At an extremely leisurely pace, we rolled out of bed at the Golden Nugget and made our way toward the valet. At this point in our travels, Joey has become an expert at securing late checkouts from hotels. I made Sarah snap a photo of the Hemchers
and me before we got in the car, though the photo doesn't tell you much about where we were.
Our plan for the day was to drive about 100 miles west into Death Valley National Park
, the hottest, driest national park in the country - where summer temperatures of 120 F or higher are a regular feature. My mother has been apprehensive about our visit to this place the whole time; she's had no objection to any facet of this grand adventure of ours besides for Death Valley. "They call it that for a reason," she told me.
But as we got on the road, things changed for us a bit. The car had been overheating here and there ever since we visited Colorado Springs, and today was worse than usual. We couldn't ignore it anymore; none of us wanted to break down in Death Valley, with no cell phone reception and no alternate means of transportation of, for that matter, survival.
We dropped the car at the nearest Nissan dealership for a thorough evaluation, and scampered across the street to the ever-so-seedy Blue Ox, where we were asked to sit at a table if we weren't using the video poker machines built into the bar. We opened up our laptops and killed some time, and had some sandwiches to dismiss our appetites. Sarah's order reaffirmed my belief that there are no real cheesesteaks outside of Philadelphia.
Soon came the diagnosis - the radiator fan had burnt out and was no longer helping to keep the engine cool. This was an overnight job.
Annoyed at the unwelcome change in our schedule - and more so at the pice tag of the repairs - we grudgingly ventured to the nearby Enterprise for a rental car. Joey gave his Uncle Tommy a call and we had a place to stay, so we ventured back over to their house in our rental.
We had the place to ourselves for a while, before Tommy eventually came home and commandeered is favorite chair. He was nice enough to show us a TiVo'd episode of The Price is Right
, which featured his lovely wife Sharon as a contestant (she won a pool table).
Here we stayed and exhaled for the evening, chowing down on Sharon's delicious chili and spending time with these two terrific people - even if Tommy is a Steelers fan. Nobody's perfect.
Tomorrow, we had some catching up to do - more on that coming soon.