So there I was, leaving out on that Monday morning headed for Salt Lake City, Utah and my room at the Motel 6!! I had never driven very far out of Casper before by myself much less a long road trip like this. The weather this time of year could change in a heartbeat and a beautiful sunny day could change into a hard snow storm in a matter of minutes. But the weather man said we were in for some nice weather so I headed out.
My sister told me when I was home this past November that she really did not think I would make it very far in my old truck. I had only paid $400 for it a few months earlier and we did not know just how reliable it really was. She told me she figured I would get aways out of town, my truck would break down and they would come and get me and that would be the end of it. Well the truck did ALOT better than she thought
I really do not remember any more just how long it took me to get to Salt Lake City but I do know it took me most of the day. I wish I could remember what all went through my head as I drove along that day. Here I was almost 34 years old and striking out on the biggest adventure of my life. The James that was leaving Wyoming that day was certainly different from the James that came to Wyoming almost two years before. I was more sure of who I really was and had come out not only to myself but my sister and her family (who were super supporting) and I was happy with the person I was at that time. I was excited about what lay ahead of me. Here I was moving to a place I had only visited once, I did not have a job or a permanent place to live, but I knew deep down inside me that this was exactly what I was suppose to be doing. Crazy? probably but, determinded.
I remember coming over this ridge and seeing the Great Salt Lake for the first time, breath taking. I made my way to the Motel 6 and checked in just as it started to snow. I called my sister and told her I made it and she reminded me I could turn around and come back the next day if I really wanted to. I was really tired and hungry. Once I took a shower I found this little cafe to get something to eat.
It was a busy night for them so I sat at the counter to eat. When I sat down there was this older man already sitting there reading the paper. As I sat there waiting for my food to arrive I got to thinking about what I was doing. I think it was right then that the magnitude of what I was doing really hit me. I started thinking how I was now going to be totally on my own with none of my family around me for me lean on. All my life I had lived around some of my family, now I would be totally alone.
As I ate I kept wondering if I was truly doing the right think and I remember I started to get scared. I got up to pay my bill and the older gentleman who had been sitting next to me eating and reading the paper was standing ahead of me in line, we had not looked at each much less spoken to each other. When he finished paying for his meal, he turned around and looked me right in the eye and said, "You are doing the right thing" and smiled and walked toward the door. To say I was stunned is an understatement. I hurried and paid my bill and ran out the door after him but he was no where in sight. I really could not believe what just happened. Now most of my life I have had a deep relationship with my God. I have heard of Angels before from other people, but I have never experienced one for myself. You will never convince me that this old guy was not my own personal Angel experience. All along my way when I get to doubting and wondering why I am here and not living closer to my family in Texas, I alway remember his words "You are doing the right thing".
It was still early so I decided to take a walk around where I was staying. I walked a few blocks and turned the corner and there was the Morman Temple, the original Morman Temple, totally covered in tiny white lights. Every branch on every tree that surrounded the Temple was covered in tiny white lights. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. All those thousands of lights and the snow falling made it seem like a magical place.
Since I am not a Morman I was not allowed to enter the Temple itself, but off to the side they built ths beautiful visitor's center. I was suprised that it was open at night. I walked in to take a look and was soon greeted by a very nice man who volunteered at the center. He greeted me and introduced himself and asked me my name and such. He was only suppose to tell me about the diffrent areas of the center but after we had talked a few minute, he actually took me on a tour of the whole facility. It was a very beautiful place. There were painted murals on the wall of one section that told the story of the Morman people and and Brigham Young and how they ended up in Salt Lake City. On another floor there were diagrams that explained how they built the Temple and then there were several sections that were exact replicas of some the rooms in the Temple. As we walked around the center we told each other pretty much our life stories. He was really taken by the fact I had picked up and was moving to California just because I felt like that was really were I needed to be. When he asked me how long I thought I would stay in California, I told him I really did not know, I had not given much thought to that question.
We ended up spending almost 2 1/2 hours together, him explaining things about the displays and us just talking about our lives in general. Not once did he try to convince me I should be a Morman,but when I started to leave, he did ask me if he could give me a copy of the Book of Morman. I took one and inside the front cover he signed his name for me, he shook my hand and told me he would be praying for my safe trip the rest of the way. I have to say it was a very enjoyable time. After that I walked back to the good Old Motel 6 and went to bed, and slept like a baby!
