Help! Help! I’ve been hijacked and I’m currently in a small gray vehicle shooting across the arid plains of New Mexico. The people with me say we’re on our way to Las Vegas and we should arrive late Sunday night. Want to ride along with me? C’mon, you know I couldn’t last a week with no GH commentary and not write something.
This trip has been in the
planning stages for about five years. Several years ago we moved from Las
Vegas to a small town outside of Houston. Since then we’ve paid monthly
for storage space in Las Vegas filled with miscellaneous belongings that
we’ve proved we can do without but didn’t unload before we moved away.
We’ve paid storage fees probably equivalent to one of my kids’ college
education. Several times, we’ve planned this trip but for various reasons
it hasn’t worked out. This year we were determined and so here I am
driving through the desert, enjoying myself but missing my computer time.
Plus I’ll be otherwise occupied for a whole week unable to watch GH.
Think I’ll survive? I think I will but I’m looking forward to a GH
marathon next weekend.
Early Saturday morning I loaded my sleepy children, 16 and 9, in the car which I’d packed the night before and we headed to Dallas to pick up my husband, the truck driver. As you might guess several little entertaining bits passed in front of me and I need to share or I might burst and we certainly don’t want that happening in a small car hurtling down Interstate 40.
Stopping for breakfast and a quick potty break I experienced a restroom incident. Walking to the sink area I glimpsed from the corner of my eye a person behind me. Startlement and a fission of dread shivered through me because my glimpse said there was a man in the restroom with me. “Shoot (OK, really I didn’t think shoot, use your imagination here), it finally happened,” I thought. “I walked into the men’s room by mistake.” Whirling around (zero tact when I’m startled) to face the person who was standing behind me, I blatantly looked the person up and down starting with tennis shoes and working my way up. Thankfully, it was an older woman dressed in jean shorts and a plaid tucked-in shirt with generic tennies and short hair but now I didn’t know what to do to explain my behavior. After all, I had obviously done a 180 just to give her a once over. Unable to think of an appropriate response I acted like it didn’t happen. How could I explain tactfully that I thought she was a man? Silence seemed like the higher road at that moment. I just smiled and turned around to wash my hands while she looked uncertain and declined to wash her hands, quickly exiting the room. Yep, here’s me starting off our trip by scaring little old ladies in public restrooms.
Arriving in Dallas a couple hours later, we found my husband with no problems thanks to MapQuest.com and cell phones. (I love technology.) He’d arranged to leave his truck with his mechanic who lives back in the hills. Up down and around we traveled on Rt. 66 only too bad it wasn’t the famed Rt. 66 across America but it was fun to pretend anyway. We drove past the Veterinary Hospital of Fate. Doesn’t leaving a pet’s recovery to Fate make the clinic redundant?
Since my husband drives all the time and he’s on vacation, I drove throughout the day. In my life, during the week with my husband gone, I am The Queen In Charge of Everything. Mostly, independent soul that I am, I’m fine with being The Queen, but sometimes by weekends I am tired and I’m ready for him to come home and take charge. So me driving wasn’t a big deal as I’m used to being in charge. However, driving with a truck driver riding shotgun was, ahem…interesting.
“Watch out for that truck I think he’s changing lanes.”
“Don’t crowd the truck he can’t see you.”
“Wait for the truck to pull out so he has enough room.”
“Turn on your signal.” “Flash you lights.”
Is a picture forming in your head here? Pretty much I said OK and kept on driving. It was only towards evening that I found myself gritting my teeth and responding in a shorter and shorter tone of voice. After we’d checked into a hotel for the night I informed him that his vacation was over and he and my son could take turns driving the next day.
In one tiny Texas town, I saw an old brick two-story building located in the center of town with “FAUX PANTS” printed in huge yellow letters on the side. What the heck are faux pants?
In another couple towns I saw two full sized black and white plastic cows – one in front of a BBQ place and one on the lawn of an antique shop. Don’t tell Babe from AMC, I’m sure she’ll have to have them.
