Saturday, August 27, 2011

Part One: The long road to hell. Roadtrip, Gang Initiation, Cooper, Sharkady, CatCat and MORE.

Rather than write a novel, I'll do this in a couple of parts.  I'm obviously way behind.  So I live in Vegas now.  But getting here was harder than it sounds. First, I had to pack everything I own in a Ford Focus.  Which isn't as hard for me as it probably would be for most people.  I don't give a damn about material items. Never have. In the slightest. So throwing away/giving away possessions is no big thing for me. The only sentimental items I have are things others have given me. I know this will probably lessen my status as a woman, but I only own maybe 6 pairs of shoes. Really, who needs more than a pair of brown, a pair of black, a couple of heels and the obligatory pair of hooker boots? Not me.

Who needs more than this? Everything I own, ready to go!

If you don't know about CatCat by now, you're probably a first time reader.  He makes regular appearances.  He had to come too, obviously.  He's been with me through almost my entire adult life, and he's used to my nomadic tendencies.

I left in the middle of the night, because I'm one of those people that hate waiting. During my time as a Marine Corps wife we were always waiting, and now, if I can get the jump on a situation.. I do it. So I hit the road around 1 am.  The drive out was mostly uneventful, with a lot of facebooking to keep me awake. 
This pretty much sums up the scenery through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The goal was Denver, where I would pick up dealer extraordinaire and friend Josh Cooper for the second leg of the trip.  (On a side note: Josh is dealing the Gulf Coast Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage this week.  If you see him, tip him well. He deserves the bonus for putting up with my aggravation).  Everyone gave me a hard time about routing through Denver.  Not only was it excessively out of the way, but the terrain wasn't the easiest to put my car through.. especially considering I have a little less than 1 horsepower in that thing.

Actual gas station in Oklahoma.

I wanted to see Colorado, and I'd never been to Utah.  Plus, I figured, leaving everyone I love behind would be less traumatic if I had a friend in the car.

The Colorado skies are breathtaking.

I knew before I got out there that my friend would have family obligations until pretty early in the morning, so when I arrived at 6 pm, I found a Pilot gas station to settle into for a few hours.  I'd only been in Denver previously a handful of times.  I did live there one summer for a couple of months, but I was with a boyfriend, Chris, who always made sure I was taken care of.  Because I know Chris is a reader, I'll mention that he was an excellent boyfriend. Right guy, wrong time. If only he'd been less of a Nirvana fan... (kidding!). Anyway, my previous time in Denver, I had someone who drove me everywhere and catered to my every whim.. so it really never occurred to me that there would be "ghetto" I'd need to avoid.  In my head, Denver was a peaceful city full of hearts and flowers.

CatCat too was optimistic about Colorado.

The homeless convention settled outside the gas station I'd chosen, should have been my first clue.  Or perhaps, the fact that I was the only person speaking English fluently.  Being a little slow to pick up on the obvious, I was quick to hop out.. rent a shower at the Pilot (Material possessions mean nothing.. clean hair means EVERYTHING).. and release the CatCat for a little stroll around the parking lot.

Prior to getting out of the car, he was comtemplating suicide. Without far to jump, he gave up the plan.

I met two fellas who were "freight train jumpers".  They invited me to join them to Cheyenne, where we would jump the "train of all trains" headed for "destination unknown".  At 6 pm, I wasn't too keen on this idea.  10 hours later, it would seem like a great idea.

Really, it wasn't Josh's fault.  I knew beforehand that he'd be tied up until 1 or 2 at the latest.  When he texted me ONCE to tell me that it'd be 4 am (!??@#@!), and didn't once inquire about how I was, or make sure I was somewhere safe.. I was not loving him too much.  I'm a southern gal.  In my world, men make sure the women are safe.. and almost never leave them sitting at a gas station in gang land. Fortunately, I had a lot of phone friends to keep me laughing.. thanks to Scott, Patrick and Christina for the help.

Fortunately, I'd left my red bandanna packed and only had to decline two invitations to join the Spanish Kings, so it wasn't entirely awful.  Around midnight, a very large tow truck pulled up.  I thought this was fortuitous, considering I had almost zero faith in my car's ability to not break down.  Out of the tow truck came a rather large black man, Gene, from Texas who was originally born in Memphis.  The driver, Jay Coolbaugh, who was a Denver local and covered in glorious tattoos also struck up a conversation.  We became parking lot friends, them vowing to not leave me until I had someone with me.  They stayed with me for four hours.  Others would join the party, including Jay's boss who came bearing hamburgers, and a random assortment of passerby from the Rocky Mountain Sign Company. 

