mountains and desert but I’m disappointed in my camera. Sure it takes decent snapshots but I want something more. The scenes will have to live in my memory: the coyote panting in the shade of a guard rail; the burro tied up to a sign advertising burro rides; the half-dozen legal brothels I passed, each one just a collection of trailers set off the main highway, with friendly signs proclaiming their wares; or, of course, the natural colors, gray, brown, red, yellow, of the mountains.

Everywhere I saw those mountains, I was reminded of the tail-fin inspired mountains in Pixar’s “Cars”. I became Lightning McQueen. Every semi-truck I passed was Mack. I kept hoping to see “Doc” Hudson pacing me, taunting me…

In Schurz, I stopped to get water, but the store was sold out, except for gallon bottles. Hard to drink from a gallon bottle while driving. I bought a 7-Up and some beef jerky. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I glanced to my left and saw an ancient, almost toothless old man, eyes hidden behind thick prescription glasses, so shrunken and shriveled and tanned to within an inch of being actual leather, his head barely rising above the windowsill of the car in which he sat.

When he saw me, his mouth opened into a wide, but empty, grin, and he waved wildly. I smiled and waved back.

There’s so little to tell of the rest of the drive. I got gasoline ($3.19/gallon for regular unleaded) in Beatty, where it was 110° F and I was afraid I’d literally burst into flame. And I drove. And I didn’t detour or otherwise stop unless I had to.

Around 4:20 PM, I entered Clark County. Shortly after, I could see the top of the Stratosphere at the edge of the horizon. I’ve been to the top – the very top – several times.

I tried the Rio first, because I had a thought to see two of my intellectual heroes, Penn & Teller, perform. Rio was sold out – at least to a walk-in without a reservation. I tried the Riviera next. Also sold out, but the lady at the counter suggested I use the house phone to reach reservations and try that way. I did try, but the phone voice mail hell literally ran me in circles and I gave up. I walked to the Vegas Hilton – also sold out.

So that’s why I ended up at the Motel 6, on the second story facing the airport, in a non-smoking room that smells heavily of cigarette smoke. Shortly after dragging my stuff in and getting on the (pay) internet, the couple next door started going at it. Loudly. Hey, that’s the kind of free entertainment one does not get in the fancy-schmancy hotels on the Strip, or even downtown! And luckily it was the kind of sex that turns me on…

After showering off the road and changing, I drove to the self-parking at the Mirage, parked the car, and wandered around. So many people, even late on a Sunday night. Not Times Square crowded, but close. And all the amazing people-watching… tourists from all over. I kept expecting to run into anyone I knew, but that didn’t happen. I kept hoping to run into someone famous, but that didn’t happen.

What did happen, you ask? Come on, now, you know the rule: What happens in Vegas… stays in Vegas.