Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The promised updates...

How CO tried to kill me: The Eastern half of Colorado is just a whole lot more of Western Kansas. Now, I will freely admit that I was somewhat wrong about Western Kansas--it is not as flat and featureless as I had remembered from my previous crossing of it. Of course, in the interim I have driven across Wyoming and Saskatchewan, so I now have a better grasp on the concept of "flat and featureless." Still, the highway is very straight, and the hills are gradual, not extreme.

I suspected there was about a 60% chance I would die on I-70 in Colorado, but I would have bet the house that it would be in the mountainous terrain west of Denver. However, that was eased when I stopped at a Starbucks and asked the barista if the mountains were as treacherous as I remembered them, the downhill parts, that is. She said no, not if you have a decent second gear--and after 14 years of driving I finally learned what "D3" and "2" are for. So Western Colorado was a snap.

However, in the Eastern part, I had the cruise control on and was coming up on a pickup in the right lane. I moved over to pass and was approaching it, when the driver failed to follow a curve in the road, moving over into my lane and cutting me off. I was pissed and slowed down and honked, but then grew even more curious when she didn't stop in my lane but continued well into the grassy median. About two-thirds of the way through, she realized what was happening (or, I suspect, awoke with a start) and turned hard to the right, but she over-corrected and shot across both lanes a few dozen feet in front of me (now that I was down to about 40 m.p.h.) before pulling over and stopping on the right shoulder. In both the initial failure to curve and the over-correction, I was at most a second and a half away from being rammed at 75 m.p.h. Bad times. I wasn't even really scared so much as I was pissed and confused, until about 2 minutes later when it really hit me what had just happened. Oh well, bygones.

Perhaps that banked the karma that I needed when I blew through a one stopsign town in Arizona the next day at 70 in a 45 zone, and yet got off with a written warning. I'll take it.

Why Laughlin is so depressing: I went to Laughlin because it was a very cheap place to spend the night, and since I was travelling I-40 instead of I-15, it wasn't just an alternative to Vegas either--it was an alternative to Flagstaff. Most people who go to Laughlin, however, go for two reasons: (1) they can't afford Vegas, but (2) they have a gambling problem anyway. Now, I'm not a moralist about this--I believe that Charles Barkley, for instance, has a gambling habit, but not a problem since he can afford it. But if you can't really afford it yet gamble anyway, that's a problem.

Laughlin is like Vegas Lite with all the glamour sucked out. The crappy shows are crappier; the previous time I was there the big show in town was a production of Driving Miss Daisy starring Sherman Helmsley, and this time it was comedian Bruce (the Lesser) Smirnoff. Even if you have been in a forest fire, you have never been anywhere smokier than a Laughlin casino. (Yes, Ann Arborites, smokier even than the 8 Ball.) You have also never seen so many people in wheelchairs, on oxygen, or both. Further, it is as if the developers said, "Sure, Vegas is 85 degrees at 8:30 a.m., but we've found a place that's 95!" It is a sick, sad place, and if like me you are not a big gambler, I would suggest the form of recreation I chose--dinner and breakfast buffets, separated by 11 hours of sleep.

The return to L.A. and Koreatown: In my first 24 hours in town, the following things happened:

  • The first 2 songs I heard on STAR 98.7 ("Today's best music") were Spiderwebs by No Doubt and All the Small Things by blink-182.
  • The 2nd song I heard on Indie 103, preceded by: "This one goes out by request. I'm sure you know it..." was Grey Cell Green by Ned's Atomic Dustbin. (For the record, yes I do, but I didn't think anyone else did.)
  • I navigated Santa Monica Freeway traffic from Ontario to downtown pretty well, only making the rookie mistake of staying in the I-5 lanes and not the faster-moving I-10 lanes that I needed anyway right after the 101 split-off.
  • I had to pee extremely desperately on my way into town so I went to the first place I could think of, the Starbucks at USC University Village, where I spent approximately 1,500 hours of 1999-2002, a fair number of them listening to Spiderwebs and All the Small Things.
  • I reupped with both Washington Mutual bank and 24 Hour Fitness.
  • I tried (and probably failed) to eat a bowl of pho as if I'd been there before.
  • I [barely] managed not to yell "hey, I'm almost but not totally positive that you're Ron Livingston" at someone who was probably Ron Livingston at dinner, no doubt to the ever-lasting thanks of Derek and Jessica.
Finally, in honor of the move back to K-Town, I've decided to go retro and adopt our old blog handle for the summer; don't worry Carly Simon fans, "Watching Myself Gavotte" will be back in the fall. Unless I think of something better.

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