Another installment of my travel narrative. Tonight we're in the redwoods of California, but you need to go back to Vegas to catch up.
Heading north on 95 from Las Vegas to Tonopah.
I can't hwlp but think about Michael Ventura as we are Leaving Las Vegas. He wrote a series of essays about Las Vegas that appear in a book called Letters at 3AM. When I read those pieces several years ago, I was fascinated. Now I've caught a figurative glimpse of what he was talking about.
The fact that Las Vegas even exists is a testament to all things American.
Walking down the strip last night, the people reminded me a lot of the crowds I've seen in places like 6 Flags over Texas. Amusement park people are removed from reality--you see these semi-blank stares as they just amble around until they bump into the next escapist fantasy.
What I will remember the most I imagine, are those monolithic marquees -- huge structures unto themselves. Individually they must use more electricity than most small towns. I've got some photos that I hope to put up as soon as I get back to connection that can handle the upload. I liked using the regular old-fashioned dialup in the hotel room. The computer claimed a 50K connection, but my remote mail server was moving slowly.
For this trip, I signed up with Juno for their pay service because I loathe AOL. And so far Juno has worked fine since reinstalling dialup networking.
Writing while driving down the road, and while "disconnected," allows one to write in a much more concentrated fashion. Enabling much more editing etc. I'd better plug in since this battery has been a little flaky.
686 miles since Albuquerque. The barren landscape helps with rediscovering the voice. Robert Bly told a story of Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet, who would find an area of Germany with very uninteresting landscape, hang out there for a few days until he became so completely bored that he would start to write.
Riding along with my wife, driving and looking at the desolation of southern Nevada, seems to help me type.
When we left the Hilton this morning, for the second time in as many days, an outside party said, "hey, your tire is low." We pumped it up yesterday, but today after feeling like idiots because we didn't check it as closely as the bellman at the Hilton did--from the sidewalk no less, we decided we'd better get it fixed. 12 bucks and 45 minutes at the Firestone at E. Sahara and Eastern. Not bad given all the possible alternatives.
Hiway 50 to Placerville from South Lake Tahoe, CA. Two days since writing. Thank God. My better judgement takes over when camping among the tree and the bear. I generally will choose not to damage the natural environment with the computer vibration.
Last night Lake Tahoe at Sugar Pine Point. We saw a bear. A fuzzy reddish-brown guy, looked to be adolescent in age. We scared him out of camp and then he kind of strolled away. Didn't seem that scared actually. When he gets bigger....
Lake Tahoe is beautiful but rather crowded with trendy types. I like it though, overall.
The night before we found Rock Creek north of Bishop, CA and it was very cool. Up in the Sierra Nevadas.
These last two nights of camping, I have rediscovered the ritual of fire. I really got into creating the fire for the campsite. Gathering the twigs and logs and pine cones. Structuring the tinder for a good burn. Maintaining and guarding the fire until it sufficiently burned down.
There are many good reasons burn a fire. Not only does it keep you warm and help you cook food if you'd rather use it than mess with the Coleman and propane; but it also keeps away bugs, and helps ward off bears too.
Seeing the bear last night was fun. I'm just glad Lucy didn't see him by herself. This may have changed our overall perception of the experience.
Today we head into San Francisco, though not directly. I hope to upload this today.
My wife says we're up in the Redwoods. There are a helluvalotta trees, but I don't know that they're red. Seeing a Giants game tomorrow at Pac Bell with John & Lisa, our gracious hosts here near Bonnie Doon, CA. We've got a fireplace in our little bungalow so I can continue to explore its meaning in the greater scheme of things.
One of a rare few hotel rooms I've been in during the last few years, that DOESN'T have HBO. You can watch movies, but you gotta pay for 'em. Yeah, these guys don't want you upstairs in your room. They want you downstairs -- playin'
I must say this place is fascinating. In the most morbid way possible. This hotel has 12 restaurants in it. The Las Vegas Hilton. We decided to splurge a little bit and got a room here instead of Budget Suites. A person could easily move into this place and never go outside. We were going to eat at Quark's. It's part of Star Trek: The Experience, the thing that Lucy wants to see, and which is one of main reasons we dropped anchor here, but now we might not have time to take in.
I thought we should've packed the network card. There's a network connection here that you have to pay for, to get on high speed internet, but still I would've done it. Can also get on the net through the television; but I will attempt to connect through local dial up later when I go to post this. Should be able to do it with the extra jacks here.
We somehow slopped into getting this amazing room. A conference room kind of thing with a wet bar and a big round table with four chairs on wheels and a great view. And for some reason we got it for their cheapest rate.