I also saw two school bus graveyards and more car and truck graveyards that I could count. What makes a person buy old school buses and park them in a row and then never move them again? Same with cars. Why buy and haul old cars then line them up like bulky, rusting yard decorations?
I have pictures of my children sacked out in the backseat sleeping peacefully with their mouths wide open.
Sunflowers grew everywhere and lined the sides of the highway waving us on like happy children.
Playing a ‘Best of the Eagles” CD, I sang along happily and appreciated my husband who doesn’t care one whit if I sing the same song more than once just because I like it. My r the day was “Take It to the Limit” because I realized that the words could be a God song.
You can spend all your time makin’ money.
You can spend all your love makin’ time.
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow,
Would you still be mine?
And when you’re lookin’ for your freedom,
Nobody seems to care.
And you can’t find the door,
Can’t find it anywhere.
And you’re turnin’ out, and burnin’ out and turnin’ out the same.
So put me on a highway.
Show me a sign.
And take it to the limit one more time.
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still be mine? It’s a two sided question. God asks us that question every day. And we, doubting humans ask it of God right back. If my life fell to pieces tomorrow, would I still be faithful? Lord, I hope so.
Road trip thoughts on Hwy 40.
Wow. Talk about a long driving day. Not much happened except we entertained ourselves by observing unique road names.
“Two Gun Road,” I noted. “Why two guns?
“Maybe because two guns are better than one,” my husband quipped back.
Later, we passed Twin Arrows Road. “Hmm, two guns and twin arrows,” I noted.
Clever guy that he is, my husband drawled, “Well, I wouldn’t take two arrows to a gun fight.” I know, it’s silly, but it cracked us up for the next hour or so. We figured that the guns and arrows battled it out on Devil Dog Road. I want to live on Devil Dog Road. It sounds like a happenin’ place.
Sunday’s only other excitement was a flat tire in the middle of nowhere on our new car. Seconds after we unloaded the trunk, pulled out the funny little spare and began jacking up the car, a highway patrolman pulled up behind us to check us out. Sweating in the desert heat with two kids on the side of the road, the nice policeman (I say with sarcasm) stood behind my husband as he worked asking questions like “I see you’re from Texas, where in Texas?” “Where are you headed?” “Is this a rental car?” Pfft to him. I guess stopping is better than driving by, but stopping and being a pain doesn’t help.
The fun came later when we made a pit stop at a tiny little gas station. Noticing tires on a rack outside the store my husband asked me to find out if they carried the right size for our car and the price. I asked the nice man who barely spoke English and he began looking at tires stored around the garage. Meanwhile, another younger guy who had been supervising the filling of the underground gas tanks strolled over to see what the non-English speaking, but English understanding man was looking for. Acting like he was checking the tires in front the younger guy made a show of expertly flipping his switchblade open and closed and doing some twirly tricks. I knew it was for my benefit because he slid a couple sideways looks towards me as he performed. It was the equivalent of construction workers whistling at a woman passing by. I always wonder what reaction they’re hoping for from their macho posturing. Do they expect women to turn around and say, “Hey, thanks for whistling, here’s my telephone number?” I’m not sure what the knife flipping guy expected either, but it was fun to watch his I-am-male-see-me-flip-my-knife performance.
Finally, we made the last curve
and Las Vegas appeared spread out before us. I loved living in Las
Vegas. It’s the closest a person can come to living in the Wild West only
in this day and age only with cars. Anything can happen in Las Vegas and
does. But right then, all I craved was solid ground, a shower and a bed.
Packing, sorting, saving and dumping. After an endless breakfast in a cave of a restaurant in the pits of a casino we made our way to the light (that would be outside away from crowds of people and constantly clanging slot machines). For the record, I enjoyed living in Las Vegas, but I wasn’t much of a gambler and the casinos never called to me. We made our way to the storage facility for the big reveal. Ta-Da! Lift up the storage door we found a room full of stuff we didn’t care about but were contractually obligated to pa for monthly.