My parking lot guardian angels.  Blessings come in all forms.

When it ultimately came time for me to pick up Josh from a random bus station (Really? Yes), that large orange tow truck escorted me to the exit.. and they even followed up with text messages to make sure I'd found my destination.  We're facebook friends now.

I owe this guy, big time, for watching out for me. If you ever need a tow in Denver, I got your hookup.

At the risk of making a lot of readers weary, this is proof that God looks out for you.  Sometimes in the oddest ways.

So then we take off, make it to Vegas and life goes on happily ever after, right?  Not even close.

We make it about an hour down the road.  Maybe two, and decided to hunt down a Chick Fil A.  Those fruit cups are delicious, after all.  During this off-highway excursion, the car loses all power.  We were immediately able to regain power, but clearly something was wrong. Many phone calls, several hours in a parking lot, and a repair bill later.. complete with an overnight stay in a hotel, we would find out that a GSR or EDT or ADR or NXOAIUREHGLASSLIO valve had busted on my car.  Apparently, this is a critical valve, and they're hard to come by.  Awesome.

Josh, CatCat and I spent the day in Grand Junction, CO on the side of the road chillin' on a flatbed truck.  The mechanic and shop owner, Craig of ASAP Auto Repair in Grand Junction is amazing.  He even tolerated my temper tantrum when I'd just had enough.

We were there a LONG time.

These guys are amazing.
Takin' care of business. In the parking lot. Cat in tow.

Christina, who was waiting for us in Vegas, was starting to panic.  This had me way behind schedule and she needed me to be there the day before. So now I'm potentially losing my job (Not her fault.. she needed me at a certain date and time, and if I wasn't there, it was out of her hands).. we're exhausted, and we have no transportation.  We ended up getting a room to sleep in a few hours, recover the vehicle.. and then.. on the road again!  Thank you to everyone who helped expedite our road trip.

Back on the road, we switched off driving until neither of us could handle the stark nighttime terrain of Utah anymore.  After a truck stop dinner in Green River, Utah, we slept in yet another gas station parking lot for a few hours.  It's amazing we didn't get car jacked.  Perhaps its a testament to how bad of a lemon my car really is.  We didn't want it, but potential thieves wanted it even less.  The key to not getting mugged.

The dead steer looked on ominously as we ordered the country fried steak. Look how tired Josh is. I was in worse shape.

Vegas would greet us around 10 am. A very sleepy Christina Sharkady would whisk me off to get scalped in a hair test drug test, which I would pass and clear me to start work at the Riviera the very next morning. I am always proud of myself when I pass a drug test.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a drug user by any stretch of the imagination.  But I've seen days, in the distant distant past, when I've done enough drugs to contaminate a small country.  Since cleaning up my act, about 6 years ago, I'll socially hit a joint with friends maybe once a year.. and never more than one hit.  I just don't like weed.  I know I'm in the minority here, as it makes it's way towards legalization, but weed makes me paranoid. And sleepy. So I just don't like it. A couple of Xanex though, I'm a fan. I'm high strung and I like being mellowed out. Even that hasn't happened in a few years though. I still buy into the hair follicle propaganda though that for every inch of hair they can go back 90 days. And seeing as how  my hair is about 900 feet long, and they ALWAYS take an entire sample.. I wait with breath held for the DEA to call me to find out how I'm still alive. Thankfully, my sordid past stays hidden in the very blonde strands that hang to my waist.

My first night in Vegas, Josh and I hit the Stratosphere.  I wanted to look out over the city and see just what I was in for.  What I'd signed up to be part of, and what possibilities were out there.  We sat on the stark black leather couch, overlooking the city and talked about faith in the city of sin.  It was a perfect end to a mildly horrific cross country journey.
For a girl who loves all things sparkly, this is my paradise.

Bright lights, big city.

Cocktails with Christina and Josh to get the week, and new city off right.  The rest to follow in another blog.

The welcome party.. and it was good.

Tonight I'll knock out "Part 2: Living in Vegas. You CAN'T see it all in one week. But you can try."

I will leave you with THIS picture.  We don't know this guy, but it sort of sums up my first week in Vegas.  This picture kinda makes me think of Kai for some reason.

Who needs more than a foot ball cocktail and the world's largest Golden Nugget? NOT ME!

For now, I'm off to work.  Thanks for being patient with me. :)

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