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March 09, 2007

Days 3-4: Lady Luck Hitches a Ride

Illustration by Graham Roumieu

The idea that everything happens for some overarching grand reason has always struck me as a stupid way of looking at life. Philosophers call it teleology, Harlequin Romance novels call it destiny and I now believe in it, thanks to the great state of Nevada, where it's known as Lady Luck.

Taco Time in Colorado
It wasn't the right time for Taco Time

The suffering we endured on Highway 40 in Colorado, I now know, was destiny. And so was all the suffering that followed. When we pulled back onto I-80, after our day of wayward driving, we drove for two hours before pulling back off in search of dinner. The first place we tried was a happy looking spot called Taco Time, but when we walked in the air was heavy with grease, a sweet, cloying smell that always reminds me of the 1970s. Don't get me wrong--grease has it's place. But I was feeling queasy just breathing. The next spot we tried was the Santa Fe grill, but it looked like the kind of place that was frequented by bikers, so we settled, reluctantly, on McDonalds, because the only other dinner choice was microwaving a sandwich at the Conoco gas station. As Graham put it, "It was bound to happen once." Destiny.

I-80, Nevada

We blasted on towards Salt Lake City, determined to make up as much ground as humanly possible so that tomorrow we could make it to Napa, mythical land of motels and wine. When Salt Lake City rolled around, we pushed on, thinking that the motels would be cheaper. The problem is that exit after exit, there were no motels. So I guess you could say that they were cheaper.

Wendover, Nevada
"The Strip" in Wendover, Nevada

Then, something wonderful happened: We crossed the border into Nevada. We took the first turnoff and found ourselves in the town of Wendover, and pulled up to a Best Western. The door was locked, so we rang the bell but after two minutes no one answered. Continuing on into Wendover, we discovered that it had its very own strip, just like Las Vegas. We stopped at the biggest, most garish looking hotel/casinothe Montego Bay--and got a double room, which had tiger-stripe pattern carpet, a marble desk, a flat screen TV and corduroy velour upholstery on the chairs, all for the stunningly low price of $60.

It'll pay for gas

We dumped our bags and hit the casino, mainly for the free drinks. (Gin and tonic for Graham, Heineken for me.) And there, people, I was paid a visit by Lady Luck herself, the very woman that was so thrifty with her affections back in Colorado. In the course of half an hour at the blackjack table, I turned an investment of $20 into $91. Graham walked away with an extra $24 in his pocket, although he would have taken away considerably more had he not been paid a visit by Lady Over Confident on his penultimate hand.

(Incidentally let's keep all this between ourselves, shall we? Theres no need to tell the accounting department at Conde Nast Traveler about my spell of luck because they might understandably want to deduct it off my expenses, considering that, had I lost the $20, I would have claimed it as "research." What happens in Wendover stays in Wendover.)

The author reluctantly "Supersizes"

The next morning, we were back on track to make Napa. The drive-through breakfast choices were as follows: Burger King or McDonalds. We chose the latter. I suppose you could say it was destiny again. She giveth and she taketh away.


Hi, very interesting blog!
I'm curios about how you'll cross the Pacific Ocean :)

Greetings form Germany

Enjoying the road stories. Word of advice: if you're looking for blue hairs in tour buses, Napa's the place for you. Otherwise go straight to Sonoma. And try the spaghetti and meatballs at Cafe Neibaum-Coppolla when you reach San Fran.

Dude, enjoying following you on your journey, I think your illustrator should continue on past L.A>, any chance of CN Traveler springing for your sidekick? I am getting a Hunter S Thompson and Gonzo meets Hero's feeling with his illustrations, they are dope! Your writing ain't too shabby either, keeping me hanging on for more!

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The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

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