Thirty Nine : Viva Las Vegas

It’s not even noon yet and already over seventy degrees, dry enough to make my dusty abused lungs feel new again; already my skin has started to dry and darken into more golden tints, the blonde and red in my beard more prominant. Needless to say, I have the best farmers tan on Earth. A single bead of sweat trickles down my forehead and gets lost in my moustache, signaling that the temperature has risen once again.
These baby steps are going to help, I think to myself.
The gradual increase in temperature as we sped through the majority of California as quickly as possible was reassuring, stopping a ways south of Sacramento to hole up in a hotel for the remainder of the night, throwing in the towel close to midnight after my yawns became unignorable. When the morning came we emerged rested, both my father and I only managing two or three hours of sleep the night before we departed. He made his way to the office for check out, I started to walk toward the open plains behind the thin two story building when a voice above me span me around. “Is that a joint? You know that’s illegal in these parts don’t ya?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” A grin splits my face open, “want in?”
They were happy I shared. We talked about Oregon, the legalization (more so a regulation) in July for my happy stoned home state. Dad comes back puffing down a cigarette. I say my goodbyes and again we hit the road.
Any way you go to Vegas is going to be three things – long, boring, and ugly. Flat rolling hills of golden brown dead grass that, after long curves up and down through the mountains that separate central California from the Mojave, you reach the ever expanding desert. The temperature jumps, the water instantly pulled from everything alive. This is a place scorched by sun and without the intense beauty of Death Valley. Eventually small groups of half decayed buildings appear, the remnants of where people found and lost their hope in this barren place.
After far to long Vegas rises up from its waterless basin all concrete and steel. The traffic is terrible and it takes even longer to get to grandma’s house. When we do we are both exhausted.
I unload my pack and toss it over my shoulders. Shit, I placed my foot wrong, bending backwards instead of forward. I step back and miss the concrete, my ankle slams against its corner. I fucking hate cactus spines.
Pain shoots up my right leg and I stumble back again through more cactus. My pants protect my legs, but my feet aren’t so lucky. They look like large pin cushions. They ignite in a burn, like I’m burying them in hot coals.
Nothing to start an adventure like a good leg wound.
I couldn’t help but love it. These baby steps are going to make this easier.

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