Tuesday, March 18th - Seattle-Tacoma, WA/Carson City, NV
This holiday was planned, but not as far in advance as it should have been. Needless to say, booking hotel rooms turned out to be a nightmare, because I waited too late. I figured with a war going on, Las Vegas would not be as crowded. I was so wrong!!! Vegas casinos were going to be booked unless I was willing to spend a heap of cash for something extremely posh. I know Wayne well enough to say he would never go for that. This time, Wayne was flying into Vegas from Narita, Japan after his overnight layover, after arriving there, from Brisbane, Queensland. So I had to settle for the cheaper dive motel room, but hey, it was on the strip.
The night before, I packed suitcases, gym bags, and cosmetic and toiletry kits. I packed winter clothes, as well as summer clothes, for I did not know for sure where we would be going to after Vegas. If it would have been up to me, we would have stayed in Vegas, or I would have requested for Wayne to fly into Seattle. Wayne got lucky, since his plane was flying right into Vegas, but as he had said before, since I have a new car, we should take advantage of the situation and take a road trip. So, a road trip was the plan.
After I packed the car, I filled up the tank and left, heading down Interstate 5, right around 10:30 am. I noticed as soon as I was on the other side of Tacoma, I had 275 miles on the car. My car is a 2003 Kia Rio. Its nothing fancy, but its an economical four-door sedan. I had the car for only a few weeks before the trip and got it right after returning from visiting my sister Cindy, on the East Coast, last month.
The trip to Carson took twelve hours, not fourteen, like MapQuest had stated. I never drove to Nevada from Washington before and have never been through Oregon, except by plane. The only part of Oregon I had ever seen was Astoria, and that was last December. I went there with friends, for the day, shopping and sightseeing. The drive through Oregon was not too bad. I did not need to stop for gas, until I was in Eugene. And then, I later filled up in Medford, OR before I hit those God-awful mountain roads of California, where gas stations were far and few between.
The back roads were dark, narrow, and lonely. All I could think about was going to the restroom and there was no place to go. I saw a rest area in the woods, but it was too vacant, that it scared me. I managed to hold my water until I got to Susanville, CA. I filled up the tank there and went to the restroom. One thing I made sure to do, while traveling alone, was to strike up a small conversation with a worker at the gas station. I would mention that I was coming out of Seattle and was headed to Nevada. I wanted people to see me, and see what car I was driving. That was in case if something happened. (Anything can happen, from a tire blowing out to running out of fuel.) I could easily be stranded somewhere. Not having a cell phone on me, at the time, didnt help either. Fortunately, everything was fine. I don't mean to come across as paranoid, but anybody, no matter what they look like, can run into foul play. If worst came to worst and I was abducted by some psycho who happened to be on the road and I ended up missing, I know it's only natural that people will always report seeing a missing person to the police. They will say, Hey, I saw that person at such and such time. And with each stop, it would give the police more information to where I was last seen before anything happened. When I was in Susanville, the guy working at the gas station was bored and working there by himself. We were talking about NASCAR, it seemed, for a long time. So I knew for sure, this guy would remember seeing me. (Susanville, CA is the home of NASCAR driver, Mike Skinner)
The reason why I stopped in Carson was to see my friend, Irene. She and my other friend, Joyce, were waiting for me to drop by where they worked. They were both extremely worried over the idea of me driving that distance by myself. Irene had not seen me since I left Nevada almost two years ago and she wanted me to stop in and see her, on the way to Vegas. There were other people who wanted to see me too, but I really didnt have all the time in the world for socializing, and catching up on the gossip, with my husband coming in that Friday. I got to Carson City late that night and went to see Irene, first thing to tell her that I made it okay. Joyce had already left for the evening, but I knew I would see her the following day. I stayed to see Irene for about an hour, then went to go check in at the Motel 6 in Carson City.
