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2 Girls, 2 Days, 4 States

May 22, 2012

Friday, May 18, 8 pm
Me: The eclipse is this weekend
CC: We should go see it
Me: Haha, yeah, right
CC: Seriously. Why not?
Me: We’d have to drive for like 6 hours to get there
CC: Are you doing anything else?

Which is how CC and I ended up going to Nevada on Saturday. We had a route planned out scrawled on a Post-It to get to Las Vegas. We followed it almost perfectly, except for me missing an exit and taking an impromptu trip through Arvin and Tehachapi.

The detour only added about, oh, an hour to our journey, but looking on the bright side (as we tend to do) we got some excellent paletas (Mexican ice cream pops) at the gas station in Arvin. Do not ask me where Arvin is, because I’m not sure I could ever find it again even in the unlikely event that I would have a reason to try.

CC and I hit the road on the way to adventure

CC, prepared for adventure

Thanks to our friends at Trip Advisor, we found clean, comfortable budget lodgings in Las Vegas at the Super 8. Not anywhere close to the real Strip, but that’s ok by me.

I  recommended the Super 8, mostly for the neighbors, which include both the Little White Chapel and, directly in view of the motel lobby, the incredibly busy Elvis Wedding Chapel, which specializes in costumed theme weddings. There was a long line out front of people wearing togas and witch hats and what-have-you, all waiting to get hitched.

Little White Chapel...ah, the sanctity of marriage
I dunno if Michael Jordan and Joan Collins are the best ambassadors for matrimonial bliss. Only in Las Vegas do you find a “Wedding Chapel District.”

As we were checking in, the desk clerk shared stories of weddings she has seen from her unique perch behind the counter. Like the guy who went and bought massive amounts of alcohol and got drunk in the parking lot while his bride got made up and dressed. He then proceeded to puke on the bride’s dress – who married him anyway.

“I told her not to do it, but she did it,” said the clerk. “They don’t listen, then they’re back the next day.”

The “back the next day” part refers to getting a divorce, the site for which conveniently located on the same property. Ah, the sanctity of marriage is alive and well in Sin City.

Art + Bistro, Las Vegas
Poetry reading on the patio, Art+Bistro

Because we are complete party freaks, during our time in glittering, crazy Vegas, we went to the Arts District for a nice bistro paella dinner (complete with poetry reading and live music); we went to church; we went to Chinatown for dim sum and to the 99 Ranch Asian market – but we never set foot in a casino.

Yeawood Sauv Blanc - so good
We got out of control with a crisp glass of Yeawood Sauvignon Blanc. It was a party in my mouth.

We also did not order beautiful girls sent to our room in 10 minutes, though many people tried to convince us to do so.

I did almost get thrown out of  get asked to stop taking photos by a polite young man in 99 Ranch Market, but that’s about as Hunter S. Thompson-esque as things got. It’s a mild, mild life.

Paletas, Asian style – mung bean jelly flavor.

On Sunday, we headed out to the full eclipse zone, which was in a band beginning about 55 miles outside of Vegas on Hwy 15. The area surrounding Las Vegas is the kind of landscape where you aren’t surprised that they did nuclear tests, because if you had to put a nuclear test somewhere, that is exactly where you would put it, too. It is so dry and desolate and empty that you’d look around and think “Well, a 50 megaton explosion can’t hurt THIS!” (Sorry, Nevadans. I’m sure you love your state. But wow. There really is an excessive amount of desert out there).

There is no town 55 miles outside of Vegas, so we headed some more miles out to the nearest town, Mesquite. The town was boring and hot. How boring and hot? We went to a big community park that had zero other people there (in the middle of a weekend Saturday) AND it had artificial turf because it was too stinking hot for real grass.

We looked at each other and drove another 45 miles to St. George, Utah, where we knew an eclipse event was taking place.

Mesquite Regional Park
This is as fun as it gets in Mequite.

We were laughing all the way at how nutty we were, driving 8 hours to see an eclipse. But onward we spun, only vaguely realizing how screwed we were going to be when it came time to drive home later that night.

