Thursday, March 7, 2019

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home

The Nightmare Before—And After—Christmas
Chapter 12

Good news folks!  This is the 12th and final chapter in my car woes saga. That's right, this is the end of this seemingly endless chronicle. The previous chapter can be found here.  And you can find all the posts in this epic tale using the label "Stranded in Vegas."

And speaking of the previous chapter, I need to return to an incident I described last time as I apparently misreported it (and also, didn't quite understand what was happening).  My good friend LM left a comment on that post, pointing something out to me, which I subsequently discussed with her personally.  And I tend to agree with her interpretation.

I'm referring to the incident I discussed about the young lady I passed after the new year had been rung in, who was sitting down near Hakkasan. She was sitting with her legs apart and in the brief moment before I could look away—I am, of course, a gentleman—it did appear to me that she was, as they say, commando.  I also realized that, when I noticed her, she was looking directly at me.  And as I looked away out of respect, I did notice that she looked down. But more importantly, I noticed that she made no effort whatsoever to conceal herself.  She could have easily moved her legs together.  She did not—even though she had definitely seen me briefly looking in her direction. I kept moving, turning my eyes straight ahead, no longer looking in her direction, until she was totally out of my sight line.

Well, LM's reaction surprised me.  She said, "Rob, she flashed you."  I asked, incredulously, "You mean on purpose?"  And she replied, emphatically, "Yes!"   "Seriously?"  "Absolutely."  She insisted there was no way the girl was wearing flesh-colored panties.  She was showing off the goods.  And here I was thinking that the poor girl should have joined me a few days earlier when I was in the Primm Outlet Mall buying underwear. 

Now since LM is a woman, I have to take her reaction quite seriously.  It is LM's opinion that this young lady, perhaps feeling no pain from celebrating the ringing in of the New Year, purposely exposed herself to me.

I have to admit I am naïve.  A woman would really do that to a perfect stranger?  I mean, if the roles were reversed, and it was guy flashing a woman, he would have been subject to arrest.

It's 2019, and we no longer accept double standards.  Should I have reported this young lady to security?  I can't imagine a guy doing that.  But we are in a new era.  Guys can be victims of Indecent exposure, same as women.

Of course I didn't report it (except on the blog).  But I suppose I should have.

Now I feel so used. I was a victim!

So now it is a new day….a new year, actually. New Year's Day was pretty uneventful, car wise.  But I did get a lovely early wake-up call courtesy of the good folks at the Gold Coast.  Having gotten to sleep sometime after 4am after a fine time on NY's Eve, it was no fun to be awakened from a sound sleep by hearing an announcement blasting into my room. "Attention:  We are investigating the source of the alarm you just heard, and will advise you when we find out it's cause."  This was approximately 8:30am.  Of course, I hadn't heard any alarm.  Just the announcement of it.  I had fallen soundly back asleep when, 15 minutes later, I heard another announcement.  "Attention:  We have determined the alarm you heard was a false alarm.  Sorry for the inconvenience."  Good to know.

Since I slept a good part of the day away, I didn't leave the room until it was time to head out for dinner and poker.  The car, thankfully, had no visible leaks.  This was, in theory, my last night in town. I had booked three nights through Agoda when I was at Buffalo Bill's as you will recall.  But my pals LM and Woody expressed concern that driving home on the first day after the New Year's holiday was a bad idea. Traffic figured to be a nightmare that day, and with a car that I still wasn't sure was 100% fixed, it seemed too high a risk. Getting into a huge traffic jam just seemed like asking the car to overheat again.  So sometime during my initial three-day stay, I had gone to the front desk and asked about staying another night.  It was fine, and this time the rate was only $34 (plus $22 resort fee).  A vast improvement over the $150 plus I had paid for the first three nites there!