Wednesday, March 19th Carson City/Virginia City, NV
Irene had wanted me to stay with her, but I got a motel room instead. Her man dropped her off that morning and I had met Ernie. Yikes!!! Now, that one was hard to comprehend, for those are also the names of my biological parents. My friend, Irene was born in India and was raised in Dubai, UAE, before coming to the US.
During the day, Irene's husband kept calling her non-stop on her cell phone to see what she was doing, how much time that day she was taking off, and he wanted to know what time I was planning on taking her back. Poor thing!! I felt so sorry for her. It made me feel fortunate that I did not have similar problems, with Wayne. Truth is, is that I would honestly kick Wayne to the curb in a heartbeat, if he even thought of treating me like that.
Irene and I went to Reds 95 Grill for lunch in Carson and then went to Virginia City to have an old time photo taken. I had the pictures put into a frame and gave one to her. It just made her day. The caption in the frame announced that we were breeder women looking for husbands. The joke is, is that were both married and neither one of us are no longer able to have children.
I dropped off Irene at her work, later that day and hung out at her workplace where I talked to people I hadnt seen for a long time. Later that night, I went back to the motel room and crashed. Nothing else happened that day that was worth mentioning. J
Thursday, March 20th- Carson City, NV/Las Vegas, NV
I got a late start, and headed out to Las Vegas early that afternoon. I was more interested in going to the Villa Basque Deli, in Carson City for brunch. The food there is great and they make fresh squeezed orange juice.
After stopping for fuel in Dayton, I headed towards Fallon on 50 then south toward Vegas on 95. Talk about a boring drive...yawn! At least some of the scenery wasnt that bad. I arrived at Tropicana Avenue, otherwise known as the strip, that evening. I got to the hotel room, unpacked and fell asleep, after midnight.
Friday, March 21st- Las Vegas NV
I was sure to shower early that morning, so I could be near the phone after 8:30 am. I know I could have hung out at the front desk, but I was too busy, trying to make myself presentable for my husband. Actually, I believe I was primping. Nuff said! Plus, I was intrigued with the news, over the war in Iraq. Wayne's plane was getting in around that time. Since I was not familiar with the airport, we both suggested that he get a Taxi over. We agreed to that, the weekend before he flew over, but after I saw that I was practically walking distance from the airport, I could have gotten him, myself. Oh well! No worries.
About 9:00, the phone rang. It was the front desk calling to notify that I had a guest. I told them to send him over, but I couldn't wait that long. I stormed out of the door, and darted down the sidewalk, where I practically jumped into his arms, as he was walking over to the room. I think I almost knocked him and his baggage over.J I was dressed in decent street clothes, (not a nightie) at the time, so it was okay.J He came into the room, looked at the news on TV. Iraq was being bombed. Waynes gutter mouth flew open and he said something along the lines as I hope Bush wipes out that
%&#@ (Saddam Hussein). Wayne is very pro war and pro military. Also, when he referred to the dictator of Iraq as part of the female anatomy, along with the US president whose name is a slang term to the female anatomy, I could also tell he had something else on his mind, besides Saddam Hussein. (M)
Before I bore you to tears and gross you out, or worse, gross myself out, I don't wish to go into specific details as to what happened the rest of the day. I'm sure you know. Married couples do what married couples do. You know, the romantic thing. Its difficult for me to express intimacy, because I dont read romance novels and some of Celine Dion's love songs make me nauseous. Besides, I don't see anything extremely romantic about a root. Wayne refers to the act, itself, as a root, like the English say shag. Every time Wayne says the word, ROOT, I'm snickering like a thirteen-year-old boy going through puberty. (huh, huh, huh, heh, heh, "You said root."- in my best Butthead voice) Sorry, but I cant take Wayne seriously when he throws in the Aussie lingo. I start laughing, every time!
So that day, we stayed back. Later that evening, we went to the Sahara Casino, where the NASCAR Café is located. We took a taxi, because I was still unfamiliar with the area to drive. I had only been there once before and its a lot bigger than Reno.
