The original plan for Saturday was to get up early and go see the Hoover Dam, but it was our last day in Vegas and we still hadn’t taken care of some business we needed to do with Jay’s ex-wife or visited with any of the people that Jay had promised we’d visit, so we decided to postpone the dam excursion until our next visit. Instead we slept in a bit later (til 7’ish) and then left to hook up with the ex.
They still owned a house together so we were signing papers that took his name off the house. I had to sign too because as the new wife I was entitled to a third of the house, which wasn’t sitting very well with the ex at all. And she had to sign our camper title. So she gets her home, we get ours. Done deal. I was nervous to meet her in person, but it went okay, no words or incidents, we were cordial and on our best behavior. We met in a strip mall in Henderson where she lives and went into a UPS store to get a notary to witness our signing. There was some concern because I didn’t have any paperwork with Elder as my last name, but the notary let it go. We probably would have had trouble in any other state, but Nevada is the place where you can get married one hour and divorced the next, so they’re not as strict 🙂
After the signing Jay called his friends Arnie & Emily to see if they were available for a visit since the RV Park they live in was close by. They weren’t. They were on their way to some burlesque club for brunch. So Jay said he’d try them back that evening and maybe hook up. Arnie & Emily are the caretakers of the RV Park in Beatrice, Nebraska, that Jay lived in while he was there and that we tried to stay in when we were passing through. In the off-season when the park is never busy they winter in Vegas. They’ll be going back to Nebraska in the next couple of weeks.
When we couldn’t make plans with Arnie & Emily, Jay called his friends, Ken & Pete, to see if they were home & open to us dropping in. They were, so we headed over to the other side of town. Jay has known these guys since he was a teenager. He met Ken when they worked together in the kitchen of a restaurant in North Las Vegas at Jay’s first job. It’s been quite a few years since they’ve seen each other in person, but they call from time to time & keep in touch on Facebook etc. I just talked to Pete on the phone when he called us at Christmas. I’d heard a lot about them. Jay said they were gay, that Ken had come out of the closet sometime over the past few years and Pete was openly gay for a long time before that. So I went into the visit thinking they were life partners, and of course being all right with that.
They’ve had this same apartment for 20 some years. The neighborhood has changed a lot since they first moved into the building. It used to be a respectable middle class type of place, but now it’s the slums. A lot of low income black families living there, and a lot of Mexicans. Driving down their street every second house had a swap meet happening on the sidewalk. Not really yard sales per se, but more like driving through a flea market. The buildings were two and three stories, motel style with doors facing out to an inner courtyard. A big iron gate locks the courtyard in and tenants need to use their key to get in or out. There’s no buzzer or anything for visitors. In the alley two Mexicans were breaking into a car with a crowbar as we drove past. I looked at Jay and said, “I hope that’s their car and they’ve just locked in the keys.” He just laughed, “Yeah, right!”
To say the neighborhood is a little sketchy would be an understatement, I wasn’t as afraid as I had been in North Las Vegas, but I definitely had the willies about me. The only difference was that there weren’t all that many people out and about on the streets. The building across the alley from Ken & Pete’s had all the windows except one broke out, some were boarded up, but others were just black open holes. I learned later that there is only one tenant in the building, the apartment with window still intact, and illegal Mexicans had been squatting there. Apparently the INS had recently raided the place a half dozen times, so now there’s just a few homeless drug addicts getting in who get tossed everyday when the police come through. The police sweep this neighborhood a couple of times every day on horseback and on foot with drug sniffing dogs. Often times they are looking for particular wanted individuals, other times they’re just looking for the drugs. Ken told a story about how he was sitting in his bedroom the other week, hitting the bong, when the cops were going through. The dog went nuts by his bedroom window, but the cops were looking for someone and just happened to get sight of him at that moment so they took off to run the guy down. They’re not really looking for the users anyway, they want the dealers.
I think one of the reasons Jay hasn’t kept in better touch with these guys is because they are still on drugs, so they’re from his old world of associates, from the days of meth and coke, and he can’t be around that kind of lifestyle anymore for very long for fear that he might fall back in. They both have Hepatitis B or C, whichever one it is that you can get from sharing needles or having sex. Pete still does a lot of crack. Ken does a lot of weed mostly and they both enjoy coke. They didn’t do any drugs in front of us while we were there but you could tell they were both a little lit. Ken vegging out, Pete talking 20 miles a minute and wiping his runny nose with the sleeve of his shirt.
Despite their partying lifestyle they seem like really good people, and we visited with them for almost three hours. Both Jay and I were surprised when Ken started talking about this girl he’s been seeing for the past three months. Neither one of them appeared openly gay like I’d been told. Afterward, I was like, “I thought you said they were gay.” And Jay just shrugged, “Well, that’s what I was told, that apparently they’d come out, but I don’t know, I was as surprised as you when he started talking about his girlfriend.” So who knows what’s really up with that, maybe they’re not as out as Jay was led to believe or maybe they’re just best friend roommates with a lot of unsubstantiated rumors surrounding them. I don’t care either way, I just really liked them and loved listening to all their stories from when they all first met and also I learned a lot about Las Vegas from them, which was really interesting.