I ended up playing at the Venetian, mostly because it was the only place I had enough comps at to get a nice, free dinner.  A sit-down dinner at Café Lux sure sounded good after some of the meals I had been eating.  I even got a salad!  BTW, of all the "coffee shop" style restaurants in the Strip casinos, Café Lux at the V is probably the best.  It is amazingly reasonably priced for a place as fancy as the Venetian and the quality is quite good.  I think the meal I got was about 2/3's the price of what I would have paid at the sports bar next to the MGM poker room.

The poker that night was not worth talking about.  Just a totally meh session.

So we move to Wednesday, the 2nd, and I was supposed to leave the next day.  But when I went down to check on the car, I spotted a leak.  Seriously?  Yeah, seriously.  There was nothing to do but pay a visit to TC.  Sigh. 

He said something about it "leaking from the top" and started working on it.  I spent most of the time in the office, wondering if I was ever going to get home.  I started getting a little desperate.  No matter what happened that day, I was never gonna feel good about driving the 280 mile distance home in the car.

I started Googling to see if I could find a service to actually transport the car all the way from Vegas to my house.  My thought was, I knew such services existed, and if I could have them take the car with all my stuff inside, I could just hop on a plane to L.A. (I saw flights as cheap ast $57 one way) and get my car in a day or two, unpack all my stuff, and take it down to the Wiz and get it fixed properly.  I actually found a place that would give me quote over the interent.  It was $440 to transport my car to L.A.  I was considering it.

This happened when I was ready to go to lunch so fortunately I had a couple of Kind bars on me that I ate so I could take my meds.  After about three hours of me just waiting there, TC finally said it was ready.  I had him talk to Woody.  I'm sure Woody said something about pressurizing the cooling system.  When he was done with Woody, TC said to me, "Give me another half hour."

About thirty minutes later, he came back to me and said it was ready.  And he proudly said, "I blew air in it.  No leaks."

OK then.  Obviously my next move was to stress the car.  I headed over to Red Rock but ended up across the street at Costco for a late lunch/early dinner.  And added more coolant when I was done.  Then I stopped by a CVS to get some much needed supplies, including my breakfast protein drink that I had run out of.  I also picked up a couple of bottles of water and soda.

That's important because when I got to Gold Coast and grabbed the bag with the soda in it, the cheap plastic bag broke and one of the bottles rolled under the car.  I didn't want to move the car to retrieve it, as I worried about running over the bottle.  So I got down on my hands and knees and was just able to retrieve it.  But in standing up after, I lost my balance and fell on my ass, and alkso banged up my knee. And I came thisclose to smacking my head into the pavement.  When you're running bad, you're running bad.

I decided I needed another day in Vegas to make sure the car was ok, especially because I wanted to add coolant to it a few more times before making the trip.  I went to the front desk and extended my stay again.  This time it was $40 (plus the $22 resort fee).  A bargain.

I had a column for Ante Up due on Friday.  Which meant I had to spend Wednesday evening working on it.  So yet another evening paying for a room in Las Vegas and not even playing poker.  And as I've described, it was really uncomfortable trying to type up a column working with a very low chair and a very high desk.  It took longer because I had to keep getting up every few minutes to walk around.

Since I'd eaten at Costco so late, I didn't need a real dinner, so I got the brilliant idea of just getting a salad at the Subway.  It sounded like a good idea until they rung it up.  Somehow they charged me $8.25 (plus tax) for it.  WTF?  Pro tip: Don't ever get just a salad at Subway.

The next day I went down to my car and held my breath.  And saw some fresh liquid underneath it.  Damn it.  But when I moved my car I saw it wasn't green.  I sopped it up with a paper towel and took the paper towel back to TC.  He determined that it was transmission fluid.  TC said it would probably last 3-6 months before it was a problem because it was such a small leak. He had another conversation with Woody, who determined that it would likely be ok for the drive home.  But he said to play it safe, I should buy a bottle of transmission fluid and keep it with me just in case.

That didn't take long.  This time I decided to stress the car by going Teriyaki Madness for lunch, the same location that I hit on my first attempt to leave town the previous Saturday.  Everything was good and this time the restaurant even had salad.

