Monday, 16 March 2009

Freedom Road: Bears, Trees & Vegas

*Can you tell I have a deadline? I am writing anything but that. This is unfolding at a stupidly slow rate. And there are 20 more days to go. Anyone who reads it all, deserves a holiday! I hope people are picking up the fact that 'Freedom Road' is a ridiculous War-On-Terror style spoof name. I am not that ridiculously pretentious. Though I have been called a snob tonight for saying that ITV is for poor people. Which it is.*

Day Four – Yosemite & Las Vegas

For some reason (probably a heady combination of jet lag and insanity), we were up at 4.40 a.m. We decided to exit Yosemite via Wawona and the giant sequoias. It took us a really long time to get to Wawona because the speed limit was stupidly low, there were roadworks everywhere, we got stuck behind the Tour de Yosemite peleton and when we got to the sequoia grove, the road was closed because there was nowhere to park near the trees. Stupid massive RVs. So we had to wait for a bus with about 100 other people which took ages.

As we were driving towards Wawona, we had Jason Mraz on the stereo, the sun was shining, life was good. We were discussing what we had seen the previous day when a motherloving BEAR ran out in front of the car! I squealed like a piglet and Jo could not believe it. The bear did not look very big, so I don’t think it was fully grown. It ran pretty quickly though and dove down a steep slope on the other side of the road. It was different when I saw a bear in Banff, because that bear was mooching by the side of the road and was, like, ‘Bothered?’, about all the people looking at it. The bear made our day!

Me looking through Chad's sunroof. The only time it was open on the trip. Sigh.

We eventually got to the sequoia grove and, yep, the trees were pretty big. We only saw the ones near to the car park though, the biggest ones were a few miles away, because we still had seven hours to drive to Las Vegas and it was already lunch time at this point.

Yep. That's a big tree.

We got on the road to Vegas and we drove through a more desert landscape than we had before. It was still really hot obv. Some of the towns, and I use the term fairly loosely, looked like post Apocalyptic trailer parks. I don’t think I had ever really considered the fact that there must be parts of America which are just Godawful to live in. I really like cities, so I just assume that everywhere is full of life and not that bad to live in. But some of these places looked really impoverished – I guess that’s just a side of America I had never really thought about before because you always hear how America is the richest country in the world, economic powerhouse blah blah blah. I suppose it also exposes my ignorance of modern America because I have no idea where such areas are. In England I know exactly where they are (Hull, Runcorn and Bradford, I am looking at you) and how to avoid them!

We drove on the Zzyzx road. I have no clue how you pronounce that. We also drove past some roadside signs which had the Ten Commandments on them. This was literally in the middle of the desert so someone was pretty determined to tell us not to kill and steal. The landscape was strange; it was orange and dusty and craggy and sort of lunar looking. We were not in England anymore, that was for sure.

Jo was tired of driving as I hadn’t done any yet. This particular day I felt like I would never be able to digest food again. I didn’t appreciate how difficult it was to eat normally when on the road. I suppose that is why truckers are all so fat (when they are not busy murdering prostitutes). Says the fat bitch. It is impossible to eat food made of anything remotely resembling fruit or vegetables. Deep fried and mainly made of cheese could have accurately described my diet throughout the whole trip. As a cheese connoisseur, it wasn’t even good cheese.

We had the High School Musical soundtrack on to pep us up because, you know, we’re all in this together. And then we had Arctic Monkeys on as we approached Vegas itself, to gee us along. As we reached the outskirts of Vegas, we started seeing the really crappy casinos which had to lure people in with offers of free food and gasoline.

We eventually found the Luxor where we were staying and the pyramid had the laser beam sticking out of the top. This was the Mecca of light pollution. We were not staying in the pyramid, but in one of the towers. The room was massive and the bathroom was insane. It could have been a third of the size. It had a weird shower with a seat in it and a phone next to the toilet. This must be what luxury looks like. Who knew?

Jo is so classy

We left the hotel for a wander down the Strip. It was probably 9pm but the heat was ridiculous – it was like when you open the oven door and go ‘Wooooah’ and take a step back. It hits you right in the face as soon as you leave the air conditioned perma daylight of the casinos. We had to walk through Excalibur to get to the Strip. Excalibur was probably cutting edge in 1989. Why anyone would want to stay there now, I do not know.

We reached New York, New York and decided to go on the rollercoaster. Because we were in Vegas. The rollercoaster was way jerky and probably gave us mild whiplash. We walked past a duelling piano bar and thought that we might check it out the next night. What a fateful decision.

We decided to go and look at the fountains at the Bellagio. As we were walking to the Bellagio, there were tons of men handing out flyers, but only to other men. These were flyers for strippers. You could get 2 for the price of 1. Or you could get women to come to the hotel room and if you didn’t like the look of them, you could send them back without charge. What a reflection of the times we live in. The fountains ‘danced’ to a *vomits* Shania Twain song. It wasn’t that impressive and it seemed sort of obscene to have all that water wasted in the middle of the desert. And I don’t even like the environment.

Man, I feel like a fountain

We wanted to go to Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I like cheese. I like cake. I like cheesecake. We had heard that there was one in Caesar’s Palace. We had to walk through a shopping mall, tons of gambling areas and push our way through the massive line for the Pussycat Dolls Lounge to get there. This area consisted of the usual gaming pits, roulette wheels etc. but each table had a woman in lingerie grinding away on top of it. And I bet they have never felt so empowered. Isn’t that the message of the Pussycat Dolls? Confession time: I saw the Pussycat Dolls on tour in Manchester. In my defence, it was free. In between performing such hits as ‘Don’t Rape Me’ and other female empowerment anthems whilst wearing only their underwear, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that all the other Pussycat Dolls hated the lead singer. I digress.

We eventually found the Cheesecake Factory and had to wait for a table near a mahoosive fish tank. We then had an appetizer as an entire meal. Jo got about 50 nachos and I got 8 pieces of quesadilla. And the waitress was asking us what we wanted for our main course. We didn’t have anything. Though I forced down some Key Lime cheesecake. Tough job, but someone had to do it.

I totally forgot about this until I saw the picture. I tried to take a pic of Jo with what I thought was a camera, but was actually the GPS. I am a tool. I blame tiredness. Nothing to do with any kind of daiquiri.

By the time we came out of Caesar’s, it was 1am and it was still hotter than hell. We were so exhausted/lazy, we got a taxi down the Strip back to the hotel. The Egyptian theme of the Luxor made me feel like we were sleeping in the food court at the Trafford Centre and Las Vegas in general was like a hot Cesspool Blackpool.


ali said...

The High School Musical soundtrack... :) haha... I my old job I ended up singing "We're all in this together" at least once a day -- it was one of my bosses favorite phrases and I couldn't hear her say it without starting to sing...


I'm starting to think that by the end of these posts it will be evident that you've seen more of my country than I have... :)

Jessclub7 said...

Ali, I got HSM 3 on DVD for my birthday. I am so lame. And definitely not the target audience!

There are actually tons of places I would still like to go in the US - California coast, New England, Washington state and the list goes on. Hawaii too!

I am really poorly travelled in the UK - there are so many places I have not been to yet. Plenty of time to get to them though!

Phina said...

We have stumbled upon a purpose for the pipeline - the Bellagio fountains!!!!!!!

Phina said...

Oh, and J...guess what?


Jessclub7 said...

And Vegas is in the desert! Perfect!

I love it when a plan comes together ...