Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Move is Made

I don't know when I'll be able to post this, as I have no internet connexion here yet. But I'm writing this on October 6, so I'll probably backdate this to then, whenever I post it.

I applied to some other jobs in Las Vegas online, from Michigan. None of them were great jobs, but they were indeed jobs. One of them called me the next day (Thursday, Sept. 30). I was assured that she did in fact need me rather badly, and finally I had an excuse to head west.

I left the next day, after figuring out whether I could afford the trip. The answer was basically no, but I did what I could, including borrowing a couple hundred dollars extra from Gil. So, I loaded the car with my computer, my cat, and my clothes, and headed out of town on I-196.

The Ride

Overall, the ride wasn't bad. I expected it to be, actually; I expected to be completely wiped out by the drive. But I stopped for the night in Cozad, Nebraska, and made it in two days' driving. I planned on 100 gallons of gas, but I don't think I used nearly that. I kept notes, so it's figure-outable:

11:25 AM EDTGrandville, Mich.11.2g@$2.959mile 1.6
4:25 PM CDTIowa City, Iowa11.7g@$2.899mile 379.3
10:25 PM CDTGrand Island, Nebr.12.7g@$2.799mile 763.9
Sleep: Cozad, Nebraska
12:21 PM MDTArvada, Colo.13.3g@$2.939mile 1367.6
5:30 PM MDTThompson, Utah10.0g@$3.199mile 1480.5
One more fillup in Mesquite, Nev., that I didn't write down

So, overall, about 70 gallons of gas, saving me $90 over what I had expected the ride to be. Oh well, I got the oil changed beforehand, that ate up some of it, and the room I got in Vegas when I arrived was more than I wanted to spend, eating up more.

Apparently friends have been rather more concerned with my cat than with me, on the trip. As it happened, the cat thrived on the trip. Gil's house has had fleas for a long time: His cats were outside cats and were used to fleas, but my cat is an indoor cat and wasn't. So, the few fleas that Gil's cats brought into the house found their way onto Otto, where they formed colonies that we weren't able to get rid of for about two years, despite a professional treatment.

However, I flea-shampooed Otto immediately before I left, and put Otto into the cat-carrier I borrowed to get Otto across the country. I noticed partway through the first day that I'd missed a spot, but I sprayed it with some flea spray, and then the infestation was minor enough that Otto was able to take care of the remaining fleas itself. Since I've arrived in Vegas, I haven't noticed any.

I solved the problem of finding a hotel that accepted a cat, by not telling them that I had a cat. The cat-carrier made that work fine.

I don't think I've done much mountain driving in the past; at least, I wasn't accustomed to it, by far. The Eisenhower Tunnel is about at the high point, something like 11,200 feet above sea level. Coming up to it, the grade was high enough that my car didn't want to go faster than 40 MPH, but on the way down the car didn't want to go slower than 80. If you've ever played a computer game like Railroad Tycoon you appreciate the difficulty in making any kind of relatively level roadway, and they did a good job. Much of that stretch of road I was last on twenty years ago, the summer I turned 16, when the interstate wasn't even finished the whole way: You'd switch from I-70 to US-6 back to I-70, over and over, as they worked on building a road bed wide enough to carry an Interstate. (Much of the way they do this nearly by double-decking the interstate.)

One of the neatest things about the mountains was that the leaves were changing color while I was there. The autumn has been mild so far, so I didn't get to see vibrant reds or anything, but among the evergreen trees covering each of the mountains you'd see pockets of gold leaves, the deciduous trees being far from a majority in the mountains. Somewhere, I read a newspaper article about people making trips into the mountains especially to see these pockets of color-change.

I-70 in Utah, from what I read, I expected to be pretty much the most vacant interstate ever. It exists pretty much just to carry traffic from Denver to Los Angeles via Las Vegas, getting pretty much no local traffic at all. As it happens, the freeway isn't completely vacant, there's just "no traffic." I choose a gas station right off the freeway which is charging monopoly prices, not realizing that less than twenty miles down the road is a town of sorts, where there's a bit of competition for gasoline. I didn't see whether it was cheaper there or not, but it'd have to be.