On the way back I noticed there was an AutoZone right near there so I picked up the transmission fluid.  I managed to get a few hours of work in, had dinner once again at the Subway and finished up my column that evening.  So yet another evening of no poker even though I was paying for a room.

If you're keeping score, I stayed seven more nights in Vegas (or Primm) than I planned to, during one of the most expensive periods of the year.  Of those seven nights, I didn't even play poker for four of them.

When I woke up the next day, ready to pack up and go home (I hoped), I was nervous as hell.  And I was actually sick to my stomach.  It was nerves, but I was somewhat nauseated.
But I packed up.  I mentioned previously that I would have preferred to valet the car the night before leaving so I could use the bellman for my luggage.  But again, there was the nasty problem of the car seats not being adjustable.  So I spoke to the valet the day before, told him of this and he said, "Well, if I can't fit in the car, I can't park it."  I asked if there was an alternative, and he said it would be ok for me to park the car in the valet lane (briefly) so the bellman could load the car.

And that's how I handled it.  After checking for leaks—and there was just a little transmission fluid underneath, nothing else—I brought the car to the valet lane and had the bellman take my bags to it.  Saved my back, no doubt.

I wasn't hungry, so I ditched my original plan of eating one more meal at that Gold Coast Subway.  I packed Kind bars and that was my lunch while I was driving, once my stomach settled down.

With much trepidation, I took off and headed south on the 15, my eye glued to the temperature gage.  Fortunately there was very light traffic.  I made it to Primm without incident and headed up that long climb up the interstate at the beginning (or end) of California. That was really nerve-wracking, climbing that hill in a car that may have an overheating problem.  But there was no trouble. Once it made it through there without incident (and with the needle on the temp gauge not budging past where it was supposed to be), I was able to relax a little bit.

Initially Google forecasted an easy ride with no delays, but as I got a little past Barstow, I got a message saying that traffic ahead was getting bad and they had an alternative route that would save me 27 minutes due to increasing traffic on the 15.  I thought I knew the route—Pearblossom Highway, a route I'd taken numerous times. It is a two-lane highway and much less preferable than the freeway. Under normal traffic, it's slightly shorter distance-wise but longer in drive time. If it was a 5 or 10 minute saving I would have passed on it.  But  a half hour was a big deal, and I was just so eager to get home.  I took the alternate route.

It really was an alternate route.  Only part of the way was on Pearblossom, it had me cut over to some road I'd never been on before.  At first it was a brand new road and smooth as silk.  But eventually the road turned to total crap.  Ugh.

But I guess it did save me time and I did make it home, safe and sound.  I have to tell you….I was never so happy to be home from Vegas in my life.

Epilogue:  Early the next week, Woody agreed to meet me at The Wiz's shop.  Woody wanted to make sure he explained to the Wiz all his theories about what had gone wrong, and also wanted to make sure I got the best price for the work.  And besides, Woody just likes visiting these guys at the shops he does business with.  Any excuse to schmooze with the workers will get him down there.

But get this, when we got there, we found out that the Wiz wasn't in that day!  He was out of town.  Yikes.  Fortunately, his brother was there and helped us out. He checked things out and it turned out I needed a few parts to get rid of the check engine lights.  I could order those things (two knock sensors and a crankshaft position sensor) off of eBay and bring them back in for the final repair.

And I had him check out the seats.  He rather quickly determined, in contradiction of what TC told me, it was indeed the fuse (or fuses).  He downloaded a schematic from the internet and redid the fuses (not sure if he had to replace any or just moved them around, whatever) and suddenly both the passenger seat and the driver's side seat worked perfectly fine.  Apparently, in the process of repairing the driver's side window before leaving for Vegas, the fuses had been blown and replaced and then not reconnected properly.  So it was just a human error.

