Well, fuck. What a day. I don’t even know where to begin. My wheelchair is possessed, and my girlfriend might be dying. Every time I come to this city I get pummeled into submission. Until today it had strictly been at the hands Olympic-caliber opponents on the wrestling mat. This time I had even less of a chance.
We left the DungStreet Motel around 10 AM with unarticulated gratitude that the previous day’s shenanigans were largely on the mild side. On the way into the van, I noticed my chair batteries were running unusually low, but thought nothing of it. They’d been replaced just 3 weeks ago, so they simply couldn’t be acting up. Just in case, I activated the Strava app on my phone to track my rolling mileage and hopped into the van for the short trip into Vegas.
We rolled up to the Rio just after noon and, with check-in nearly 4 hours away and nothing to do, decided to take the tourist route — overpriced brunch followed by a poolside nap. It was the most time I’ve spent by a Las Vegas pool without three pairs of sweats on over a trash bag, but it was equally as uncomfortable watching people of all shapes and sizes sizzling themselves like slices of human bacon in the desert sun. On a positive note, I happened upon a fellow paralysis survivor and conference attendee while outside and chatted her up for a few. After an hour or so of people watching, we elected to shoot off to the grocery store to kill more time and score some cheap treats.
It was right outside Wal-Mart that the motors of my chair suddenly seized, stalling in the middle of the parking lot with my screen flashing “Left Motor Fault.” Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. As most of you know, we have been here before, and it didn’t end pretty. I immediately got on the phone with my wheelchair rep back home and he directed me to their sister branch in town. The Bobbseys fell back into Iditaquad formation and pushed me into the van and we made it to our destination just before 5 PM. The one silver lining in of this entire shitshow of a day was meeting Steven, a wheelchair tech whose C6-7 quadriplegic father had him wrenching on power chairs well before his 10th birthday. Graciously, Steven stayed three hours past closing time in a valiant effort to patch up my rig, and finally diagnosed it as a fried controller — essentially the brain, which would he did not have in stock. The best he could do in the meantime was to reconnect my chair with the motor wires flip-flopped, the only possible configuration that wouldn’t trigger a complete shutdown so I could at least drive my chair. Except for one small problem. Now left was right, and right was left. Think about that for a minute.
We limped out of the office at nearly 9 PM and decided to say screw it and look for something to eat. It was right around then that Claire came down with what we can only assume is a massive migraine. She soldiered through, and we made it through an entirely underwhelming Italian dinner on The Strip. Finally arriving at the hotel around 10 PM, we proceeded to wait wait nearly 40 minutes to check in. Claire barely able to stand, and me driving like an obvious drunk, it suddenly dawned on me that we probably fit right in with everyone else in this godforsaken town. Good times.
I don’t know what it is about the third day of road trips, but I’m seeing a pattern. Basically, they suck. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.