No pictures for this one. The camera was back at the hotel, which turned out to be a good thing.
The strip was crowded, I didn’t think I had enough battery power for another complete go through (remember, I had been taping all day). I thought I would just get on the northbound interstate (what they call a Freeway out there) and cruise up to the Craig St exit, right into my hotel, quick and easy. I didn’t take into account the traffic from St. Patty’s Day Weekend, or the road construction. Two lanes were shut down on the normally five land road, and the traffic was bumper to bumper and crawling along, stop and go, with the goes never getting above ten miles per hour. I worked my way toward the rightmost lane so I would be able to get off easily. In the insane world of interstates, not only was it bumper to bumper, but people were constantly squirting into any opening to change lanes.
One thing I hate about highways I’m not familiar with. They have quirks that the visitor is not aware of. And I was about to hit one of those quirks on the 42b offramp. The lane I was in was suddenly the rightmost lane of a two lane exit down to Hwy 95, also known as the Las Vegas Expressway. There was a sign saying one of the lanes was ending ahead (which I don’t think happened). The exit was a long gently curving straightaway. Suddenly there were lights in my rearview mirror, coming much too close. Then the sudden slam of a hard impact. My car was pushed into the concrete guardrail. The lights backed up for a moment, then the white vehicle sped around me and off, down the ramp. I had just been the victim of a hit and run driver. A lady stopped to see if I was okay while I was taking stock of all my possessions that had been flung about the interior. I was fine. In shock a bit. I had been in a collision in the past, running into a truck that had run a stoplight. That one was much worse. I had sustained a broken arm, a concussion, and a massive bruise where the seat belt ran across my chest. This one was nothing compared to that. In retrospect there might have been a very slight concussion, because I was feeling confused for a bit.
I called 911 and was told a state trooper would be on the way. I waited. And waited. No fault to the Nevada Highway Patrol. I assume this was one of their busier nights. But the cars coming around the curve, still flying, made me cringe. I was sure I was going to get hit again. So I moved the car down the ramp to where there was a shoulder just barely wide enough for my car. The dispatcher called me and asked me where I was. I looked over to my right and saw a series of numbered buildings with a sign in front indicating they were The Pavilions. There was also a metro cop with his lights going on one of the streets. I informed the dispatcher of my landmarks. A few days later Google asked me on my phone how my trip to the Pavilions had been. Not so good.
The trooper finally showed up, and she asked me to move my car further up so she wouldn’t get hit. I gave her my license and filled out the statement she handed me. It wasn’t much of a statement, comprising only four sentences. She had called a tow truck, and he cleared a path while she moved her car up to close a lane. I was instructed to get in the truck, and that he would be taking me off the ramp. The driver gave me his information, and told me he couldn’t take me anywhere by law, because that would be seen as being in competition with the taxis. Instead he would drop me off and I would have to call a cab. So he dropped me off at a Chevron/7-11 in the bad part of town, about seven blocks off the strip. I got the last of the items I could find (I never did find the base plate for my GPS, but I did get the unit itself). A woman came along and asked me if I wanted the stuff left in my car, which included paper towels, Windex, and a half case of bottled water. She scarfed them all up, and later offered me a ride. No thanks. I had had enough trouble that night without getting into a car with a stranger.
I went into the 7-11 and asked them if they had a number for a cab. One of the guys behind the counter told me that cabs didn’t come out there. That I had to walk to Fremont St to get one. I really had to go to the bathroom bad, my mouth was dry as the desert (weird, huh), but I started down the street. In retrospect I should have asked to use their bathroom and bought something to drink. It was a long, lonely walk to Fremont, with the exception of the vagrants and drunks along the way. It was cold out, and all I had was my leather jacket. I hadn’t expected to be out in the night. I held tight to the walking stick that had been my companion on the trip. It would make a formidable weapon if need be. Fortunately, it didn’t need be. I made it to the strip and walked to the Fremont, which was filled with younger partiers. I saw Heart Attack Burger, which lets you eat free if you weigh over three hundred and fifty pounds. Rats, I was seventy-five pounds short. I finally found a cab, but he refused to take me to North Vegas. I think he was making too much money running up and down the strip. I found another, and was asked if I could pay him. I guess by that point I was looking like a vagrant.
I rode in the front of the cab, and talked with the driver the whole way. He was from Ethiopia, and we talked about the lions I had seen in Henderson, among other things. I was dropped off at my hotel, and the driver got a very good tip. It had been an exciting night in the worst meaning of the word, but I had come through, so now it would be stored away in my memories as an adventure. Funny thing. I still felt a great urge to take a piss, but I had gone with that urge for almost two hours. I had six hours I could get some sleep in, but first I had to check the vid I had taken on the strip. The next day I would fly out of Vegas, but the plans leading up to that flight had changed.
Next up: The Last Day in Vegas and the flight home.