However, when I pulled out of his shop, I noticed a new problem….the windows no longer worked!  Seriously, that was the issue at the very beginning of this tale; we had now come full circle.  I had to go around the block, pull back in and tell the Wiz's brother about the window.  He got the schematic and realized his goof.  He played with the fuses for a few seconds and then everything was working, the seats, the windows, everything.  Phew!

And by the way, for the work he did that day, he charged me nothing.  I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case if Woody hadn't been there with me.

Anyway, the next week, after receiving the parts through eBay I went back to see the Wiz and had him install the new sensors. This time the Wiz was there, and guess what?  When he had been off the week before, he was in…Las Vegas.  How ironic. I didn't find out if he was there when I was, but I was thinking I could have had him fix the car up there. When LM heard this, she said it would have been funny if he had been driving back the same day I was, passed me, recognized the car and stopped and fixed it up right on the 15.  Ha.

So that's my 12-part story of why I spent a week I didn't want to in Vegas at the end of my last Vegas trip.  It was bad luck, bad timing and a bad repair job.  TC is a very honorable, dedicated man.  But he might not be the best auto mechanic in the world.

And now you know why it's no fun to be stuck in Vegas for an extra week.


  1. Rob, you didnt mention that you and I did costco lunch while the wiz fixed the knock sensors! What an excellent extra benefit for me!
    Good story. PS,any chance that girl is still sitting there?

    1. Yeah, I left out the THREE visits to Costco that we enjoyed as a result of this repair job. I just felt I had given Costco enough free advertising.

      My guess is that girl woke up with one hell of a hangover and has sworn off alcohol for good.

  2. You don't even bother to pull some mega slot after being flashed at new year's eve?
    Seem like there is no new car coming after all.

    1. Ha ha. I didn't realize at the time that I had gotten lucky. I thought it was a major "oops."

      But I like your thinking.

  3. Yes indeed. A special new years FLASH just for Robvegaspoker. Doesn't get much better than that.

    Well, I will miss these TC posts. I've gotten to know him! Next time I am in Vegas I plan on dropping by and personally thank him for assisting you. I will leave him with 3 little words and they aren't I love you..........Pressurize the system!!! Hah!

    P.S. I kinda thought you'd post a pic of one of my favorite super heroes...Flash! Oh well

    1. Thanks for your input. I finally stopped feeling guilty.

      As for the Flash...well, there is no Lady Flash or Ms. Flash. Or ate least there wasn't when I read those comics.

      And taking the "flash" too literally would make this an "adults only" blog, while I strive to make it family friendly.

  4. Sorry Rob, After about day three I might have just listed it for free on Craigslist and walked to the nearest Toyota Dealer and drove home in a new Camry.
    Once at the MGM I got on an elevator with some oriental girls who had been out clubbing and wearing slut parade attire. Their floor was before mine and when they stepped off they turned around and lifted up their tops and flashed me right as doors closed. Best Day Ever.

    1. Wow. That's a great story, pokerwayne! What nice girls. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hmmm ... I seem to recall multiple women exposing their breasts to you on one of my Las Vegas trips. I don't suppose that was a false memory.

    1. Lightning, they didn't just "expose their breasts" to me, they demanded that I PHOTOGRAPH them, and then demanded that I post the pic on the blog! Link below.

      But to be fair, it was just their cleavage the exposed. The wonderful ladies who demanded this of me kept their bras on. Still, it was an incredible moment, to be sure.

      Here's that link:

  6. Heck of a (mis)adventure, Rob. I'm working on a "car issue" post myself but on a smaller scale. TC worked on your car several times but I don't remember if you said what he actually fixed or what was the issue..water pump, bearing, crankshaft sensor, gasket, coolant hose, else?

    1. The initial issue was a bearing. He fixed that fist time. Woody's theory is that in fixing that, he messed up a few other things having do with the cooling system, most notably a couple of hoses. There were some sensors that went bad that might have had nothing to do with his work (not sure) but those were fixed back in L.A. by the Wiz.