Luckily today it was time to leave Vegas. After walking all day in flip flops the previous day, I had managed to strain one foot’s arch muscle, so I was looking forward to our three hour drive so I could rest my feet. First, however, we had to pick up a rental car. The day before we had acquired tickets to Cirque de Soleil’s Beatles’ LOVE show for when we returned through Vegas. The boy at the box office informed us that Uber has recently come to Las Vegas, and he suggested that taking an Uber would be cheaper than a taxi if we didn’t want to walk from our hotel to the show. All of this is to explain why we decided to try Uber for the first time on this particular morning in order to get to the airport’s car rental facility. So after grabbing a pastry and our morning caffeinated beverages of choice while Micah downloaded the Uber app, we stood out front of the MGM Grand trying to figure out how the app worked and how we would identify the Uber car when it pulled up. After failing to figure it out ourselves, Micah asked an obliging bell boy if he knew how the app worked. We had simply to input our destination, and within a minute a truck pulled in to pick us up! (If you are Uber ignorant like we were, Uber cars have identifying stickers in their front windows and the app provides a description of the car and a photo of the driver. Now you too can figure out Uber.) Our driver was a man with an Arabic accent. He put our suitcases in the bed of his truck and drove us to the rental car facility. During the ride we chatted with our driver and he told us that Las Vegas taxis cut off Uber drivers in traffic and try to make it harder and harder for Uber drivers in this city. Thus we were disgruntled, but not surprised at what happened next. Our driver pulled up outside our destination and a man directing the taxi traffic yelled at our driver, “You can’t be here!”
Our driver rolled down the window and shouted back, “Ok, where can I drop them off?”
The man shrugged and responded, “Dunno. Not here! You’ll get a ticket for being here! And another if you let those people out here!”
After a few more shouts of “Where do I go?” and “Dunno not here!” A woman traffic officer walked over to the vehicle and said, “I’m going to give you a ticket. You can’t be here.”
Our driver, frustrated and perplexed again asked, “Where can I be?” Again the answer was, “Not here.”
As the woman walked around the car writing down the information on her ticket the first man shouted, “You can’t leave now or you’ll be in more trouble!”
Finally the woman returned to the driver’s window and informed him that Uber drivers are not allowed on Airport property at all without the correct permits, which is not the city permit, and he didn’t have the right permit. Finally she handed him the ticket and told him she’d give him another if he let us out. He drove us a block away from the building and across the street and we hurriedly hopped out, grabbed our suitcases, and he sped away before anyone else tried to give him a ticket.
Our mishaps were not over for the day. We saw the shuttle busses with the car rental companies listed on them but did not see a sign for Alamo pointing into the building, so we hopped on a bus. Instead of taking us to other car rental lots, it took us to the airport. Turns out Alamo’s desk was in the building. So we rode round trip, eventually returning to where we’d started. Oops. Inside we waited in line, filled out the paperwork, and eventually proceeded upstairs to the cars where the attendant was in such a hurry that she told us to just take the car in front of her. It was an upgrade, but we wouldn’t be charged! We didn’t argue. We took off before she could change her mind. Rather than a Corolla, we drove off in a Chrysler 200.
|Finally on the road out of Vegas.|
I should note here, for anyone wondering whatever happened to Micah’s expired license problem, that it was amazingly sorted out the previous day after a quick call to Juneau’s DMV. Using the business center of our hotel, he was able to print out the correct form from the DMV website, fax it to the DMV, and print out their emailed response extending his license use for a year. I pointed out that Micah had effectively negated what might have been a great travel mishap story, which included my doing all the driving. Sadly for you, reader, the story ends with possibly the first time in history anybody saying, “The DMV was actually helpful!”
After the mishaps of the morning we didn’t have as much time as I’d hoped to stop at the outlet mall on the way out of town, but we did have just enough time for lunch. We found Philly Cheese Steaks at the mall food court. Despite my belief that you simply can’t get a good Philly Cheese Steak outside Philly, these were satisfactory and did the job.
The drive was uneventful. This trip Claudia, as we have named our GPS voice, (It’s a Warehouse 13 reference.) did an excellent job guiding us. She, unlike Sheila, as my grandfather has named his GPS voice, did not get us stuck in a loop in an unexpected place—I’m looking at you Roxbury. Somewhere between Washington D.C. and Philly is an abandoned town where our GPS took us in and then took us in circles, refusing to route us out of town. My grandfather and I drove three times past a large school building with broken windows, a wrought iron fence, and a sign hanging on the fence with a corner flopping down announcing the start of school registration, before realizing we’d have to find our own way out of this town. We shut off the GPS and luckily escaped before discovering the secret of the abandoned town that sucks you in. (We may have gotten off the highway on our own initiative to look for gas, but as I remember it, it was all Sheila.)
Anyway… Our drive took us across desert prairies, and through cut sand dunes and past plateaus layered with red rock. A mix of music and audio book took us the three hours to Kanab, Utah. As we neared our destination I began to notice that the houses were mostly stucco and blended in with the surrounding red geology. That evening as we sat on the patio enjoying dinner with friends, I saw a lizard and rabbits, and the back yard view of the sun setting behind the red plateau, really was stunning.