We found a coupon for a hotel in Las Vegas in a Denny's in Arizona, and the next thing we knew we were in Sin City. I had some expectations that this would be a glamorous detour, ignoring the facts that we were staying at a Howard Johnson's for $45, Will doesn't own a tuxedo, and we're the kind of people who would consider eating breakfast at Denny's.
We bought some $6 beers, I lost $7 at a slot machine, and we watched the Bellagio fountains perform their choreographed water show to Celine Dion. I have to say, it actually did feel a little glamorous. After all the red rocks and RVs and oatmeal by the fire, I was happy to gape at Prada's window display, look around at the lights, drink some rum and coke out of a Howard Johnson's paper cup, and debate which hotel Britney Spears stayed in.
Will has admitted that some of the National Parks feel like Disney World to him, with long lines of traffic and overpriced food. The "Old West" themed tourist traps outside each park only enhance the feeling. I argue that if the parks were empty we would be griping that Americans don't know what's good, and that they're probably all lined up at Disney World. It is actually encouraging, in my view, that so many people of all different ages want to see the parks enough to make a vacation of it.
Even so, Las Vegas was a funny sort of relief. It is bright and tacky and crowded and weird, with naked women pictured on passing buses and a homeless person at every corner. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. Everyone knows Las Vegas is vaguely depressing- that is almost part of it's charm. That's why you can stay at a motel and still feel thrilled by the Bellagio.
But a day or two of Las Vegas is definitely enough for me. The next morning we drove to Yosemite, our favorite place so far. The serenity and scale of the park gave me goosebumps.
There is so much more to tell, but I don't want to bore you. Just a few more tidbits:
We have been listening to a podcast called "Up and Vanished," which at first I found amateur-ish and now am completely addicted to. We camped in a solitary spot near Yosemite, in a clearing of towering sequoias, and I got good and scared in our tent, in the dark, with an image of missing woman Tara Grinstead in my mind. I made Will come with me when I went to spit my toothpaste. You may know by now that an overactive imagination is both my pride and my folly. I recommend the podcast to anyone with less of a tendency toward childishness. It's definitely scary.
We are thrilled and amazed to have driven all the way to California from North Carolina, and we are now outside of San Francisco (thanks to our host Marianne!)
Today, while stopped at a red light, we saw a teenage boy get a paper cut twirling a Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop cardboard arrow. I'm not sure how to translate the humor of this moment into writing.
That's all for now. We'll be in California about a week! In the meantime, listen to the podcast so we can talk about it, and be careful with your cardboard arrows.
Sending my love,
The Mary Traveler