Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heading for Las Vegas

Tomorrow morning, early, most likely between 7:30 and 8, we're leaving for Las Vegas. We're stopping to drop the dogs off in Canyon Country at a kennel that boards them, and then to McDonald's, and then out, stopping in Baker and the gas station/rest stop food court there before we charge into the real stretch of the Mojave Desert. We'll probably arrive in Vegas by a little before or after 3, because we're not going to eat at Richie's Real American Diner in Victorville, being that it sunk fast when we were there in March. Not as good as in 2008. The plummeting economy clearly hit it.

The purpose of this trip is a job interview my dad has on Thursday morning at a private school. It's the call we all were waiting for, the one that can get us to where we truly want to live. We're going to keep an open mind toward all the areas we visit, but the consensus seems to be Boulder City, near Hoover Dam. It feels comfortable, it's a genuine small town, and we determined that that's what we've been missing all this time, why Mom moved with Dad 12 times, and my sister and I about two or three times less.

On this evening before, my sister and I still have to pack, I have to put extra food into the birds' cages, and decide finally on what books I want to bring with me. I thought it would be two, knowing last time that I didn't even touch most of the books I brought, but being a voracious, obsessive reader, I'm not going to follow that. So far, it's five books, two issues of The New Yorker, and the "Fiction Issue" of the Atlantic from late last year. There is a difference now, in that the books are lighter, therefore my tote bag is lighter, and it'll be easier to lug it from the car to the hotel room (America's Best Value Inn again, off the Strip, adjacent to Hooters Casino Hotel, and surrounded on both sides by a Motel 6), and back to the car on Friday morning. The big question in my mind right now is whether to bring along Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, too. I'm also thinking about whether to bring Saturday Night by Susan Orlean, so I can finish it, but I'm not sure. It might make good travel reading, being that Orlean traveled to different locales in the United States to study different Saturday nights. Maybe.

I'm also thinking about souls I've met in the past who I know I won't see again. It was 2008 when we saw Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay, and on the way to Vegas, we stopped in Baker at the same gas station/rest stop that's one of our reliable beacons. This was when construction had been completed on the gas station, and so the property was wider, with a lot more to look at, more snacks, drinks, and generally useless items you wouldn't buy in your normal daily life. That's the fun of it.

I remember this huge truck driver who was hanging around, talking to someone at the Pizza Hut counter for a few minutes. He had a bulk around him that seemed like it would spill over his seat in his truck. I liked him, though. He had resolve. He also had this huge 72 oz. travel mug, and he walked over to the soda dispenser, and drained whatever was his choice. I wasn't looking closely, but I was impressed by him. He seemed to be truly of the road. This was his home. He stopped here to replenish himself, and any number of motels on the way were what he found comfort in, what was always reliable to him. I have no desire to travel that extensively, but I enjoy watching people like that, who truly know that they belong here and they have no second thoughts about it. It would be something if I saw him again tomorrow in Baker, but I doubt it. It's going to be Wednesday afternoon by the time we get there, and I'm sure he'll be out on the road, guiding his rig, thinking, listening to the radio, the CB too, with another travel mug wedged in with him. Tomorrow doesn't feel like the day I'd see him. Thursday maybe. Hey, maybe Friday. We'll be on our way home then. But even if not, the fascinating personalities encountered while traveling are endless.