Exams ended. Degrees finished. Loose ends tied up. After a week of constant work on the "Wide Load" and Joel's return from Florida, we were off. No real plan except that we were embarking on a trip that we had long talked about that was about to enrich the next 100 days of our lives.
The Wide Load was packed and ready to go: satellite TV, mp3's, not one but two computers, frame-mounted digital safe, car alarm, BBQ, spices up the ying-yang, radio beer cooler, resident beer cooler (capacity well over 60 cans with ice), fridge for cooling beer, and personal bottle beer coolers. As you might guess the customs officers were interested to find out more about what four guys were doing in a motorhome of their own cruising through the states. We were stopped at the peace arch crossing for only about 15 minutes and set free to roam the open road!
Right away we set our priorities; fill up on cheap gas and buy cheap beer. Both done at the same place of course. Beer and gas in the same store. They are asking for trouble.
Ken had his sights set on Yellowstone National Park, so immediately we started to head east for Wyoming. We got as far as Steven's Pass Summit. Thinking we would immediately feel the warming effects of heading south of the border, we were surprised to find ourselves sleeping in snow. At least we knew our 1982 Chevy Aristocrat could make the climb to 4061 ft.
"Slept overnight in snow at Steven's
Pass summit. Free camping!"
In line with our priorities we headed for the department stores east of Spokane. When we all walked into Lowe's, the guy helping us knew exactly what we were looking for -- a beer bong! This would be leading up to graduation weekend in the States so what better reason to celebrate?
We hit snow on the way down the
mountain pass and then it snowed at the Suntree RV Park where we bunkered
down for the night! Enough snow already! Plans changed from Yellowstone to Vegas when
encountered snow on the morning of
our third day. At least there wasn't snow on
the ground at our site. It gave us a chance to test our toys.
The satellite TV was up and running. Some heavy steaks were blazing on
the BBQ and the beer was flowing through the bong freely.
"Get the *&^$! out of this %$#ty cold
weather change plans from Yellow Stone to Vegas."
Sick and tired of the cold, we bolted directly south to find ourselves driving through none other than more snow. Oh well. We figured as long as we kept heading south, the snow couldn't follow us forever.
The day was spent driving. The night was spent drinking.
"camped at a national campsite outside
of Darby in MT. We brought the beer bong into effect and drank 54
There isn't much I can say that would
add to the videos we filmed from that night. You'll know you're seeing
the right thing if you see Mo (Ken) making out with a log, Ryan yelling a war cry,
Jason coughing up foam and Joel spewing up everything!
The only other campers from the previous night recommended that we make a stop on our way south to some natural hot springs. The directions we had were to stop on the road at Elk Bend at mile 282 and then hike into the hills for a few miles. Sure enough, high up in the hills were pools of hot water fed from the mountain. The pools were right along side a cascading creek of snow runoff. You could pick your temperature just be seeing which of the pools had spill over water from the creek. The other option you had in these "natural" springs was clothes or no clothes. The locals didn't seem to think twice about getting naked and striking up some good conversation. The best was the old man wearing only a fanny pack covering his package.
Everyday feels like Saturday when you're on the road but tonight it actually was Saturday night. Our friends from the spa recommended that we head up to the Sun Valley ski resort. Of course that lead us right back into the snow.
We parked the RV on the side of the
road in town, cooked up a feast, and headed to the bar. Man, did we
stick out like a sore thumb. The summer season seemed to only attract
the residents of the area and seasonal workers. Dressing up for bars
in Ketchum in the summer means wearing your torn jean jacket, your bandana,
boots, weathered face and tattoos. After few games of bearhunter, much
likened to buckhunter, and a game of foos, we were out of there. With Whistler
lift ticket prices, it's not worth a trip out from Vancouver.
Down from the mountains, past the Shoshone Ice Caves and through the lava beds, we aimed to reach Nevada before nightfall. A stop at Twin Falls broke up the trip nicely. We checked out where Evil Kinevil attempted and failed to cross some two mile jump across a canyon. Next on the day's busy schedule was to go bowling while we waited to be seated for the Matrix Reloaded. Incredible!
