A Laborious Labor Day
It's Labor Day weekend and I decide that it's the perfect time for Baby Bright (my new Toyota Prius) and I to bond and start making memories. So I throw some things in a bag and head out to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. I thought that everyone who was going to be on the road would have left way before 5 pm. I was wrong. Very wrong. I've been on the road for three and half hours and I haven't gotten to San Bernardino yet. It's a 60-mile-stretch and, normally, a 45 min. drive.
1...2...3... They say things come in threes. I don't believe so, though it looks like it right now. There's an accident on the 101 and two on the 10 and well I'm just hoping that that is it... It's not. My GPS in the calmest of voices tells me that I'm going to encounter another 45-minute delay due to an accident on the 15.
Seconds later it hits me without warning. A lightning bolt of pain on my right side temple that almost leaves me blind in the dark of night. I start hyperventilating. My heart is racing. I'm not breathing well. I, who don't perspire, am. My legs start shaking. There's no reason for me to be having an anxiety attack but I am. I'm taken hostage. Not now! Yep, right now. My inner thoughts of "You love to drive... Baby Bright is doing fine... This will pass... It's going to be OKAY!" don't do anything to assay what is happening. I'm tired. Slept only a few hours the night before which may be exacerbating it all. Regardless, I need to pull over or take the nearest exit as quickly as possible.
I do, and find myself in what has to be the seedy part of San Bernardino off the 215 (I'm on my 4th freeway in less than 4 hours. Ugh.). A place for me and BB to rest is all I wish for right now. Magically a sign for a Motel 6 is smack in front of me. I felt as if I was staring at the lobby entrance of a Four Seasons right now. I pull into the lot, give my car a pat and --I, who did a Los Angeles to Orlando solo jaunt in another Prius-- ask him to forgive my wimpiness.
Turns out I have to pay a 4-star rate for a 2-star (if that) motel. I am lucky enough --and yes, there's sarcasm involved here-- to have landed in a town that is having a two-day rave. I'm informed that it ends at 2 am and it may not be that quiet. I whine (not wine, though I need that right now) that all I want is to sleep! So they make an effort and change a reservation they had for a corner room on the top floor a bit away from others.
I check in. I haven't eaten all day, it's 9 pm and I'm not getting in the car again. Fortunately there's a Mexican cantina next door. To give you an idea of the area, here's a picture of a public phone booth (yes, they still exist). The pack of cigs, booze and filth fit in perfectly.
I walk into the space and off to the side is a bar with a karaoke night. It's going to be hard to try to block out the sounds of Lady Marmalade, Diana Ross and Gloria Gaynor songs belted out badly by the locals. But I need food and a drink so I go to the restaurant side.
The hostess/server is so incredibly solicitous and sweet that I'm almost warming up to this place. I order food and ask her for 2 margaritas. She chuckles. Is someone else with you? No, I just think I need them right now. How about if when you finish the first I bring you the next? Yes please. The shrimp tostada I order arrives and it was surprisingly good. When I'm barely done with the first margarita, the second one arrives. Someone is singing "Killing Me Softly With His Song" incredibly well at the karaoke bar. Or is it the margaritas that make it seem so?
I sleep. Get woken up at 3 am by loud laughter in the hallway. Fortunately I go back to sleep. I call the girlfriend I was going to stay with and since she's working today until late I decide to stay till check out time. There's a Lexus, two new Mercedes, and one Corvette in the parking lot. Am I really at a Motel 6? Oh, yep, there are also falling-apart-cars parked.
At noon I head out again with my bravado, confidence, and sense of adventure restored. It takes another 4 hours to reach Vegas. Still need to kill time and head to the MGM, a hotel I like, and where I know my way around well. It's where I saw Love twice, the Beatles show I thought I wouldn't like.
Then, I'm off to my friend's house. Though always in touch, we haven't seen each other in a few years and when we hug all my stumbles to get here wash away. She is family to me. It will be a good few days.
I will not think of how the trip back will be. I have a feeling it will be another experience.