Last week my niece invited me to attend a soccer tournament in Las Vegas; a college showcase. Since Vegas is only a 5 hour drive I said yes, excited that she asked. She lives in Colorado so it would be nice to see her play, even if we wouldn’t have a chance to visit – team activities and all.
Natalea “Bug” Cohen
After hanging up, I called my friend Brian and asked if he wanted to ride along. He was glad to join me. Brian and I have become road trip compadres over the last couple of years. I booked a room in Vegas using Travelocity, and secured digs at the Luxor for $64. Brian even offered the use of his truck for the trip.
Quick Trip Out…
Brian and I left for Vegas early Saturday morning. It was an easy drive out, and a great chance for Brian and I to catch up, and solve the world’s problems while Stroodle observed, occasionally rolling his eyes.
Truth is, he doesn’t even have his permit yet…
We stopped only for lunch at The Mad Greek in Baker, CA. Possessing the social media habits of an 8th grade girl, it was important that I post pictures of dolmas and falafels from The Mad Greek on Instagram. Despite this olive pit-stop, we arrived at the soccer fields a couple of hours early, and relaxed under the shade of a tree while waiting for my niece’s team to arrive.
The girls showed up soon after. As they warmed up, I casually walked by and waived to my niece to acknowledge that I was there. She waived back as I continued walking, not wanting to interrupt her.
She and her team played well, but lost 1-0. When the game was over her team headed off in the opposite direction from where Brian and I had parked. That’s ok, I would try and see her prior to her game the following morning and give her a hug. I was there to show support, not take up her time. Brain, Stroodle and I headed to the Luxor to check in and spend what I hoped would be a quiet evening and enjoy a good meal.
The front desk clerk at the Luxor reeked of you’re screwed buddy from the way he asked me,
“Did you book this reservation yourself…?”
I explained that I booked it through Travelocity.
“Uhm… yah. This happens from time to time with them” he explained.
After expanding his search, he clarified that my reservation was for the following night, and that he had no rooms – that Vegas probably had no rooms. This was the week of the Las Vegas Comicon, March Madness, and the largest high school soccer showcase in the western U.S. – even the Holiday Inns, Best Westerns, and Days Inns were sold out. The closest room we found was nearly an hour away at state line for $169.
Now 5:00pm, our only realistic option was to go home, and forgo my niece’s morning game. I thought to myself, at least I got to wave to her and show her some family support. Brian and I hit the road and were home in 5 hours. Due to the late hour though, and that I live 20 miles south of Brian, he asked me to drop him off at his house, keep his truck for the night, and return it to him the following day. Made sense.
As I left Brian’s driveway the gas light came on. It was late. I was tired. I figured the truck would have no problem going 20 miles. Hey, it was mostly downhill anyway. Through heavy fog, I headed home.
Looks much better on F than on E…
I was at the intersection of Old Highway 395 and I-15 when the truck ran out of gas. It was now 10:00pm. My choice was to leave my dog in the truck and walk about 5 miles to the closest gas station, or call a cab, keep my dog with me, and get the deed done. The cab arrived quickly. I explained what needed to be done when the cab driver replied,
“We ain’t allowed to carry hazardous cargo” referring to the can of gas I wanted to obtain.
I asked if for $40 he could refer to it as scarcely dangerous cargo instead. We were back at Brian’s truck with a can of gas within 25 minutes.
The fitness studio where I live and work is located in a historic building over the only bar on Main Street. Historic, of course, means old, and old means thin walls. When I arrived home, a live band was playing in the bar below me. On nights when they have live music, I usually stay with my mom.
The historic El Real building. Fallbrook, CA…
Now getting close 11:00pm I knew my mother was already asleep. Mom always attaches a chain lock to secure her door night. Staying with her was not an option. My choice now was to stay at my studio and attempt to sleep through the sounds of a live band 14 feet beneath me, or go to a local motel. The motel wanted $124 for a room. I chose to ride out the music.
Though the band below me was to quit playing at midnight, I guess with nothing else to do, they decided to stick around and jam for a couple hours more. I probably fell asleep by 3:00am.
On Friends & Family…
So, for the cost of 3 tanks of gas, lunch at the Mad Greek, an unused hotel room in Las Vegas, a cab ride, a cab driver bribe, a very long day, and a poor night’s sleep, I got to wave to my niece and watch her play soccer for 2 hours without ever speaking with or hugging her. Would I do it all again…? Of course because… family.
All in all, it had been an excellent day despite the cascading snags. I got to spend 16 hours with a good friend. We enjoyed good food, good conversation, spent time outdoors watching young women play soccer, and Stroodle got 16 hours of lap time. Best of all, the day didn’t end in an animated fist of smoke disguised as a hotel room.
The following morning, I received this note from Brian:
“No matter where we are, no matter what we do, we are together as family.
Yesterday was “Just Right”. It does not matter to me, whether I’m driving with you to Major Market or driving over 575 miles round trip to Las Vegas to watch your niece’s soccer game for 90 minutes, then back within 16 hours.
It was all good. From having Stroodle on our laps, the conversations, the lessons learned, testing our patience, learning more about forgiveness, and acceptance. It was just right, and things do happen for a reason. Thank you for The Mad Greek Experience!
Love You Man”
Not what we had planned, but a very good day indeed. Be well… rc
Brian, dressed as “Joe” that day, and Stroodle, dressed as…
Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Heartless Bastards. Enjoy!