Val and I wandered around, and soon found a major attraction – in the slot machine palaces, there were free gifts to entice the unwary. There was rubbish – keyfobs, newspapers with your name in headlines, etc – but there were also free cocktails. That’s right – we proceeded to get smashed. I lost another $5 at a 10c a chip roulette wheel – it was, compared with London, incredibly shoddy + scrappy. We wandered round some more, drank some more, blew the final $10 (we’d decided on a maximum of 20) and met Eric again. He’d made a healthy profit, but proceeded to blow some. However, in his travels he’d found a small lobby upstairs with some chairs in it, so we went up there to grab a couple of hours sleep.
After about one and a half hours tho’, I made my big mistake. I was pretty uncomfortable, so wandered along the hall to check if there were any empty, open rooms – pretty stupid, I know, but I was very drunk. I tried a door, and was immediately assailed by 2 security guys who demanded to see my key, and, discovering that I didn’t have one, and, what was more, being too drunk to account for myself, they promptly threw me down some stairs, and out. Fair enough, really – they were only doing their job, but I did get a couple of very nasty bruises and grazes. I was rather stuck now, being separated from Val + Eric, and neither knowing exactly how to get to where they were, nor daring to venture upstairs again, so I sat down near the entrance to the car park and waited. Fortunately, they turned up after about 15 mins – it seems that they too had been evicted, tho’ rather more gently.
And so we left Vegas – as it should be, just as it was getting light. Eric drove, which was just as well, since I was both very tired and somewhat hungover, and Val somewhat similar – she slept in the back. At 7.30, we stopped at a Burger King for breakfast – it was just what the doctor ordered. Val had a hamburger + coke, then apple pie, and I made a pig of myself – 2 hamburgers, a large French fries, and 2 coffees. Needless to say, I promptly felt 300 times better, well enough to drive the car. That I did, while Eric + Val slept till we reached the outskirts of LA (still 40 or 50 miles out, mind) when Eric snatched back the wheel. We were able to find the apartment we were going to very easily. It belonged to Don, the boyfriend of a friend of Eric’s. It was a magnificent apartment building, with palm trees and water gushing thro’ the courtyard over landscaped rocks – like your own tropical garden. We said hello to Don, he looked over the Beetle, then we 3 got changed and took advantage of the pool for an hour or so. Gorgeous. Don was a friendly, straight guy, about 45, with a family, but divorced, presumably. He was, it seemed, making lots of money in property development. Anyway, once we had bought our lunch and eaten it, he gave us a ride out to the coast, where we could pick up Highway 1 – the scenic route to SF. He dropped us at the beach, so for about an hour we looked around, had a paddle, that sort of thing. Then we tried to hitch out. At first, it didn’t seem very promising – we were on an illegal (for us!) spot, with not much traffic, and not much at all that seemed likely. However, after 20 mins or so a car stopped with a Spanish-speaking couple in it. We weren’t able to converse, but we thought our intentions were fairly clear, so imagine our shock when 400 yards later, they pulled off the highway into a car park! Fools! Still, everything is for the best. We asked a parking attendant where the next ramp was and he told us, then called us back and offered us a ride north, 15 miles or so, in about half an hour. We said yes (funnily enough) and spent the time on the beach, Val going for a swim.
After 30 mins, we set off with Harold for the 15 mile journey. Except that after 15 miles Harold decided to go a bit further. Then a bit further. And further still. We got lost once or twice, but saw beautiful hills, folded like a blanket thrown over sand dunes, and by the time we finished must have covered 200 miles or so. Ridiculous. I don’t think Harold could believe what he’d done any more than we could. He dropped us off at Pismo beach, and we pitched our tent in the dark, among the dunes, before going to buy ourselves a pizza. It wasn’t very nice.
Now that was really quite a day – fear, loathing and drunkenness in Vegas, a tumble down the stairs, LA and the pool, the Mexicans, the beach, Harold… all the way to a not very nice pizza. And all because of following your nose and seeing what happens.