The night before we flew to LAX, I had a mild nervous breakdown. Everything was ready, everything was packed, preeened, dyed, cut.. etc. I sat down with a glass of wine and called my Mum to say goodbye for three weeks. After the usual "have a great trip etc, take lots of pictures, came the statuatory parental "DONT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT" CHECK, "DONT FORGET YOUR DRIVING LICENCE" CHECK "DONT FORGET THE PAPER PART OF YOUR DRIVING LICENCE"
"Samantha, your driving licence has two parts. The plastic card and the counterpart..."
"Oh Samantha! You'll not be able to drive without it!"
Bearing in mind that this whole trip is DRIVING across the west coast, I started to freak out. I rarely lose my shit, I think of myself as a calm collected individual, but on this occasion, I lost it. I hung up on Mother and called the car rental company who indeed confirmed I would need both parts. I didn't even know the paper part existed! It has been nearly ten years since I passed my test. The DVLA is shut, the post office is shut. So I proceeded to do the ever so productive method of TEAR THE HOUSE APART. We had done a deep clean during the week so the house was pristine... Not for longggg. I pulled out every single drawer that could possibly contain said "counterpart" Nada, nothing. Cue tears, and mascara streaming, and very probably SHRIEKING at Paul "WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO DO!?" No one else can drive, and I'm about to RUIN everyone's holiday. Nothing I can do apart from pray it wouldn't matter when we got there.
The flight from San Fran back to LAX I was a wreck. I had visions of having to get the greyhound bus everywhere. My desert driving dreams were becoming blurred. We got our cases and headed to the shuttle bus. When we disembarked shuttle, The Velvet Underground were playing out of the speakers. I had a good feeling. And as we walked into the building, lo and behold, a SELF SERVICE kiosk. I put in my details and it printed a receipt. THAT'S IT?! That was it.... Giddy, I skipped to the SUV pick up area and selected what appeared to be a monster truck. I have never driven on the other side of the road before, but figured I had to do it at some stage so why not do it in the one of the worst cities to drive in, in a MASSIVE 4 x 4. Clever. We picked up the sat nav and off we went. Funnily enough driving in LA is very easy. The blogs I read of the awful traffic and crazy drivers I felt were over exaggerated. Authors of said blogs have clearly never driven in London.... I got used to the other side quickly and was soon my usual road ragey self. However I was told NEVER to beep in LA. It's bad etiquette. Easier said than done.
We drove out of LA through Death Valley. Death Valley was breathtaking. I thought I would get bored of driving in the desert after the inital "WOW FACTOR" wore off. I didn't. It constantly changes and you can actually see the rotation of the earth. It's just incredible. I never thought it would be as quiet as it looks in the films. I assumed they cleared the roads for filming. But it was literally dead. I don't think we saw another car for twenty minutes. We got out of the car to takes photos after about 45 minutes in, and obviously we had the air con on so the SHOCK of stepping out into the 52 degree heat blew me away. I think we managed ten minutes before we had to get back in the car. We got some amazing photos though.It's a fantastic feeling to be blow away by nature, and get some energy from a natural force as opposed to man made parks and buildings for once.
We then drove another hour and a half to Shoshone Village. I wonder if that's where Shoshone from "Girls" gets her name... Took some photos/ pictures, Dan and I bought an AMAZING t shirt (1 each, not to share,) and then hopped back in monster truck and headed to VEGAS.
Now I'm not really sure what I was expecting from Vegas. I'd had mixed reviews from lots of people. I thought Vegas would be pretty straightforward to drive in, considering it is one straight road! WRONG. Our hotel car park had works in it, with no "diversion" signs or alternate route to get to the temporary one. We couldn't even have access to the valet. So we drove round for an HOUR. Eventually it was all too much, by this time I had been driving for eight hours, and it was pitch black. I drove over the pavement into a disabled parking spot and barked at Paul to go and find out where we needed to go. We eventually found the valet parking and checked into our rooms. We got dressed up and went to a bar IN a chandelier in the Cosmopolitan. It was shit. It was overpriced and full of 40 years olds with their white cotton thong hanging out as they fell over cackling. There is no exclusivity in Vegas, and it just reminded me of the Bigg Market in Newcastle
We went back to the hotel to play a little blackjack. Now in friends they all have a whale of a time. In swingers they all have a whale of a time. In the HANGOVER they all have a whale of a time. And I'm assuming Britney had a great time too, but I just felt like all the dealers/ anyone that worked there felt a bit dead inside/ a bit vacant. Dan said "hit me" just like Joey in friends, and the dealer corrected him and said "you don't say hit me, you tap the table..." Chill out. So we all lost money, the dealer always wins obvs. I won $3.75 on the slots and decided to cash in early....
The next day I felt a bit better about Vegas. The sun was shining (42 degrees) and we did a little walk around of the famous spots. Caesars palace was amazing! We looked at treasure island and the Venetian etc. Much prefer this place in the day and also not after 8 hours of driving. That evening we went to see the Love show by cirque do soliel. All your fave Beatles songs under one roof. It was amazing. That night after the show Dan invented a dance in a bar where someone was motorboating and we took it back to the hotel room to play some decent, non shite music.
I guess I was expecting Vegas to be a bit more retro, a bit more vibrant and full of life, not people plugged into auto pilot. I'm still glad I went as I've always wanted to see it, but probably won't be returning.
We fell asleep and woke up with Palm Springs and the Mojave desert in our sights.