As much as I love getting out of NYC, I don’t think I’m cut out for traveling (even driving to NJ makes me throw up half time, and not metaphorically). I felt like crap the week in Berlin. And then my Christmas week sore throat (yes, my own fault for tending to buy a pack of cigarettes around the holidays–this is the first year, though, where I think my body totally rejected them because I am now middle-aged, it seems) morphed into a sinus infection/head cold thing in Las Vegas. Maybe the super dry air (my hands and face started chapping; desert climate+free flowing alcohol can’t be good for hydration) plus airplane germs got to me. Then my last night in town I started peeing blood, which is never not alarming. I haven’t had a UTI in years and have lucked out in not ever getting one while on vacation. Thankfully, I was in a US city (though if I were in much of Latin American or Asia I could just buy antibiotics over the counter) with a 24-hour drug store (AZO to get me through the morning), CVS where I’m already in the system and was able to convince an RN to have my dr. call in a Cipro prescription instead of waiting at a Las Vegas clinic my last day on vacation. Four days later and I still feel like a mess. (I don’t think anything was helped by the 1:30am, 25 minute long term parking hunt for the car in 14 degree weather. Dressed for 65 in a light jacket and thin tights, I seriously thought I was getting hypothermia. After the hour drive back to the apt. heat blasting the whole way, I still couldn’t feel my feet and my ears were killing.) I haven’t even left the house or plucked my eyebrows (full hairs totally grow-in a half-inch, ok, maybe a quarter inch, below the artificial arch in that amount of time).
I did win $116 at the Four Queens Casino, my great grandma’s (I always type grandmother because it looks nicer, but I never say that word aloud so why use it in print?) Grandma Weaver, as she was called, haunt in…I don’t know, the ’60s? ’70s? When I was very young, i.e. the ’70s, she lived somewhere in a mobile home in Nevada with her husband, who had a shiny plastic leg you could see between his shoe and pant cuff, that much I remember. There were hummingbirds flitting around outside. It was desolate. Grandma Weaver chain smoked, gave us the cat I grew up with, L.C. (Little Cat) and for Christmas one year sent a box of pencils with my name on them like you might find in the Lillian Vernon catalog, and I thought they were extremely cool. And then she died. I have no idea how old she was. Probably not more than 65. I’ve never seen a photo of her any younger than she is in this one (the only one in my possession with her in it) with my sister and me taken somewhere around 1979. I plan on adopting the housedress as a sartorial standard well before my 60s.
My regular grandma (who unsettles me when she comments on my Facebook posts–maybe she’s here too? Hi!) and my aunt who still lived at home because she was a kid, also lived in a mobile home in the Nevada desert at this time. Maybe they all lived in the same park? I don’t remember. That is them, along with my grandpa, in the middle. I’m on the end. I never liked dogs, even as a kid, and my relatives always had/have them. They jump on you, slobber, and need too much attention, and smell while crammed into the back seat of a sedan with you. When my mint chocolate chip ice cream melted in the desert heat while eating it slowly on the porch, my grandma grabbed it from me and gave it to the dog. I still eat slowly and am always the last to finish, so that did not teach me anything as a tot.
Maybe it wasn’t that desolate–that’s just how Nevada looks. Thirty minutes out of Las Vegas and it’s dust and mountains. But first you pass by every chain restaurant known to man and countless run-down apartment complexes (I appreciate that fat cats are included in the Large Pets Allowed perk, not just dogs as per normal usage of that phrase) and newer planned communities with vaguely Spanish names. There’s a chain of gas stations and casinos called Terrible’s, which is disconcerting because of the apostrophe. I’m guessing Terrible is someone’s nickname. Taking night photos with a camera from a car isn’t optimal, but I couldn’t delete them.
New Year’s day a gentleman in a scooter putted in a lane of traffic along The Strip with his ladyfriend on his lap and no one seemed to think this was a problem. The problem not being two lovebirds on a scooter but that a non-car does not belong on the road. People drive as they walk in Las Vegas, though: slow-wittedly. I forget that the rest of the country stops for pedestrians when they drive. I saw a Chinese delivery guy on one of those mopeds they now use–on the shoulder of the L.I.E. a few weekends ago and had to avert my eyes because I assumed he would be crushed at any given moment.
I don’t really gamble and never bet more than $20 at a time. Caveman Keno is my game (it’s just standard Keno but the balls are rocks that make a satisfying clanking noise when dropped and occasionally a pterodactyl screams and a volcano erupts) which thrives more in the garish old casinos with $3.50 well drinks ($12+ is standard on The Strip) free if you play at the bar and bet more than $10. You really have to seek it out among the slots and video poker. And both this December and last on my Vegas excursions, the only casino where I won notable money back was The Four Queens. Luck of the draw or help from beyond?
I didn’t take a ton of photos, especially not of food because I did so last year, and didn’t post most that included me because I looked haggard and bleary-eyed. Here’s what I ended up with: