“Are those people living down there?” I asked.
We were riding a bike path along the North Vegas Wash, a trickle of water running down a concrete channel through Las Vegas’s unglamorous suburb. The Rabbit was in the shop, hopefully for the last time. A big German guy called Mr. Wolf owned the place with his tiny German wife, who looked like she’d be more at home on a Harley than in a Volkswagen. He had a big display case full of toy VW buses, so I figured the Rabbit was in good hands. We decided to ride around while we waited.
North Vegas was hot, white and dirty. More so than its neighbor to the south. On the bike path, we passed parks and elementary schools, then Chick-Fil-A’s and truck stops. There weren’t many other people outside, except the bums. In the bottom of the wash, clans of homeless people camped next to the trickle of water. They must’ve climbed the chainlink fence to get in there. They’re washing their clothes and things in there, maybe cooking with the grimy water and hopefully not drinking it. They pushed their shopping carts here and there while garbage wafted around in the wind. We watched some little kids scamper into a tarped-off tunnel.
I’d definitely had enough of Vegas.
Finally we rumbled away from Las Vegas in our beige wondercar.
We rolled out toward Colorado to get our vehicle registration sorted out. (Who says you have to live in a state to reside there?) We made our way into sunny, rocky Utah and spent a magical afternoon riding the Gooseberry Mesa trails.
It was a delightful night of camping with a roaring desert-scrub fire. We’d ride again in the morning. But a cold snap froze everything overnight. Then, as I pulled out the camp stove to make coffee, I realized that the really cheap container of propane I bought didn’t actually contain any fuel. Miraculously, the Rabbit started in the 20 degree weather and we rumbled to the closest breakfast joint in Hurricane - a gas station where I ran my numb fingers under the hot faucet till I had tears in my eyes.
From Utah, we made it all the way to Fruita on one tank of gas. Super Rabbit! We stopped for a quick ride in Loma and then drove through the night to our bosses’ place in Marble. It got cold fast once the sun went down.
“Can’t we turn the heat on?” I asked Montana.
“No,” he said. “There’s no heat.”
Who knew heat was such an important thing in a car? It was like driving a metal can full of holes in 15 degree weather. When we finally got to Marble, we toasted our digits by the pellet stove, and Kas fixed us a couple drinks so strong we fell right asleep.
The next few days we spent in registration limbo, driving back and forth to the DMV to try and catch the one sheriff’s deputy in Garfield County who could inspect our car. In the meantime, we did Colorado winter things, like hiking our bikes to the top of a mountain by the light of a full moon and slip-riding down a ski run, which is exactly as terrifying as it sounds. Montana bought a longboard and tried riding it down a mountain pass without much success (in other words, experienced his first high-speed skateboard crash). I did some half-hearted jogging, and we bought warm winter clothes at a thrift store.
Finally the deputy was free to give us a stamp, and we trundled away to warmer climates.