grey marble

November 12, 2004

To Vegas and into Death Valley

I am back in New York and somewhat unmotivated. Yesterday the skies were clear in Los Angeles; the day was warm. Today in New York the skies are grey and a cold rain falls upon the city.

I left a week ago for Las Vegas, arriving at night. The city was lit up on the horizon, seemingly built right beside the runway. We taxiied to the gate and the airline attendants made their customary welcoming remarks. In the baggage claim area, advertisements boomed over the speakers as giant tv screens bombarded us with images of the city at its most elegant and debaucherous.

My taxi driver was a transplant from LA. She had been in Vegas as long as I had been in New York. We drove on the highway past the strip to the downtown area of Vegas, the old Vegas. Our hotel was beside that of the Binion's where the poker championships are held. I walked in and found Kit and John huddled in a small Asian restaurant. She was eating soup. They slipped me the key to the room and I dropped off my bags.

That night we met up with some of their friends and went to the Peppermill. Flames danced on a small pool of water. Music videos played on tv screens scattered around the room. A basketball game had taken over one of the screens at the bar. Our waitress brought drinks and Kit caught up with their friends. They missed New York, they said, but not the struggle. In Vegas they could afford a house and two cars. They had moved because he had found work playing bass for the Blue Man Group. Her last gig was doing productiong for the Dave Mathews Band. We rode to and from the bar in their van. They said they felt suburban, but they needed the space for his equipment.

The next morning we had breakfast at Blueberry Hill, a pancake joint off the strip. We met Eddie's mother and sister and sat in a booth that almost could have accomodated one more party of three. We ordered pancakes and toast and omlettes and waited for the food to arrive. Eddie left with his family for the Venetian. We said we'd catch up later. The food took forever.

Back at the hotel we checked out. Kit and John and I followed Ramsey to the Venetian, and then we decided to go to the Fashion Mall. Kit needed a dress for the evening's rehearsal dinner. Ramsey left to join Eddie.

When we left the city we drove north and then east. We trusted in John until he realized we were heading for Utah, having missed the chance to stop by In'n'Out before leaving. We turned around and back-tracked to Vegas before we could turn west for California and Death Valley. Look at the map, I noticed that roads were scarce out in the desert.

We arrived at our hotel nearing six thirty. It was pitch black and the drive down into the valley had been slightly trecherous. At one point I looked out the window and saw a sign illuminated by our headlights: "Elevation, 200 feet below sea level." I could almost feel the weight of the air increase around me.

At the rehearsal dinner we teared as Eric's mom offered a toast to the couple. We drank and ate and chatted amongst ourselves. We left near eleven, too late to make use of the pool. I was exhausted and went back to the ranch with Ramsey and Eddie to sleep. Kit called on a friend to offer her accupuncture for her cold and sore throat. She was losing her voice. Afterwards, John went to the pub.

The next morning we ate at the restaurant at the ranch. Walking in we found the place overrun with wedding guests. We had pancakes and Texas toast and coffee and orange juice and biscuits and gravy. After flipping through the brochures we decided to go on a hike in the desert. The canyons proved too far and Ramsey, Kit, Eddie, and I found ourselves on a short 1/2 mile hike around a dry streambed. Beginning in February, pupfish can be found in the waters, but there was little activity around us save for other tourists. Kit and I talked about going on a longer hike only to hear Ramsey behind us suggest going back to the ranch to soak in the pool.

The water was fed from a thermal spring and proved warmer than the air temperature. It was like swimming in a bath. We sat and soaked. Posted by eku at November 12, 2004 3:54 PM

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