Wednesday, January 13
Into Nevada and the Pacific Time Zone at 11:51, temp 47, a pilot house type rock to my right, another highway off to my right skimming these rock domes and fingers and thumbs sticking out of the top of the rock.
1977: "I got on the road at 5. I was sitting high off the road, king of all I surveyed. Augusta is a tired old city."
Nevada state line to Las Vegas
Hoover Dam at 11:00 Pacific Time. The white I saw earlier as I was leaving Arizona is from where the water has receded from Lake Meade. A brief trip through security ("You've got a lot of stuff with you."). To see the dam I had to hike up a rock face but I was only slightly winded when I got to the top. Then a narrow bridge over the canyon to see the dam and aggravate my acrophobia. To my surprise, I jogged down the steps, the first time I've done anything like that in quite some time. Then I went to an overlook of Lake Meade, where I had a brief talk with a former government worker from Washington DC. Back to US 93 at 12:19 and past a casino.
Picked up a couple of maps at the Nevada Welcome Center. 12:43, temp 49--Pretty much clouded over but the sun still shining brightly. A little bit of desert hills to my right, mountains ahead of me, to my left it goes downhill--there's some kind of a lake down there. US 95 south to Needles and Bullhead. The Railroad Pass Hotel Casino. I-515 North at 12:53, sky almost completely clouded over, the sun managing to shine through but not casting a shadow, not much in the way of mountains, just some hills alongside the road.
Flamingo Road in Las Vegas at 12:03 and into Travelodge around 12:30. 75 cents for package of small donuts at Walgreens, where I left off 3 prescription refills.
In the evening I went to Sam Ash's Music Store. Signup was at 5:30 (things began at 7:00) and I got there at 5:35. I was the first to sign up. Went to the Thai BBQ for garlic beef while waiting. This was probably the worst open mike I have ever been to. I expected a lot of guitar whizzes but I was probably the best one there before I left. First a young lady who admitted she didn't play guitar very well did a long rambling song that eventually got boring. She was followed by another young lady who played keyboards competently but screamed and screeched. I followed a young white rapper, doing "Four O'Clock on the Highway" and "Allnight Diner" to polite applause. I was followed by a guy in his late 20s or early 30s who played loud guitar and sang songs about being bored and getting drunk (best applause of the night). Then a black rapper who did a different type of rap from what you usually hear (good applause). His friend though went back to the standard rap rhythms (practically no applause) as did a white kid who followed him, and I left.
Went back to my motel and took a short walk along The Strip, into the Planet Hollywood casino, slot machines, lots of tables, blackjack, craps, maybe some others. The tables were mostly manned by Oriental men and women, although there were some others, Some young ladies with enhanced cleavage, a couple of girls in bra-type tops and bikini-type bottoms dancing on tables in the middle of the action. This is a far cry from the other casinos I've been to outside of Nevada (mostly Native American casinos), where there are lots and lots of one-armed bandits, and only a handful of craps and blackjack tables, if any. Here, there seemed to be as many gaming tables as slot machines.
There were two guys in the street in very ornate Star Wars uniforms and helmet type masks.
Thursday, January 14
"I see poetry in the stark branches against the evening sky, below Venus, a church in the foreground, a light in the steeple,
dreams of a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, a woman and babies, a peace, a settling."
Up at 9:00, a blue sky day, lots of cirrus, more cloud than sky. $15.98 for a waffle and coffee at Pete Rose's. An Elvis impersonator out on the street, Batman and Superman and a bunch of super heroes, a lot of panhandlers and people handing out flyers, another Elvis Presley in a golf cart, a street magician, three women who are 90%, a van "Bringing Women to You," a store with women's clothing and tattoos, The Rain Forest Cafe, complete with jungle animal noises, thunder, and lightning.
In the evening I finally got my prescriptions refilled and a sandwich, the Full Montagu (quite good), from the Earl of Sandwich.
I went to the open mike at Money Pays as a couple of black guys were about to sign up, probably rappers. I looked around and about 75% of the customers were black so, since I was in Vegas, I folded and cashed in my chips.
There's no denying it. Despite the gaudiness, in fact in part because of the gaudiness, and the size of some of these buildings and the stuff (like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower) they put on them, Las Vegas is damned impressive. It has all the subtlety of Donald Trump.
Friday, January 15
1977: "I went through Graniteville and its high school football field, 'Home of the Fighting Rocks.'"
Las Vegas to the California State Line
Up at 8:20, on the road at 10:05, temp 45, odometer 119383. Citibank at 9:15. They don't open till 10. Found a Chase Bank so I now have my money and it's on the way to AAA. A great big medium gray cloud starts somewhere off to my west and hangs over me, blue sky with cumulus to the north. AAA at 10:51, blue sky to the east and to south below that cloud.
I-15 at 11:03, temp 50, a lot of clouds with scattered patches of blue. The Spirit of the Desert Lutheran Church, South Point Casino, a couple of exits with metal cutouts of horses, coyotes, and other animals. "Food and Gaming Next Exit Pints Jackpots." $15 worth of $2.399 gas at an Arco at the south edge of Las Vegas. 11:29, 50 degrees, sky clearing, more blue than cloud though a lot of clouds. 11:42, temp 47, out on desert again, sand and sagebrush, mountains in front some distance away, a pass between them, brownish mountains off to my right, grayish mountains way off to my left, still a lot of clouds and a lot of blue, 16 miles from the California border. Sun highlighting folds and wrinkles of the mountains dead ahead and slightly to my right. Really nice.
In the town of Jean, I guess, I get off for the Ghost Town Cafe but it's way out in desert, out of sight, so I go to the Gold Strike Casino, where there's a Denny's at 11:49, temp 48. On the road again at 12:32, 48 degrees, pretty much a blue sky, after a waffle, one egg, 2 strips of bacon, and coffee, then I walked through the casino, which is almost completely slot machines, a roulette table and a blackjack table and 3 others not in use. Even here out in the desert the dark wood ceilings (walnut?) are rather impressive.
Speed limit 70, cirrus clouds in the east and south, mountains to my right with folds starkly outlined in shadow and light. Whiskey Pete's (a castle) and Primm Valley Casino and Resort at the California line at 10:45, temp 53, odometer 119420.