Day two we went to our list of off-strip places. We had an amazing breakfast at Omelet House, then played pinball and arcade machines for hours at the Pinball Museum, then went on a tour of the suburbs looking for lunch, and eventually popped out at Red Rock Canyon for sunset. That was my first really clear view of the local landscape and it was breathtaking. We went to the downtown casinos that evening then back to our hotel on the strip.
Day three we decided to go to LA. I think i was kinda sick of casinos and just wanted to get away for a while. I wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, but J wasn't too excited because she's already been in the past. Also because it was Christmas Eve we were told the visitors' center wouldn't be open anyway. We thought about various different options of drives we could do and eventually decided on LA because it was "close" (4 hours) and neither of us had been there before. We totally made the right decision. Because it's such a well-traveled route everything was still open on Christmas Eve, but because it was Christmas Eve there was also no gridlock in LA. We drove all the way down Sunset Blvd through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, then turned onto Santa Monica Blvd and headed straight for the beach. Yes, i caught a glimpse of the Hollywood sign while trying to navigate the spaghetti interchange where 10 hits 5 and turns into 101. (Which makes so much more sense the second time you go through.) We hung out on the beach at sunset and enjoyed what felt like the best coffee in the world at a beach hut cafe. Touched the Pacific. I wanted to go to Venice, so we drove down there and paid $8 for parking only to find the whole joint was shutting down. I don't know if it was winter hours or just Christmas Eve, but by 6 the place was desolate. Still, i got to see the White Men Can't Jump basketball courts, and some baby metal dude shredding with a battery-powed amp, which was cool. We went to dinner in Santa Monica, which still had a bunch of stores and restaurants open. We freaking ate outside, man, the weather was so nice. Awesome jazz busker dude on the street. We only ended up spending a few hours in town, but it was an amazing trip. Totally gonna do LA "for real" at some point in the future.
Christmas i was ready to get out of the city again, so i took a trip on my own out to Death Valley. Unfortunately i didn't have time to actually drive into the valley proper, so i just drove around the desert past various "last gas station[s] before Death Valley". One charged $5.50 a gallon! Over $2 more than in Vegas. I still filled up because i was paranoid of getting stuck in the desert. Shit is fucking desolate out there. It's amazing. Best feeling in the world to drive through such empty roads, cruise control on 90, all alone in the wild west. I met up with J back on the strip and we went to a couple of the casinos on the south side before going back to the airport.
All in all it was an awesome time. I ate so many tacos and other things with carnitas it was getting a little ridiculous. But the Mexican food up here is so bad by comparison, and most places don't even have carnitas, so i was making up for lost time. I had what might have been the best tacos of my life at Don Tortaco, a local chain. I also listened to lots of oompah music because there are a bunch of dead zones around Vegas where the only stations are Spanish. It was doubly cheesy because it was Christmas oompah music too, but it made me smile. Better than feeling old hearing NIN and White Zombie on the classic rock stations. Fuck being old.
But i did go out to an old person's New Year's Eve. Went to an invite-only loft party where (in theory) everyone knew everyone else within one degree. Which kinda was the case. Lots of familiar faces, though i didn't always know names. Someone came up to me saying we talked for half an hour at Honey Dijon - which i have no recollection of - but she said she didn't remember anything besides my name either so i didn't feel so bad. The music was great, all the local underground house DJs, the crowd was the usual 30+ ex-/grown-up raver crew. I went with some guys i know to an afterparty, which just kept going. All of a sudden it was noon and i was still sitting around talking codshit. Sadly i didn't pass out or otherwise make a graceful exit - i bumped a table coming back from the bathroom, which sent a bunch of shit flying and got me loudly kicked out. The worst part is it's the kind of thing i could've done stone cold sober, and it probably could've been anyone, but i guess i was the breaking point for the owner of the place so he just went off at me. I hope he can laugh about it today because i am still feeling shitty about it.
But whatever. Back to work tomorrow, and i have a lot of chores and things to do today. I want to do none of them. Sigh. It's been so nice to have several days off. I really need to book in another vacation soon. My work is fine and i can get by, but i am never so happy as when i am able to do things on my own time and just relax.