I just realized something. Talking about the road trip is probably pretty boring for everyone, unless you went, but if you went, you know it all already. Oh well. It’s more for me, to process.

So we got up in Reno a little before noon, since we got in so late. We ate at the house buffet, which was terrible, although they had Korean food, which I avoided.

Then we gambled.

I hate gambling, and I hate Nevada for it. The first time I really hung out in a casino was 2 years ago with my cousin Marshall. We walked up and down the Strip and looked at various casinos. It was one of the most depressing experiences I have ever had. Just everyone looked so unhappy. It was so sad. There was one experience I’ll never forget. Just this guy was playing Blackjack and he seemed so lonely and desperate for companionship. He was trying to talk to the dealer, not out of attraction, just out of company. And she was pretty unresponsive. But hr brief responses just gave me the feeling of how unhappy she was also. It just left an indelible impression on me. Incredibly sad.

The other interesting thing I noticed was that there’s a social strata as you go from casino to casino. The high class people hang out at like that Roman one that for the life of me I can’t remember the name. But we went to see a bunch of casinos, and it’s interesting, because you also find your middle class casinos, and then you have your lower class casinos, that were dominated by not so well dressed people. Circus Circus in Las Vegas was one of these.

Another reason I hate gambling is because I’ve read how those who can afford it least are the ones that do it the most. It’s just sad, and a pathetic way to make money. I hate it.

And yet, in Reno, we gambled. I have really no idea why. But of course, we wanted to be good about it. We went expecting to lose, as everyone should, so we decided in advance to each bet $5 only, and keep whatever we won from that. Umm, Henry might have done a little more, but as you’ll see, he was pretty good about it also.

Henry went first, and he played roulette. As we were walking, he was explaining to me how he employs a strategy that he knows makes no sense and is illogical. He goes to a table where he sees that 0 or 00 hasn’t come up in a while, then he repeatedly bets on those. If you know anything about probability, you know it makes no sense, but as far as roulette strategy goes, I suppose it’s no worse than any other.

Anyway, he gets his chips, and bets on 0 and 00. Loses. Bets again. This time, it lands on 00. It was pretty exciting, to tell the truth. And he got a pile of chips in return. Anyway, he immediately cashes out. I thought it was funny. Just these 4 punk kids come in, stay for 2 spins, and take off.

Me, Dave, and John all played slots. Double Diamond, Mrs. Wong’s favorite. If you’ve never played slots before, it’s rigged so you can bet a multiple amount of quarters per spin, and the rewards scale accordingly. Dave and John each did one quarter per spin. But I figured, I was going to lose my money anyway (you seriously need to have this attitude in casinos, I believe), so I didn’t feel like wasting my time on a lot of spins. So I played $1.25 per spin, giving me 4 spins. Dave of course thought I was an idiot. But on my first spin, I win. Then on my second spin, I win again. It was incredible. Anyway, I lost the rest, but I still came out ahead. It was pretty amazing.

So then we got out of Reno, leaving pretty late. By then we were kind of worrying about he car. The engine was tending to overheat. It first started doing this in the East Bay, as we were crossing some bridge and there was traffic. It would get really really hot, like in the red zone, and would only go down when we drove pretty fast, and the wind cooled the engine. It was kind of a worrisome problem, coming on so early in the trip, and it would plague us the rest of the way. A lot of the time, we’d have to blast the heater and open the windows. Which was fine where we were, and at night, but we worried about the Rockies. We actually checked the car before leaving Reno, but we couldn’t see anything, and to my eyes, the coolant level in the reservoir (which I suspected) looked fine.

But we plodded on. We stopped near Bonneville, which is where they do all the land speed records on account of its being so flat. I had never been to Utah before. It was absolutely disgusting. It turns out much of Utah was once covered by a huge lake, the vestiges of which is the Great Salt Lake. I’m no sure if this is why, but there’s this huge area in Utah called the Great Salt Lake Desert, and it’s just a bunch of desolate land with insane amounts of salt. We took pictures by this one salt bed. Just totally white. And absolutely disgusting.

We got into Salt Lake City at night, so we didn’t get to see the Great Salt Lake as we drived by. John’s mom had warned him not to give the Mormons his name, as if he did, they would bother him for the rest of his life. That warning, as well as some other thoughts, kind of put us on edge the whole time we were in Salt Lake City. I think the others more than me, but there was this underlying fear and trembling the whole time we were there.

The first glimpse of the Mormon Temple didn’t help. It was late at night, and it was lit up, and it looked absolutely spooky. Like some dark evil castle. I’m sure other people viewed it as being beautiful, but it looked scary to us.

Even scarier was this huge building near the Temple, that just dominated the area. We pulled beside it, and it turned out to be: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: Main Office Building.” Yikes. What the heck goes on in there? Whatever, the building was huge and scary.

The first thing we did was eat. We went to a Denny’s near the Temple. Truth be told, I was a little on guard also. I just expected to see all white people, 99% Mormon. But at Denny’s, we actually ran into Asians coming out, and there were other minorities there also. The service was terrible, though, and we were served by this very clearly gay waiter. I was surprised – I didn’t expect to see any gays in Utah.

While there we made a flurry of calls. Henry called a bunch of hotels/motels and made arrangements. By the way, bring Henry on your next road trip. He just takes care of everything and it makes it easier for the rest of us, especially me, since I’m a lazy punk. John called random people. And Dave had to take care of his job in Korea. It turns out he had to do some stuff, so we next went in search of a Kinko’s which turned out to be near the Temple Square. Henry guided us. He quickly became an expert in the streets of Salt Lake City. It was absurd.

The street naming system in Salt Lake City quite frankly makes no sense. It’s just really confusing. The streets immediately surrounding the Temple Square are called East, West, South and North Temple, according to which side of the square they’re on. It’s just weird, because you expect North Temple to meet South Temple, not run parallel. And I may be remembering this wrong, but I think there might have been areas called like East North Temple. I’m not sure about that though. A lot of the other streets were numbered but not according to any logic or reason.

So we went to Kinko’s, and parked in an alley where I had the most frightening experience of the trip. I was the only one, though. Anyway, it was late, and the alley was right next to a newspaper building, apparently. We got in pretty late, so there were a bunch of trucks lined up in the alley, all with their headlights off, and a driver in each. They were probably there for newspaper delivery. but just getting there, with my mind on cults and darkness, I had all these crazy thoughts about what those vans were doing. It seriously was ominous – a dark alley lined with drivers in vans with lights off.

At Kinko’s Dave took care of his stuff. I surfed the web at 20 cents a minute. It’s pretty sad how dependent on the Web I am. But I really am.

I also struck up a conversation with the employees. I don’t know when I picked up this habit, but I do it from time to time – talk to random people. I did this in St. Louis and I think Leo and Nicci were surprised.

Anyway, I told her it was our first time in Salt Lake City. She mentioned there’s no much to do. And I asked if they would let us in the Temple. She said you have to be an active LDS. That was the first thing I learned there. They didn’t use the term Mormon, they used LDS. It was interesting.

Anyway, I joked, “No we’re not. Why, is there a card or something?”

She replied: “Yes.”


That was our day. We went back to the Travelodge, where we saw a tour bus with Korean parked in the front, and slept, planning to get up early the next day, as there was a lot we wanted to do, and a long way to drive besides. There was evening, and there was morning. The second day.

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