Kyle left on his bus in the early morning on July 25th. I had a whole extra day to myself to explore San Francisco. I didn’t. I sat in a bar all day and drank. I took a trolley back to my hotel and slept until 5 a.m. the next morning. I was taking Amtrak back home to Philly. . . but I wasn’t ready to leave. Not yet. Not this way. I know I had to come back. And I did. . . I have.
Kyle wanted to continue the trip north on the Pacific Coast Highway, where gas prices started at $5.15 a gallon—in 2001. We eventually got off the road that caused me constant panic attacks, and then rolled into John Steinbeck’s home town. Nothing was open and the town was pretty deserted. We finally hit San Francisco, California, parking the van under the Days Inn in the Tenderloin. I checked into the hotel—Kyle rented a room in a hostel. Kyle and I would never share a hotel room together again.
There was very little sleep in Las Vegas. Even when Kyle and I we’re asleep we could hear the electrical bings and whizzes of the slot machines. It’s almost as if they created a psychic echo that permeated everyone’s minds within a thirty-mile radius. We left just before the clock turned 6:00 a.m. Kyle was behind the wheel, and since we weren’t on Route 66, I didn’t care how we got to L.A., as long as we got there. Taking Interstate 15, I slept until the stop-and-start of the van in Pasadena traffic woke me up.
Kyle and I spent the first day apart–as usual—and we met up for dinner that night, whatever the night was. After spending a few hours in a casino, you lose all track of time. After dinner we walk up The Strip of Vegas, but we were both consumed by the fact we were actually in Vegas. Neither of us were gamblers, nor were we interested in taking advantage of the cheap cheese-ball shows. Instead, we looked at the worst humanity has to offer. Feeling beaten, we both retreated back into our cockroach-infested motel where, the next day, we tried again to experience Vegas. It just wasn’t for us.