Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Day 1 Road Trip '11: The Prologue
A cross country roadtrip in the MINI Cooper, of course.
I'm on my way from SLC to LA to NYC to GA to get (in a very scenic and roundabout way) to my first training station at Ft. Benning. Graduation was meh (although there is a good story that I will tell you about when I get to NYC), so I'm just gonna go straight to the trip.
DAY 1: The PROLOGUE (SLC > VEGAS)
We woke up at around nine AM, and after getting all of our last minute errands out of the way we were off. We headed for Walmart to stock up on snacks and such before starting the meat of the drive to Vegas.
Southern Utah is seriously beautiful country. Almost immediately after getting past Spanish Fork it was just pristine, untouched nature. The red rocks of southern Utah caught us by surprise (they just all of a sudden cropped up), and St. George was more scenic than I remember. Of course, the last time I was there I had just run twenty-some miles through the night during the Red Rock Relay so...
We made great time to St. George and stopped for some snackage and to get ready for the last leg to Vegas. About this time we decided to stop and see Kyle's friend from the mission en route.
We passed the Wild Gorge at a blazing 80 mph. B-Real was driving like an animal while I was driving like a grandma. Up to that point I had been blazing through Utah at 90mph but I dropped to 50 mph for this windy, breathtaking canyon.
We made it out alive, even with all of the signal failures of our phones and radios. We stopped in a town called Bunkerville to see Kyle's friend Dallin Magoon from the mission. Home boy is a workin man in the straight up country. He was talkin about driving to his ranch (via four wheeler) to bale some hay at mindnight the night before. He took us out on a pair of four wheelers and we screamed like girls all the way to the river. There was a family on vacation there with a motorpool of four wheelers and dirt bikes driven by 5 year olds that put us to shame.
About this time I had my first real moment of reflection since graduation. I looked out at this river in the middle of absolutely beautiful country untouched by the clutter of modern cities and just took it all in. These families out here were so happy and had such simple lives. It was easy to see how you could be so happy though: there was a dad riding a four wheeler with his seven year old daughter, flanked by three other kids under 13 riding alongside, and of course the family dog trailing behind. Oh and the weather was absolutely amazing. After literally seven months of winter that might have been the single greatest factor of the sudden release of endorphins.
Afterwards we drove to a park and met up with some of Dallin's family. Despite nearly dying on the way, we made it and just sat and talked for an hour or so, cracking walnuts bare handed and shooting the breeze. I was interrogated by the moms about my political leanings and education, and I think I passed their test because they sent for there cute cousins. Unfortunately they were all out at the time.
The Bundy Family told us about their Bundy Family Reunions. Apparently they go out into the wilderness ONE THOUSAND STRONG and have a week long reunion with all kinds of crazy events. They all just camp out there for that week. They told me I could find a real woman out there if I wanted to come. Unfortunately I'll be in Infantry school during the reunion or you better believe I would be there throwing watermelon rines at people and learning to square dance as the only city boy for a hundred miles.
We took off after pictures and made our way to Vegas. It was literally desert and wilderness for an hour and a half when BAM! the whole city came into view. It was getting dark so the lights were already on, giving us a commanding view of the valley.
As if that wasn't enough for one day, we headed to B-Real's house, washed up and slipped into somethin more pimpin, and headed out for Courtney Larschied's wedding reception. We met Courtney at a Youth Conference in St. Louis years ago and then went with her and a big group to the STL zoo. I don't remember it but Kyle and Courtney remained friends afterwards. We hit up her reception in hopes of recruiting some honies for night cliff jumping later.
So this was my first wedding crashing, and it was definitely a wedding crashing. The reception started at like 6:30PM and we got there at 9:15 haha. The gate guard let us in and laughed at us (or maybe at Kyle's beard) and the guy at the reception desk looked at us like we were a bunch of scrubs.
We got to the double doors to the reception and peeked through the cracks. Everyone was sitting at their tables eating, and it was clear that they had been there for a while. We dorked around outside the door while we tried to figure out what we were going to do, when we finally just walked in.
Everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - looked at us. We just stood there. I tried to look like I was looking for someone or something in particular to feel less like a scrub. Courtney saved us. She came up to us and welcomed us and got us a table and SOME STEAK suckers. We porked out while everyone else was finished, made conversation with our table, and asked some married girls to dance. They said no.
We had planned to go night cliff jumping but it was just too cold and too far and too late. The wind chill made the prospect of jumping into mountain water even less appealing than it had before.
Instead, we decided to hit up the strip. We parked on one end and spent the next hour and a half just walking. We walked up and down it, dodging smutty handouts, checking out the stores, and laughing at the silly humans we passed along the way.
I have to say, I was disappointed with 1) the number of attractive girls I saw (very few) 2) the level of class I saw generally speaking 3) how few well-dressed people there were, and 4) how many bridges were on the one side. We had to keep going up stairs to cross the streets on one side.
The Strip is all about show. It's all about who's is bigger, louder, and brighter. In contrast to New York City, which feels more technological and business oriented (with its entertainment built in, of course, although with much more class in my opinion), this place was like a fairy tale. Everything was larger than life, with more color than usual. The people seemed to follow suit. People looked so odd in some of the getups they were wearing. And i mean ODD. There was a man in a hobgoblin mask, glittered in white power or something from head to foot. He was solid white. And he was just strollin through town.
And of course you can't talk about the strip without talking about the nudy handouts. Seriously every corner there were a handfull of hispanics (with very good technique) trying to get their merchandise in the hands of passerbys.
After a good hour and half or so of walking the strip we called it a night and headed for home. It was a good first day.