I’ll be the first to admit it: I got upsold. The Hertz folks gamed me good, rolling me up into a Camaro for an extra $12 a day. I couldn’t afford not to do it.
Besides, I was in Las Vegas — immediately leaving it, in fact — to drive to a friend’s wedding in Zion National Park. There’s something about being a single man, alone, driving through the desert in an American muscle car that appeals to every Hunter S. Thompson-esque fantasy about debauchery and excess, and wide open spaces and scary, winged half-bat-like creatures attacking you as you zoom past the red rocks.
This being a new era in masculinity, my bitchin’ Camaro made a pit stop at the In-N-Out in St. George, Utah, to score a double-double and nothing else. I felt pretty smug and badass nonetheless. After the wedding, I valeted my car back in Vegas and spent the night at the El Cortez Cabana Suites, an updated section of a downtown hotel that predates the Flamingo and has 25 cent minimum roulette tables. It, too, felt suitably Thompsonesque.
In the morning, I got in my car to drive to the airport. Halfway down the strip it became abundantly clear from the smell that a homeless person had slept in my car the night before. The valets must have left it unlocked, and the empty cans under the driver’s seat confirmed my suspicions.
I hung a left from the Strip onto Tropicana toward the airport. The best thing about traveling like Hunter S. Thompson in 2012, it turned out, was that I could leave the keys in the ignition at the end of the weekend and walk away.