That impulse purchase at the Gallup truckstop has proved to be a valuable acquisition. You can basically map out a town to your liking, marking all the locations that you give a shit about.
Now we have walked the strip at night, which is what I wanted to do the most. It was a helluva walk. We took a cab back from Ceasar's Palace. I got some pictures of phenomenally heavy concentrations of neon. But the best news is my challenge with offloading digicam shots to the laptop has been solved. At a camera shop that faced the strip (actually the cam shop was inside a casino---everything
in vegas is part of a larger whole that is usually a casino---even the casinos) I got a card reader that will fit into the PCMCIA slot on the lap. It's identical to the card holder that goes into my USB port card reader. I had the solution and didn't know it.
I have successfully logged into the net through the phone line at the hotel. Local calls are weird here. $1 for the first 30 minutes, $1 a minute after that.
We learned in the cab that this hotel was once the largest in the world.
Here's a little road narrative uploaded courtesy of my friend Russell in Las Vegas. Written in the cab of Ford Ranger headed west on I-40
Heading west on I-40. We only got out of Abq about 3 hours behind schedule. Just saw a van that advertised a delivery company on the back of it. No shit: www.katiecourier.com
It was so nice passing through the big I and not fearing for our lives. I swear if you haven't been to Burque for a while, and you pass through that thing you'll think you've spacewarped to L.A. or something.
I should've pursued what that guy at Circuit City suggested. He said that I could get a cord to go between my cell phone and the modem on the laptop. Even though it would only give about 14.4 speed, I could still post blogs from the road. Maybe I'll check out getting facilitized in Chinatown.
Heading for San Francisco for those of you who don't know. Going by way of Las Vague Ass and Lake Tahoe. Never been to Vegas. Can't wait to see the strip at night. Will also be seeing a very old and great friend Russell. To know Russell is to laugh hysterically most of the time.
Truck drivers suck sometimes.
No I'm not driving.
We had orginally planned to make it all the way to LV today but that might not happen now. There were just too many CD's to burn. I've got most of my music collection on MP3 Cd's now for the mighty RioVolt MP3 CD player. I've got hundreds of albums in this little box, a little smaller than a shoe box. I love technology.
2:15pm MDT Gallup.
We are technologically challenged on this trip. We have a cig lighter AC adapter for the RioVolt, but no two-prong adapter. So if I'm charging the computer battery with the power supply (cig ltr) we have for for the lap, I have run the Rio on batteries. Ah the hurdles we face.
This is really shaping into a laptop trip. At the GIANT roadside everything store we just pi...passed through outside Gallup, I succumbed to the impulse purchase of Streetfinder software. I thought for $20 what the hell. Could really help in dealing with Vegas not to mention the Bay.
I am also challenged regarding my digicam. I was unable to find a cable to go between the camera and a serial port. The cam predates USB, which I ain't got on this laptop anyway. So I don't have a ready method of unloading images from the camera compactflash card onto the laptop hard drive. My wife assures me that we can find this freaky cable in Chinatown. We'll see but I'm going shopping for Olympus ultrazoom cameras while we're down there.
I realized my salvation when it occurred to me that I can just get another cflash card. I won't be able to review them in large format until we get home but at least I can take as many as I want.
I am carrying along my USB card reader in case we encounter a machine with USB that I can use. I was so anal that I'm bring two blank zip disks and three virgin CD's.
I love journaling down the freeway but this screen doesn't do well in bright sunlight.
4:32pm almost to Winslow, AZ
Curious how I'm driven to write on this drive. I would write about the land but there's nothing to write about. Through these amber-colored sunglasses, the amber land looks like a bland, blank, detailless backdrop. The map software is alright. I found Russell's address on it. So we should be able to find his house.
It's wild that we're 249 miles from home and I haven't taken any pictures. There's nothing to take a photo of out here in my view this time. I'm saving memory for the City by the Bay. I was going to work on some photos from the class reunion trip but I think I'm getting the wheel at Winslow.
9:15pm Kingman, AZ
A $27 motel room. It's the farthest place from the freeway. Is IS a $27 motel room, but it's just fine. Even the cheap ones have free HBO now.
Didn't make it to LV but that's okay. I'd hate to see a $27 room in Vegas. I can't believe we forgot the damn sleeping bags. That is the faux pas of the year so far for us. So we've gotta hit wally world or sears or somewhere in the city of stars and get bags. If we're camping in the Sierras like Lucy says we are, we need bags not just a blanket and pillow.
Here's that photo I was working on. My class of 1977, Yates Center High School. Had to give that trip a little more before going on to this one.