Tales From the Road – “Surprize on the Road to Sin”

Hello from the city of sin!

Of the seven so-called “Deadly Sins” you can find at least
eight here in Las Vegas. This place
is an adult’s playground; a place where inhibitions, morals, and ethics are
checked at the door. And this is our new home…for at least the next four weeks,
possibly longer.

What kind of crazy path has lead the Prez and I, professed
big city shunners and quasi-environmentalists to this den of iniquity? One
word: Poker. This trip is an experiment of sorts. The Prez is going to give professional
poker a whirl and seeing as the World Series of Poker (yes, the one on TV)
kicks off at the end of June we figured heck, let’s roll the dice baby! (Pun

Now you’re probably thinking one of two things. #1- Wow, these guys are out there! What a wild
life they lead! Sign me up!!
or, more likely, #2 – That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Are they nuts?!

Is this stupid? Maybe. Crazy? Probably. But this wasn’t a
decision made on a whim, nor are we oblivious to the risks. The Prez is a card
playin’ fool, true, but he’s also a dedicated card playin’ fool. Despite the
fact that I am more than slightly stressed right now about this career choice,
I know that Prez possesses the two critical traits needed to be a world class
poker player: mathematical acumen and guts. And he’s taking this very
seriously, training, studying, strategizing. He’s also being realistic; success
is not to be expected overnight, it may not come at all and limits must be set.
And you just can’t ignore the fact that luck plays a part in this…so I hope you
wish him some!

So let’s rewind back to the road, the literal one not the
figurative one, that brought us here…

We spent a wonderful two weeks in the luxurious Prez &
Princess Suite of Casa de Roney in Port Coquitlam.
Well, to be honest, our stay with Martha and Patty-Cakes was the only really
good part of those two weeks (see the last Chronicle for details) but
thankfully our time with them is always so special that even Revenue Canada,
the flu, abusive collection agency people, and wanton vehicle vandalizers
couldn’t bring us down! (Thanks again guys – we love you!)

The truck was unpacked and re-packed, accommodations booked,
routes charted, Emily grudgingly loaded into the backseat, and we were on our
way south once more. Our route was identical to the one we took in 2003 on our
drive to Florida – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah – until we arrived at Salt
Lake City where we would veer west instead of east. Virgin road! Yummy!! We made it as far as Utah
the first night and were pleasantly surprised by a nice room at the low rate of
$39 US. Of course we didn’t mention Emily. Sure there are pet friendly places
out there but when you’ve been on the road for almost thirteen hours you do not
want to risk being turned away from a hot shower and a cozy bed. Besides, I’d
be willing to bet that my cat makes less of a mess and is much quieter than 90%
of the kids that stay in these places.

Day one was a success not only because the drive went
smoothly and the weather was decent but also because we stuck to our vow and
ate only the healthy food we packed. Day two would see us falling off the wagon
and into a Burger Thing (I’m not even going to mention Prez’s gas station
burrito as I don’t want to embarrass him). Day two does however win the prize
for most interesting day.

I’d like to take just a moment to talk about road-tripping
as a couple here. There is no better test of a couple’s compatibility than the
multi-day Road Trip. Prez and I have passed the test. We have spent hours and
hours on the road, with animals, driving a large truck and towing a large boat,
in a foreign country, and we have not, thus far, killed each other. This does
not mean that every moment spent in the truck is now a joy, please, let’s be
real, but it has gotten easier. Here’s an actual transcript from a moment
during our latest journey, somewhere in Utah
I think…

Me: Cough, cough,
cough, hack, cough, COUGH, COUGH!!!

Emily: (pacing from the back seat to the front) Meow! Meow, meow, meow, meow!

Prez: Great, I think
she has to go.

Me: Cough, cough,
No she doesn’t, she would
have gone…cough, cough…at the last stop.

Prez: I thought that
medicine was supposed to stop your cough?!

Emily: Meow, meow,

Prez: God, between the
two of you…

Me: You think I’m
enjoying this???!!! Cough, cough, cough, cough.

Prez: I know, I know.
I’m sorry.

Me: Hey look, cows.
Moo. Moooooooooo.

