Friday, January 9, 2009

Snowy Las Vegas

There are a few things that really get me excited. Computers, digital gadgets, my ever expanding horse/dog/cat & goat family, my lovely wife Linda and of course my 4 kids. But every once in awhile I come upon something that really blows me away. Such was the case when I rounded the last curve in the road and saw the Hoover Dam for the first time. The dam itself is awe inspiring but couple that site with the enormous bridge they’re building next to it and you have the recipe for some very cool visual eye candy. Because the daylight was already fading fast and the hard rain was turning to snow, that’s right snow in the desert, who would have thunk it, I decided to forgo taking any more photos and keep on driving into Las Vegas.

I was able book a room in a Motel 6 right near the off ramp leading to I-15 north which should have been less than a hours drive from the dam so I wasn’t too worried about the fading daylight. I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that the paranoia over driving at night is not some deep seated issue I’ve had since childhood but rather the lack of head lights due to the collision I had with a large mule deer on the very first night of this trip almost 4 weeks ago. Truck/deer run in’s have happened to me in the past. It’s never pleasant to take another creature’s life. It’s always messy and many times debilitating to the vehicle. In this case I was lucky (much more than I can say for the deer) because even though the front of my truck was smashed in, including the lights, I was able to pry the bumper away from the tire enough to enable me to drive to where I was staying that evening. That was a good thing because it was getting dark and 8 degrees outside. I always carry clear duct tape in my truck so with its help, I was able to literally tape my fender, grill and what was left of my lights back together allowing me to continue on.

After giving up condolences to the spirit of the deer my thoughts turned to the monetary loss I might be facing if I couldn’t continue on to these two shows. When you entire income is based on what you sell at art festivals, missing a show, for any reason is a huge bummer. Lucky for me the antlers of the deer didn’t puncture my radiator so as long as I didn’t mind driving around a smashed in truck and planed my driving not to happen at night, I should be OK. Which of course it was or I wouldn’t be writing about my trip AFTER that night here on this blog.

So, back to Vegas. Did I mention snow? To me, living in Sandpoint, Idaho, driving in snow is just part of life. But to desert dwellers, driving in the white stuff is life altering. You could tell whom the snowbirds where even by not looking at their license plates. They I’m sure were put off by the snow but were able to cope with it. Those drivers spending the winter in the desert instead of back home in Michigan or Minnesota were able to keep up a steady but safe high way speed but for someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of driving on ice before it was darn near frightening. Based on the amount of people thinking 5-7 MPH was the top speed one should drive when rain turns to frozen falling water from the sky, I knew I might not make it to the motel before darkness fell and I, driving without adequate headlights would be up the proverbial creek I didn’t.

There were stretches when I was able to move over into the fast lane and drive at a respectable speed so when I saw the sign noting that my exit towards I-15 north where I was staying that night was only 2 ½ miles ahead I was stoked. That feeling lasted all but about one minute because the very next freeway sign warned that due to construction on the off ramp, the road leading to I-15 north was closed and I should take the next exist and follow the detour signs. Normally that wouldn’t bother me but it was snowing in Vegas, I had little to no headlights, traffic had come to an almost paralyzing halt and I didn’t know how to get back to the motel where my reservations for the evening were. By the time I called their front desk to see if they could guide be back, I was so far out of my way I decided to continue on and look for other accommodations.

The other problem with this detour route was it was taking me through a very Hispanic part of the city and because I don’t speak or read Spanish, trying to locate a new room for the night looked rather slim. That said, I ventured on until I found the re-connection back onto I-15 north about a half an hour later. This was a good 15 miles from the motel were I was to stay so turning back once on the highway didn’t seem like a good idea. Now it was well into dusk so it was getting critical about finding somewhere to stop for the night. Crossing my fingers I headed out into the snowy Las Vegas night, trying to make it to the next place on the road where I could get a room, Mesquite, NV.

To be continued….

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