Through the Valley of Fire to the Bosom of Bobbi

Location: Stateline Motel, Mesquite NV. (map)
Miles: 12,804.4

Here’s all I’m going to say about Vegas: I stayed up till 5 a.m. with Amy the night before I left. I slept two hours while I was there. I left Sin City with a nice lump of dough in my pocket and no venereal diseases. Overall, a success. I have not slept since, so much of this will probably make no sense.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds accompanied me on my drive over to check out Hoover Dam (that will become a link when I have the pictures ready). That’s a nice bit of work. Another place on my journey that seems to be on the “must see” list for foreign tourists that is just a historical curiosity for Americans. For all the “No Trucks or Busses” signs as I approached the dam, there sure were a hell of a lot of trucks and busses crossing. (Though to be fair the trucks all seemed involved with the major construction project to redo highway 93 from a road that twists around the hills to one that blasts through the hills. That makes the road better, somehow.)

I walked around the dam for a bit. While the enormous sweep of concrete is impressive, I wish there was a way to help people understand the enormous force that structure must oppose. It is that force that turns on all the lights in Las Vegas, and more than just one or two elsewhere.

Move on, Jerry; move on. Sleep is catching up. After the dam I played K’s Choice and doubled back to Boulder City to pay way too much for gas. There was a gray road on my map heading north along the lake that looked interesting, but I didn’t want to try something like that out there without plenty of liquids for both me and the car. I also thought to confirm with the Gatorade salesman that the road I was about to take did indeed go through. He was effusive and earned the high gas price for his employer. I learned that I was about to drive through the Valley of Fire, that it cost five dollars, and that Captain Kirk was buried there.

It doesn’t happen every time, but on occasion I make the right choice. For those of you keeping score at home, the Valley of Fire (map) is a fantastic drive. Iggy and the Stooges were cranking. I really want to describe the geology for you. I want to describe how the ridges broke from the valley floor like dog’s teeth, black except where something had broken the surface to expose the blood red stone underneath. I could tell you how I drove past a basaltic dike into a section of twisted and folded white ridges standing over the red and undulating floor. I could speculate on life and death and heat and iron and blood. I just don’t have it in me to write stuff like that right now.

At the top of the lake, the road passes through the MOPAR valley. (No, silly, it wasn’t really called the MOPAR Valley, but daddy is a little dotty right now. It was something like that anyway) I had an Idea to stay in MOPAR, get up really, really early in the morning, and go back while the light was good to take all the pictures I didn’t take today. They would be much better when the Sun was low to bring out the features of the landscape. So I kept telling myself as I drove past photo ops. We all know the real reason I didn’t stop was because the road had me and she would not let me go. But this story gets squirrely enough without the new pantheon pulling my strings.

Title of my first nonfiction book: The New Pantheon.

Right, then. MOPAR valley. At the north end of Lake Mead is a lush and fertile valley. As I was driving into Overton a train tooted at me just to say hello (or so it seemed), and while there were people crawling up my tailpipe as I drove along at the absurdly low speed limit, overall I got a good vibe from the place. At least I did at first. The MOPAR Valley is an orderly and tidy place. White church steeples are visible across the valley, looking over their flocks and watching one another. I had started to look for a hotel next to an interesting bar, but then I realized there were no bars that I could identify. The only reference to alcohol I saw was a political banner for a guy named Tom Collins.

Onward, then! North to I-15 and up to Mesquite. I drove down the main drag in town looking for a likely motel. I saw a couple of promising ones, but then I passed an interesting-looking sports bar/pizzeria. Soon after that was the Stateline Motel, where I sit now resisting my inevitable journey into the Land of Nod. Ah, sweet sleep, you shall have me soon enough.

The motel had its own casino, if by casino you mean a smoky bar filled with slot machines. I was very thirsty from my travels, so I moseyed on in to catch some baseball and drink some water with a beer chaser. Drinks were free if you were actively playing video poker, so I put some money in the machine in front of me. I have read that if you play the simple, straightforward video poker exactly perfectly the payout is actually over 100%. I don’t think I played it perfectly, but I did end up with enough money to pay for my room, plus I got several free beers. When I hit the payout button the message came up “hopper empty” so the bartender had to reload it. When he closed up the machine it still didn’t work. Thus began my career being a pain in the ass for the bartender. I won’t go into all the details, but when I moved to another machine I had more troubles, and this time they were my fault.

