Las Vegas, NV to Tempe, AZ
July 27, 2010
The morning I left Vegas I was alone in the hotel. Everyone had left early for their flights back home. Back on my own for another month or so. The reality was setting in of the remainder fo the journey ahead of me. I was on the home stretch.
I was able to shed some unnecessary gear and send it home with my family, so I was packing a little lighter this time. I went downstairs to get a luggage cart but they wouldn’t let me have one. Had to use the bellhop. Liability concerns. WTF? So up he came with me to load up my pelicans, tank bag, and other misc stuff. I bet that was a first for him. After that, I went to the deck and rode the bike up to the check in area to meet him. He assisted me as best he could, even though I insisted I didn’t need any help. Persistent little bugger.
He watched shockingly as I bungee strapped my right case on and explained that it was broken, and then proceeded to bungee on the rest of my junk. After we were done I tipped him and I was finally alone with the bike. The area was very fast paced in order to prevent backups, and new tourists arriving in their expensive cars gawked in shock at me redneck rigging bunch of crap onto a strange looking motorcycle. I could feel the stares and curiosity. Didn’t let it phase me. I knew if I did I’d forget something or worse, knock the bike over again in the stress of the moment.
Zip the jacket. Put in headphones in. Put on helmet. Sit on bike. Set navigation. Phone into tank bag. Gloves on. Kick stand up. Ignition. 1st. Throttle. Clutch. Go.
Like that, the next portion of my journey began.
Not sure where this pic is or why I have it, but it's dated 7/27 and I don't have any others from the day
I was following the same route out of Vegas that we took when we went to the Grand Canyon just days before. Like I remembered, the landscape quickly changed from city to desolate desert. Soon enough I was approaching the Hoover Dam again.
This time was different than before, thgouh, in that there was an insanely long line of traffic leading up to the dam, several miles long. And this time, obviously, I wasn’t being blasted with cool air from an air conditioned car. I was baking. After around 10 minutes I’d moved maybe 10 car lengths. I swear the bottoms of my boots were melting. This was crazy. Screw it.
So, taking a lesson from California, I let the clutch out and coasted down the wide paved shoulder. Ah, it felt good to move. The airflow through my sweat filled jacket was like air conditioning. I maintained a very slow pace as to not offend anyone, and many cars moved over and seemed understanding. That is, until I was no more than 200 yards from the entrance.
That’s when this little white Honda with California plates jerked over into the shoulder and the passenger door opened. I didn’t miss a beat, just filed into line right behind them as if nothing happened. I was close enough now that it wouldn’t be too much longer.
No, they weren’t having it. A woman got out of the car on the passenger side and began to berate me.
“You’re not getting by us you f*ing a**hole! You can wait like the rest of us” She yelled.
I ignored her, just facing forward. I thought to myself that she just6 didn’t understand. I didn’t just want to get ahead – I just couldn’t bear to sit motionless in the baking sun any longer. Traffic continued to move a car length or two every few minutes. I never tried to go back to the shoulder for fear that they’d do something stupid, so I just stuck in line. The children in the back seat stared out at me the entire time.
Suddenly the passenger car door opens again.
“You need to back off man! You’re getting way too close to our car a**hole!” Yelled the woman again.
“Are you serious?” I thought, “This lady is out of her mind. I’m not even close to the car. What kind of person harasses another person like this? Especially a guy on a motorcycle – aren’t we dangerous?”
I didn’t respond in any way. Just took it. I seriously considered parking the bike in the middle of the road and letting all the air out of their tires one at a time.
The kids continued to stare and now the woman was turning around and glaring at me. I’d already decided what I was going to do. Remember all those signs I noticed the first time through the Hoover Dam that said to report any suspicious vehicles? Well, I was about to report one.
About 100 yards before the entrance the road split for RVs to go to the right and cars to the left. I went right. Rode right up to the guards. Pulled off my helmet.
“Yes sir, what can we do for you?” said the guard.
“Well, there’s a white Honda up there, early to mid 90s, California tag begins with blah blah, family of four. I’ve been behind them a while. They’ve been acting really strange and I thought you guys might want to check it out.”
“Okay sir, thank you for letting us know, we’ll take care of it. Go on ahead.”
I'm sure it was the highlight of their day to act on the report of a suspicious vehicle. I would like to think they were individually stripped searched, thoroughly interrogated, and had their car dismantled. At the very least, they were inconvenienced in some way. In retrospect it wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but they earned it. Aside from the Canada-US border fiasco, that was literally the worst interaction I had with another human being over the course of the entire trip.
I ran the bike hard up through the gears on the other side of the Dam and well over the speed limit for several miles in order to lessen the chances of crossing paths with the white Honda again.
The rest of the day was largely uneventful. I have written in my journal that I had almost a full minute of déjà vu at some point in the day, which sounds interesting but I don’t remember it. I listened to an audio book for a good portion of the trip from here on out, which really helped pass the time.
My destination in Tempe, AZ was an apartment of a family friend that worked for an airline. He had been laid off some time prior, and had a very difficult time finding a job. An opportunity opened up in Tempe and he took it, even though it meant leaving his family for extended times while they carried on with normal life back in Charlotte, NC.
But, when I was passing through, he wasn’t actually going to be there. He was back home in Charlotte at the time, but he offered up his place for me to use and left me a key at the front desk. The only catch was I had to be there by a certain time before they closed, 5pm I want to say. Well, I made it their 6 minutes before they were closing. Not sure what my plan B was, but I was very glad not to have missed it.
He’d left a note saying to help myself to anything. I remember I had fish sticks and a powerade while I watched Die Hard for the first time. I just brought my tank bag in and didn’t unload anything so I could be on the road quicker the next day. He had dark curtains that blacked out the whole place, which I figured were because he worked crazy hours. I ended up falling asleep pretty early. Tomorrow I was off to Las Cruces, NM.