It takes three quick hitches to get from Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley to Las Vegas. The first ride is from a coupla fellow long distance hikers who recognize me from Instagram. We shoot the shit about our favorite variety of granola bar, and what pack is so hott right now (just kidding). The second ride is from a sweet old man in a rusted pick up pulling a Harley, he works and lives in Death Valley and tells me the water from his faucet would come out boiling if it weren’t for this specific whatchamacallit that cools it down. We bond over our love of Death Valley and singer Marty Robbins. The third ride is from a clean cut middle aged guy who looks like Bono and drives a Porsche convertible, my first hitch in a sports car. I can’t tell if he’s coked up or just really animated, he keeps shouting “You’re the people!” because I’m poor and he’s not.
Bono drops me off at the Hard Rock Casino, I get a room, and consider seeing the Magic Mike Show, and I would if my girl Hash Brown were here, but she is not. John Z is though, and I cannot convince him to see male strippers, so we hit up the strip instead, and it’s just as I had imagined–obviously phony. But I have to see it, so I buy an $8 Mexican beer and just walk.
There are normal looking people taking photos of the phony decor and handing out flyers that advertise prostitutes, and shady fellas soliciting drugs under their breath. Meanwhile, I can’t help but notice again and again the looming Trump tower off in the distance, bah Trump, and it gives me the willies.
I’m not a money gambler, but John Z wants to try a hand of Black Jack, so I loan him $10 and tell him to win us a lot of money so we can hike some more, but it’s gone in an instant. So it goes. And that marks the end of my first road trip.
Tomorrow I’m off to Memphis, where I’ll begin my second road trip with the poor farmhand Willy.