Let the unpacking, sorting,
saving and dumping begin. All day we had a party in the storage facility
hallway exclaiming over possessions we’d forgotten about or shaking our
heads wondering why we’d bought, much less kept, certain items. Since I
am not a keeper type person and the truck we’d rented wasn’t huge the
Salvation Army made out quite well with refrigerator, washer, dryer, sofa,
lawn mower and tons of miscellaneous items we didn’t need. Between give-aways
and throw-aways we had less than a third of the room to load onto the
truck. My kids performed like troopers helping us rip open boxes and sort
in the heat with little break time. After an exhausting day, but Monday
evening we’d organized and made a couple runs to the Salvation Army all
that was left was hauling the trash away (it filled the bottom of a 10
foot U-Haul and then loading of the keeper stuff. We loaded the trash
into the back of the truck and then set out on a covert trash dump run.
Stealthily we drove behind several shopping centers throwing a few items
here and few items there so we didn’t fill any bin too full. I couldn’t
if we were setting a good example or bad example as parents. On one hand,
we were taking responsibility for our trash and making the effort
necessary to properly dispose of our garbage. But then there we were
sneaking around like thieves filling other people’s trash bins. Ooooh,
criminal activity, we could’ve been busted for throwing away trash.
It took us less than an hour to load the keeper boxes into the truck and then we turned into instant tourists. You’d think since we lived in Las Vegas for 15 years that it wouldn’t hold a lot of excitement but a cool thing about Las Vegas is that it’s always evolving, changing and remaking itself. Just renting a hotel room on The Strip entertained us since we’d never done it before. Driving down the strip gawking, we marveled over the changes and new casinos. Having worked for architects for many years, I find buildings endlessly fascinating as I try to figure out what messages they’re conveying.
We saw a water fountain ballet in front of The Bellagio. (I think. Some of the buildings tended to run together.)
We watched a pirate fight in front of Treasure Island.
I rode the mega roller coaster with my son in front of The New York giving me lots of good mom points but taking about 20 years off my life. It’s not often that I experience sheer I-might-really-die-here terror, but I did on that ride. It slowly yanked us up about 40 stories before dropping, doing loop-de-loops, and barrel rolling a couple times. Why people voluntarily pay money to scream in terror for 3-1/2 minutes is beyond my understanding. I really, really screamed and I was still hoarse on Wednesday. My voice broke which my kids didn’t seem to mind at all. When the ride finally ended, I could barely stand up to haul myself out of the last car of the torture train. For me, Elvis has left the building regarding roller coaster rides. I knew I had truly been frightened when a couple hours later we entered a game arcade across the street and I felt myself hyper-ventilating as I watched the tiny yellow cars snake along the rails so high off the ground.
Strolling through a place called GameWorks, we watched a kid reach expert status on a game called DDR (Dance, Dance Revolution) where his feet moved so quickly they blurred. I’d love to try that game but only at home with no one around to laugh at me fumble.
The evening ended with the kids winning a few stuffed animals at Circus Circus while Mom and Dad leaned up against the wall, praying for the quarters to run out soon.
Aaah, sleep. I love sleep. A hotel bed never felt so grand and morning rolled around much too quickly.
The more I play tourist, the more I enjoy it. Living in Las Vegas meant work every day and maintaining a home; however, visiting Las Vegas means buffets and adventures. We dropped in at my old office to say hello to a few people and ended up in what felt like an office party. Work stopped for several people as we caught up, chatted and admired children who’d grown by leaps and bounds. Looking back I realize how much I learned and matured from these people particularly my bosses who built an architectural firm with about 10 employees to 75+. It’s exciting to have been a tiny cog in their wheel. Even though it’s been over 10 years since I worked there these were the folks who taught me, mentored me and became friends. At the time I didn’t realize I was absorbing life lessons but I appreciate now what I learned about business and marketing from such successful men and friends who still work there.
