And now back to our scheduled road trip.
Regardless of how well you get along with a traveling companion, eventually you'll run out of things to argue about. It's best to have good in-car entertainment for these moments and I have a special fondness for Sirius satellite radio. Most of Sirius sucks, but the Frank DeCaro show on Sirius OutQ is worth the $13 monthly fee. It's mindless entertainment with a jovial host, a pinched-lip lesbian who acts as character foil, and endless jokes revolving entirely around the Amish, Target and pig fucking. Burqa Boy and I lament any day we miss the show.
With Frank and Doria babbling happily on the radio, we left Flagstaff and headed to Las Vegas. A few miles south of Vegas, the road crosses Hoover Dam, an important source of water and power to the Southwest. A new bridge is being built to divert traffic from the dam, but until it's complete, post-911 paranoia requires state troopers under tarp shelters peer into approaching vehicles. It may have been coincidence, but we were waved through while two cars with black occupants were pulled over and the contents of their trunks emptied onto the tarmac. Then again, it's unlikely a bomb sufficient to blow up a dam could fit in a Smart car driven by white folk.
Las Vegas is the best and worst of America in one place. It's modern Rome with all the technology and vision that built our country with all the waste and greed that will likely lead to a new dark age. Until that dark age arrives, I'm happy with a triennial weekend floating around a lazy river with a giant cocktail being serenaded by the gentle song of slot machines.
McCain in Ely
We spent three days in Las Vegas, one of which I don't remember how it ended. On the forth day we drove north to Ely, Nevada - the most remote city in the continental United States. There isn't another town of any size within 100 miles of this tiny city of 4,000 people. Even though less than half those residents can vote, it wasn't too remote for a McCain campaign bus stop. Four cowboys (including a token black cowboy) rallied three locals to the cause while the bus idled in the background.
It may be a sign of the times, but last time I was in Ely, two women working in a single brothel served the entire county. Four years later Ely boasts four competing brothels. If you're interested in starting a fifth, there is one for sale.
Burqa Boy and I spent the night at the Hotel Nevada, the oldest fireproof building in the state and, when it was built, the tallest. Burqa Boy won $94 playing quarter slots and narrowly escaped the rage of a retiree who claimed she had just been playing that machine moments before. We ran across the street to a bar where locals were holding a cowboy wake for a recently passed friend. Spying a juke box in the corner, I bet Burqa Boy I could have them crying in their beer and singing along in under two songs. It was the best beer-fueled country wake White Pine county has seen in some time.
The thrift store clerk looked angry when I purchased a pair of red pumps for myself and some more conservative shoes for Burqa Boy. We weren't keeping them - we threw them in the shoe tree just outside of Fallon, Nevada. Think thousands - really, thousands - of pairs of shoes hanging from a tree. A busload of Italian tourists paused to watch us tossing shoes in a tree but couldn't be persuaded to add any of their own. I guess those Italian loafers are just too good for our common American willows.
We paused for the night in Reno before heading to Guerneville., California, where Burqa Boy would see for the first time both redwoods and a gaggle of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
We ended our week with a visit to the Korbel winery where our tipsy tour guide showed us the world's largest bottle of champagne. It's one of two. The other is at a casino in Las Vegas.
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