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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wild Hair

Last Sunday night, my sister and I, having stayed up with the rest of the family-- including my cousin Andrew, who recently entered the Navy, is currently stationed(?) in San Diego, and had come out to the desert on his weekend off--watching Napoleon Dynamite, eating addictive sweet potato burritos, and helping my mom sew tops and pants-extensions for April's scrubs, were in bed with the lights off when it occurred to her that we should drive to Las Vegas.

I was less convinced than she was, but somehow, nonetheless, ended up in the passenger seat of my mom's car, at 12:24 a.m., as April steered us through the desert under a full moon. After staying awake until Barstow, where we made a pit stop at which we were enthusiastically greeted by a voluble, chemically-enhanced crazy on his way back from Vegas with a friend, I reclined the seat and slept. The next thing I knew, I could see the lights of the city from the freeway, and April was wondering which exit to take.

Vegas is a weird place no matter how you look at it, but it's especially striking, I think, when you arrive by car. For miles, you're traveling through desolate desert, and then, suddenly, from the middle of nowhere, arises a blinding oasis of glaring lights and architecture that belongs to no particular era or location, yet appropriates from all in a bizarre and unanticipated amalgamation. Arriving after a scant two hours of Queen-permeated car-sleep, at the conclusion of a journey embarked upon in the middle of the night, only adds to the effect.

We cruised the strip and marveled at the weirdness (it was April's first trip) before meeting up with Bryant at his apartment near the UNLV campus. He treated us to breakfast at a buffet in the Fremont East district, which is historic Las Vegas; did you know that the strip and the major casinos aren't actually in Las Vegas proper, but rather in an unincorporated area called Paradise? I didn't.

Afterward, we took April back to the apartment so she could sleep, and then Bryant took me to coffee on his yet-unnamed, but still thoroughly charming new scooter. We had wanted to eat after that, but ended up only having time to check out the Bellagio and (briefly) the nearby Ceasar's Palace before I started to get terribly jumpy about the flight I needed to catch in Palm Springs in five and a half hours.

We had to drop our excellent chauffeur and tour-guide back at his place and then jet. Traffic was a bit snarled getting out of the city, and then there were painfully slow semis to pass deeper into the desert where the roads narrow to one lane in each way, but the sun was shining and I was powered by my first caffeine in three weeks. And although I drive slowly, if at all, in my normal life, there are few motivators like trying to make an impending flight; straight, dry roads; and a gutsy car; to make one feel like opening it up. It felt good.

As it happened, I needn't have worried about my flight--which was epically delayed--and could have spent at least part of those eight hours back in Vegas. Even so, the visit would probably have been too short... though hopefully it won't be the last.

Here are some pictures:


Mumsie said...

I like the new picture on your web. I'm partial to a smiling you.

Ern said...

What a fun trip! That kind of surreal, last-minute, unplanned trip is the best way to do justice to the weirdness of Vegas.

I Hope So said...

i love those kinds of trips. and i love your pics.

Yes Is A World said...


Jeff said...

As the saying goes, "Sweet rockin' awesome."

Ted said...

Sweet potato burritos! We discovered these in Hawaii at a Brazilian fusion restaurant and they were definitely rocking.