Wayne really liked the NASCAR Café and we took pictures. A few weeks prior to that night, I had been trying to lose weight. I was prescribed Phentermine, otherwise known as Fastin, or what I call, legal crank in a capsule. I had lost 13 lbs in just a few weeks. I was wearing a pair of low rider boot cut jeans that were now too loose. During dinner, I was not hungry enough to eat a big meal, so I had a couple side dishes. The sweet potato casserole was good. Wayne helped me eat that.
After dinner, Wayne browsed through the NASCAR store, while I played the slot machines. I won $40.00 worth of quarters, so we took our winnings and left. He wanted to get a pair of jeans and I needed a belt, so we walked over to Fashion Show Mall.
We were a long walking distance from the hotel and on a Friday night, there were no cabs available. And this is where my common sense jumped on board a bus, heading out of town. I was wearing high-heeled boots, and those boots were NOT made for walking. J The distance from the mall back to the motel room was at least a couple of miles. YOW!! I think my toes were blistered and swollen when we got back. Wayne was not a happy camper and I was fit to be tied. Anybody who knows me personally would know that whining and tantrums come natural to me, when I'm peeved. (This is why I never wanted to marry a Marine. Not just because they live from paycheck to paycheck and I'm too high maintenance for their petty incomes, but I would never be able to get away with being a spoiled, little brat, without them copping a John Wayne attitude.) Wayne was being so understanding, but his patience was wearing thin. He told me that I needed to go to sleep. Before I knew it, I passed out. His time schedule was still messed up, so it was hours before he went to bed.
Saturday, March 22nd- Las Vegas, NV
After the night before, I did not feel like really going anywhere. I slept in, while Wayne went out walking. He took many pictures.
Later that evening, we went to IHOP, where I attempted to eat steak and eggs. Wayne ate a dish with meat in it and it did not agree with him. When we got back to the motel room, I started streaking my hair. Each hour that went by, Wayne was getting worse. He kept saying he was never going to IHOP again and we were going to Cracker Barrel throughout this trip instead (We ended up practically living at Cracker Barrels!). After dumping nearly a whole bottle of conditioner in my hair, to moisturize it from the bleach, and sitting with a towel on my head, for like an hour, I rinsed and dried my hair. It turned out okay. Wayne was really in bad shape. I got upset and said that every time he comes to the US, he eats our fat induced, rich foods and gets sick. I told him I was putting him on the Dirk Carr Diet, (my nephew, Dirk does not eat meat, except for poultry). Then Wayne started whining. It was just too cute!
Sunday, March 23rd- Las Vegas, NV
Wayne was still not feeling well, so I booked the room for another night. We had planned on going to the Grand Canyon that day, but had to postpone the plans until the next day. Needless to say, I was a terror to be around, but tried very, very hard to be sympathetic. Wayne was doing a little bit better than the night before, but I was still worried. I told him to stay behind and rest, while I went grocery shopping. We had a cooler with us.
I took the car down the opposite side of the strip and started searching for a grocery store. I went to Albertsons and filled the cart full of fruits, vegetables, carrot juice and other nutritious goodies. The girl at the check out counter asked if I was on some kind of diet, because I had no real food there.
I was just happy that I found cigarettes at $25 a carton (Was smoking then, but later quit in June!). Compared to them being anywhere from $40-$50 a carton in Seattle, I found myself being in a better mood. This day, also marked the sixteenth anniversary to when I got my walking papers out of my former hometown, never to return again, except to visit. (The anniversary day of when I joined the service.) With that in mind, I was really happy.
Wayne was a lot better by that evening, so we walked over to the Venetian Casino and rode the gondola. It was a nice little boat ride that was inside the casino, but the décor looked as if you were outside. We also did a little bit of gambling and started to lose the change we had, so we headed back and later went to bed.
