Road Trip Diaries Part I: Famous Last Words


During the last week in August, Ryan and I dropped the dogs off at boarding, packed up the Versa and embarked on a 5-day road trip through the southwest. Thousands of miles and 35 hours of driving took us through 5 states: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. And it all started in good 'ol San Diego.

Back at the beginning of the summer, I found out some very exciting news: my cousin Brett was getting married to his long-term boyfriend Massimo over Labor Day weekend. And the best part? For once a family wedding was closer to me than it was to the east coast! #itsallaboutme 

I was so excited not only to celebrate Brett and Mass and their beautiful future, but also to spend time with family I hadn't seen in a while. Even better yet? My dad (who hardly ever lets himself take vacations) was going too. Needless to say, I enthusiastically RSVPed "Yes!" 

Then I looked at flights to Aspen and lodging options. 

Did you know that Aspen is an incredibly expensive place? I didn't. Flights were like $700pp round trip and hotels were starting at $200/night. Even AirBnB was expensive there. Then it hit me: this was a perfect excuse to take a road trip. We booked the last camp site in Aspen, figured out our route and started to get excited about our long weekend on the open road. 

The day that we left, I got a ride to work from my coworker and had Ryan pick me up at the office after a half day of work. Which, I might add, I spent downloading music and stand-up comedy to my iPad, because you know... we had 35 hours of driving time ahead of us. Ryan got there, we said adios to my coworkers and headed out to the car. 

That's when it happened. 

I walked out to the car with my iPad in both hands trying to soak up the last bit of WiFi while I finished downloading a playlist. When we got to the car, there was stuff on my seat, so I put the iPad on top of the car and joked to Ryan, "Don't let me forget that that's up there, har har hardy har har!," and proceeded to clear my seat and get in the car. 

We pulled out of the parking lot, went to my favorite Chicken Parmesan grinder place here in Del Mar (they don't just make subs, but that's why I go there) to get food for the road and hit the highway freeway just in time to beat traffic. An hour into the trip, just past all the traffic and well on our way to Vegas, Ryan suggested that I put on something that I had downloaded to the iPad. Sure, yeah, of course, the iPad.


Two hours and one less iPad later, we were back in the same spot, after a fruitless search and rescue mission back down to Del Mar and tons of super fun traffic. And just like that, I had taken all the wind out of our sails as we began our trip. Even though I had locked it through Find My iPhone and displayed my phone number, we knew there was no chance it would get returned: unlike iPhones, my iPad would have to be around open WiFi in order for that message to get displayed.

Needless to say, we were bummed about losing the iPad (which I had JUST finally paid off the week before), we had no music for the hours upon hours ahead of us, and we had a serious setback in our travel time. By the time we got to Vegas it was after 9pm and we were exhausted. 

We checked into our room at Harrah's and I, who was determined to have a good time during our first ever night in Vegas together, dragged us out into the night in search of some cheap drinks. We stopped at that bar just outside of Harrah's, the Carnaval Court, to get walking drinks (a $20 double vodka Red Bull for me, a beer for him) and walked around the new (to me) Linq shopping court where the High Roller ride is now. 

Then we discussed our options for penny slots. One could argue that one of the best parts about casinos is the "free" drinks. Obviously, you inevitably spend more on the casino games than you would on alcohol and alcohol makes you spend even more, so they're not exactly "free." But it's nice to think so after having just dropped $20 on a vodka drink. I decided that the fancier hotels were more likely to frequent the penny slots with free drinks, so we paused to watch the fountain show then headed into the Bellagio. 

Upon entry to the casino floor, a promoter handed us a few 2-for-1 drink tickets for their Lily Bar and Lounge. We figured, 'Why not?' and went in there for a couple of cocktails each. The cocktails were normally about $12, but they came to $6 with the tickets, which is not at all a bad deal for a place as nice as Lily with as generous pours. I stuck to GNTs while Ryan had Whiskey Cokes and we got a great buzz going there. Then we headed out to the floor and spent $40 at the penny slots while managing to squeeze two drinks each out of it. 

Buzzed and tired, we started our walk home to Harrah's feeling pretty good about the fact that we'd gotten 5 drinks each for a total of $100. A $10/drink average isn't too shabby for Vegas and so I was proud of us, especially since we got a little gambling in as well. On our way back, we tried to make it onto the High Roller for the last ride of the night but apparently you have to get there before 1:30am for tickets. So when that didn't work out, we were pretty much set on going to bed. 

And then I saw the roulette table. 

I mean, I was literally thisclose to getting out of Vegas relatively unscathed financially. All we had to do was turn right and get on the escalator but instead I made a sharp left and plunked my butt down at the table, had Ryan save my seat while I went and took out $100 in cash, and proceeded to gamble it all away. Somewhere around the $50 mark, I turned to Ryan and said, "Once I gamble this, I'm done." He nodded but didn't realize he couldn't leave me unsupervised. He went to the bathroom and when he came back, I had taken out another $100 and was already playing it. 

$200 and one iPad down, I decided to cut my significant losses and head to bed "early" (3am) after I spent all my cash. Besides, I was really excited for breakfast the next morning at my favorite brunch spot, Mon Ami Gabi, and I didn't want to be too hungover for our 10-hour drive to Aspen. 

Only there was one small problem: I couldn't sleep (thank you, Red Bull). Instead I roamed the hotel barefoot and on the phone with my little brother (it was 7am in Boston), all in search of snacks, coconut water and Advil, which I was convinced would put me to sleep... I was right. 

I got a few solid hours of sleep before waking up, packing, and rushing Ryan over to Mon Ami for breakfast. And breakfast was glorious. Though I was sad that they didn't have my old favorite on the menu anymore (the broccoli and cheddar crepe), the replacement was amazing: a chicken, brie and apple crepe that I gobbled up before Ryan was three bites into his Eggs Benedict. I was the happiest girl in the world. 


Little did I know, I was about to get a lot happier: as we left the gas station on our way out of Vegas, a random number called my phone. I answered and, in broken English, someone informed that he had found my iPad! He was walking on the side of the road when he saw it fly off the roof of my car about a mile after we'd left the parking lot. It was locked with my passcode so it had taken him all morning to find a place that would unlock it and that's when he saw my number displayed. I gave him my work address and had my boss meet him and give him a reward. And even though I was sure the screen would be cracked, I was happy to learn that despite a few scratches on the back, it was returned in perfect condition!

Just like that, we were amped again, music or not. Speeding out of Nevada, I knew I had learned my lesson: Never put anything on top of the car. 

Famous last words...