Of course, I was not the only one at the bar. They had a promotion going that night and the place was filling up. As I sat down a man was tellin his credulous friend Buck about the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. He seemed to know what he was talking about. Things started to get out of hand when their conversation turned to rattlesnakes. I almost did a noser with my beer when he explained that if you wanted to eat a rattlesnake you had to be careful how you caught it or it would bite itself and poison itself, making the meat deadly to eat. Riiiiiight. And watch out for those Mojave greens! They don’t rattle and if one decides to bite you it’ll chase after you until it catches you.

But my long tale is not over yet, boys and girls. To my right, beyond the machine that had broken, were two women in the 50ish age range. We’ll call them Katie and Norma. Slowly I was drawn into conversation with them. My story came out, as it must in a situation like that. When I mentioned that I had considered going back to take pictures in the Valley of Fire, Katie said, “Well, if you’re in town tomorrow, you can crash at my place. That would be no problem.” I was already pretty sure I’d be heading east, but I thanked her for the offer. Not long after that the bartender told me to go back to my poker machine or give it up. I went back to the machine. I’d built up quite a few credits on it, and the conversation was getting into more dangerous territory.

An indeterminate time later, as I watched baseball and bet on the poker machine, Katie was at my elbow. “You understand,” she said, “that when I say you can crash at my place I really mean dinner and a fuck?” I failed to disguise my shock. “It’ll be good, I promise,” she said.

“Hammina hammina hammina,” I said, or something equally as eloquent. Which was better that what I thought, which was “GAAAAH!” She continued the hard sell. “Think about it,” she said. “Just a good time then goodbye. No tomorrow. You’re just my type, that’s all.” She proceeded to be very complimentary. I didn’t say no to her face—which she would have taken well, I think—but I had already decided to move on the next day. If there had been any doubt before, there was none now. The drawing occurred, the other of the two women won a disappointingly small prize, and it was time to go get some food. I skipped out and went to Playoffs Sports Pub and Pizzeeria.

OK, we all know about Jerry and bartenders. Bobbi more so than most. I won’t discuss the behavior of the assholes to my left in detail (although there was one chick who sat down next to me for a few minutes and burned through ten bucks on a video poker machine with an intensity that verged on madness but was probably only drug-induced), just know that Bobbi handled them with style and grace. They were all in love with Bobbi (except, perhaps, for the tweaker chick). So was I. Rose once said. “Boobs are men’s kryptonite.” Bobbi is kryptolicious. When she let her hair down, that was it. To quote pL, “Dang.” I had an excellent burger along with my Sierra Nevadas, and the bill came out quite reasonable.

I met the new owner of the place (he had bought it three days ago), and when he heard that I would be writing about Playoffs Sports Pub and Pizzeria (map) on the Web he was excited. I tried but failed to impress upon him just how insignificant my opinion is, how few people will ever read this and of those how many will find themselves in Mesquite looking for chow. But if by some miracle that describes you, dear reader, then trust me, Playoffs is a good place to go. It’s right on the main drag. (Sorry, Marc, that’s the best I can do. The rest is up to you.)

Back to Bobbi. Bobbi, Bobbi, Bobbi. Tonight I will dream of Bobbi. Tonight is now. I must sleep. I am becoming transparent, not really here at all. That my eyes are open is only a formality. Good night, dear readers. Thanks for sharing my day with me.

11 thoughts on “Through the Valley of Fire to the Bosom of Bobbi

  1. You say, “all the lights in Las Vegas, and more than just one or two elsewhere.”

    Boy, what an understatement. Hoover Dam provides a hefty portion of the electric power for most of Southern California.

    It’s rather a mess. California, more than most other states, really wants to get electricity from “clean” sources that don’t harm the environment, or at least, not within the state of California. Hydroelectric power is relatively clean (aside from interfering with fish migration and spawning) and is therefore desirable, but there isn’t enough water in California to do all that much hydroelectric production. Nuclear power could produce a lot of electricity without much pollution at all, but the public doesn’t trust it, since nuclear materials can be very dangerous if improperly handled, and there have been some serious incidents of mishandling. Because of California’s strict air-pollution standards, generating electricity by burning fossil fuels within the state is out.