St. George Utah, May 20, 2012
St. George from the Water District Building

The county water district in St. George (which was blessedly red-rocky and gorgeous after the Nevada wasteland) had opened its doors to eclipse-watchers. The water district building is located on the side of a ridge, with ample second- and third-floor balconies. Hundreds of people showed up.

There were a couple astronomers with big telescopes, getting their geek on and showing us the view. One apologized because all the sun had to offer prior to the eclipse was sunspots, which still seemed pretty exciting to me. US Park rangers were on hand to explain the nature bits.

They were showing space films and had exhibits up – all well-organized, as is the rest of the state. Leave it to Mormons to organize stuff. There’s a reason their state symbol is the industrious honey bee.

Eclipse Party, St. George Utah, May 20, 2012
We took replacement arc welding glass, which we shared with others to see the eclipse progress.

Everyone was in festive mood. The eclipse itself took about an hour, maybe more. First, you could just see a tiny nibble out of the sun, then a crescent that grew bigger and bigger. We were glad we took welding glass to look through, because there was no way to see what was going on by glancing at the sun. I don’t know if you have noticed, but that thing is bright.

Eclipse Party, St. George Utah, May 20, 2012
Our eclipse-watching compatriots

We pulled out of St. George about 7:30 Utah time (6:30 Los Angeles), saying goodbye to our newfound friends. I drove for a couple hours to Primm, where we switched drivers. CC lasted about 45 minutes until she began to yawn every few minutes. I knew I’d have to take the wheel back.

We could have stopped and spent the night somewhere, but I had work the next day and I didn’t want to be late for a stupid reason like taking too long from coming back from an eclipse viewing. At a certain point, I decided to just gut it out. Midnight, 12:30, 2 a.m….the road wove on an on, just us, a few other psychos and a whole lotta trucks. My eyes grew heavy. My legs ached, public radio droned on and on.

I almost gave up a couple hours from home, but I bit my tongue to keep myself awake and drove on with a buzzy head. At 3:15 a.m., we finally pulled up at CCs house and by 3:30, I was at my home and in the shower, washing the road grit off so I could sleep for 3 hours or so before getting up for work.

Totally nutso. Totally fun. Would do it again in…another 11 years or so, which is good, because that’s when the next eclipse will be here.

  1. kizzbeth permalink
    May 23, 2012 07:54

    That is emphatically NOT a stupid reason for being late to work. “I’m sorry, I will be late arriving this morning because my weekend was TOO AWESOME.” Also, I am a little in love with that boy who is using CC’s welding glass.

    • May 24, 2012 06:17

      I have my dad’s voice in my head, and he would not have missed work for anything less than an amputation, so an eclipse seems pretty lightweight.

  2. cindymaddera permalink
    May 23, 2012 08:15

    This is awesome. I completely spaced on the eclipse. Forgot all about it, but that’s OK because I don’t think I was in a place where I’d get to see much of it. The thing I love most about Vegas is all the cool stuff you can do and see without ever stepping into a casino. One time Chris and I just rode the bus around all day, just looking.

    • May 24, 2012 06:18

      We saw a TEDx talk on eclipses that made us want to go. The guy was super passionate and one hell of a salesman.

  3. May 23, 2012 09:02

    WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOU WERE HERE!?!?!? You could have totally crashed at my place. We don’t have wedding chapels, but we do have a dog…and water balloons. Totally better than puking grooms. Glad you went to Bar+Bistro and saw a bit of the Arts District. It’s my favorite part of town.

    Next time, let me know you’re coming.

    • May 24, 2012 06:19

      Thanks, Nancy! Next time I’ll do more than 15 minutes of planning before I leave, too.

  4. May 23, 2012 13:21

    That is awesome! I am jealous. We couldn’t see it a bit here.

    • May 24, 2012 06:19

      Well, there’s one in November in Australia. I’m sure the baby will be ready for an 18 hour plane ride by then.

  5. mar permalink
    May 24, 2012 09:31

    I miss going on fun adventures like this! Definitely need to add more of this type of spontaneity to my life.

    • May 28, 2012 16:38

      You could spontaneously visit So. Cal. …Just sayin’

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