October 12, 2009

Welcome To Nevada

I told myself a while back that I wouldn't write anymore about the vacation we took in July. After all, it wasn't a life affirmation or anything close to it. Just a fun time that Jan and I discuss occasionally between ourselves or inadvertently bore our friends and family with until we realize what we're doing and clam up.

Late Saturday night, I was sitting up here in my office/den/Wolf's Lair/Bat Cave messing around on the internet, as I'm apt to do every week because there's really nothing on television besides Saturday Night Live. I'll generally turn on the radio to WFMT, which is THE classical station here in this area of the country. But on Saturday night, they have "hillbilly music hour" around midnight and I like listening to it for some odd reason. Except last Saturday night, WFMT was in the midst of one of their pledge drives, so they'd brought in a gaggle of opera singers to sit in a round table and drone on about their parts in Tosca or Pagliacci or some other operatic bullshit.

Anyway, one of them started talking about a stint in Las Vegas, which started me thinking about that leg of our trip. Now normally, when one takes a trip, they most often remember the sights that they think they should. Like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or Akron, Ohio. But I've found that long after the adventure is over, you start thinking about other things that didn't make an impression on you at the time, but inexplicably pop up when you least expect it.

In my case, on Saturday night, it was Primm, Nevada.

Welcome to Primm

Jan and I had left Salinas, California early Monday morning, with the goal of making it to Las Vegas by nightfall. We went down the central valley through Bakersfield and hooked into I-15 (The Gambler's Highway) around Barstow and headed north. I-15 runs along the north side of the Mojave Desert and climbs into the Providence Mountains until you reach the Nevada border, where you run through a pass and dive down into the Ivanpah Dry Lake.

And there sits Primm, just waiting for you.

Driving through the desert is boring. Period. So, when I saw Primm loom into sight through the windshield, I wanted to stop and stretch my legs, buy some gas so we didn't have to do it in Las Vegas (which is right behind the mountains at the top of the picture), and get a soda.

At the moment I committed the car to the off ramp, the thought came to me that I might have made a mistake. This place was some one's idea of Kiddieland meets Sodom & Gomorrah. When we pulled into one of the gas stations in town (?), this greeted us:

Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino

This hideous structure is surrounded by a roller coaster, which also runs over the street (which can be very distracting). My plan to fill the car up was scrapped, because there wasn't an open pump at any of the stations, so I shoehorned the car in at a quick stop and ran inside to use the restroom and get some snacks.

The quick stop was the size of a casino, and was filled with people in various stages of dress and sobriety. People were walking around with beers in their hands and a few were toting bottles of vodka. I went to use the restroom and was glad I only had to piss, because two of the stalls were occupied by guys puking their guts out (this is 3 in the afternoon). I did my business, bought my stuff (why did they card me to buy Doritos?) and literally ran back to the car. Jan had wisely chose to remain in the vehicle and asked me politely if we could please get the fuck out of here.

So we burned into the on ramp and headed for the relative safety, security and saneness of Las Vegas. For a few minutes after we left, I wondered if the founding fathers of the Great State of Nevada had intended that carnival from hell to be the first impression a visitor had of their proud home. And then I thought it was probably what people expected from Nevada, just like people expect to see a cowboy when they roll across the Texas state line or a guy standing there with a bucket of maple syrup when they enter Vermont.

In any event, I'm promising no more vacation stories ... unless I think of something else.

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