Las Vegas road trip

We're in Las Vegas for New Year's eve with 2 lovely friends of ours. The drive was rather pleasant even though it was about 7 hours. I've been on plenty of family holidays where we've sat in a car for several days, looking out on to rain, playing "eye spy" until my parents shouted at me and put on a tape of Noddy stories, narrated by Richard Briars, in an attempt keep me quiet. These were not road trips. They were a means to an end. They were hell in a wheeled can, but with the promise of a holiday in a place that rained slightly less than home ( like exotic Pembrokeshire) under gnat infested canvas, sustained us.

The car was certainly more comfortable than most I've spent a long trip in. The company was jolly fun, and I'd even go as far to saw that the time flew by.

In US a road trip seems to refer to any long journey which you make the most of it. You don't stress about it too much, you take a couple of breaks, make sure there is lively music and enjoy yourselves. I'm very pleased that nobody needed to put Noddy on the stereo.

In that one journey we managed to see several things that I thought were just american stereo types. The first I was very excited about. Needless to say, it involved eating. We went a curiously American invention called a 'Sonic'. We drove into a car park with board -mounted menus next to each station, ordered through a microphone embedded into the board, and were served by a girl on roller skates, who clipped our food tray onto the window. Just like the scene in the Flintstones, but less Masterdon. The quality and origin of the food was dubious but deliciously depraved. Chilli on a hotdog. I'll never have it any other way again.

The road took us through a large portion of dessert and an army of tumble weeds. At some points they were quite like an army, racing up the highway like crabs on the sea bed. Periodically one would across the carriageway and the cars would have to swerve violently to avoid them. There were deep in takes of breath when we played this sort of tumble weed Frogger. We saw one car with an enormous tumble weed embedded on it. It looked like the tumble weed was gradually consuming the car and contents, bonnet first. They're a little bit like tribbles. Don't feed them.

As we entered Nevada little sad looking casinos pop up out of the dessert, like cactus weeds. Disturbingly many of them look like Disney-fied holiday camps. Just outside Las Vegas there is a sign for a place called Zzyzx. I've no idea what's there but I suspect it will be something like Royston Vasey.

We stopped for petrol in a town called Baker that boasts the Worlds tallest thermometer. It's rather disappointingly a tall pole with digital blobs at regular intervals. I would have been much more impressed if it had been mercury, or even the red liquid from school thermometers. Apparently the USA is dotted with these type of curiosities - the largest ball of string, the thinnest sheet of paper, the darkest shade of grey - to encourage people off the highway and into their towns.

The petrol station was an eerie experience. The wind was quite strong, the petrol station fairly deserted, and there was an echoey record of Nat King Cole playing over a tannoy system. The rush of the wind mixed with the tinny music had a post-apocalyptic air about it. Several people shuffling out of the Dairy Queen had a distinctly Zombie-like look about them. Well, eating junk food is a little bit like feasting on human flesh.

Soon we were within sight of the flashing, tacky lights. I felt a little like Pinocchio on his way to Pleasure Island. Do my ears look bigger to you ?