Las Vegas boasts wonderful buffets. We met up with friends at The Rio one evening and spent a couple hours talking and eating while our kids bonded over pizza and unlimited desserts. I had lots of fun and learned that crab legs are too much trouble to eat while socializing, but a couple bites of everything else works quite nicely. On the way out we caught one of the free shows that the casino puts on which thrilled my kids. The dancing ladies threw Mardi Gras beads into the crowd as they rode their platform back to the ceiling. Somewhere in the excitement of grabbing for plastic colored beads my husband lost his cell phone. It created about 15 minutes of worry until I realized that I pay insurance every month to cover such circumstances. The next morning we called the telephone company, made our claim and hopefully, his new telephone will arrive at our house the same day we do. Silver linings.
time wound to a close and we drove six hours to Phoenix to visit my
brother, sister-in-law, and my three week old niece. It’s odd for me to
be the visitor. Usually, I’m the person being visited but I’m flexible.
I can adjust to fun, food, conversation, and little responsibility.
Feeding my tiny new niece filled me with warm fuzzies. Doesn’t make me
want a baby but it fills me with awe to hold a tiny little being and I
love the feel of a baby in my arms. Especially one I can hand back when
she makes unhappy noises or smells bad. My brother cracked me up when he
took his daughter to another room to change her diaper and called out to
his wife, “Uh oh, I never saw anything like this before.”
Driving and more driving with no end in sight. 1,100 miles to my house. At one point I thought I saw the bald, dancing Six Flags man in a white Buick speeding down I-10 outside of Phoenix but since no music played and he didn’t stop and dance for me I can’t be sure.
If I never
eat another hamburger and French fries meal in my lifetime, I’ll be
content. We all want to get home so fast food has become our main menu.
One more night in a hotel and most of the clothes are dirty. Time to go
home, unload the U-Haul, and begin the gargantuan task of separating the
little I plan to keep from what I hope will grow into a whoppin’ garage
sale pile. Who knows, maybe I’ll make enough to recoup some of our trip
expenses. It’s been a good time but I want to be home. My cat will
probably sulk over our desertion and I’ll have to apologize to him for
days. I’m anxious to zone out watching a week’s worth of GH and catch up
on e-mails. I miss my ‘net pals and EOS friends.
I love my home, especially when I’m in it. My son is giddy over the prospect of jumping on AIM to chat with his friends. Also barely able to contain herself, my daughter can’t wait to tell her friends about her adventures in wonderland. My husband and I crave sleep and lack of movement.
Winding down, I let my mind wander and define what I thought of each of the states we drove through.
Texas – To those of you who think Texas is the U.S. and the rest of the states are just straggling along for the glory, I understand why you think that. An amazing array of scenery passed before me and several locations made me want to stop the car and soak in the beauty.
Arizona – Along Hwy 60 we came to a stoplight in the middle of nowhere with a street sign that announced, “City of Surprise”. I waited for the surprise but all I got was a red light in the middle of nowhere. Subtle describes the texture of the landscape. Browns, reds and gray greens make the surprising yellow and white of flowers blooming all the more vibrant and beautiful.
New Mexico, Land of Enchantment – Arid browns overwhelm those passing through but the inspiring, spectacular yellow, orange sunset made up for the monotonous highway. Tough people live there and the landscape has an I-dare-you-to-survive appeal. Though I have to say the yellow water put me off a bit; when flushing a toilet the color rivaled the sunset. Not an appealing draw for a tourist.
Nevada – I’m biased towards Nevada because I loved living there. Mountains, desert, sunsets, and Las Vegas create a harsh mecca. Harsh because it’s not a place for the faint hearted. It’s vibrant, brash and filled with adventure and opportunity, but also a mecca because anything is possible there.
And now I’m done driving and finished pondering. Appreciating our working vacation made me realize how blessed my family is to have a comfortable home in a neighborhood as safe as possible in this day and age. My bed has all the pillows I want and SoapNet is calling my name. Life is good.