I think you get the idea. Now back to the Chronicle already
in progress…

Utah’s a
freaky little state. It’s a nice state, very clean, but freaky too. Can’t put
my finger on it. I remember my first visit there as a young girl. My mom had
tried to explain to me what a Mormon was. Among the facts she gave me was the
one about them not drinking Coke because caffeine was against their religion (I
bet that’s why they all have such nice teeth) and this sent me into a panic
because I thought that I was not going to be allowed to drink Coke
either (important stuff to a nine year old). So maybe, thanks to the Mormon
thing, Utah and I just got off on
the wrong foot. But then the Prez and I pulled into one of the Utah
rest areas and here were all these people, dressed up in their best clothes
with perfectly styled hair, grinning those big, Coke-free, Mormon smiles,
saying hello to us with genuine enthusiasm, unlike any typical rest area users.
From the look Prez gave me I knew I was not the only one having a creepy,
Stepford wives kind of moment.

Utah, however,
has some incredible scenery. Our last time through, we practically drove off
the highway oooooooh-ing and aaaaaaaah-ing our way through Moab with it’s
brilliant red-rock canyons melting around us like a Salvador Dali painting.
This time, more canyons, stunning not just for their colours and shape but also
for their immensity.

Past Salt Lake City,
Highway 15 heads southwest to Nevada
(cutting through a tiny section of Arizona
as well). I had fully prepared myself for a flat, boring drive (I had a book
and lots of CD’s) but most of 15 was hilly with scrubby vegetation, not at all
what I imagined. And we were high too! Almost 7000 feet high, to be exact, at
one point. Now, I knew that Vegas is high desert at two thousand and something
feet above sea level, but I never thought that we would be driving at almost a
mile and a half above sea level on this trip. As we approached Lake
Mead the terrain became more and more amazing. Mesas, canyons,
rock formations were everywhere.

And then we were in canyon heaven.

Holy moly! We suddenly found ourselves winding our way right
through the most spectacular canyons we’ve ever seen. And as our altitude
dropped, the walls around us became steeper and steeper. Once again, we were
perilously close to driving off the road as we craned our necks to take in all
this majesty. What a treat what and unexpected pleasure! It went on and on.
Every time we entered a curve, I expected to see a vast flat plain but instead
there were only more rock walls, stretching to the sky. Wow.

Of course, it all did end eventually but that piece of
highway alone made the entire drive worthwhile.

With five states under our belt, we crossed into Nevada
with a decision to make. The studio suite we’d rented wouldn’t be ready until
the next evening soooooooo….we could stay in Mesquite (that’s a town) where the
rooms are cheap or push through to Las Vegas and hope we could actually find a
room on a Friday night. Mesquite
was the frontrunner until the gas station. Yep, one fill up at a dirty petrol
facility with severely sketchy looking characters loitering about and we were
ready to take our chances in Vegas. Super 8 Motel here we come!

I’m not going to get to crazy about Vegas just yet, this
city and my myriad of feelings about it will require more than a couple of
paragraphs. I will tell you though that we are settled in to a lovely little
studio suite about five minutes from the strip. The suite is part of a larger
house (but completely private) located in a well maintained, older
neighbourhood. Our host, Jim, has lived here for forty years and was an
entertainer back in the city’s prime. And though he is grey and wrinkled, it is
easy to look at Jim and imagine a debonair young man dressed to the nines,
crooning Sinatra tunes. I look forward to getting to know him and hearing more
about the “old” Vegas. The house is a rancher and backs onto a golf course. Our
suite has a large sliding glass door and it’s own porch – there is also a large
swimming pool which I know we’ll be getting good use out of as temps have been
in the 90’s the last few days!

Right now the Prez is at work and I am where I plan to be
for at least the next month – sitting with my laptop, writing. My plan is to
work on getting the first draft of my novel tightened up, rid myself of this
infernal flu, and get some much needed exercise. As for Emily, she was feeling
pretty excited about this place until her meeting with the automatic sprinkler
system – oops.

So folks, here we go on another adventure. I love life – you
just never know what’s in the cards!

“This town is full of
Who think they’re mighty wise,
Just because they know a thing or two…
You see them every day… walkin’ up and down Broadway,
Telling of the wonders they can do.
There’s con men and there’s boosters…
Card sharks and crap-shooters,
They congregate around the Metropole,
They wear fancy ties and laces…
But where do they get their aces..
They all have got an ace..
Down in the hole!”

Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy &
lovin’ life!

The Princess

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