    So what’s the solution? For California, it’s been burning fossil fuels outside the state, and sending the electricty in. They get inexpensive power from burning low grade coal, and all the air pollution from that coal is in Arizona and New Mexico. Heaven forbid that Angelenos should sacrifice the chance of seeing mountains once in a while, so tourists can get a clear view of the Grand Canyon.

  2. Actually, there is an large (and rapidly growing) amount of electricity generated from natural gas inside the boundaries of California. There’s a what amounts to a “pre-approved” design for a smaller plant that’s reasonably clean, for fossil fuels.

    The dirtiness of plants like Four Corners has as much to do with age as with the fuel they use. A plant like that would not be built today. (Nor would a dam like Hoover, I suspect) The coal industry is starting to lobby hard for more love, however, and that worries me.

    As for nuclear, people have chosen the guaranteed environmental disaster of power from fossil fuels (including natural gas) over the potential disaster of nuclear.

    And in defense of California, that big mean state gobbling up resources, the per capita electricity use there is far below the national average. I’ve read that it’s half.

  3. In the aftermath of the rolling blackouts of a few years back, lots of those cookie-cutter natural gas power plants were approved. So many, in fact, that a number ended up not getting built once the panic had subsided.

    Unfortunately, the standard design is a water-cooled power plant. Last time many of us checked, California also faces a future of water shortages. There’s no difficulty in building air-cooled power plants — they just require more cooling arrays, which cut into the bottom line.

    The San Jose city council forced an appropriation through a few years back, to build a grand pipeline from a sewage treatment plant to one of the frantically-approved proposed power plants. The selling point was that the power plant would need cooling water, and that by selling treated water to the power barons, the city would reap profit from waste.

    That power plant is of course one that will likely now never be built.

    As a “cut off my nose to spite my employment prospects” environmentalist, I’m hopeful that rising crude oil prices will hold off most of the delayed power plants until the water crisis hits.

  4. I’d be interested in seeing how CA’s per capita electricity usage compared to other states with similar climates. I wonder what portion of the difference between CA’s usage and the national average is due to mild climate as opposed to conservation efforts.

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics …

    As far as Natural Gas goes, everybody talks about how clean it is, but they conveniently ignore LP. In the process of refining NG (the clean part) all the heavier gasses are seperated out and made into LP (the dirty part). Guess what? The LP gets burned, too. I suppose that smoke is somebody else’s problem, and Douglas Adams taught us that nothing disappears faster than somebody else’s problem.

  5. In San Diego, the current silver bullet awaiting governmental approval and environmental hubbub to subside is Liquified Natural Gas being brought by tankers to Mexico (Baja California), then burned south of the border, and shipping the electricity north to San Diego and Southern California. I figure it’s a fair trade: they can have our smoke because we’ve been down stream from Tijuana for so long.

  6. Bob, Jerry’s references to Vegas and being propositioned makes me remember that road trip back from Los Alamos to college. I had Russ with me in the Satelite, you were solo in I-don’t-know-what-car, and we were convoying together until Barstow. We hit Vegas at about 2 a.m., and were out walking the streets taking in the tawdry sights. The three of us came across a kryptolicious woman outside a car, leaning through the passenger window from the side walk, arguing with the man inside the car. Bob and I had alarm bells go off inside our heads, and instinctly the flight or fight mechanism caused us to change course and give wide berth to the developing situation. Russ had no such internal alarm bells, or perhaps his chivalrous genes were over developed, and he continued walking straight. When the car sped off, the woman swearing, Russ was the closest living thing on the planet to her, and more importantly, the closest prospective client. “Hey,” says the good looking damsel in distress to the concerned Russ, “Do you want to buy a date?” Russ looks for support to his buddies at his side. His buddies are gone. Bob and Keith are ten feet further along the sidewalk, breaking into a run, never looking back… We were all, what, 20?

  7. So, you ran into the Black Widow of Mesquite, did you? You were “just her type” because you were a tumble weed just passing through town, alone on the road, with no immediate physical connections, and deeply rooted only in the blogosphere. Good thing you resisted her wiles, or that would have been the last entry your ever wrote (or first entry you never wrote). When they exhume all the bodies from her basement on CSI:Las Vegas, you’ll be able to say, “That could’ve been me but for my stoic resistance to earthly pleasures!” Did you feel like Odysseus in The Sirens of Mesquite?

  8. It has finally happened. Someone has come to my site for information about the bar where Bobbi worked. The owner, so filled with hope that I would put him on the map, has finally gotten his wish.

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