The Great American Road Trip: Day 1 – San Francisco → Las Vegas

// June 10th, San Francisco → Las Vegas //

This morning we woke up and enjoyed the San Francisco skyline from our bedroom window in the Castro one last time before smushing duffel bags and squeezing zippers shut as we packed up the car. With every trip down the stairs, I worried we might be stuck driving with luggage on our laps. Luckily, the hatch closed and we bid farewell to our housemates as we took off on the 101.

The day before was my last day as a Territory Sales Manager, leaving a position I’d had for a few years both on the East Coast and West Coast. I passed my sales binder to my protege and sighed with relief at the thought that I never had to go into another convenience store in my life. On the flip side, I’ve really loved the past few years and am going to miss my teammates dearly. Byron also left his tech startup position this week as part of our decision to make a big career and location change.

After being enamored with the travel industry due to Semester at Sea and our independent backpacking trip, we’ve decided to revert back to our passions and make it our full time work. Our sales, marketing, and management experience is something we’re hoping to leverage in order to dip our toes into the travel industry and absorb as much as we can. Specifically, we’re both interested in hostels, since we’ve had many great experiences and love the unique way hostels are able to bring travelers together.

Our first adventure outside of corporate life is a Great American Roadtrip. It’s been on my bucket list since I was little and the cards lined up perfectly for us to embark on this journey now. We’ll be staying at a mix of hostels and campgrounds all along the way and are sitting down with hostel owners and managers to soak up their wisdom.

For this first day of driving, I started out early in the morning, drove over the Bay Bridge and waved goodbye to our favorite city. The drive was canvassed with rolling hills, scrub brush dotted desert, and acres of farmland. Past Bakersfield, past the Mojave Desert, and on to Las Vegas.

We pulled over amid the desert and scrub brush to take a photo next to the “Welcome to Nevada” sign next to the rundown looking town of Primm, where Whiskey Pete’s seemed to be the biggest point of pride. Onwards into Las Vegas, we arrived around 4:30 and attempted to check into our hostel but couldn’t find the receptionist anywhere. Ten minutes later, a six foot tall blonde German girl rushed in the door in a tight party dress and stillettos, explaining that she didn’t get a chance to change since last night’s festivities. This was our receptionist. We got dressed for the strip and headed to Margaritaville inside the Flamingo to watch my cousin Zach play a gig.

When we got back to the hostel, a BBQ was in full swing and we were handed cheeseburgers and margaritas as we joined in the fun. A rousing game of Jenga was going on, so we joined in and met some backpackers from Central and South America and talked for hours. There was this one character from Oklahoma who was dipping and when asked what brand he used, he explained he made his own by sourcing tobacco leaves and soaking and aging it himself. He was here working on a weapons contract to sell firearms. We heard all about his back-country way of life, including how to cap an outhouse in cement, “noodling”, which is fishing for catfish by using your hands, and how to build a truck with 18 gears. He told us to dress down while traveling through the south since they don’t like the yuppie types.

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