It has been an action-packed couple of weeks, gentle friends, and may I just say, I’m glad it’s behind me. I sold my house, and got rid of the vast majority of my stuff in anticipation of the big upcoming adventure. Moving sucks under the best of circumstances, but trust me, the air traffic control on getting rid of large quantities of crap is way trickier than for just moving it from one house to another. So exhausting. Anyhoo, now I’m road trippin’ to Texas, to put my car in my dad’s garage for safekeeping while I’m gallivanting about the globe. It’s almost 2,000 miles! I’m giving myself a week to get there, so I can go at an easy pace.
After the Hell Week of moving, every cell in my body was whimpering pathetically in pain, so my first stop was Las Vegas, where I planned to have myself a nice, calm, restorative spa day. Checked-in to a sexy luxe room at The Cosmopolitan (although the Google Maps mobile app seemed certain that I was, in fact, reserved at the delivery entrance behind the Bellagio–it would not direct me anywhere else). This room was gorgeous. However, there had apparently been some fairly significant shenanigans going on in there earlier. When I got up there, there was a maintenance guy re-hanging the closet door, the bathroom mirror was cracked, the articulating lamp next to the bed was dangling from the wall like a disembodied arm with a compound fracture, and the TV had suffered some kind of blunt force trauma, damaging the LED right in the middle, causing an electric green splotch to appear on the forehead of any face in the center of the screen, as though a radioactive pigeon had been plaguing the set of every show I tried to watch.
I didn’t complain, though, because I was already kind of on the hotel manager’s watch list after having to tell him that his bell man had, somewhere between my car and my room, lost a small styrofoam cooler containing several capsules of live Typhoid virus, and that he had to find it a.s.a.p., as the virus is vulnerable to the heat (it was 95 degrees out). I waited until the cooler had been located to tell him that, although the viruses were, indeed, alive, they were deactivated–eunuch viruses, so to speak–not an outbreak waiting to happen. (These capsules were among a battery of travel vaccines I just got. The others were all shots, though. The FDA apparently recalled all the Typhoid vaccine injections; hence, the capsules, which I had to take over the course of a week, and keep refrigerated the whole time, or they would die and be useless.) He was not amused.
The next day went smoother. After brunch with bottomless bloody marys, I did this:
And then this:
Followed by dinner at China Poblano, a Chinese-Mexican fusion dream that finally makes it possible for Fernando and me to both have our favorite foods at the same time! Ooh, it was good, too. I had a Singapore Sling, chicken flautas with mole sauce, and these really imaginative, scrumptious lamb potstickers under a crispy, demure veil of cumin “lace,” with edible flower blossom garnish. I’ve never put anything like it in my mouth before, and that’s saying something. Just look at them!
After that day of indulgences, I woke up in a much improved, yet saucy mood. So, I did what anyone would do, and I went……and dug a big hole with an excavator. Yes, you heard me. An excavator.
A Cat 315C excavator, to be exact. There’s this place across the freeway from the Strip, called “Dig This,” that is a sort of heavy equipment playground. You can actually go and drive a big excavator. They have bulldozers, too, but I didn’t want to just push things back and forth. I wanted to dig a trench and pick up tractor tires and stuff.
They make you take a breathalizer test first, so they don’t have a bunch of drunks out there ramming into each other. Then, there’s a little safety class with a cute little demonstration with models in a sandbox.
Then they take you out and put you in the cab of the machine, go over everything again, and hook you up with a headset so Roger, the instructor, can communicate with you the whole time. (He also has a remote shut-down switch for your machine around his neck, so if you go rogue, he can stop you from crossing the freeway and crashing into the Strip like Godzilla.)
Never having been inside the cab of an excavator before, it took some getting used to. It taxes the coordination a bit at first. This lever moves the boom up and down, that lever extends the arm back and forth, this other one rotates the cab, that one opens and closes the bucket, and those two in the front operate the tracks that move the machine around. Oh, and there’s a purse hook in there, too, for the ladies. Very important.
After a while, I got the hang of it, and I was an excavatin’ fool! Zooming all over the yard, spinning the cab around, digging trenches…I even won the tire stacking contest. We even played Excavator Basketball. It was a hoot and a half, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I got so carried away, I kept digging at that trench, and digging digging digging, until look what I did!
Just teasing, Roger pulled the plug on me long before I excavated across Interstate 15. But, I did drive on to the Grand Canyon the following day. I hadn’t been since I was a kid. I’m sure it hasn’t changed much since then, but I don’t recall the sight of it, coming into view as you crest the trail up at the rim, having such an effect on me back then. You’re walking up the trail, la-de-da, looking at the wildflowers and the squirrels busking for food, and then…the earth’s mouth opens up in front of you. It’s a sight that is very hard to turn away from. It feels disrespectful, almost, to turn and go, not knowing if or when you are going to see it again. So, I just stood there, taking it in, until the sun was long gone.