And then there is the Vegas

Heading west out of Flagstaff on I-40 I see the exit for Devil Dog Road. Every time I see this exit, I think the same thing – What the Devil Dog Road? Where does it go? And when will I ride it?

AssFork. Arizona’s A # 1 shithole. The sign says “Ashfork”. But I know its AssFork. Husky bought 40 acres of nothing out here once. He sold it after his divorce. I never asked him how it worked out; I can’t imagine it was a money maker. I guess he’s glad to be rid of it.

The only good thing about this part of Arizona is you can turn left and head down to Prescott. Aside from that, fuck it.

Exit 91. Fort Rock Road. Looks like a good place to take acid and stare at rocks. Aside from that, uneventful and uninspiring.

Route 93. The way south towards Wickenburg and Phoenix. I drove this corner in a truck full of everything I owned in the world in 2001 with my father when my wife and I moved up to Idaho. The view is the same, but the other side of the lens is all different. Then I was watching and saying goodbye, not really expecting to ever be in Arizona again. Now I know better and I will most likely never leave Arizona.

She’s got her hooks in me, and my flesh is willing.

2001 was a new beginning. 2007 is a drunken decent into hell.

A few miles of barren landscape later I roll into Kingman. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols spent some time here back in 1994 with Michael Fortier as they hatched the Oklahoma City bomb plot. Driving through, I can see why. Living here must lead to violence against oneself and others.

I was born in this town
Live here my whole life
Probably come to die in this town
Live here my whole life
Never anything to do in this town
Live here my whole life
Never anything to do in this town
Live here my whole life
Probably learn to die in this town
Live here my whole life
Nothing to do, sit around at home
Sit around at home, stare at the walls
Stare at each other and wait till we die
Stare at each other and wait till we die
Probably come to die in this town
Live here my whole life
There’s Kerosene around, something to do

Big Black – Kerosene

93 North to Las Vegas. Finally. Broad empty valleys framed by barren vicious hillsides and punctuated by lone singlewide trailers. Lines of dusty roadway extending seeming forever. It’s strangely beautiful in a way. As long as the “way” is at eighty miles an hour in an air conditioned car.

I first drove this way in 1991 at Thanksgiving. My sister and her boyfriend and I were invited to spend the holiday in the Flamingo Hilton with my aunt and uncle from Texas. They liked gambling, and we, in our early years of college, liked an excuse to leave town and drink somewhere new.

Flying into Vegas is like cheating. When you drive, you witness how terribly out of place this town really is. There is nothing out there that is worth a damn.

All along the eastern seaboard, towns and cites are built where crops, steel, coal and other merchandise were transported. Canals, railways, rivers, ports. It all makes sense in a simple way. Commerce led to establishment.

This place is a sandbox of sin. And sin is apparently in.

As if it was ever out, right? Christ died on the cross for our sins, yours and mine. And as sure as them tittles is fake, I’m gonna slap dollar bills on ‘em.

That same drive up nearly two decades ago brought us to some god forsaken dirt lot at the turnoff for Chloride. I guy who lived above me in the dorms has asked us to give him ride home for the break, and it was on our way and all that. He offered gas money and weed, so we agreed without much deliberation. Every time I drive by this spot I am as stunned as I was that day: This guy grew up in the middle of nowhere.

I remember asking him, where is your house? We waved his hand at the mountains to the east, up there. There was no one aside from us in the lot, and I asked him, how are you getting there? Oh, I’ll call my brother on the payphone and he’ll come pick me up. How are you getting back to Flagstaff? Oh, my brother will take me.

He was a bouncer at the Mad Italian back in those days. He offered to wave me in as I was sill just twenty. I never took him up on the deal. I’m thirty seven now and I still never go to that bar. It just ain’t my type of place.

I’ve heard some of the top folks at Specialized are riding there bikes from God knows where in California to the trade show to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. I don’t know if they are draggin their equipment on their bikes, or if a sag vehicle or some sort is driving the goods out for them. I would expect the latter. Riding a few hundred miles with the promise of clean clothes and the like on the other side is a bit more appealing to me than gearing up and putting the whole kit and caboodle on your back.

Out past the Hoover Damn I struggle with the Touristas and collected shitfuck traffic. It felt as though I would never get past it. They will some day have a rather scary looking bridge over this fucking canyon completed, and I will be able to continue on the Highway to Hell at my preferred eighty miles an hour in the air-conditioned comfort of my soon-to-be-classic automobile. The only thing I’m missing is beer on my chest to help facilitate the tanning process.

The gaping maw of Las Vegas opened beneath my wheels as I crested the last rise like the arm pit of a fat chick. My man Willie would be the one to come up with an Oreo Double stuffed cookie in a situation such as this. I don’t know how he does it, he just does it. Me, I just hit mad traffic and continually mistake my location for East Mesa and Gilbert. How I can be hundreds of miles north of Phoenix and be driving through what is essentially the same landscape? Red tile roofs and stucco hellholes lined up one after another as far as the eye can see.

And out here, the eye can see pretty far indeed. Save the dust, smog and other pollutants that will begin slowing chocking me to death for the balance of my stay.

Link dump:

[Paul Revere's ride - for cyclists] money.cnn.com
[Steroid Nation] grg51.typepad.com/steroid_nation
[Cycling coverage] web.wcsn.com
[WTF?] theregister.co.uk
[A fine ride] nobodyracing.com

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

11 thoughts on “And then there is the Vegas

  1. No foolin’. If I were Vegas I’d seriously consider paying you good money to just shut the fuck up.

  2. John, I am open to negotiations and await your opening offer.

    Interbyke 2008 – big jonny gets paid to shut the fuck up. Coming to a website near you.

  3. Great writing indeed!

    I remember Thanksgiving Day of 1991. My POS car died on I-8 about 20 miles west of my home in Yuma. An old guy who was living out of his car, and had started the day in Gila Bend and was heading to San Diego, stopped and gave us a ride (in the opposite direction of his travel).

    Throughout four years of being stationed in Twentynine Palms and Yuma and I never made the relatively short trip to Vegas. Your account reaffirms my belief that I didn’t err.

  4. Sorry man, I’m not Vegas yet. You can continue to trash that shithole at will. How fucked up does a place have to be to make loose women and excessive drinking seem a bit sleazy?

  5. jonny that is good shit you got….goooood shit you got leaking out of your parker. thanks for the read.

    oh, and for anyone reading this — jonny came out of my closet at interbike.

    twice.

  6. …jeez…”jonny came out of my closet at interbike. twice.”…

    …i wouldn’t touch that statement with a 10 foot pole–emic…

    …but now, we ARE all waiting…