Speaking of gasoline, I have to assume this is a function of the hurricanes, but it wasn't always regular-unleaded (87 octane) that was cheapest. On more than one stop, Unleaded Plus (89 octane) was the cheapest gas. At that stop in Utah, the $2.999 on the sign referred to almost-gas (85 octane), which is why I opted to pay the $3.199.

I-15 isn't in Arizona much, but most of the way it descends a canyon, before opening out at 2000 feet above sea level, or so, at which point I think you could say you're officially out of the mountains. Not that there aren't mountains around, anymore, but you aren't "in the mountains." I deduce the canyon only from the downhill grade and the occasional rock my headlights shined upon; it was too dark to see much of anything.

Coming into Vegas by road is interesting, at night. You see hardly anything the whole way in from Mesquite; a couple pockets of light that might be anything, except probably not homesteads. Factories, mines, whatever. Then, you come around a mountain, and boom, all of Las Vegas is laid out below you, with the Strip in the middle of it. It actually seemed a bit overwhelming, at that time.

Some road-geek stuff that interests me, even if it interests nobody else:

Arriving in Vegas

As I said before, when I got here it was late enough that mostly I just wanted a room. I grabbed one at the Super-8 near Nellis AFB, because I figured Super-8 would be cheap. It was something like $61 a night, so it wasn't exactly cheap, as it happened. However, if I'd stayed in a casino hotel room, I would have had to get through the casino with a cat to get to the hotel. Cheaper, yes, but more likely to be a hassle, too. The room was fine, though, and the night passed without incident.

I was up fairly early for me, 8:30 or so, but two nights before I was still on Eastern time, so it might be perfectly a normal time to awaken. Still, it was too early (I figured) to get my cheap apartment, assuming that was even possible on Sunday. So, instead, I headed out to Hoover Dam, having seen it only from the air. It's a big dam, nothing that impressive really from the high (upstream) side. From the low side, maybe it'd be more impressive, but you can't see that from the roadway. Interestingly, they're building a new roadway to go over the canyon just downstream of the dam, which will afford a better view; I assume the new roadway is in response to terrorist threats, with the current roadway actually crossing the top of the dam. I did have to go through a security checkpoint before getting to the dam itself. I don't know why that should surprise me, but it did. I crossed the dam, parked in one of the turnouts, and looked over the high side of the dam. Not too long, though, since Otto was still in the car; I didn't want to cook the cat.

That ended up being a concern the whole day. There's a place on Boulder Highway which advertised $199 move-in, which turned out to be a weekly-rates place. More expensive than a traditional apartment, really, but I didn't have to come up with first- and last-month rent, or furniture. Weekly-rates places are apparently "transient lodging" under Clark County law, so they tax the room at 9%, which was included in the $199. Weeks 2–4 also require the tax, but after that, if I'm still here, I'm no longer a transient.

But, in any case, I first had to get a room. When I showed up the first time, they told me, "Come back at 1:00." Then, "Come back at 2:30." Then, "Come back at 4:00." Each of those times, I really only could sit in the car, maybe drive somewhere, but I didn't really want to go play cards for a while, because I feared cooking the cat. Basically, I figured, if I can stand the heat, the cat can stand it. This must have worked.

The room itself is a dump, but basically clean; a queen-size bed, sofa, coffeetable, kitchen table (with two chairs), refrigerator, and TV are basically the entire furnishings of the room. After having been here a couple of days, I have to say that I'm surprised; I expected this to be my own "Redneck Riviera" as Pauly blogged about during the 2005 WSOP, but it's reasonably quiet, and I haven't noticed it being a high-crime area. Maybe it's just because I'm way the hell out from downtown, halfway to Henderson even.

Once I had enough stuff in the room, including the cat, then I was free to take my shot at the poker tables. But, as it turned out, I'm facing karmic repayment for doing so well out here a couple of weeks ago. My cards have been cold. I did get AA once, and won a small pot. I got JJ once and TT twice, and had to lay them down each time. I think I may have had QQ once, and had to lay that down too. The only pots I've won have been when I've flopped draws and got there. This is despite what should be great games; these are the very model of the loose low-limit games Miller talks about in his book. And they're kicking my ass.