Monday, March 28, 2011

This is Bat Country

I was somewhere near Nevada, maybe 20 miles from the border, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember feeling light headed and then suddenly there was a terrible noise all around. Like Jim Morrison’s nails clawing down a bottle of Jackie D trying to keep the lizard king alive while Janice Joplin screeched and howled at him about dying young. Bright lights abounded, blindingly searing over the blank desert mountain ahead while I thought to myself, “Fuck man, this can’t be Vegas already. I’m still an hour out.”

But indeed it was that wretched wino filled shit hole of a city I had such fond memories of. Time slipped through my fingers, what had it been? 1 year? The last 4 years of memories of craggin’ in Arkansas had been a trip in itself, likely never to be seen again from like-minded pirates. But less than 1 year ago I was throwing myself head first at god knows what desert mountain with THESE god forsaken stone bandits? And I somehow convinced myself I should come back…

Let me paraphrase, while these young wildabeasts that I was to meet were on spring break from the flatlands I decided to take a spring break of my own and head to the desert for a week to join them in their quest to bag crags and search out how much of the desert dust I truly have in my bones. “For research”, I told my boss. But in all reality it was for the same depraved state of being that we all venture into things that we are never too sure were ever good but we have somehow vanquished into memories of fondness and bliss, maybe due to the booze.

I had plans to see the week out of the back of my van. The party wagon quickly became transformed into a poor man’s desert palace, more luxurious than a night on the far side of the strip but mobile enough to invade those poor yuppie bastards should a band of us pirates decide to infiltrate their basecamp of high rises and $400 rooms.

I want you to feel the full effect of the back of the party wagon. I’m talking about two bags of the North Face persuasion, 35 quickdraws of the sport variety, 1 quilt, 2 thermarests, 2 ropes, at least 50 feet of assorted webbing, puffy belay jackets, Gore-Tex everything, half a dozen of anything I might want to snack on, rigged Christmas lights that never quite worked… Also, a fifth of whiskey, 30 odd beers, and at least 5 people shoved into the back at all hours of the night until I kicked them out screaming. “disperse you filthy animals and take your empties with you.” Not that I needed all of that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious gear collection the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

Regardless we cragged hard, I spent all of my days attempting feeble red-points on things well below a stone worthy Slater. But I couldn’t give up a grade! How could I! Less than 6 months ago I was redpointing hard 11! And now I have been relinquished to a shell of a climber with overgrown thighs from too new of a mountain bike and too great of a ski season, not remembering how to pull evenly on slopers and unable to make my fingers close around crimps. My feet jammed into the wall and slid, listening to $100 worth of rubber slowly disintegrating around my toes whilst I kicked myself, “you know how to place feet, now get on with this before you waste any more of your belayers time.”

Craggin up a chimney

Regardless, I spent my days cragging hard until an impending storm began to take place around the desert peaks. “TO THE STRIP!” exclaimed the small posse I had been cragging with for the last few days and goddamnit I was glad to hear it. “The strip at last. I thought you boys were going to make my fingers fall off and my biceps rupture to an inverted skeletal structure.”

Right in time for the biggest contradiction of spring break history we arrived in Vegas to see the storm in force. The cheapest room on the strip was procured at the Sahara and we set out on our venture. Tallboys of the Tallest varieties dangling from our mitts, spliff dangling from my compatriots mouth nervously looking around like he might see the fuzz at any minute, much like a young man would while emulating Clint Eastwood smoking a green bean at the family dinner table, “get that out of your mouth and don’t let me ever see it again young man!”

Penny slots was the cheer of the night, the waitress at the Belagio hated my hails from aisles away, “DRINK GIRL!” As she looked at us in dismay adorned in our gritty Carhartts, puffy jackets, sunburned faces and disheveled hair while ordering free PBR by the bucket, looking around the room at all the customers she might one day have and their nice suits. I couldn’t help but proclaim, “let’s get down to brass tacks, how much for the ape.” She handed me my drink and failed to return after that point of the night, luckily we were already blitzkreiged enough to be on such a swank hotel’s secutiry watch list and we didn’t last much longer after that. Tossing pennies across the lobby floor of a hotel that you can’t afford to stay, drink or gamble at just waiting for some poor sucker to pick them up while swaying side to side on one of the plushest lobby couches I have ever sat on is truly a great way to play “where’s the climbers” of security work.

And as we hailed a cab back to our own hotel, where the seedy and unruly were truly found I once again heard my close compatriot whisper into the cab driver’s ear, “less than $10 across town and I have a great tip for you.” Unfortunately that goddamn animal didn’t speak a lick of English. And as we arrived back to the great 1950’s staple of the strip I once again heard the same murmur but this time in my ear, “As your attorney, I advise you to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in my shaving kit. You won't need much, just a tiny taste.”

Vegas 2011.

(Dear Mom/Aunts/Whomever else is too old to have seen or read Fear and Loathing… It’s a play off a book/movie. So calm down, my generation gets that it’s not real)

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