Monday, March 24th- Las Vegas, NV- Utah-Grand Canyon-Flagstaff, AZ-Winslow, AZ
Today was my sister, Cindy's birthday. I wanted to call and wish her a happy birthday, but it slipped my mind as I helped to pack to car. We left Vegas by 9:30 that morning, heading north on I-15 toward Salt Lake City, Utah. Once we went over the border into Utah, we got pictures at the rest stop. It took a long time to get around the drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm sure there was a quicker way. There had to have been, but we wanted to include Utah as part of our little journey, even if it was a small portion of the state.
It was late in the afternoon, by the time we got to the Grand Canyon. It was cold there and windy. We only stayed long enough to go into the park and get a few pictures. I wanted to walk the Bright Angel Trail, but was unable to get a parking spot near the trail. The place was packed full of people. Being as sarcastic as I am, I asked Wayne, "What the hell is wrong with these people, don't they have jobs or know there's a war going on, why aren't they home?" He said, "The same reason why you're here." Well stated. We only had an hour or two of sunlight left before it got dark. Wayne seen the Grand Canyon on TV many times, but was astonished to actually be there, himself. Since I was already there, years before, I was acting more like Chevy Chase in the movie, "National Lampoons Vacation". "Look, isn't it beautiful? Lets go!"
We stopped for gas in Flagstaff, and I had remembered from being in Flagstaff before in 1997, there was an Olive Garden, nearby. I asked for the info and sure enough, it was two blocks away. Wayne and I went there for dinner, and then drove east to Winslow on I-40. The motel room in Winslow had an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, but by the time we got there, they had already closed the pool. DOH!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, March 25th- Winslow, AZ- Oklahoma City/Shawnee, OK
This was one of the many days, where we found ourselves on the road all day, until late in the evening. We left the motel room early that morning, picked up some McDonald's drive thru and headed east on I-40. We went through Albuquerque by lunchtime, but did not stop. We stopped near Amarillo, TX to get fuel, at a truck stop. That's where I found the best window sticker I had ever seen. I just had to buy it. It reads: "Jesus loves you. Everybody else thinks youre an asshole." That's my slam to all the church going, backstabbing, holier than thou, hypocrites out there.
It was all tumbleweed and barren land, until we went into the Oklahoma border. As soon as we saw green, it started getting dark. Someone must have hit a skunk, because the odor was all around us. Wayne never smelled a skunk before. They dont have them in Oz, and he never came across the scent of one here. It was pungent. He started to blame it on me, thinking I obnoxiously caused that stench on purpose. He wasn't nice about it either. I was appalled. I had to explain to him that skunks have a unique, foul aroma of their own.
I almost had a car accident in Oklahoma City. This RV in front of us was towing a trailer, but there were no lights on the trailer, except for the one very dim red light in the far back. The RV was lit up, which reflected also onto the trailer, but you only saw it, close up. I almost slammed right into it. Fortunately, the brakes worked well. I remember hitting the brakes, and pushing Wayne back into the passenger seat. We must have came an inch or two away from the bumper. Oh, I was so mad!! Instead of being fortunate we did not crash, I was cussing over the idiot in front of us, towing something in the dark that wasn't lit properly.
Wayne and I made it a habit never to stay right in the middle of the city, but to go either the outskirts of the city, going in the opposite direction of traffic, or to go to a smaller town. We passed through Oklahoma City and spent the night in Shawnee. We did not have dinner on the road, and it was getting late. Cracker Barrel was minutes away from closing when we stopped in. Lucky us!! After our late dinner, we got to the motel, and sat up the rest of the evening, looking at the atlas, seeing which roads we were planning on taking to get to the East Coast. It was an adventure. Visiting family up north was out of the question, because it was still snowing in certain areas and we did not want to risk being stuck somewhere, like when I was stranded at Cindy's house for an extra week, because of the Presidents Day snowstorm.
