8:00AM, I awake to a glorious morning in Cedar City, UT. My first task was to find a repair shop that can handle a foreign car. I called one place that had very little description. It turns out it was a Chevy dealer…shudder. I asked for a bailout or perhaps if they wanted these old shares of GM common stock I had with me as payment to fix the car. He declined cooley, however, he gave me a recommendation for a shop called Superior Auto. I called the shop and he agreed to take the car and see what he could do. We pack up the stuff and get ready to go but we have made a very strategic error. We have passed 9:00am. NO WAFFLES for us. Not even some pre-packaged pecan rolls or dried bagels or Raisin Bran from the little dispenser. This is perhaps the most disappointing aspect to the day.
9:15AM, We start the Volvo fogger to first head to the Cedar City Municipal Airport. It is 2 miles away. You cannot imagine the smoke this car put out. We’re talking about every acceleration or downshift putting out a cloud you could not see through. Cars were backing up and moving into the shoulder because I blocked all visibility. I had read an article after my Motortrend back in Billings about the limitations of doing war in Afghanistan with all the restrictive policies put on soldiers to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties. In one such instance the soldiers required a smoke screen so they could relocate under cover of the smoke safely. The people responsible for launching the smoke screen shell fired it too far away to be of any use because they were afraid the canister that falls from the sky after it explodes might hit child or mother who mysteriously are out playing or working in the middle of firefights in the street. I’m not saying the Obama administration is incompetent in fighting wars (Yes, I am) but more importantly I see a DoD contract for about 18 million dollars coming my way for the “War Volvo” where we can provide a smoke screen and comfortable transport for five…including 200 stations of satellite radio to calm the soldiers while relocating to safer positions. It includes a bike rack and I believe has an add-on connector for a Golf 240 or an M50 which can be easily operated through the moon roof.
10:00AM, We have secured a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. There are 3 rental companies at the Cedar City Municipal Airport. Hertz had no one at the desk. Avis had no cars to rent but had someone at the desk. It caused me to wonder if Avis was run by the government. Enterprise had one car to rent. A nice 2010 dual cab Silverado. What would it take to find a Tundra? Is this all a conspiracy by GM? What kind of place is Cedar City, UT that when someone want a Hyundai Sonata or Elantra all they can provide is 4000 pound monstrosity. I was pining for the quality and gas mileage of a Hyundai as expressed in Motortrend from my days back in Billings. However we find that there was plenty of room to stretch out and a simple phone call to Ike in the backseat was sufficient for interseat communication.
There is another question as to why there is a such a nice new comfortable airport terminal that only has two flights a day from Salt Lake City. Everything seemed a bit of overkill for an airport that serves barely 80 people a day. Maybe thats why there are no Hyundai's and only Silverados to rent. Everything in Cedar City is bigger.
10:30AM, We drop off the car at Superior Auto. I get the picture now as his lot is filled with Corvettes and Chevy trucks and all types of GM cars that he is restoring for shows and such that clearly I have stumbled into a GM town. However segregated in a small part of the lot are a number of foreign cars. Much like an internment camp I imagine. I give him until Friday to make the Volvo better and vow to return.
10:45AM, Las Vegas here we come. We have until 11:00pm to arrive in San Diego to pick up Kt’s friend at the airport and only a 7 hour drive to get there. With that extra 5 hours of time we knew we could afford a little time in Las Vegas. We were blending like western natives now in our Silverado. I might note that going 85 in a Silverado seems much slower than it is. I constantly was looking down and noticing I was going 95-97. I think this is indicative of GM overstating their recovery and repayment of Government loans using a pile of other bailout money. There was some beautiful terrain in the 29 mile Arizona section of I-15. Beautiful canyons and such. Other than that though I felt frozen in one spot with just endless flat desert and some mountains in the distance on each side of us.
11:30AM, The endless desert terrain prompted me to think about all the good times with my friend Bob from Billings. I wondered why he stopped hunting in his youth and what was the exact specifications because it just could not have been a 6 cylinder for the Hyundai that got 40 miles per gallon even many years later. I wondered if he ever did sell his Honda accord with the faded paint with 220,000 miles on it for $2000. See he didn’t care what the blue book said. He was waiting for the person who wanted a car that ran perfectly to be willing to pay that much because he didn’t care. It was his 5th car after all. I could sympathize. It’s these moments you have to yourself where you can ponder the relationships of life and I was going to miss Bob.
I also pondered my good friend Hamid Patel the owner of the Sleep Inn in Billings. He was only about 32 so I think he maybe needed to experience a little more life so as to not second guess his trusty Night clerk at the hotel. Because basically I only paid $19 more to stay at the Crowne Plaza with a stunning 9th floor view of the oil refinery. His clerk might be right to give those discounts because a Sleep Inn does not compare to a Crowne Plaza. On the other hand…there were no waffles at the Crowne Plaza.
12:00PM, We come over a rise and there before us lies Las Vegas. The sign says its 18 miles away but that seems unlikely as you could see it so well.
12:15PM, What do you know…It was 18 miles away. God how depressing to be able to see something for so long yet be so far away. We park in the hotel parking garage for Harrah’s. We decide to walk up and down the strip and take in the sights and take pictures. I got myself a large soda for $4. I asked my kids if they needed anything as we had not any food or drinks really for the day. They said, “No” We strolled about looking at the sheer decadence of such huge casinos and expensive stores. There were lots of nice offers from people for tours and show tickets. How nice that they conveniently seek you out on the street so you don’t have to try and track them down. About the time we got to Ceasar’s Palace a certain female member of our group got woozy and passed out. I looked like father of the year when I dropped her on the stairs of Serendipty’s to take the picture of 3 cute coeds by the Gumball machine. After the picture they looked somewhat horrified at this clearly woozy, perhaps severely inebriated girl that was falling out of the chair I tried to place her in as I tried to find a place to get a bottle of water. I moved Kt to another table and found a nice outdoor area where Serendipity’s generously sold me a big water bottle for $6. Large sodas were also $6. So after $18 all 3 of us could restock on liquids. I however already had enough foresight to plan my hydration/dehydration cycles when I got my first $4 soda. Additionally we bought a few more waters from the nice gentleman on every street corner selling water from coolers for only a $1.
2:00PM, We head out of Las Vegas to our final destination of San Diego. Gaaaack more desert. Shortly after our entry into the California, the People's Republic of CA has a station to determine if you are carrying any Fruits or Nuts into the country. I told them that I had neither Adam Lambert nor any Democrats in the truck and they let me continue on my way.
7:00PM, We arrive in Encinitas, CA at the Howard Johnson’s. We check in to our room which was nice but did not have the nice beds of the Sleep Inn nor did it have my waffles for breakfast. Ike and I head straight to the hot tub and pool.
9:00PM, Thoroughly pruned we get out of the hot tub and pool because we need to eat something and then head down to San Diego Airport to pick up Bonnie, Kt’s friend from JCP in Milwaukee.
11:00PM Bonnie arrives safely seated safely with Marine Recruits who were flying in for Boot Camp. Fine memories of Zach’s arrival there nearly 2 years ago.
11:45PM, I scan the channels in a last ditch attempt to catch a Back to the Future but there are no more left on TV. Bonnie pulls out a Macbook. GAAAWWWWD!!! the numbers of these things springing up around me is ever increasing. I figure if you can't create scripts and documents in VI or navigate with DOS...you deserve a Macbook.
12:00AM I go to sleep with feelings of relief in that we actually made it to San Diego. I also have a strange sense of accomplishment that I parked a Silverado in a space marked for compact cars only because HoJo's only had like 3 spots that weren't for compact cars. Take that land of Priuses.