Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Roadtrip Day 5: Leaving Las Vegas and desert drives

We woke up late the next morning, worrying only about checking out in time so we would not be accidentally charged for two nights at this gorgeous and grotesquely expensive hotel. They're so wired nowadays that I was able to check out from my phone before we'd even left the room. It was grand.

We then tucked our luggage back into the car before setting out for some much needed breakfast. After the fiasco last night in trying to find dinner (all places were closed or fully reserved for everyone's pre-party NYE dinners) that we were not so surprised when the sushi place we wanted to eat at in our own hotel was still not open. It's ridiculous how uncapitalistic these restaurants were.

We eventually found a place in Lemongrass, a Thai restaurant more near the parking structure. Luckily still inside the hotel this time (our dinner was not so fortunate).

We were all quiet from the lack of sleep and disappointment of not being able to try more of our hotel's amazing restaurants. But we still found things we wanted to eat, so not like that was a problem:

Hong Kong P and German K both ordered roasted seaweed as their appetizer. This is what it looked like - thick green noodley-things. I tried some, because it smelled deliciously like sesame oil and green onions.

It was...kinda disturbing. It wasn't a cold salad, which is what I expected, so instead I got warm, slippery, chewy...something. I didn't like this at all. It's one of the few things I've eaten in the past few years where I felt physically nauseous while eating it. This was just not right. Fortunately German K and Hong Kong P were very pleased, so they ate it with relish.

Luckily I'd ordered the vegetarian spring rolls, much more my style. There was some wonderful sweet and sour sauce as accompaniment. Churches and I traded each other - one vegetarian spring roll for one of her fried prawns. Fabulous. Love me some fried crispy tasty.

And wanting to start the year off right, I ordered their all-veggie dish for my entree. This thing was literally nothing but sauteed and stewed veggies - asparagus, two types of mushrooms (oyster and shitake, it seemed), carrots, baby corn, and a little bit of bok choy. The sauce was wonderfully clean and not too salty. Perfect. My only problem afterwards was having asparagus pee. (If you've never experienced this, please go out and try's something to remember).

We had a mission before leaving the casino though, which Churches decided to sit out instead. German K was given a mission to gamble for one of her coworkers - a bet of €20 in roulette - first on black, and then with all of the winnings, on red. When we won the first bet we were all excited and hooted at her coworker's good luck and foresight. It was then all lost when put on red. Boooooo (sad horn sound). So she walked home with nothing but an IOU for her coworker.

After that we set out in the car, sad to see Vegas go so quickly, but also interested in moving on. I had to change the plans at this point though, since Churches had become sick. Instead we were going to Palm Springs because the drive to Joshua Tree National Park would take too long.

However it seemed that right as we were leaving (around 1-2pm I believe), so was everyone else. After 10 minutes of waiting in traffic and going less than a mile, I suggested to everyone we stop to shop at the Primm Valley Outlets. Everyone heartily agreed.

We then spent many hours shopping (everyone got into it) and having some dinner before leaving. I filled up on boba (pearl milk tea) and shared a fake Panda Express 3-entree with Hong Kong P. Love me some cracky fake American Chinese take out. It's always so good!

Driving at 6pm was much better than at 2pm. The roads had cleared and we were off to a fantastic drive.

Unfortunately, since we were using the GPS (absolutely no signal for cell phones out in the desert), it took us considerably longer to get to our destination than I had originally anticipated. And we were getting a little low on gas (not dangerously low, just less than I felt comfortable with, not knowing how much longer it would be to our destination city of Palm Springs).

So when we spotted a lone gas station in the desert (we were clearly driving through Joshua Tree, despite my intentions to make our drive shorter), we stopped for sure to get some gas before continuing. As it turns out, we arrived there 10 minutes before close. The man who greeted Churches in the accompanying check out/restaurant was...creepy to say the least.

As all of my ladies left the car to use the restrooms (which I would describe simply abandoned warehouse with working plumbing), I talked to the man who was taking care of our gas transaction and found out that not only was he not the talking type (don't worry, I wasn't trying to chat him up, merely finding out logistical things like whether Churches had given him instructions to fill us all the way up), he was also charging $5 a gallon. This is in comparison to the $3.60 or so we had been paying the entire trip. What the what!

He asked me how much I wanted and I did the calculation - this is way too expensive to get a full tank, especially us being so close to empty. I'll get a few gallons and call it a day - we can fill up somewhere cheaper.

So that's what we did. Soon after he was finished we were all back in the car safely and driving off into the completely dark desert (they don't do network or street lights, of course). As we were pulling away everyone chattered at the same time how if this were a horror movie, this is clearly when the psycho would run out with a chain saw/axe/hammer and chase us. It was that kind of creepy location in the middle of nowhere. An experience, but not one I'd like to repeat. At all.

Eventually we made it, exhausted, to our next hotel in Palm Springs - The Hard Rock Hotel. The blaring music in the lobby wasn't particularly welcome in the state we were in, but the nice beds and big room were.

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