Wednesday, March 26th- Shawnee, OK-Ft Smith, AR-Memphis, TN
We didn't waste anytime that morning getting on the road. I had one thing on my mind. I had to get the oil changed. We hit the 3000 mark. Wayne had read the manual while I drove and he said that it stated oil changes were necessary every 5000 miles, instead of 3000. That just didnt sound right to me. I felt bad enough going over 100 miles past the 3000-mile mark. The reason why that was so, was because nothing was open and we wanted to get going.
We crossed the Arkansas border around mid morning and stopped at Wal-Mart at Van Buren, right outside of Fort Smith. Now that was a nightmare. I swear the man at the automotive asked me a million and one questions as to where I was from, my zip code, car information, etc. Wayne could not understand this at all. He said he was asked fewer questions by customs, getting into the country. When the old codger finally stopped with going through my background check, after about 10 minutes or so, he took the keys and the car. I know its not nice to call someone an old codger, and he was just doing his job, but we truly felt all the questions were not necessary for a lousy oil change. Wayne and I went shopping there, while we waited.
I really don't like to complain about the average blue-collared worker, because I had been there, done that, but these associates at this Wal-Mart were really rude and incompetent. It took them forever to do a price check. The one girl took something I was purchasing back to her department, then lost it, while bringing another item back, that I did not want. I just told them to forget it. This inconvenience took a long time, and by the time we got out of there, the oil change was finished. I looked at Wayne and said, We really need to get out of this hillbilly haven! J
About an hour later on the road, Wayne saw a car spinning out of control and it was a pretty serious accident. It was on the other side of the highway, (Thank God!) He kept telling me to look and I told him I couldnt. Rubbernecking is the wrong thing to do. I told him to watch it and give me the details. Apparently, the guy got the car back in control again, but it had been hit more than a few times.
Going through Little Rock was a breeze, and it wasn't long before we were going into Memphis. I didn't realize how close Memphis was to the Arkansas and Mississippi borders. Once we got into Memphis, I was tired of driving. Wayne didnt really consider thinking about driving until we started back from the East Coast. He knew that my personal goal was to drive on my own, coast to coast, and he did not want to interfere. We went through Memphis, and since I was not familiar with that city at all, we skipped the idea of going to Graceland, and headed to the outskirts of the city. We got a motel room by 5:00 that evening and went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Wayne did not want to get fast food that much at all, because he said he could eat that junk back in Australia. It was a quiet evening for us after dinner.
Thursday, March 27- Memphis, TN- Nutbush, TN- Brunswick, GA
Now this was the drive from hell!! We got up early to head out. I had this crazy idea that I wanted to avoid the majority of the interstates today. Reason why, is because they all lead into Atlanta. I wanted to avoid Atlanta.
First, we went to Nutbush, figuring its a small town and it would be cool to say that we been to the home of Tina Turner. Well, this place wasnt even a town. I looked at Wayne and said, Man, this place is the size of Hickory Hill, (Hickory Hill is a very small, unheard of village basically, just a name of a road, near Oxford, PA). Hickory Hill is not even on the map. Nutbush was, and I thought with it being on the map, there would be something to it. There was nothing there, but a country store and a church. Wayne told me that Tina Turner had it worse than I did with having to live in a boring town. I had to agree! If I had to live there, I would end up on a bus going to St. Louis as well! Wayne and I went into the general store, took pictures, and then left.
Getting through those back highways took a lot longer than expected, because there was road construction going on left and right. Oh, after a while, I was getting impatient. I went through the ABCs of mood swings. I was an asshole by the time we got to Mississippi. I graduated brat and moved onto bitch once we got into Alabama. I was working toward the c-word, right when we got into Georgia, and that's when Wayne had enough! He finally put his foot down and started telling me to knock it off. Anybody else would have backhanded me. I swear Wayne has the patience of a saint! We arrived at Brunswick, GA very late that evening.