September Vacation, part I (east to west)

September 15, 2007

And now the story of the vacation that spurred me to start this little blog. What was planned as a two-part trip, mostly involving relaxing downtime, quickly snowballed into a cross-coastal expedition. This vacation was actually my first weeklong one since I began working last year. Between preparing a complex case for trial, several other matters heating up, and being one of only two legal assistants in the whole office, most of my summer was spent behind my desk. Or in front of someone else’s. Sad, isn’t it? My firm did send me on an all-expenses paid trip to Greece, and while frolicking around the islands was great fun, the trip itself was mostly business. Sorting through stacks of documents while pretending I don’t mind the acrid cigarette smoke in the air just isn’t my idea of a refreshing time.

Having forgone any vacation all summer, and getting more than a little work-weary, I decided at the last minute to take a week to recharge my batteries. I hadn’t seen my dad since graduating last year, so making a first stop in Lubbock, TX to visit him seemed appropriate. It had been months since I had visited New York, so I figured spending some time there would be an energizing yang to the slothful ying of Lubbock. Then it would be back to DC for me, just in time to don a tux for a fundraiser that weekend.

The first few days went well. Saw a Texas Tech football game from a skybox, lounged by the pool, spent most of the waking hours drinking… Dad even bought a bottle of Macallan to share in my honor. As usual, the eatins was good. Bacon, eggs, biscuits, steak, sea bass – mmmm. I really couldn’t have asked for better. When it came time to leave, instead of departing on a Thursday flight to the east coast, I got behind the wheel of a car bound for L.A. My dad agreed to let my little sister, whose choice to go to college in California rather than Minnesota proves that her wisdom far exceeds mine, have the old Rodeo he got when I had lived with him a few summers ago. My stepmom was supposed to drive it to out her but got too busy at the last minute. Feeling a sense of family duty with a little touch of adventure, I volunteered to make the drive instead. Next thing I knew, with a Vegas hotel reservation and a hundred cash for a stake, I was chewing beef jerky and watching the sun rise over the highway. First stop Vegas, then on to Claremont, CA.

Some life lessons learned from the 19 hour trip:

– There are places that uniquely conjure images of death. Highway 60 along northern New Mexico before dawn is one of them:

It’s hard to avoid an eerie, sinking feeling when all you’ve got to look at are barbed fences, ghost towns, and spiky plants, and with hardly any houses or even other cars in sight. Even the Hoover dam can be a little irksome at dusk, with the massive spider web of powerlines perched on jagged, steep cliffs for miles in every direction:

– When driving through mountains, do your best to drive a car with cruise control and an automatic transmission. By the time I reached L.A., my right leg had turned to spaghetti and my car’s clutch was plotting revenge. Hopefully it won’t try to exact a penance from my still-learning-stick sister.

– Even in the mountains, Wal-Mart is always there:

Kinda makes me feel like home everywhere I go. Except, not really.

– Las Vegas isn’t so fun when you’re by yourself. It’s even less fun when the only people at the poker tables are semi-pros who take it far more seriously than you do. Unless you consider losing your entire stake after only a few hands fun. Also, playing poker sleepy is playing poker stupid. At least the cocktail waitresses and pretty lights and shows make for nice distractions. Here’s the Bellagio A.K.A. the fancy one with the fountain you saw in Ocean’s Eleven:

– Alien jerky: it’s not just for Roswell, anymore:

Were they referring to jerky made from aliens, or simply jerky that aliens happened to like? I wasn’t brave enough to find out.

– Even beach bunnies are capable of quirky car antics. Sure, everyone has his own set of things he does when driving alone on a long haul. I for one tend to blurt out classic rock songs while drumming the steering wheel with an empty water bottle. This particular girl, with her bleached blonde hair and Dior sunglasses, caught my attention when she started pawing at her rearview mirror ornament like a cat.

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One Response to “September Vacation, part I (east to west)”

  1. Anne said

    So jealous! The solo cross coastal roadtrip sounds like the best thing that a person could possibly do with a week’s worth of vacation.

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