The strange part is that this is probably the last place in the country I ever saw myself moving.  The reality is that I should probably quit using the word strange as an adjective for anything in my life.

Facebook memories is a trip for me as of late when I take the time to consider how much my life has changed in the past two years.  Alli is the most glaring omission, but since I’ve hit the part of the grief process where I laugh and smile far more than I cry when I think of her, I’m okay with it.  She’s perched on a shelf in our new living room, placed carefully where she has a view of all the action in the living room and dining room, with one of her adorable puppy pics framed in tow. 

Geography is the second biggest change.  While living in the forest and the desert were on my list of things to do before I die, I didn’t really see this all happening in such short order.  Vegas was the Mos Eisley of the USA to me.  It’s a place to visit for a few days, but it didn’t really occur to me that people lived here.

I fully appreciate how stupid that last sentence seems upon reviewing it.    

What’s surprised me is that this town suits my personality better than anywhere I’ve lived.  It is what it is, you know?  It’s beautiful in a confident, completely unapologetic way that makes just makes sense to me.  It’s definitely the most diverse place I’ve ever lived, which is pretty rad.  It’s forcing me to brush up on my Spanish, which is awesome.  I’m gonna crush it and write a blog in Spanish one of these days.

The drive down from Portland was fun enough.  I had no idea that Eugene was so pretty and feel like I should have become a bandwagon Ducks fan or something after walking around there.

The first full day of driving was lovely—southern Oregon and NorCal.  Even with all the fires burning, Mount Shasta was amazing.  Having grown up in the Midwest/Great Plains, mountains will always be sort of unbelievable to me. 

I do need to make a confession regarding this stretch of the travel.  You know when you enter California, they stop you and ask about produce?  Well, we were almost out of gas, like the light was starting to blink almost out of gas, and when the fellow asked the question, I sweetly responded, “No, sir.”

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.

Hand to dog, I had completely forgotten about the banana in my purse and the two peaches and an apple in the cooler between the seats.  Truly.  We were so focused on finding a gas station and pledging that we would never tell anyone the story if we actually ran out of gas, I wasn’t thinking about produce. 

Having no idea on the statute of limitations or penalties for unintentionally lying to a state border inspection guard carries, I should probably just carry this story to my grave, like knowing the location of a dead hooker.  But, being a writer, I’m narcissistic and forced to tell everyone who will read about my life, so here it is. 

For the record, the offending fruits were later consumed in the state of Nevada and never left the car within the state of California.  The only thing the fruits invaded was my stomach. 

We crashed in Reno, where the jokes actually write themselves.

We crashed in Reno, where the jokes actually write themselves.

After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the burger place with outside seating so Joey could hang.  While Steve was inside getting food, I witnessed a meth deal, got yelled at about my dog by a man obviously having an episode, and giggled as a man pulled up, small son riding shotgun, with not one, but two “I love strippers” decals. 

Dream big, Reno.  Dream big.

We did a quick 5K the next morning before pulling out of town and I can now tell you what the dumpster storage area near the airport smells like.  Not so much what it smells like, but what it feels like.  It’s dry, which is better than expected, but it’s so strong, it punches you in the face and settles into your nostrils, where it holds just a moment before entering your brain space which would cause you to gag if there were any spittle left in your throat. 

The drive from Reno to Las Vegas was where I fully understood the term “dirt devil” for the first time.  I also remarked, “What a weird place!” 436 times in seven hours. 

Nevada:  Still more interesting than Wyoming.  

Nevada:  Still more interesting than Wyoming.  

I didn’t understand the signs requiring headlights to be on until I nearly witnessed a head-on collision a few cars ahead of us and said something to the effect of, “Holy f$ck, does he not see the headlights?”

Dudes in large trucks drive very fast on desolate Nevada roads.

You’ve been told.

We rolled into Vegas mid-afternoon on a Saturday, tomorrow will mark two weeks.  Like I said earlier, I feel like it fits my personality well and everyone has been really friendly.  There are things I will miss about Portland, but this is where I am supposed to be now. 

Today is my birthday, the big 4-0 as I recall people saying when I was younger.  Time goes faster now, if only because the pieces are sliced smaller, but when you break it down to the bare facts, it just gets better.  My 30s made my 20s look like garbage, so I’m pretty stoked to see what shakes out in the next 10.