Vegas, Baby…VEGAS!

There is one lesson that I seem destined to learn over and over again: when traveling to do something adventurous, the adventure often lies in the travel itself. Most recently, I was forced to relearn this lesson yet again, much to the agitation of my wife, and to my embarrassment.

The problem is that when traveling to do something fun, I like to focus on the things most important to me. Before going to a new place, I pore over its guidebook looking for routes to do and areas to visit. Further, I google stories and blogs from my intended destination to get a better feel for the area. In the weeks leading up to a trip, I comb through my gear to ensure I have the right layers and equipment while practicing any skills that might be needed during the impending adventure.

For as much effort as I put into that part of the preparation, I put the exact opposite of that effort into the logistics of the trip. Renting a hotel or finding a campground is always done at the last minute. So is renting the car. Over the years, I can’t even begin to think about the number of trips that have been stalled merely by the fact that I never got around to requesting vacation time or just procrastinated on buying a plane ticket. While I would love to blame my struggle on simply being “right brained,” the truth is that I just don’t like planning the logistics of a trip. On a recent trip, combining a few days of climbing outside Las Vegas with the marriage of my oldest friend, I once again found myself immersed in adventurous travel.

The challenge of this trip was that we would spend the first half of it climbing in Las Vegas before driving to Gilroy, California, just south of San Jose, for the wedding. In other words, it involved even greater logistics than a normal trip, including things like booking hotels in multiple cities, flights from different airports, as well as all the things that go along with being in a wedding. Following the popular belief that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, I piecemealed the planning of the trip. One week, I booked a hotel; the next week, a flight; and so on and so forth until all of our accommodations were complete.

Initially, everything was going smoothly. Our hotel in Las Vegas was on the strip, nice enough, and came with two beds (something my climbing partner who came out to join us for most of the Vegas leg of our trip appreciated). In fact, while my climbing partner was in town, everything was great! We enjoyed awesome climbing and great weather for three days as we explored Red Rock Canyon before dropping him off at the airport at the end of the third day of climbing.

The next day, my wife and I woke up late (for us—early by Las Vegas standards) and headed out to explore. With tired hands and sore muscles, we headed to Valley of Fire State Park about an hour outside of the city to hike, explore, and take in the in the incredible scenery. Valley of Fire was amazing, so much so that we stayed there longer than planned, and found ourselves getting back to Las Vegas a little later than we would’ve liked, especially since we had to be up at five the next morning to make the seven-hour drive to California. Anxious to get into the room, pack up, and get to bed, I was met with disappointment when my key card failed to open the door to our room.

I had a bad feeling. Before heading to the desk, I found the reservation in my email to confirm everything was fine, and although it looked good to me, my wife pointed out that I apparently can’t read a calendar—we were supposed to check out that morning. (Adventure!) While not having a place to stay that night would present a challenge, the real question was what had happened to all our stuff? I tried not to panic as I thought of the pile of expensive climbing gear, two laptops, a fancy camera, and all the clothes we’d left behind in the room that morning and what may have happened to all of it. Then I tried to console myself that this was Las Vegas and weird stuff must happen all the time.

I tried to remain calm as I waited in line for the front desk, and sized up everyone working, hoping to get someone sympathetic to my plight. When my turn finally arrived, I was happy to see a friendly face and explained my faux pas while I learned that this thing in particular does not, in fact, happen all the time. After a few tenuous moments, it was discovered that housekeeping had (luckily for us) decided to simply leave the room alone and had security lock the door. After paying for an extra night, we were given access to our room and, more importantly, our stuff. Crisis averted.

Whenever my wife and I travel to hike, climb, or ski, it seems that our family and friends like to comment on how adventurous we are. Little do they know that the activities always seem to sort themselves out—get to the top and ski down; start at the bottom and climb up; start hiking at the beginning and stop at the end. The real struggle for us (me) is normally somewhere else along the way, as I possess the innate ability to turn average into adventure.