Day 9: Las Vegas to Flagstaff 

Early Tuesday morning, that big storm didn't go around after all, but rolled right through Las Vegas. I slept through it all. I awoke early, hungry. The advertised $4.95 steak & egg special at the San Remo beckoned to me, but on the waitresses' recommendation I ordered ham & eggs instead. The ham slice was huge! It took up the whole plate, and they needed a second plate just for the eggs. I tried my best, but the ham was too much for me. I fought the ham, and the ham won.  

Back at the room, the image in the mirror suggested the years were catching up with me: I seemed to have some little, white streaks in my hair. Wait, not white--beige! Playa dust! One more shampoo got out the last of it. Even my clean clothes seemed to still have some playa dust on them. I got a surprise when I put on my fanny pack–it was looser, like I'd lost a couple of inches along my waist. My belt was tightening in more ways than one: my cash was running low.  

Before taking off, I returned my unused water back to Las Vegas. I ended up not using nearly as much as I thought I would. Not bathing does that. I went searching for the nearest Internet cafe, which I was told was right across from the Monte Carlo. From where I was, I thought I could cut through the MGM to get to it. I got lost. I walked through the MGM conference center, which had cavernous meeting spaces. All the casinos seemed to pipe in music from the 1980's or before, no hard rock or rap or anything modern; I figured out why--that's what the people with money listen to. I finally made my way to the street and located the cafe around the corner. I went online and posted in LiveJournal that I was still alive and had survived Burning Man. By then, it was late in the morning... way too late. I hurried back to the motel, packed up, checked out and hit the road.  

On my way out of town I spotted an Office Depot, where I picked up a can of compressed air. I later used it to clean most of the playa dust off my cameras. I stopped again in Boulder City to get $20 of gas, and took a wrong turn going back to the highway. I found myself winding through the streets of Boulder City, a green, friendly town with lots of neat little antique shops. It was already after 1 PM. I stopped at Hoover Dam to get some pictures, and to work on my fear of high places. The only way to overcome your fears is to confront them, and the massive scale of the dam was good therapy for me. At least, that's what I told myself as I crawled across. In the parking lot, I found a $5 poker chip from the Nugget in Las Vegas.  

Crossing over into Arizona the road turns into 15 miles of 2-lane traffic. There were cuts in the Earth alongside the road, like there had once been plans to 4-lane the highway, but these cuts were old and overgrown with weeds. I got a better look at the massive outcroppings of stone leading up to the Colorado River–truly impressive. Once out of the Lake Mead area, the road widens into four lanes, and I was able to make it to Kingman by 3 PM. It looked like the area south of Kingman was really getting socked with rain. 

Headed eastward on Interstate 40 again, a thunderstorm was growing on the horizon. It looked like there was a line of storms crossing my path, running from the northwest to the southeast. Eighty miles from Flagstaff, the storm directly ahead asserted itself. Lightning flashed. I passed the pointy mountain again. Just past the Welsh exit, it started to sprinkle. I was in almost the exact place I got caught in the rain on my way westward. Does it just always rain around Williams, Arizona? Right about then, I got extremely fatigued. It was late in the afternoon, I had lots of long, lonely miles ahead, and storms were brewing all around. It didn't seem like a good idea to go driving another 5 hours to Albuquerque. I should have left Vegas earlier. When I got to Flagstaff, I pulled over and found a Motel 6. Once I was settled in, I called home to let everybody know where I was, then I found a recharger for my cellphone at the Wal-Mart across the street. It worked! To celebrate, I "biggie-sized" my combo meal at Wendy's.  

I spent the rest of the evening in my room, reading (I finished "Krakatoa"), writing, and taking it easy. I'd been through a lot, and I had a long day ahead of me.  

Arizona thunderstorm brewing
Prologue --Day 1 --- Day 2 --- Day 3 --- Day 4 --- Day 5 --- Day 6 --- Day 7 --- Day 8 --- Day 9 --- Day 10 -- Epilogue
Current weather conditions in
Gerlach, Nevada
Last Updated: December, 2003
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