Our driving took us just across the
border into Nevada. We pulled off the highway down some dirt road to
our spot for the night. We tore down some desert bushes, sat around
the fire and drank beer while we had the trance music cranked on the home
stereo speakers. To top the night off we headed inside to watch an
Indiana Jones movie.
Our first day of heat! This was a big driving day. The scenery didn't change much when you could see the straight road ahead of you so far that it disappeared to a single point. Mostly we were in no man's land. You do not want to break down in Nevada.
Our one stop was to a small desert parkland to stretch the legs. The land formations were amazing. Water had eroded the sandstone to form narrow passageways through the rock only big enough for one or two people to fit. The temperature outside must have been above 30 degrees (Celsius) but it would drop dramatically when you wormed your way into these caves. Sunlight barely makes it in through the open ceiling ten meters above. The videos and photos are worth seeing.
Not even a week into our trip and we
were in Las Vegas! The drive in was incredible, and a bit frightening
at the same time. Here we were just cruising down the freeway with
cars weaving past us left and right. We saw one RV sign and that was
good enough for us. The exit took us right past the strip. We
had our jaws open and our heads tilted. The hotels and casinos at one
billion dollars a piece were quite a sight, even during the day. Our
home for the next week would be Sam's Town RV Park.
Welcome to sin city. Today we marked our bearings by checking out Las Vegas by day. We ended up walking all the way from the old end of the strip to the new end. This is a long way when you're in 40 degree heat (105 F), but not quite so long when you stop into a casino for a round of one dollar margaritas or one dollar Heinekens.
We saw the palm trees lining the roads, the drive thru marriage chapels, the hourly rated hotels, and the porn ad littered sidewalks (or decorated depending on how you see it). Once we made it to the ritzy part of Las Vegas Boulevard, we wandered around in a few of the big casinos including Caesar's Palace. Ken, Jason and Joel tested their stomachs against the rollercoaster in one of casinos -- a few times.
Stinky and tired, we retreated back to
Sam's Town to test our luck at the, "loose slots." Jason was the big
winner of the Las Vegas experience with a single winning that totaled
During the day, there are only two places to be in the Las Vegas heat: in the air conditioned casinos or in the pool. We figured that we could have blown our entire budget in Las Vegas and then have to go home, so it was an easy choice. With 12 packs of beer running $4.39 at te 7-11 across the street from the RV park pool, how can you go wrong?
From now on in Las Vegas, days meant lounging at the pool and nights meant taking in the experience of the city that never sleeps.
A guy who worked at Sam's Town tipped us off to tell us where things were happening each night. Toniht was college night. We hit the local joint close to the university. The best thing about it was cheap drinks. We drank ourselves into the ground with one dollar beers and one dollar tequilas. There wasn't the talent we were expecting but a good time nonetheless.
After the bar, let it be known that it
is damned near impossible to get food unless you're driving. Some new
found friends (with a truck) bought tacos for us. The worst food
tastes so good when you're drunk and hungry. Go figure.
Tonight we checked out Vegas by night for the first time. It was more or less a sober experience but worth taking in. We hit up most of the big name casinos that we'd missed teh previous visit. The Belagio was outstanding. Apparently Michael Jordan was there gambling while we were in town. Since we didn't see him, he must not be qutie the hight rollers we are.
We perused through the MGM Grand, New
York New York and more before our feet were worn out. By the time the
only people left on the streets were the yahoos, crazies and the woohooers
from limo sunroofs, we were home bound. By now, we had the cheap thing
dialed and piled aboard the public bus to take us back to trailer town.
Up until now we'd been chilling out in the Sam's Town pool all day. Not that it was bad to have a (pretty much) private pool, but today we figured we'd step it up a little. First we tried our luck at the Mirage pool. Ryan just waltzed right in and everyone else hesitated at the sight of security. When Ken was confronted for our room number he blurted one out that did not happen to exist. On to the Belagio. This time Joel gave a room number. Wrong again. Next time you've got to take an elevator to know what floor the rooms start on.
The place we ended up spending the afternoon was the Flamingo. We'd been there once before but we still had to dodge security to make our way in before their pool party began. It didn't feel good to have to divert authority but a few supersized Foster's fixed that.
When it got too cool to lounge by the pool, we caught the shuttle back "home" to Sam's Town to take in the cheap buffet. That would be a night.