Like I said, it’s crazy what can happen in 24 hours!
Not knowing exactly where we were going, and only knowing that the insurance company has arranged the tow driver to take us to the closest auto repair shop. We were dropped off right in the middle of two auto shops in the same parking lot. Still not knowing which shop we are going to, we get out of the tow truck, and as soon as we step out the truck a little greasy man carrying a clipboard approaches me. As I am trying to explain the situation, he seems more interested in telling us how great his shop is, and how terrible the other auto shop is. Not really knowing which shop the insurance company has sent us to, I’m a little confused as to why this guy is so set on selling me on his shop, and right as I’m thinking this, another man walks up that looks like a character from the “Guess Who” board game with thick framed glasses and large teeth. As the “Guess Who” guy walks up with a very similar clipboard, the little greasy man stops talking, and the man with the thick glasses and large teeth informs us that we are supposed to go to his shop. Not sure who to believe or trust, I'm not feeling very confident with either shop. I turn and see the tow truck driver is already pulling away.
I found myself standing in the middle of what felt like the biggest gambling bet I will ever have to make and I've only been in Vegas for 5 minutes. I ended up having to go with the "Guess Who" guy. When they took the van away, the reality of our situation started to set in. Now the three of us were left standing in the middle of a busy boiling hot parking lot with people and cars passing by with no vehicle, no place to stay, and no idea when we will be able to get back on the road.
Suddenly the tribulations of the desert didn't seem too bad.
It wasn't too long before I was given the news that I already knew but was hoping to not be true. I was going to need a whole new motor. Not only that, but it was going to take up to 10 days for them to get the parts in and complete the install. Refusing to let the house get us down with the cards we were dealt, we decided to make the best out of this unfortunate hand. So, we got ourselves a room at a Las Vegas Casino Hotel.
Now we are two dirty dudes and a dog checking into a Casino Hotel. Walking through the Casino floor we were surrounded by all the people and all the noise. Everything we were trying to stay away from, we were now right in the middle of it all. We needed to cool our bodies and clear our minds so the three of us headed up to the roof top pool for a couple drinks and some cool water.
Even though the sun was out in full force, we could still feel the dark clouds hanging over us from Death Valley claiming our van's engine, and the inevitable of what we will have to do.
Now knowing it was going to be 10 days before the van is ready, we couldn't allow ourselves to just sit and wait. Unfortunately this would mean that we would be losing our third amigo. Aaron would not be able to wait that long and would have to get a flight home the next morning, and I needed to find a way out of the desert for the next 10 days.
Funny how things play out. About 4 months prior we were in Puerto Rico where we met a couple that lives around the Denver, Colorado area. Looking at flights I found one that would take me to Denver and out of the desert. Not knowing if my new friends would even be able to meet up I was prepared to just fly out and wing it. I gave them a call asking them what they were doing that very next day, and as it turned out they were on the road headed northwest from Denver to get out for some adventures of their own. Accepting the fact that might not be an option, I asked if they had a key under the mat, and they quickly said "let me call you back!". Just a few minutes later they called back asking how early I could get in, and I replied "8:49am!". Not knowing they turned around deciding to save me from the clutches of Vegas, they just told me to get ready to see a lot of Colorado and pack for backpacking. It was perfect!
That next morning Zealand and I would lose our third amigo. It was a sad moment going from the solitude of the wilderness to parting ways in the madness of the Las Vegas airport. Aaron went east to go home as I continued west.
Just hours later I was standing at 12,000 plus feet elevation reflecting on how we had just been 282 feet below sea level. Standing in the saddle of these beautiful Colorado mountains knowing these feet were just in the sands of Death Valley, and are now in the snow of the Rocky's I couldn't help but to think of how it's crazy with what can happen in 24 hours!