Monday, January 24, 2005

Lunchtime walk

Just back from a lunchtime walk around the block. A few years ago I went through a weight reduction clinic and ended up losing around 40 pounds. Part of the regimen was eating right and part was exercise. I’m not big on health clubs – tried one for a while back in California and I just couldn’t get into performing in front of a group. So I would rather just walk. The doctors at the clinic said walking was great, and they had us shoot for an hour a day. I was able to do that in San Diego – we had a nice old neighborhood with sidewalks and little traffic, and I had a route along the outside by the canyons that took about an hour. I tried to keep it up when we moved here, even though our neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, but after I got a ‘real’ job it kind of fell apart.
So now I’m back to trying to walk more. Once around the block here takes about fifteen minutes, so I’ll try to branch out.
This is a light industrial area, mostly offices. Down to the sidewalk from the parking lot and start down the side street. There is a bird in one of the street trees just singing his heart out. I imagine it’s either looking for a girlfriend – ‘listen to me, I’m the best singer in this neighborhood, come over to my tree and lay some really health eggs’ – or telling the guys ‘Back off – this is my tree and I’ll whomp the feathers off the butt of any other guy that comes around’. With this warm weather they are starting to build nests in the palm tree in front of our house already. But it will get cold again for another few months, so they better wait.
At the back corner of the block is some kind of warehouse – very few of the buildings have company signs or logos. All of the buildings are fairly new, concrete tilt-up construction with flat roofs. Most are really big, even if they are split up into offices. I can see inside of the warehouse when the roll up doors are open. Today it’s around 60f, so it’s nice enough. I can’t see what’s in there, but right outside of one door is a gas barbecue. Is that a west coast thing – having a barbecue at work? I’ve seen them at businesses before, mostly behind the loading dock. Fire them up for lunch on Friday, and I guess everybody chips in for burgers or brats.
A little further along and across the street is a building with few windows and a big walled parking lot. Streets on both sides of the building, with access to the parking lot from both sides. There are big rolling gates across the driveways. You have to pull up and stick a card into a slot to get the gates to open. Big gates, steel bars and panels. It’s about fifteen feet high, and wide enough for two lanes. The wall around the lot is about twelve feet high, and concrete. No barbed wire on top, though. Looks like there are some loading doors back there, I can see the tops of the rollup doors. I guess the gates are big enough for trucks to get through. On one side of the building is a short circular driveway, which goes behind a wall parallel to the building. I guess to hide whoever comes and goes. The only place I’ve seen something similar is behind the ‘downtown corrections facility' in San Diego.
With all the casinos in town it might be that they have their bookkeeping, office and computer departments off site. I know strip and downtown property costs a lot, so if they use all of that for customer support then they can put the extra employees off site on cheaper land. So they might be counting money, or processing checks out here. Only those that can get inside know for sure.
Around the next corner is a large paint and body shop. The front of their lot is full of smashed cars, awaiting paint and bodywork. A tow truck was dropping another one off today. Some of them are pretty dusty, probably been around for a while awaiting insurance approval or for the owner to come up with some money. Some belong to businesses. One is a small bus with wrap around advertising for a place of entertainment – ‘nudes with liquor!!’. In California, and I thought in Nevada, you can get a topless permit if you serve booze, but if you want to show total nudity then you can’t get a liquor license. In California the nudy bars (spell checker doesn’t like that one) only serve soft drinks and juice. Here in Vegas I thought they were limited to beer.
Across the street is a lot for some rental car companies. There is no room at the airport for rental lots, so when you fly into Vegas and rent a car you go up to a rental counter, make your deal, and then catch a bus to the car lot to pick it up. Drop off is the same for most, hit the lot and get a bus to the terminal. I think Hertz has a drop off right at the terminal, but the smaller outfits don’t. I was looking over at people waiting to pick up a car, even today standing in the shade waiting. I like imagining where they came from, if it’s there first time here, what they expect to see and do. I live here, so somehow I’ve gotten used to all the lights and noise and stuff. When I go on vacation I like to go to big cities, where there are things to see and do. I tried Hawaii, and was bored.
But people coming here are about to hit something different. Las Vegas is something that people see on TV but don’t really feel until they get here. Walk down the strip and take a few hours to hit the big casinos and feel the crowds and the noise and the gambling. Different than anywhere else. The local tourist board started an advertising campaign last year – ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’. Showing people doing things that they wouldn’t do at home. Saw an ad on TV last night for cable internet access – it showed a girl at a wedding chapel, about to be married, trying to phone her mother. The line is always busy, so she assumes that mom’s on the internet. So, ‘what the heck, go ahead’ and she ends up marrying some grizzly old dude, with Elvis in the background. Yea, that’s Vegas.
Down the block before turning the last corner I look out at the airport only a block away. We are across the runway from the terminals, so it’s all open space and concrete runways. You can see and hear the planes taking off and landing. Depending on the wind direction they change runways. Most of the time planes coming in from the west coast fly over our house on the west side – really high so you can see them but not hear them – heading east, they make a U turn at the mountains and land on the bigger runways heading west. Sometimes they fly in directly from the east, you can see a long line of planes in the sky lined up for their turn. One night I could count the headlights from eight planes in line out there. I could smell the jet fuel today, and hear the roar as they jump airborne.
Around the corner and back into the building. Maybe next week I’ll be up for two rounds, or try a different direction. With the runways to our north and the freeway two blocks south there are few blocks to walk around here – so I guess it will be out and back.
And I didn't have to shuffle through knee high snow trying to feel my nose. (Chicago - 32f feels like 24?) Enough winters in Rochester, NY learning what 20 below was like. Give me the heat.

No comments: