I planned to camp at Mead Lake before entering Las Vegas. Along the road I was distracted by the little Route 66 town of Seligman, Arizona. I had to stop for a float and to walk the streets filled with antique cars and vintage storefronts.
Seligman put me about an hour off of my estimated arrival time and I pulled into the Lake Mead area to witness a sunset over that strange landscape and the locked doors of the visitor’s center. After determining that it would be impossible to find a camping spot in the dark, I headed to the little town of Boulder City, NV. While the town looked quite cozy and cute, even after dark it was ridiculously expensive. My jaw dropped at the price of the absolute seediest cheap motel in town.
I decided to call a hostel in Las Vegas and head into the city a little early. They asked if I was a student. I told them I was. They asked if I had a student ID. I said I did. Las Vegas isn’t really known for being the sort of place where people are very honest anyway. I’m not a very good liar. The guy behind the front desk asked me about my trip and I went on and on. Lies tend to lead to more lies – “So, how are you doing all this traveling while in school?””Online classes.””Oh, Cool. What are you planning on doing when you finish this trip?””Well, other than school, I have this little side graphic design/website business… it would be great to do it full-time.”
Obviously a converted old hotel, I checked into my room at the USA Hostel. I opened the door on three college girls from the U.K. spraying perfume and dry shampoo. They were trying on their fancy dresses and heels about to go out for some “posh” nightlife at one of those “posh” casinos. I asked if I could go along and I tried not to look like the hipster road bum I had become. We waited for forever for a cab, so long that we about gave up on going out. It finally showed up around 12:30 a.m.
Time doesn’t matter in Vegas.
We got into the poolside club at the Mirage. It was crowded and the drinks were expensive. We all bought one and then the English girls started scouting out more affordable alternatives to buying their own drinks. One went off for a while and came back with good news. We were invited to join a guy she met and his friends in their private cabana area! As a girl, I never thought the day would come when I would become just another one of the guys at a bachelor party, but that night had come. The cabana was filled with Brazilians and Argentinians working in America. Most in San Francisco. I had a good time lounging around talking about work and life. One decided to jump in a nearby hot tub. Next thing you know all the guys were in the hot tub beckoning us to join. So we jumped in the hot tub too. Then they guys were escorted out the casino. Us girls decided that it was high time to high tail it out of there. Luckily, with the dry desert air all our clothes were dry by the time we reached the exit.
The guys didn’t want us to leave…. so we took a ride in their limo to the next location, which was a bit more on the traditional bachelor party side. All a sudden the English girls decided it was time to go home and we left the guys, despite their wishes. I had no idea what time it was. Every building in Vegas is designed to look the same no matter what time of the day it is. We walked out of the club into the bright sunshine. Later that day, after a few hours of sleep I lounged around the pool and caught an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I received some good news while poolside. My mom had contacted Cousin Reid and his cousin Reid had invited me to stay with him at his place. I was very fortunate to stay there in the suburbs. Reid’s girlfriend and her preschool daughter were very sweet to have me. The little girl was so excited to have someone to play with, but I couldn’t really play. For several days I pretty much stayed inside and worked. I did try to get out some. One night took in a spectacular Cirque du Soleil show “Zarkana” at the Aria. I had never seen one of those shows before. The acrobatics and tricks were amazing! Reid thinks his show is better though. He works the stages for “O”.
While I was staying at Reid’s place, I also walked around the Strip one day. I checked out the Bellagio’s Gardens and sites. It’s all so over the top and ornate. I later stopped by Fremont Street and stopped inside a coffee shop, just to discover that area of town is undergoing revitalization and art studios and tech co-working spaces are popping up everywhere thanks mostly to Zappos. The online shoe retailers owner bought the old courthouse and turned it into co-working space. I also found out that I was just in time for a tech networking event happening right next door. I quickly bought my ticket and joined the local crowd.
After a few days at Reid’s place, I still hadn’t finished my work or seen everything I wanted to in the Vegas area, so I accepted the last-minute invite of Kelly from Couchsurfing. Kelly was hosting six rock climbers at her place and she didn’t mind one more guest. One of the guys was one of her boyfriends, so the other’s were invited long too. Some were from San Francisco, some were from the East Coast. All were there to climb Red Rock. I loved staying on the living room floor with the climbers. I adjusted to their positive early to bed early to rise schedule and I worked while they were out climbing.
Kelly worked as an engineer at an ice cream factory from mid-afternoon to midnight, so we were able to keep each other company during the day. We had a lot to talk about. She’s a pretty big tom boy, the closest thing to a couch she had in her living room was a crash pad and the only “decoration” was a wall full of climbing gear hooked to the wall. I also find it hard, especially in the South to deal with all the outside influences that tell you what you should like to do, want to do and be. I’ve been told that I need to be more domestic and care more about my home. I know “home” what “home”. It has been hinted that there is something innately wrong with me because I don’t get along well with children. It was good to talk with another female who is very career oriented. Her mother was actually an engineer as well and her dad did all the domestic duties.
On Saturday, I actually joined the climbers at Red Rock and they left up a top line for me so I could climb. It was really hard climbing on actual rock. In the past, I had only climbed at gyms. After getting up pretty high and not seeing or feeling any holds, I got down and decided to take a hike. The desert was so bright and colorful. I never knew that there was so much vegetation in the desert. Flowers were everywhere!
The day that most of the guys left ended up being some of the most fun. We ate mouth-watering burgers at LBS: A Burger Joint at the Red Rock Casino. I was probably the only one to actually eat beef though. Everyone at my table was vegetarian. Later we spent hours at the Pinball Hall of Fame and grabbed some Ethiopian food.
One by one the climbers left. I met up with a guy from the hiking trail at the Neon Boneyard. The Neon Boneyard is where old neon signs retire and many a little known tale is told by a guide in red wedges and lip stick. After the tour we hit up Emergency Arts, a gallery/artist studio area. I saw lots of great pieces, but one really fascinating one was a giant tapestry of the city at the Trifecta Gallery. By this time I loved Vegas. I was really to move there. I applied for a job. I never heard back.
The day the last rock climber from the group left, John showed up to also climb. John met Kelly when they were climbing in Thailand. He also was on a long solo road trip. We cooked together bacon left in Kelly’s fridge by her guests and walked to the local Goodwill. I bought a vintage leather jacket and a 80s dress. John got leggings and wool t-shirts. We went to see the Hoover Dam together. I loved the Art Deco look. It’s pretty tall. When I left, John told me we might cross paths again. His trip would be taking him to some of the areas where I would be staying. I looked forward to meeting with a friend again.