Vegas Baby to Zion, Utah


Blogging about your cross-country trip is a lot like undertaking any other writing project — it’s much easier not to do it.  But, how else would I be able to tell you about the amazing day I had crossing the Narrows in Zion, or about the $100 I won at Craps at the Tropicana, and even what it’s been like to be cleaning your house and rent it out in a jiffy and realizing that your friends really love you?  I could post photos, but that would be way too easy!

Day 1 – Panic in LA.

Most of this day was spent running to the post office with boxes bigger than me to mail to New Jersey because I really couldn’t figure out how to fit everything in my car.  For some unknown reason neither of my friends took well to my declaration that they should bring a small duffel bag and nothing else.  What! — they can borrow my clothes if they run out.  Sheesh.

I’m traveling across country with 2 different friends.  Both of whom are very special to me, and both of whom are very different.  I figure that when we do the switch at the 3/4 point — one friend will give me the great send-off in Detroit, the other will fly in from Texass to Detroit and drive with me to NYC — it will be a more opportune time to write about the special joys of traveling in a car for long distances with somebody who you feel really comfortable with and whose boundaries you probably respect a little less than that of a still-getting-to-know-you-friend. 

But, because she banned me from using her personal information, I do have a certain freedom here.  I will say that my first friend Laverne is a wonderful gal, but is going through some hard knocks.  Actually, she’s had a hard-ass life, a lot harder than mine, which would make most people feel guilty and more considerate, but just makes me realize I can expect a lot from her.  She’s like my own personal Eeyore.  A rainy cloud learning to drive a stick shift while I think really hard about how much a new clutch will cost.  (The direct result of getting into an MFA program for me is that I am hella cheaper).  

I’m not the kind of person who feel comfortable being in touch with their sad feelings, but I figure if I have the capacity to be a real friend to Laverne and learn to be zen during her hard times while I’m enclosed with her in a small space — then I will be blessed and get lots of points for Heaven.  If not, then I will definitely lose points and I will not only not collect $200 and NOT pass go.  Also, if not, and I fail at being a sympathetic shoulder, I vow to try even harder to download episodes of This American Life to distract us both from the pain.  I know that most folks are probably thinking — dude, you’re friend is willing to drive across the country with you!  Yes, that’s right, I am that old adage — give me more, and I will take it.

Anyway, for my fare thee well meal to LA, I went to myung dong koja — a 24-hour homemade Korean noodle joint which has served as the place for many memories.  Laverne pointed out that they will no longer be 24-hour and will start closing at 3 in the AM.  I think this is fitting.  I’ve bemoaned many a lost love at this place, so maybe it’s time for a change.

On my way out, my friend P.A. stopped by, and she gave me a book of cards from my goodbye party that she and others had helped to organize.  I was overwhelmed with sadness, so I concentrated on the bulgogi.  I thought a lot about what it meant to be traveling, how sad I was that I couldn’t fast for Ramadan any longer, how relieved I was not to be fasting any longer, and most of all, how angry I was that my last night in LA I would end up with a parking ticket.  Some things never change, but if I haven’t said it before — i am made by my Friends.

Day 2 – Vegas Baby

Laverne and I drove straight down the 15 through Barstow to Vegas that same night.  We got there around 11PM, and I persuaded her that we had to go to the Grand Lux at the Palazzo (not the one at the Venetian).  We walked over an hour in the heat.  She was bitter and her feet hurt.  I got into a minor argument about the color of bread at the Lux — pointing out to the waitress that I’d been there SEVERAL times, and there was always a dark chocolate colored bread, and now they weren’t serving it.  And the waitress insisted that she had never seen it.  I thought she was lying.  Anyway, it’s your call.

There are 2 things I love in Vegas:  buffets and swimming pools.  I don’t like to talk about that 3rd thing because of my addictive personality.  Okay, since you got me talking about it, I was down $80 from Wheel of Fortune.  I started with $20 that I put in for my sister, Erniceba.  I lost about $40, but I wanted to give her a winning shot.  The next $20 I lost because I said — “Hey, you should play a $20 for yourself!”  And the last $20 went down because my hands started pushing buttons, my eyes glazed over, and I left my body.  It’s called Vegas Drift.  Happens.

There is nothing more sad than losing all your money at slots.  Slots just goes so quick, and you feel so geriatric.  My mom loves slots.  Anyway, Laverne persuaded me to go to sleep and wake up the next morning…

(i’m being kicked out of the Pioneer Lodge in Sprindale in Zion…so more later…about the Tropicana re-do and the Miami look.  And poolside blackjack.)


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