Thursday, June 18th - Our major deadline today was going to be getting Faith back to the Hertz rental lot by 7:00pm at LAX. We knew we had a minimum of four hours of driving, meaning we HAD to be on the road by 10:30am in order to give us some extra time for food and traffic.
We quickly packed and cleaned our hotel room at the Planet Hollywood Resort, recovered our car from the valet, and hit the highway, leaving the Vegas strip behind us. We'd take Interstate 15 for the majority of the drive through more deserts and mountains before the sprawling urban landscape would ever appear again.
I was driving this morning since Arp did all of the driving yesterday, and as we sped towards the California border, I noticed a strange sight on the horizon. At first, I thought it looked like a power plant or a factory. Keep in mind that there isn't much out in the desert, so something with this look and size was rather strange. As we neared, my original hypothesis changed, and before long, I said, "That looks like a roller coaster." We laughed at the notion, but as we got closer and closer, my prediction turned out to be true! It was indeed a roller coaster, built around a casino off of Exit 1 in Nevada. The casino was Terribles, and the roller coaster was Desperado.
With an opportunity such as this, we could not resist, and exited the highway immediately. We parked, made our way into the casino, and found out that we could indeed ride this coaster for only $8.00. We paid, made our way up to the platform (where only two other people were waiting), and took the front two rows. Seems that Desperado is just one ride of many featured at the casino, including a log flume, 3D ride simulator, high speed free fall, and more.
Desperado was a pretty good ride, lasting about 2:30 with a 225-foot drop. There was only a lap bar to hold you in (as there were no loops in the course of the ride), but I will advise to keep that lap bar tight as Desperado was as wild as a bucking bronco. You travel up the initial hill, taking in the beauty that is the barren desert, and then hit the first drop that propels you through the rest of the ride.
Along with some pretty good speed, there's a portion of the ride that spirals you through a dark area inside of a "mine" (a small mountain built to look like the surrounding landscape.) It takes you a little by surprise, and soon after, the ride is over. Rather enjoyable, especially considering our lack of going to Cedar Point exactly one week ago today.
We ended up eating at the casino as well (Panda East for me and McDonalds for Kat and Arp) and then got back on the road. We traveled for a number of hours, stopping one more time for gas, and then made our way into the LA area. The traffic wasn't too bad considering it was rush hour, and we had Faith returned to Hertz with a full tank of gas by 6:15pm.
Since Kat and Arp planned on driving around in LA as well, they ended up getting another car (this one quite a bit more fuel efficient.) It was a Hyundai Accent (a silver four-door compact.) We already missed Faith, and Arp decided appropriately that this car's new name would be "Nomore" (as in, "Faith No More.") We again made our way to the highway and traveled towards Burbank where their hotel awaited.
Our plane was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning, more or less giving each of us 2 and a half days in LA before our scheduled departure. Tonight, we planned on meeting up with my friend Tracy and having sushi for dinner, and then going our separate ways. Tomorrow, Kat and Arp would be spending some time with Arp's family in the area. Then on Saturday, we were planning on going hiking to Switzer Falls and in the evening, going to the Exotic Cat Sanctuary for a twilight tour of the grounds. We'd also need to fit in some In-N-Out Burger before we left as well, for what trip to the West Coast is complete without this very tasty treat.
It was sad to see Kat and Arp go in their own direction after so many days of traveling together. We had done very well as a group, keeping our cool in stressful situations, each enjoying the ups and downs of daily road travel, never squabbling about money, and making sure that everyone's needs were met. It's hard to imagine what it would have been like to have had a fourth person on the trip (as was originally planned), because even though it would have been cheaper for all of us, it would have meant more stopping, more consideration in choosing meals and hotels, etc. All in all, the three of us made for an extremely enjoyable time. Now if only it hadn't flown by so very quickly...