Friday, January 13, 2012

Living Like a Resident While a Tourist

The details were made concrete today: My family and I leave for Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon, after Dad and Meridith get home from work at La Mesa, with enough time for Meridith to change, and we arrive most likely toward 9 or 10 p.m. It takes four hours from where we are to Las Vegas (Just like South Florida to Orlando), but we stop in Baker, which is the halfway point to Las Vegas and is at the true beginning of the Mojave Desert (Los Angeles can say whatever it wants about being at the foot of the Mojave, but Baker faces the true desert), at the rest stop/gas station there, and I also want to stop at Alien Fresh Jerky right near the rest stop. I love the alien theming they do there (Including a car with alien figures inside, including an alien baby in the backseat), as well as the many varieties of jerky.

At the rest stop, we eat at the small food court there, Mom and Meridith most likely from the A&W counter, and me from Subway this time. A root beer float and cheese curds are very nice, but they would have been a requirement by my vastly overweight self a few years ago. I'm not that way anymore, and even though Las Vegas is a land of countless pleasures, I'm going to live in moderation from the start, even as a tourist. If you're just there for vacation, and you live securely wherever you're from, you can be as wild as you want, or as easygoing as you want. You'll have the experiences, you'll have the memories, and then you go home.

It's obviously different for residents. We have so many choices there, but we can't indulge in them constantly like the average tourist does. For one, we'd be the size of mountains, and secondly, we have jobs, either working to please those tourists on the Strip, or working in the Clark County School District, or at McCarran International Airport, or so many other jobs that you couldn't possibly conceive of until you drive off the Strip and see what else is around. It's not like driving to Six Flags Magic Mountain from Los Angeles, mind set firmly on the rollercoasters, and surprise at there being an entire working valley in front of the amusement park, that is if you've never been there before, as it was for me in April 2003. What there is in Las Vegas itself on the outskirts, and in Henderson, and in Summerlin, powers the Las Vegas you enjoy. There's no disconnect. Therefore, moderation is key for a happy life in Southern Nevada. (I know I'm not a resident yet, but I think like one all the time so that when I get there on Wednesday and in the very near future, I can just dive right into my unfettered happiness. The only adjustments to be made are getting used quickly to much smoother and easier-to-navigate roads, and loving the constant bombardment of creativity on and off the Strip that gives so much to this writer alone.)

Baker isn't all that will slow us down before reaching Fiesta Henderson, the hotel/casino where we're staying. Once we reach the California state line into Nevada, there are the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, which includes a Williams-Sonoma outlet store for Meridith, and there's a store called Viva Vegas, which I hope is a tourist trap because I'd really like to find a few well-designed t-shirts for myself, preferably one with most of the Strip on it.

I also want to ride the Desperado rollercoaster at Buffalo Bill's, deemed the fastest rollercoaster in the west, but the rides on the property, including the rollercoaster, are closed Mondays through Thursdays, and open Fridays and Saturdays from 12:45-9:45 p.m. So that'll be on the way back, and will be one of the two final rollercoasters for me, the other being the taxicab rollercoaster at New York-York. I'm done with rollercoasters after that one. They're not for me anymore, not after the double hell that was Apocalypse and Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I know not all rollercoasters are like those, but I think my time has passed with them. I'll have the Pinball Hall of Fame off the Strip, I'll have libraries again, I have books I want to write (I've got an historical one in mind that's Las Vegas-centered, and I'd like to work on that one concurrently with Mayday! Mayday!: The Making of the Airport Movies once I'm settled, have a car, and have a job, and am financially stable on my own enough to contribute well to household expenses), I have every inch of Las Vegas and Henderson to explore, as well as extensive research to do about New Mexico and the presidential libraries, to prepare for those trips in future years.

We're staying at Fiesta Henderson, one of the places Mom and Dad stayed at last time during a three-day trip that stretched to 10 when the PT Cruiser broke down. Mom had a spectacular idea earlier this evening. Meridith and I were going to go see Beauty and the Beast 3D either tomorrow or Sunday, but Mom remembered that there might be a movie theater on the Fiesta Henderson property. It turns out that they do, the Regal Fiesta Henderson 12. We definitely will not make it for the 7:15 p.m. showing there on Wednesday, and probably not the 9:30 showing either. But we can on Thursday, and it's perfect because this will be the first movie I see in Nevada, and it's a Disney movie, and I see it as Walt Disney World passing the torch to Las Vegas, from where my imagination was established and expanded to what I am today, to where my imagination will, I think, explode into a lot more than I could dream of from living in the Santa Clarita Valley for eight years.

