19 September 2010
So having spent two weeks of luxury travel with Renee around the greater San Francisco area it was back to backpacking, with its hardships, surprises and highlights. But it was certainly going to be a change, in our Vegas hotel we even had fluffy white hand towels and body wash in little plastic containers with designer square lids! I booked into a hostel on the Strip, technically on ‘the Strip’ but not really; it was located half way between ‘the Strip’ and downtown Vegas in a somewhat dodgy area where many people would walk and just as many people would tell you not to walk.
I checked in and despite it being early afternoon went to sleep on my bed, it seemed like the thing to do, the guy in the bunk next to mine was asleep too – no doubt recovering from a ‘good night’.
Later that evening Mo (the guy asleep in the bunk next to mine) the girls from the private room and this guy from Holland (who’s name has escaped me) all walked downtown to get some food. We watched the light display, an audio and visual display on the huge domed screen that formed the roof above the street we were walking along; I believe it’s currently the biggest screen in the world yet Mo informed us that its being torn down soon to allow for the building of an even bigger screen.
The screen was cool (ish), the Mexican was decent (enough) and the beer I bought turned out to be entirely unwanted (or needed). My stomach had been getting progressively more upset, it hadn’t been feeling the best before dinner, during dinner it hadn’t felt hungry, and now it was certainly pretty sore and simply wasn’t interested in downing a beer. I was frustrated, the atmosphere was cool and I wanted to drink beer and have fun but my stomach was messing everything up. After about one third of my bottle we were heading back to the hostel, the guys wanted to get ready to go out on the ‘Strip’ later, I wanted to go but my stomach was being a party pooper.
Half way back to the hostel I slowly came to terms with it not being a matter of whether I could go out that night, but rather a matter of moving one foot in front of the other in my bid to get back to the hostel. When we finally got back I suffered my way into bed only to find it wasn’t about to offer the relief I’d hoped for. Uncomfortable and feeling pretty sick I pulled myself back up to relieve myself in the toilet before having a cold shower. I hadn’t anticipated a shower when I went to the bathroom so I left wet and flopped into bed hoping that the evaporation would cool me down enough to get to sleep. The start of the night was certainly rough but it got better and I woke up the following evening relieved to feel a normal stomach.
My relief unfortunately was short lived – I tried to turn over but my neck shot a spasm of pain to my brain which told me in no uncertain terms that turning over was not a process that should be undertaken lightly. What was this, some kind of stomach and neck protest? I lay motionless and contemplated this new dilemma; my neck had been feeling slightly sore the previous couple of days, but for it to completely crap out on me was a little unreasonable I felt.
Unperturbed I developed a system, a somewhat slow and painful system, which involved holding my head in my hands to take any weight off my neck while I changed positions. In this manner I managed to roll out of my bed, manoeuvre into a standing position and dig around blindly in my bag (I was facing straight ahead) for some Ibuprofen.
Fast forward through the days of the 20th, 21st and 22nd of September. My neck was slowly improving as I spent the days trying keeping my head straight, but hampered by leaning over my computer. Occasionally I went for short walks outside or chatted to fellow travellers I met in the common room. Two such travellers deserve individual mention, first I met Damon Wilson who was notable for having finally arrived in Vegas with a buddy of his having hand cycled thirteen hundred miles across the United States from Austin (Texas) to Vegas. His story was an unfortunate one of being hit by a truck while cycling in Texas and not getting sufficient compensation to even pay for the operations he needs on his legs to ever be able to cycle again, his trip was to both raise awareness for cyclists in the United States and also to try fundraise for his operation. His blog can be found at http://fullsunride.com/.
The second traveller that deserves mention is a guy called Jesse, him and a mate were road tripping around the United States which I was naturally jealous of; doing an epic road trip had always been my ‘United States ambition’. Jesse and I didn’t get the chance to talk for long but I could tell he was a cool guy that I could get on with, the most notable aspect of our meeting was our discussions on ‘couch surfing’. Jesse had been surfing on peoples couches across the United States and had to leave that day to go stay with a couch surfer in Vegas, now that sounded cool. I’d previously heard of the Couch Surfing project, I’d even created part of a profile on CouchSurfing.org but had taken it no further than that. Jesse motivated me to give it a proper look, I haven’t looked back since. There will be more ravings about couch surfing at a later date.
On the 22nd I booked a flight to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. People have often since asked me why I booked a flight to Ft Lauderdale, many ask me why Florida? The answer is as simple as it should be obvious; it was the cheapest possible flight I could find out of Vegas not going back to San Francisco. It was a desperate, ‘need to move on’ kind of situation.