Current local Las Vegas time is 7:53am, January 19, 2018.

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Moving to Vegas: Day 2, the first half

I started the day by checking my cell phone voice mail and was relieved that Mrs. Vargas and Luella had arrived safely in Las Vegas and were already settled in the new house.

Remember how Luella had received half a pill of Kitty Valium for the flight? Apparently Luella had actually spit out her relaxation pill, but didn’t need it. She behaved the entire way and only had a few audible complaints during the five-hour flight. Happy with the knowledge that the girls were safely in place and awaiting us, it was time to let the driving begin.

I have driven from Central Florida to points in the Northeast, such as Boston, MA and Buffalo, NY before. Twelve-hundred miles isn’t too bad of a drive. Well, we were looking at nearly twenty-five hundred from Dad’s house to Las Vegas. We had planned on 48 hours of driving over four days, meaning 12 hours a day, give or take.

No sense brooding; we got going.

Dad and I decided that the “unit” of driving would be a tank of fuel, which would last about 300 miles. At roughly 60 MPH, that would be five hours per tank. I took the first tank, which would nearly get us out of Florida. It took about 100 miles to get used to the truck and its size. It also took about that long to get the nervousness of the fact that all of my worldly possessions were behind me and one wrong move could cause disaster.

Even with insurance, you feel a bit precarious and need to not think about it. I’m glad I was able to do that. I simply pretended that we had a load of artificial gopher pelts.

With Dad at the wheel and Florida behind us we made easy time through Alabama and Mississippi. I took the wheel again mid-afternoon and that’s when the rain appeared. I’m not sure if it began in Mississippi or Louisiana, but it started raining. And it wasn’t the nice, gentle rain they use in commercials, but the angry end-of-the-world rain that Noah could probably write about. Having lived in the South, the virulence of the rain didn’t surprise me much, and I knew it wouldn’t last too long. At least that was the hope.

The first hundred miles were exciting, but long past us, we were both used to the truck and had more or less settled in for the diesel droning on for more than 2,000 more miles of driving. Comfort is a dangerous thing, because it can so easily be taken from you. And sure enough, the rain brought a whole new dimension to the driving. Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to get adjusted to that. About the only incident was an asshole in a black Volvo sedan who came out of nowhere way too fast and then cut me off, slamming on his brakes.

Here I was comfortably into the artificial gopher pelt fantasy and this jerk ruined it. There’s nothing like being in the cab of a large truck (we were roughly the same height as semis) and having a car cut you off and slam on brakes. In the pouring frickin’ rain. I did have thoughts of hitting him for half a second, since I knew we were insured to the hilt, but reason took over and I thought better of it, mainly because I didn’t want any delays at this point. I didn’t even have the satisfaction of turning my brights on since they already were.

I guess the best I can do is send out some really bad karma to Mr. Black Volvo Driver. He’ll get his. In the meantime, maybe the next Penske truck he cuts of in the rain won’t have such good brakes.

As the hours passed, one of the duties of the guy in the navigator’s seat was to keep track of where we were, but also to estimate where we might end up for the night and find a coupon for appropriate lodging in one of the coupon books we had picked up at the welcome center. For our first night on the road, we had decided on Lafayette, LA. (This was a few days before Hurricane Katrina was a threat to Florida, much less the Gulf Coast area.)

The coupon book told us there was a Ramada for $48.99 a night in Lafayette. And they had continental breakfast and a pool. Those were among the amenities we wanted in addition to being well within budget. So we got off at the proper exit and started following the directions. And this is where we goofed. We should have read the directions first. They were a lot like the kind you hear about in jokes, where they tell you to drive past the barn that used to be painted yellow and take the third left past where the school that burned down used to be. Nothing was in the present tense. Nothing was even remotely correct. Helen Keller could have written better directions.

As the futile search for the Ramada progressed, we also noticed that the neighborhood was slowly getting not so nice. And there was the fact that the truck was a bit thirsty.

Since the truck was thirsty, we decided that finding a place to fuel up took precedence over finding a place to sleep. After all, 25,000 pounds of truck, possessions, car and trailer ain’t gonna get pushed. At least by me.

During our search for fuel, we passed a car vs. motorcycle accident. The emergency personnel were already on-scene and we didn’t see it happen, so there wasn’t much we could do but carefully drive by, gawk, and hope it wasn’t a harbinger of things to come for the trip. A few blocks later, and a few more rungs down the socio-economic ladder, we found a gas station that sold diesel and stopped in.

Ahh, near-civilization. They had plenty of fuel and beef jerky.

Published Thu 11/3/05 at 9:28pm

Categorized in Lars Vargas, Luella the Cat, Moving, Mr. Vargas, Mrs. Vargas

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