The next morning I woke up and looked outside and EVERYTHING was totally covered in several feet snow!! I turned on the TV to listen to the weather and there was suppose to be light snow on and off all day. I called the Highway Dept and was told
the road to Las Vegas was "snow bound but passable". Now what in the hell did that mean? Could I drive or could I not? I was fine with staying in Salt Lake a day or two if I need to but if I could drive the freeways I wanted to head out. So I asked the lady one more time, what did snow bound but passable mean? She said well sir,
it means it is snow bound but you can drive on it. Well that is all I needed to hear so I packed my stuff in my truck and found the freeway to Vegas and headed out.
Did you know it is 584 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Neveda?
Do you know how long it takes on a GOOD day to drive that far? Well I didn't.
NOW I can tell you what snowbound but passable means. It means that the freeway is covered in snow, very deep on the sides so you better drive in the ruts that are already there and hope you have enough gas to make to the next town and hope the
exit ramp is cleared off enough so you can get off the freeway and get gas!!!!!
I drove over 14 hours that day. I have to admit I saw some of the most awesomely beautiful snow covered mountains I will ever see in my life. I would drive for miles and not see another car or truck on the freeway. During one long stretch of highway it was snowing so hard I followed the tail lights of the highway patrol in front of me so I would know where to drive. I was really hoping he would not lose control of his car and head off the side of he freeway because if he did I knew I would be following right behind him thinking it was the way we were suppose to go.
But then there was times I would drive on for an hour or two and it wouldn't snow, but not once, not even for a glimpse, did I see the Sun that day. I had a room reserved at the Motel 6 in Vegas and by the time I drove in there that night about 9pm, it looked like the most elaborate Hotel on the face of the earth.
I will alway remember how stiff and sore my legs were when I stepped out of my truck there at the Motel. I had to just stand there for a minute or two to let the blood flow. I had been proably 3 or 4 hours since I had gotten out the last time.
I went in and checked in and headed to my room. I called my sister and told her I had made it and I think it might have been then she realized I was really gonna make it to Palm Springs. I did not tell here the kind of day I had had or what the weather was like for me that day. I figue when she reads this now she will find out, and I still be a call from there and chewing out, even after all these years!!Lol.
After I showered and ate something, I decided I would drive around alittle and see what Vegas looked like. I had seen it on TV but never in a million years did I ever think I would actually BE in Vegas. Now let me remind you of something, this was back on 1987, there was no Strip like there is today. There were bight lights and stuff but nothing like today. Now before I left Wyoming, I looked up the Gay bars in Vegas in a Damron guide a friend had. I decided I was going to try and find one
ad have a coke JUST so I could tell my friends I had been in a Gay bar in Vegas.
I got a map of the town and located the street of one of the bars close to the Motel and over there I went. Yes I was nervous because I had never actually been in a Gay bar by myself before but like I said before, I was determined. So I went in and sat at the bar and ordered a coke and before I got my Coke, this really nice looking guy sat down next to me and started talking to me. He lived in Vegas and was single and wanted to know where I was from and where I was headed. Now he was a real looker, blond hair, kinda muscular but not overly done and of course he had his shirt unbuttoned so I could see his nice smooth chest. Now as they say, I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night, I knew after talking with him for a few minutes that if I wanted to spend sometime with him that night it would cost me, yep if you have not guess it, he was a hooker, a real live Vegas hooker!!
So after we had talked for a little while I excused myself and told him I was tired and had a long drive ahead of me the next day and as I startd to get up, he asked me why didn't I take him back to my Motel with me and he could smooth ot my tired muscles, if you know what I mean. It was then I looked him square in the eye and asked him how much that smoothing would cost me and he told me without blinking an eye,$500 dollars. Well I truly did not know what hookers made since he was my first real live one I had ever seen, I was a little shocked. I asked him,"Really, $500?" and he told me yep and he was worth every penny. I just kinda laugh a little and told him, I didn't think so, I had a truck parked outside that I did not pay that much for and I would get alot more miles out if it than I would him! And I just walked out to get in my truck. Now I was surprised because he just got up and followed me outside and the whole time he kept talking and lowering his price. By the time we got to my truck he was down to $50. When I got to my truck I turned to him and told him, I appreciated the discounted price and all, but the answer was still no. When I drove out the parking lot he was still standing right where I had parked watching me drive away. Guess it was just my animal magnitism at work again!!
I headed on back to the Motel 6, climbed into bed and passed out before my head hit the pillow. That was the end of my first exciting night in Vegas!!
Tomorrow I landed in California!!