Blinking Lights (For Me)

16 01 2012

Ain’t no rainbow in the sky
In the middle of the night
But the signal’s coming through
One day i will be alright again

–  The Eels, “Blinking Lights (For Me)”

As we traveled west out of Flagstaff, we marveled at the scenery.  Of course, we would not see it for long because of the sun setting behind the mountains., and that was too bad.  Snow blanketed the valleys, and ponds were frozen over.  The elk crossing sign changed to deer crossing, and that eventually changed to what I considered a highway department give-up sign:  Watch for wildlife crossing.  The specifics were apparently no longer important.

This stretch of Interstate 40 was curvy, the way women used to be, and we drove through the darkest night I have ever not seen.  (A month from this drive, I would see exactly what we missed due to the pitch of night.)  It was quiet all the way to Kingman, our last town on the interstate.  Other vehicles on the road were pretty much restricted to 18 wheelers, and there was absolutely no radio reception.

I don’t even think we listened to a CD on this stretch of the trip.  Not sure why.

As we approached Kingman, the road into town went down suddenly – and straight.  I’ve driven through the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming and New Mexico and Arkansas, but never have I have driven on such a steep grade without a single curve in the road.  The lights of the town were a welcome sight, as we had just driven through the equivalent of the dark side of the moon.  Plus, we were about to be rid of I-40 and onto Highway 93.

In other words, the home stretch was near.  Three hours through the middle of nowhere, in prime alien abduction territory, past Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam (invisible in the night).  We were so close to our destination.

And eventually, there it was.

From the heart of darkness, we crossed a hill and saw it.  Words cannot describe this, but I’ll try.

Imagine traveling for about 4 and half hours through the darkest terrain you can think of.  And then, suddenly, arrayed in a valley below you are lights that represent your future.  Lights that encapsulate the risk you are taking, moving cross country to a city you have never been to.  Lights in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.  Lights that show people in motion, commerce in progress, and – most of all – hope.

Blinking lights.  For me.  (And Bodie, of course.)

Nate looked up directions for our hotel on his iPhone, and we stopped at a gas station on the way to grab some beer.  My first reaction here was “Wow – beer is cheap here!”  When we got to the hotel, we saw that there was a large liquor store right across the street, so Nate went inside and bought a bottle of Crown.  Then we checked into the room.

On the recommendation of my new boss, we had a reservation at the Emerald Suites way down south on the strip.  Nice room, nice price.  Two beds, separate living area, dining room table, kitchenette – perfect.  And, despite the proximity to nefarious liquids, it was extremely quiet there.

We were extremely tired from the road, and it was nearing 10pm Pacific Time, so we just hung out in the room that first night and relaxed.  But not until stocking the fridge.  (Nate has a picture of this somewhere…)

This was on a Tuesday night, and I didn’t have to start work until the following Monday.  And Nate’s flight back to DFW was not until Saturday.  I had a little extra money in my pocket.

What could possibly go wrong?

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3 responses

17 01 2012
Cliff

Beautifully written. We must have been in Las Vegas at the same time. I was there from 7-13 Jan.

17 01 2012
leemer

Cliff, we missed you by about 10 days. Would have been nice to meet my UK doppelganger and writing hero…

17 01 2012
Cliff

Kind words, and as well put as ever.

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