Without life experiences, with very few exceptions made, the things an author writes, well, plain sucks. Now I’m one of those homebody types of writers. My favorite thing is to stay home, read a book, write a book, or watch a movie. But, let’s face it, after a while I’d have nothing to say. Like Johnny 5 said:
Venturing outside the house, doing things, even something as simple as going for a walk or choosing to eat at a new restaurant, makes a writer’s life not only better but makes their writing better. I’m as guilty as being a shut in as much as any writer. I get bogged down in the words, in the worlds, I’m building. However when I do decide to peek outside the imaginary worlds I prefer to live in, I travel whenever possible.
In 2014, outside exploring the metro Phoenix area, I fulfilled a life long travel wish: Las Vegas, Nevada.
A fairly last minute, whirlwind trip to a bicycling convention, we stayed with (super cool) complete strangers (acquaintances of a friend), learned how easy it is to stay awake for days in a casino, the magnitude of the Hoover Dam, and just how you can push a little, decrepit car before she keens (which she did, to the tune of no transportation for weeks, a few hundred dollars, and much cursing).
I’ll admit that staying and gambling in Vegas has never been high on my list of activities. I recognized however that venturing to see the Sin City was certainly something that should be done once in a person’s life time. I found, once I arrived, that Las Vegas was so much more than I anticipated.
I don’t like to gamble. Never have. And, until we went, I believed that was all Vegas consisted of: casinos. What I forgot to consider were the innumerable shows, music venues, art centers, live street performances, theater acts…not to mention conventions, cultures, and people… And the list goes on.
Naturally we did the casino experience, both on the Strip and in Old Vegas (an area on Fremont St that houses the Vegas The Rat Pack was infamous for, and is home to our good buddy up there – the Vegas Cowboy). Despite not being a big gambler I enjoyed my time on Fremont St. There is so much to see, so much activity, your blood buzzes and your mind swirls with ideas. I imagine it a lot like a cocaine high.
Then there was bike convention itself. Interbike 2014. A whirlwind of every bicycling company or bicycling accessory company imaginable. There were companies I knew, a lot I’d never heard of, and even more I’d never thought to associate with bike or cycling. And the people! Whole families outfitted in, like, super cycling gear that probably cost more than all my possessions combined. Even the children – and I’m talking, like, toddler kids. (One of my favorite cycling kits is off to the side there. I had to send it to a friend who wasn’t able to attend and loves pugs and cycling.)
It was an exhausting day, with gorgeous bikes that cost more than most cars. By the end of it I didn’t think I could wring any more energy out of myself. Then we got back to the bike polo house (the acquaintances of a friend I mentioned).
What to say about the bike polo house?
One) It’s amazing, Two) It’s the kind of house, with all sorts of people from all sorts of walks of life coming and going and interacting and cooperating, I want in the future, and Three) It’s a beautiful, controlled chaos filled with engaging people and alive with energy.
Needless to say, when we got back, my energy rebounded, we were up half the night talking and just relaxing before crashing out on the community couches in the living room. When we woke, it was to a bustling household filled with permanent residents (the 8 people who split all the bills and are over all responsible for the house’s maintenance and planning) and a handful of other transients about a ton of activities from morning rituals to philosophical conversations. After the house spokesman (at least that’s how I think of him) did his morning thing, he pointed us in the direction of must-see Vegas day-walking. Plus we had our own tourist-y agendas. I mean I couldn’t go to Vegas and not walk down the Strip, right?
After our meander through New Vegas, we headed back to the bike polo house to meet up with our new acquaintances, grab a bite, and hit Old Vegas. But Sin City is a ridiculously busy place and parking is impossible and expensive. Our bike polo host;s alternative.
Which, for whatever reason, naturally our bike polo host’s own. So we cruised Vegas in style: by bike and pedi-cab. (To the side you can see us locking up our myriad of individual bikes to the pedi-cab outside a local bar. We figured if anyone really wanted one bike, they were going to take a metal jungle of other bikes and one awkward, heavy pedi-cab.)
We met awesome people, and I spent almost the entire time outside the bar, on the curb (nice to be able to openly drink a beer without the cops freaking out and hauling you off to jail), talking about every subject under the Sun. Then it was off to the casinos!
We went with Fremont St on the recommendation of, well pretty much, everyone. The heart of Vegas, in my opinion, it’s bigger, brighter, and more fantastic than anything on the Strip.
There were a few things I had to see of course: The Golden Nugget, where Sinatra and the greats wined, dined, and crooned; the zip line, where you can fly like Superman across the skies of Fremont St; the dazzling lights and advertisement light show stretched across the expanse.
We stayed until dawn at penny slots (free drinks!), roulette (always color up so you know how much you’re winning and losing), and watching crazy people from every walk of life interacting, drinking, and carousing. Then wound our way, still energized and high on fun and friends, to our bikes (since detached from the pedi-cab fleet), and back to the polo house. Despite it being past dawn, once we got back to the house (also finding we were locked out of it quite accidentally), we sat up talking until, more than a little drunk, we collapsed in the living room, two new friends joining us on cots.
Once we were all awake, it was a little more sightseeing (I had to see the Lux – come on, it’s a gynormous glass pyramid in America!) and then time to head home. We found the new tire we’d put on the car before we left was going flat already – sucky – and it was hot as hell – the car has no air conditioning. But we were headed home. And another life time first, a cherry on the trip?
We were going to see the Hoover Dam.
I’m a writer, and I have no words to describe the Hoover Dam. Colossal, magnificent, awesome, in the truest sense of the word. (Hey, I’m a writer, you know I still had to try and describe it, right?)
I’ve never seen anything like the Hoover Dam. I was surprised to find out a lot facts about it. Indeed, other than its existence, I knew nothing about it. It amazed me to learn facts about such a truly American icon never taught me in school.
What I learned most, however, was how much more of this country I needed to see. My dreams have always included far flung places and exotic sights, but I was surprised to discover the basic inclination to see my own country wasn’t something I had. The Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon (and I live right by it practically), Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park – not even blips on my radar. Until I visited Vegas and, on a side thought, drove through the Hoover Dam on the way home.
Now I have a new mission. See more, travel more, get the hell out of my house more. I’m starting small, despite the grand scale that spurred me into action, and close to home: Mt Ord, some of the national parks and lakes near to Phoenix, and of course the Grand Canyon. Yellowstone may be next; it isn’t terribly far from here, and I know the area a bit through an outside source. Mt Rushmore might take a bit more planning, but it can be done. I mean, once you’ve stood under one of the most famous signs in the world once you have to do it again!
BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having
committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.