In 2007, on our first trip to Las Vegas, I took a heavy bag full of books, despite the drive only being four hours, despite never having been to Las Vegas and therefore negating the need to read during my time there, or at least outside of our room at America's Best Value Inn on Tropicana Avenue, adjacent to Hooters Casino Hotel.
On subsequent trips, the bags got heavier, even though I barely read anything I had packed. Now here comes our next trip on Wednesday afternoon, and what do I bring? This trip is only two days, Wednesday afternoon to likely Friday evening (Dad's job interview with the Clark County School District is at 3 p.m. and we're going back to Santa Clarita right after he's done). Chances are Dad's going to go through the entire school day at La Mesa on Wednesday, with that day over at 3:10 p.m. Quickly home, barely a few minutes to put our bags in the trunk of our rented car (Probably a Kia Soul, which Dad likes), dogs in the car with us, and off we go to the kennel we're going to board them at in Canyon Country, and then out to Las Vegas. This seems like we'll be done at the kennel most likely toward 5 p.m. And it gets dark early here in the winter. So the first consideration is at least one hardcover book I can clip my reading light to, or a paperback that I've read far enough into that I can clip my reading light onto the first ten pages, or just enough to keep it steady.
Since I've not read any paperbacks yet that could hold my reading light, I'm thinking of the first Tales of the City omnibus by Armistead Maupin, titled 28 Barbary Lane, which contains the first three novels. I've wanted to reread the Tales of the City novels for a long time, and what better time to start? Two hours to Baker, along with my mp3 player, sounds right. Then there's the two hours after Baker, and then half an hour still after crossing the California state line into Nevada before reaching Las Vegas. No chance of seeing the billboards I like along the side of the road advertising shows and restaurants in Vegas. All dark.
So that leaves paperbacks during the day, but not very much, since I'll continually be looking out the window as we drive, seeing many of those streets in Henderson for the first time, watching for the route that leads to our new apartment complex, and most importantly, my family and I meeting the new manager there.
A vacation, however brief, is time to do things differently from what you do in your daily life. That obviously leaves out my research for my second book. No way am I bringing along any books related to it, despite my excitement about it. I have Everywhere That Mary Went, the first novel in Lisa Scottoline's "Rosato and Associates" series. I've also got The Ritual Bath, the first novel in Faye Kellerman's "Decker/Lazarus" series; Dog On It, the first novel in Spencer Quinn's "Chet and Bernie" series; and The Case of the Missing Books, the first novel in Ian Sansom's "Mobile Library" series. All mysteries, all first novels, and appropriate for this trip since this will be the first time I'll be seeing our new apartment complex, the first time I'll be going into Henderson knowing I'll be a resident there soon, the first time I'll feel like I'm truly home. So one of these books, or two, would be perfect. And three books would be enough in my canvas bag.
Or maybe four. Just one presidential book, even though it would seem roundly ridiculous to bring along Jean Edward Smith's 900+-page biography of FDR. FDR did dedicate Hoover Dam, footage of which is seen in a small screening room at Hacienda Hotel and Casino nearby, on a continuous loop. But there's no way I'd read 900 pages across two days, nor would I want to. It's the kind of biography I wouldn't want to read and then close for a while and then get back to it and then close it again.
None of this should matter since I'll finally be home. I can begin to see the local Smith's supermarket as a future resident, determining what I'd like to try in my first few weeks there, hopefully finding a sizable mustard collection more interesting than just two rows of French's. And there's also the novelty of a movie theater inside casino property, as it is with Regal Fiesta Henderson 12 inside Fiesta Henderson. Yet, books on this trip do matter, as they always have with me. And it's another first with me not carrying a heavy bag full of books, being more reasonable than before.
28 Barbary Lane will definitely go with me, then, and I've still got time to decide which two of those mystery novels I want to bring with me, and which presidential book I want from those three stacks of presidential books in the living room. Then that'll be it. No uncertainty, no falling back into that old habit. Las Vegas being about reinvention, this is a good start for me.