My short stay with my brother Shane and extended family had to come to an end. Vegas is just too big and expensive for my tight budget. They will stay there until Saturday, but I had to continue on. Money willing, I would have stayed until Saturday also. That morning I woke from a good nights sleep around 7:45 am, although it took me about 30 seconds to realize where I was. Try staying somewhere different everyday for three months and see if you don’t wake up thinking you’re somewhere that you’re not. Some mornings when I wake up, I expect to see my houses’ bedroom walls. It’s feels like I’m in the twilight zone when that happens. It was still a bit to early to see if the folks were up and moving, so I got to work getting my things in order to carry down to the Goose. A little after 8 am my brother texted me to see if I was up. I responded back and made my way to the Panoramic Suite where they are staying. By that time Joe and Pam were still lying down so Shane and I chit chatted quietly for a bit before Joe came rip-roaring out of his room. Pam’s, James Brown ringtone, went off and must have woke them. Joe came out of the room bouncing sideways singing “I feel good! I knew that I would!”. To see a six-foot eight man bouncing sideways first thing in the morning singing James Brown fit perfectly with Vegas. He has a great sense of humor and plenty of energy to match. After that, breakfast was in order. Room service carted the grub up to the 35th floor while I continued organizing my things for the trip. A few hours hanging out in the morning and a big breakfast with everyone at the table was a fitting way to spend my last bit of time with them. We took a few pictures, I said my thanks and goodbyes to April, Pam, and Joe, and Shane and I carried my things to the bike. I loaded up and “this was it” I thought, the last time I’d see my little bro for who knows how long. We said our goodbyes to one another and I was about to take off when I realized that I left my phone in their suite. Shane volunteered to run up and grab it for me while I kept watch over my things. Ten minutes later, he was back. I told him “It wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t forget something.” Now it was time to say goodbye. We shook hands, I took off and that was it. I was on the road again to places unknown by me. For the first half hour after leaving Shane in the parking garage my chest was tight and I had a pretty strong feeling of loneliness. It eventually cleared and I was back to my normal self. A traveler out to see new things and grow as a person. Before I left Vegas though, I just had to stop by and see Gold and Silver Pawn shop. That’s the pawn shop where Pawn Stars is located and filmed. A few folks, including my parents and Bob from my Luckenbach Texas experience, recommended seeing the place. My first impression was “This is it?”. I expected some big over the top Vegas style building. Instead what is there is, a well used, one story, rectangle building with hardly any bells and whistles. I guess you don’t have to look the best to be the best and these guys are doing something right if they have their own television show. If not for the hour and a half wait to get inside I would’ve ventured in. Filming was going on while I was there. A man on a loud-speaker kept telling the tourists to get out-of-the-way of the front door while filming was going on. I spent a total of about ten minutes hanging around and then hit the road west.
My path would take me on highway 160 through the town of Pahrump, where I would stop at McDonalds for some wi-fi. While there I met a fellow from Switzerland who moved to Nevada two decades ago. He spoke kindly of his home country, but did mention how he felt so crowded while there. He liked Nevada for its huge open spaces and sparsely populated areas. Until then I’ve always thought of Switzerland as one of the more open European countries. Little do I know I guess. I’ll have to go there and see for myself. Next it was time to finally make tracks to Death Valley California. Before this trip the thought of even going there would make me nervous. The remoteness, the name and the distance from home was enough to give me the willies, but now I’ve grown used to this region and with Big Bend Texas under my belt, there is no reason to think that our nations national parks will be any less than amazing and well facilitated. One thing was against me though, night was falling and no matter where I’m going, I just don’t like riding at night. Dusk rewarded me with some amazingly colorful skies that the Canon didn’t exactly capture well. I arrived at the visitors center after dark, got directions to the campground and set my tent up. Ramen was on the dinner menu. Shortly after eating, I crawled in the tent to lay down. Right before I fell asleep some sort of animal bumped against my tent three, rather hard, times. This used to freak me out at the beginning of the trip. Now I just lay there and try to guess what sort of furry four-legger it was. My guess this time. Raccoon, if they live in Death Valley. Most of the times I’ll clap my hands and listen as they scamper away. That doesn’t always work though. When I stayed at the Thunder Gulch campground in Florida something was messing with my tent so I clapped my hands. Instead of running, it growled at me. This happened three times. I admit, it made my hair stand up and that sucker got the best of me. To this day I still don’t know what sort of animal it was….