After our visit we had planned to go to another of Jay’s favorite casinos and kill some time before we had to meet the folks for dinner, but we stayed so long that instead we just headed over early to buffet.
Red Fox’s house used to be right around there too, we drove around a little to see if we could find it but couldn’t. Jay doesn’t know if they’ve torn it down, remodeled it, or what. But his lawn used to be decorated with all these toilet seats that was apparently something to see, lol. There were a few other mansions in the neighborhood behind gates, but Jay didn’t know who they belonged to, so I didn’t bother taking photos of houses that I couldn’t identify.
Oh! A quick unrelated aside before I forget … when we were walking the strip I stumbled a little bit and looked down to discover that we were on the Vegas Walk of Fame. We were almost to the end of it before I noticed it was even there, so I only got to see a few stars and most of the names I didn’t even recognize, but the one that tripped me up was Rich Little’s. I always loved him! So I thought that was kinda cool 🙂
We arrived at Sunset Station about an hour before the folks were due, so Jay wanted to try his luck again. He found a machine he liked, dumped in a $20, but only got it up as high as $30 before he started losing, so he cashed out at $10. Then we went to sit at the bar and wait. The bartender said he could comp both our drinks as long as I helped Jay gamble. So he put a $10 in and I helped press some buttons to make it look good. Lost that pretty quick. Moved to the other side of the bar, put in another $10, and lost that too. So then we just stopped drinking and walked around the casino looking at the displays and stuff.
Stan and Linda soon arrived and we went into the restaurant. It was by far the largest buffet I’ve ever been to! It ran across the whole back wall of the restaurant and was divided into sections for soup & salad, Asian, Italian, American, International, and desserts. The salad part itself was pretty big with all the usual fixings for tossed salad plus potato, a couple of different kinds of pasta salad, coleslaw, caesar salad, several kinds of soup, several types of rolls & breads, etc. We all started there.
For the second course I went to the Asian section and filled a whole plate before I could even get to any of the other sections. Lots of veggies, rice, spring rolls, egg rolls, meats, etc. For my third plate I just wandered through all the other sections and picked out a few things that you don’t normally find at a buffet or that looked really good. There was a spicy eggplant dish that was to die for! I also tried a piece of fish from the fish ‘n chips, but it was cod or something, way too fishy for me, blech! After that I was too stuffed to even go for dessert, which was a freaking shame because it was the largest section of all with 10 different flavours of homemade gelato, soft serve ice cream, various cookies, squares, pies, cheesecakes & other cakes. Next time maybe I’ll start with dessert first and work my way backward to the salad course 🙂
After dinner Stan wanted to do a little gambling with Jay. Apparently this is a familiar bonding experience for the two. Me and Linda sat a little way away talking, so I don’t know how much for sure that Jay lost, but it was at least another $20 … and I suspect maybe $40 … all I know for sure is that Jay said he spent too much, but I don’t really know what “too much” means to him, it could very well be a different bigger number than what I would think. Stan didn’t win either, which is apparently rare because he’s usually pretty lucky and has come out of this particular casino up a thousand many times.
When the gambling was done & all the money lost, we made our way back to the parking lot and parted ways for now. We were going to try to get to see Arnie & Emily and the folks were going home. Jay called them though and got voicemail. He left a message and we went to the Walmart across the street to pick him up a pair of workboots for his new job. He has a perfectly good pair in the camper, so now I guess he has two pair. We were also looking for a cheap t-shirt with Las Vegas written on it to send to my friend, Deb, in Virginia. She asked us to get her one, said it didn’t have to be anything fantastic, just a cheap $3 tee from Walmart. Vegas is one of the places on her want to visit list, but she hasn’t got there yet, so she was a little psyched that we were going. But they didn’t have any t-shirts, just mugs, hats, flasks, and all kinds of other crap 😦 So now I think we’re going to get Linda to pick one up for us and send it to us so we can send it to her.
Since Arnie & Emily never called us back, we decided to just go back to the folks’ house and spend some time with them before going to bed early so we could get up really early Sunday morning and beat the weather back to Grand Junction. I’d checked the radar and there was a snow possibility in the mountains if we didn’t get on the road early enough. We figured we’d get to see Arnie & Emily soon enough anyway, they’ll most likely be back in Beatrice for the season when we go to pick up our camper in a couple of weeks.
So there is no Day 4 in this Vegas trip, no more Vegas pics to share. We got up early Sunday morning and left while it was still just coming on daylight. Stan gave me a big hug and said it was great to meet me and welcomed me officially into the family before he left for work. Linda took a picture of me and Jay together in front of the fireplace in the living room so she can blow it up and put it on the wall above the mantle, replacing the one that’s there of him and his ex, Ginger. She had tears in her eyes when she hugged us goodbye and she stood in the screen door and watched us drive away until she couldn’t see us anymore. I was also a little teary eyed. My in-laws are nice good people. I feel very lucky.
(…to be continued … next & final stop, Grand Junction)