Driving Across America

Saturday, September 9, 2000

I ended up staying at the Plaza for $50 per night. The room was huge. The bed must have been King Size Plus.

It's amazing how things are laid out here in Vegas. You see a restaurant and go in, but you have to spend a few minutes walking past slot machines before you can get to the food. I parked my car at a hotel and walked inside. I had to walk for five minutes thru the slot machines to get to the registration desk. In other words, they shove this gambling thing in your face.

I tried to play the slot machines but I couldn't find any of the $100 per pull machines. The highest stake machines were only $1 per pull. I had stayed in the low-budget part of Vegas. It reminded me of that scene in the movie Las Vegas Vacation, where they visit the low-budget gambling part of town where you have games like "Guess what number I'm thinking of". There's a big difference between the strip and off-strip casinos. In the off-strip casinos you'll find 5-cent slot machines. On the strip, the low-end slot machines are mainly $1 per pull.

I feel good because I got up and went to the gym this morning. I followed that up with a healthy breakfast. I caught myself reaching for the doughnut but caught myself.

When I got back to my truck to leave, the battery was dead. I left my headlights on. I called AAA and they sent a truck out. I went down to Valet to meet them and accidentally locked my keys in the car! The guy arrives to jump start my truck but there are two problems. (1) His truck is 6' 8" and the parking garage is 6 ' 4" and (2) he doesn't have a tool to open the door. So he calls for a locksmith with a small truck.

It's 100 degrees today and I have to sit outside for two hours waiting for road-side assistance. When the locksmith arrives, he opens my car and jumps my battery lickety-split. Instead of wiring my truck to his to jump-start my battery, he uses a portable battery called ZapStart. That's the very same trademarked name that prevented me from naming my company ZapStar because it was too similar.

The locksmith says that a lot of people lock themselves out of their car and end up killing the battery because they leave the key in the ignition. He said that he had two calls like this already today. I said that my situation was different since I had done this in reverse. First I killed my engine, then I locked my keys in the truck.

I recently found my second truck key. It was in the pocket of one of my pants in the dirty clothes. From now on, I'm carrying both keys with me at all times. This way, if I lose one or lock myself out, I've got a backup! Now I can keep my truck running with the key in the ignition, and lock it up with the second key. How convenient! I just hope somebody doesn't smash my window and steal my truck while I'm in the 7-11 getting a Slushie (or is it called a Slurpie?).

While I was waiting for two hours for road-side assistance, I kept trying to call Sprint PCS Customer Service. I need to change my plan from 600 free minutes per month to something like 1000 or 2000. I've already exceeded my free minutes by 100 and my current plan had no free minutes for Internet access and I've already used about 700 web-minutes. The month is going to be one hell of a phone bill!

Every time I call Sprint PCS, my cel-phone says "Network Busy, Call cannot be completed". I hit redial for about an hour and finally it rings. Then I'm kept on hold for another half hour. Finally I get person on the line and tell him that I want to change my plan. He says "Let me research your account" and puts me on hold for 15 minutes. I think "research your account" is code-words for "I have to run to the bathroom!" Before he could return, our line gets disconnected. My phone says "Signal Faded!" This is one very frustrating day.

I found a Kinko's in Vegas with a high-speed Ethernet so I stop by to use it. You know you're in a bad part of town when the Kinko's is only open 9 to 5 and you need a key for the restroom. Unfortunately there is still something wrong with my computer and I can't get online. Then I realize that my entire web page, images and all, fits on a single diskette. So I copy it to a diskette and try to ftp the files up to my server using one of their PC's, but they've deleted ftp from the PC. These Kinko's PC's are stripped down to the basics.

So then I decide to just use my cel-phone even though it's going to take an hour or two. I decided to copy the new images up first. That was going great until I got some error message saying that I didn't have permission to copy this file.

I decide to get my laptop fixed so I can use the high-speed connection. I find out that there are two Gateway Country's in Vegas but they're turn around time on repairs is a few days. I don't have a few days. The plan now is to find a Gateway Country in Texas and drop it off when I go visit Linda.

I need socks so I can postpone doing my laundry. My shirts outnumber my socks so I have to even the score. I have like 10 pairs of these great running/hiking socks I got from REI so I look up REI on the web and see that there is one in Vegas. I drive over there and discovered that it's not a Recreational Equipment Incorporated, but some other company with the same initials.

Today is just not my day. Let me add up everything that went wrong today:

  1. Two hours wasted waiting for road-side service.
  2. Two hours wasted at Kinko's trying to use their high-speed Internet and upload my web page
  3. Could not find a Gateway Country that would repair my laptop in 24 hours
  4. One hour wasted driving to the wrong REI
What have I done today? Nothing! So I backtrack to the Hoover Dam and head back past Kingman, and continue on towards the Grand Canyon.

When I stayed in Kingman the night before, the guy told me that his nephew runs a Howard Johnson Express in Williams, just 45 minutes from the Grand Canyon. He gives me his card and the card of the Howard Johnson. Because his Uncle referred me, he gave me the room for $45 instead of the normal price of $60. At least something is going right today.

107.5 FM (http://www.extreme.fm) kept me going. They played a lot of modern rock including stuff I don't get to hear on The End (107.7 FM, http://www.kndd.com) in Seattle. I could never remember The End's web address because it was their call letters. FM stations should use the .fm domain so The End could get http://www.theend.fm for example. Unfortunately there will still be competition for names. There are multiple FM stations in the country that call themselves "The End". If that domain name isn't taken, I'd recommend snatching it up because they're going to want it. Once you have it, you can go about promoting it to all of the radio stations that call themselves "The End". I've never cyber-squatted before, but I've always fantasized about getting rich off a domain name I own.

Lyrics of the day: As soon as you're born, you start dying, so you might as well have a good time.

Date Created September 15, 2000
Last Updated April 12, 2006
Contact: patcoston@gmail.com