San Diego to Las Vegas
On Sunday April 15th, we left San Diego and headed northeast for Las Vegas. We checked out of the hotel and went a few blocks downtown to Ralph’s (the supermarket) to stock up for the trip. We bought some bread (and managed to find a brand that wasn’t full of sugar or honey), fruit - and lots of water. We knew we were heading for the desert, and wanted to take some precautions. We’d rather find ourselves in Grand Junction with oodles of water we didn’t need than in the desert with only empty bottles.
Stocking up on water for the trip through the desert
On our way out of town, we had some communication problems with Kitty, so we ended up driving around the outskirts of San Diego for a while. We hadn’t walked around town much, so I guess she (Kitty, that is) wanted to make up for some lost sightseeing. Finally we came to an agreement on where we wanted to go, got back on the freeway and headed north.
Shortly after reaching the freeway, the first drops of rain landed on our windshield. And then it started pouring! Our surroundings got more and more dry and desert like and the rain kept pouring down. Of all the distances, this was not the one we expected to be driving through such bad weather. But the traffic flowed freely, and we realized we would reach Vegas without any problems that day. After an hour or two, the rain stopped, the clouds disappeared (more or less), the landscape flattened out a bit, and we were amazed by the surroundings! After days along the coast, it was a refreshing experience to be encompassed by sand, rocks, everlasting plains and distant mountains.
Traffic on the way from San Diego to Las Vegas
As we got to Barstow we exited the highway and went a few miles east towards Newberry Springs. There we went for a few miles on a pretty well preserved part of the original Route 66 (and got a few cool pictures taken on the road), before arriving at the Bagdad Café. The café was used in the movie Out of Rosenheim (Bagdad Café), and was one of Selma’s most anticipated stops on our tour. As we got there, the weather (and light conditions) were superb, and we ran around like crazy, taking photos of the café and its vicinities. Then we went in for a coke, and were greeted by Andrea, the very nice and welcoming owner of the café. We had a chat with her, signed the guestbook (actually, we wrote the last entry in one guestbook and started off a new one with another entry - shamelessly advertising for this blog), shot some more photos and headed back out to the car.
Selma posing on the Route 66
Selma and Louis posing with Andrea Pruett, the proprietor of Bagdad Café
While we were inside, the dark clouds had caught up with us again, and some powerful winds blew up a local sand storm around us. The wind must have confused Kitty again (or she just had a bad day), ’cause she sent us driving in circles and back and forth on the highways in the area. It took us a while to get back on the freeway to Vegas, but we got to see some interesting scenery on our way.
Then we started to climb further up in the mountains. The weather was changing again from rain to beautiful light clouded weather, and saw amazing vast plains and high mountains. We also saw a lot of Joshua trees, but none nearly as tall as the one on the U2 cover. It wasn’t all that much traffic in our direction (but quite a lot out of Vegas) and it was flowing at speeds up to 90 MPH. The speed limit was 70 MPH, but all the traffic went faster - so we sped up to avoid being a danger! The roads were great, and they went straight forward for miles and miles.
A Joshua tree en route to Las Vegas
We got close to the Nevada border as the sun started to set, and we stopped at a mall in Primm (almost at the state border) to kill some time - so that we would enter the city of a gazillion light bulbs after dark. Selma actually picked up a pair of shoes, and Louis was persuaded into buying some kind of super cleanser (for sunglasses, screens and so on) by a guy who used the trick of telling us how much his dad enjoyed visiting Norway.
We then drove the last miles into Las Vegas - and how weird to find this huge city in the middle of nowhere! And what a fulfillment of all our expectations! Las Vegas is just as fake, just as sinful and shameless, just as tacky and just as post modern as we’d thought. And as part of the post modernism - you just have to be fascinated, at least of how well it manages to keep up the fakeness!
Have we introduced Kitty yet? Well, here she is!
For the third time this day, Kitty got a bit confused, so she took us for a short trip around town, but finally we parked by the Luxor hotel. We’d decided to try our luck at the hotels upon arrival, as we’d heard and read that it would be easy to find cheap rooms at the nice hotels after the weekend. Well, the Luxor had no available rooms. We continued to the Excalibur, where they had a few vacancies - starting at $101 for the first night and $201 for the next. We asked why the prices would rise on Monday (something we’d seen while checking for hotel rooms in Vegas online), and it turned out that a big convention would take place in town from Monday on. Just our luck. And - it was a media convention of some sorts, and as we both work in the media business we should have talked our jobs into sponsoring us with hotel rooms AND passes for the convention! But no. And with our somewhat tight budget, we didn’t want to spend $200 for one night. But we were tired of playing Josef and Mary looking for a room for the night, so we checked in for the first night (and got it for $91, which was a bit closer to budget) - putting the problem of finding room for the next night on hold for a while.
We got a rather crappy room at the first floor. I guess they don’t want you to spend too much time in the room, so they hadn’t exactly gone crazy with the amenities. Louis was tired after the long drive and went straight to bed, while Selma took a walk to get some food. She checked out the hotel and casino on her way, and put three quarters (75 cent) on a slot machine - and won $7.50! Selma has never been much of a gambler, and with so much luck in her love life recently (except from being so far away from her loved one these days), she knew there was no chance of a winning streak! So she put the prize ticket (no cling-clang from the coins) in her pocket, figured it would make a great bookmark, went back to the room and, eventually (after some chatting with her GF - which was a lot more fulfilling than winning on the slot machines), got to bed.
That’s Las Vegas for ya!
(See more photos at Flickr.)