The main purposes of this trip are job interviews Dad has, as well as all of us meeting the new manager of our future apartment complex in Henderson. It'll be the first time Meridith and I see the property (which includes a double basketball court, which sold me on it right away), and there may be an available upstairs apartment that we could see, as Mom and Dad saw inside one of the apartments already. Ours will be downstairs, but this way, we can learn the layout, see what the living room looks like, which is where our futons will be, as well as the main TV, which will be the widescreen TV that's in my room. There's two bedrooms, one of which will be Mom and Dad's, and the other will be the office Dad's always wanted to have. I'll be a resident of Henderson with easy access to Las Vegas, so I don't mind where I sleep, especially since the cable TV service we'll be signing up for will be a lot better than what DirecTV offers. Plus, there's always free copies of The Henderson Press at this complex, and there's a newspaper rack where you can buy the Las Vegas Review-Journal every day. Mom's been saving up quarters for that for a while now, so we'll probably have enough for the first few months that we're there.

I'll also be eating moderately while we're in Las Vegas and Henderson. Mom said that we'll stick to cheap eats on this trip, and there are a lot of places in which to eat well at low prices. If we go to 7-11 one morning, I'm getting a container of Cheerios, soymilk (If they have it), and a banana. I'm only changing my breakfast routine if we don't go to 7-11, and if it's Dunkin' Donuts we go to, they have breakfast sandwiches I really like and can find one with a reasonable calorie count. All I need is one of those and the Review-Journal and I'm happy. It doesn't take much to please me in Southern Nevada.

I'm still sitting here looking at every page of the Fiesta Henderson website. I clicked on the "Gaming" tab and it says that there's more than 1,600 slot and video poker machines. I'm one of the few who doesn't really gamble. All I do in Vegas is put a dollar into a penny slot machine, play one line at a time, and that's my kind of meditation. I am completely at peace at a decent slot machine, and am hoping to find the new Zorro slot machines I read about in the Southern California Gaming Guide. There's also a 300-seat bingo room open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. that I would like to try (Also because I'd like to write a book about bingo one day, but am not sure from what perspective yet), but probably won't be able to on this trip, being that we'll be busy Wednesday night and all day Thursday, with Beauty and the Beast 3D for Meridith and I either at 7:15 or 9:30.

I've also fervently requested that we stop at a Smith's supermarket some time on Thursday. As soon as I walk through the entrance, I'm heading right for the condiments aisle to hopefully see more mustards than I get here. I want to take in everything, to know that I will be able to really eat in Henderson, and to be happy with what I eat, which is nearly impossible here. You eat just to eat and you're overjoyed when you find something that lasts, such as Sprouts having bananas that last and last even as the skin turns brown. That saves a great deal of money and it's not the same at Ralphs because those bananas crap out not longer after they're purchased, and I know bananas. Sprouts finds stock that works.

I'll have Internet access while I'm home and very happy, so I'll write a few things, but probably sporadically. I want to spend every single moment surrounded by everything I love about Las Vegas and Henderson, and to explore new places. I know I'll be seeing many on this trip.

And since losing all that weight long ago, and gaining self-control, I won't be bringing as many books as I have on past trips, but I will make sure that I have enough to read, to cover the distance between Santa Clarita and Baker and then Baker to the state line, because I've seen all that land before. However, on the way home, I will be paying attention to Victorville, because I like the vastness of that area, even though it feels desolate, and no wonder there's drug use there. There's really nothing there. But it's just how far that space stretches that impresses me. Oh to see that ocean of desert from that rock ledge next to Hacienda Hotel and Casino near Boulder City, but most likely not this time. I'll keep the memory of when I first saw it until I'm able to see it again.

As the lyric goes in the song Home by Simply Red, "Home is a place where I yearn to belong." I've yearned, and I'll have it for two days. And with luck, Dad's job interviews will soon let me belong as a resident. I feel like this is the start to finally getting what we've hoped for for so long.