LA to Vegas…
so thursday mid-morning i set out from LA and (let’s say it together!)…got STUCK IN TRAFFIC. big surprise. like stopped dead on “the 10”. i like how Californians preface their freeways with “the”. like they have specific identities that need to be upheld. but it was actually pretty amazing – it was one of the few (if not ONLY) times i can remember not being pissed or anxious about the traffic. it was nice not really having a place to get to or a schedule to remain on. i stayed in the SAME LANE almost the entire 67 miles the traffic lasted (ok not quite that long, but it felt like it), while others cut left and right and pounded their steering wheels. it was definitely a zen experience.
and then i made my way toward vegas. i debated whether or not to go through vegas since it didn’t HAVE to be on my route. but i decided to head to zion canyon first, which thus placed vegas along my route 15 path. so i should probably share some background info. i am not a fan of gambling. not for myself, not for anyone, not for our society. twice i have experienced it and it gave me bad vibes. first – i went down to Biloxi, MS shortly after hurricane Katrina (about 6 months) to do some work with Presbyterian disaster assistance. the ENTIRE city of Biloxi was destroyed – it was something that can’t be put into words. you know what was already being rebuilt 6 months after the hurricane? people’s houses you say? errrrrt. schools you say? errrrrt. casinos. each and every casino was already in process of being rebuilt. and that angered me. second – i went to atlantic city once with a couple friends to see Guster at the house of blues there. we had to wind our way through a couple casinos to get there (as well as hit one of the notoriously cheap buffets for dinner). i remember feeling this uneasiness in my stomach as i looked around the casino – older people, often with walkers or in wheelchairs were a vast majority. and i just sensed that so many of these people had come to the casinos with some scrapings of money they could come up with, with the hopes that they might make it big, instead of returning to their just-barely-getting-by life. it was painful.
and that’s how i felt in vegas too, as i walked around a few casinos. a lot of people who looked less-than-well-off, pouring money into slot machines. and it confirmed the previous experiences i’ve had surrounding gambling. but that wasn’t even the worst part. i experienced why vegas is called sin city. lining nearly every street are those newspaper vending machines, except they didn’t hold newspapers – they held flyers for prostitutes. as i walked by bank after bank of these machines i could almost feel the tension of temptation. and it gets worse. there were PEOPLE on many street corners handing out flyers for prostitutes.
if you can’t read his shirt, it says “Girls direct to you in 20 minutes”. i hardly have words to express my disgust with a city like vegas. the word “atrocity” comes to mind. and not only that, but these guys are obviously immigrants who are in the US in search of opportunity - and this is what they find? we should be ashamed. anyways. my main practical goal being in the city was to find a cheap buffet, but i got tired of looking pretty quick, so i went back to this little bar/restaurant that had a $2.50-chicago-dog-and-miller-lite-special. and i downed a few of each. it felt better than a buffet. anywho…end of rant. let’s keep going with the roadtrip.