This is part two of PCPPP’s Science Fortnight, where we are testing the theory that the more you recall a memory the more likely you are to alter said memory. Part one can be foundHere. The skinny is that Pat and I have agreed to recall a spring break road trip we took our freshman year in college to see if we have any conflicting memories. If so, this may be evidence that this theory is indeed valid. In this installment, I will recall my version of the trip. Next week we will post Pat’s version and our conclusions. What an exciting time to be alive! Ah, spring break freshman year of college. Back in the day when invading Iraq was a novel and fresh idea. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the greatest memory but I’ll do my best to recall what I can. Here we go.
The lead of my yellow Sanford American HB #2 pencil broke as I was finishing the last problem on my Physics 252 final, inside room 203 of Willamette Hall. As I pulled out my spare red Dixon 2H #4, I noticed Professor Wilkes was reading a 2nd addition of “The Russia House” by John Le Carre. He adjusted his blue and black pin striped tie as he turned the page of his battered paperback, which wore obvious signs of multiple readings and much water damage. I finished off calculating the distance a 4.8 kg block slides up a 30° incline with 118 J of kinetic energy with a coefficient of friction of 0.30, and bolted out the silver rustic doors with venetian bronze handles, of Willamette Hall. The slight drizzle, with 77% humidity, didn’t damper my excitement as I knew we would be leaving for our spring break trip the next day.
The rest of the trip is more of a blur. I do remember that Pat and I had decided to drive to Reno for a week long ski vacation to get away from the constant toga parties, panty-raiding, and prank pulling on that evil Dean. Meanwhile our two friends Melissa and Zan were trying to plan a trip to Las Vegas to visit another mutual friend of ours, Erin. To protect their identities we’ll change Melissa’s name to Margery and we’ll change Zan’s gender to male and call her Stephon. We’ll change Erin to being a parakeet and change her name to Mr. Crackers. Pat’s name will be Pierre Lefebufe. Wait... we don’t need to change Pat’s name. So I guess we’ll just call him Pat.
So anyways, Melissa and Zan were trying to plan a trip to Vegas to visit Erin. I came up with the brilliant idea of combining the two, and I remember that Pat, Melissa, Zan, and Mr. Crackers were all in agreement that I continued to demonstrate unsurpassed intellect and impeccable fashion sense.
The plan was to spend a few days in Reno, ski, and then head to Las Vegas. We headed south in my jet-fighter blue Subaru action wagon (the official color was baby blue but I had convinced everyone the color was called jet-fighter blue. I also added the “action” to the model). On the way there the action wagon started to show signs that something was amiss, and as we pulled into our hotel parking lot, after a 10+ hour drive, it literally died on us coasting into a parking spot. Phew! We were staying at some random hotel the first night but were changing locations the next night to the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino for the remainder of our stay in Reno.
The next morning we called for a tow truck to tow us to the nearest mechanic. The Reno Gods were looking out for us that day because the closest mechanic happen to be a 76 Station/Garage directly across the street from Circus Circus (the 76 Station isn’t there anymore if you happen to be looking for it while reading this). The four of us packed ourselves into the front seat of the tow truck and were chauffeured like rock stars over to the 76 Station. We then walked across the street dragging our luggage to the hotel. Later that day the Reno Gods stopped looking out for us (stupid Reno Gods!) as we found out the car was going to be in the shop for a couple of days which meant less days for skiing. In fact it left just one day for skiing.
In the meantime, we piddled around Reno and enjoyed its spoils which included a sign stating that Reno was some kind of big small city and more pawn shops than anyone could humanly imagine. Circus Circus itself had all the class and glamor of an Arby’s but we made the most of it. I recall one night we played some drinking game called One Up or One Down or something like that. The whole goal of the game was to figure out the rules of the game so it was rather fun. I ended up drinking a lot because I did very poorly at it (or did I?). I don’t remember how we got the alcohol since we were all under age at the time, so I’m assuming we transported it there from Oregon, Smokey and the Bandit style.
After the car was fixed we did our one day of skiing up at Squaw Valley. The four of us drove up to the mountain (On the drive up we passed some guy that was driving while drinking a can of Budweiser. How shameful. Really, a Budweiser?) but only Pat and I skied. I remember that everyone up on the mountain seemed very impressed with my alpine skills and unsurpassed intellect. I have no idea what Zan and Melissa did during that day but they did pick us up afterwards which must have been a huge amount of excitement for them.
Then it was onto phase two of the vacation: Destination Vegas. On the long drive there, we were in the middle of one of those Nevada driving stretches where the road remains entirely straight for as far as you can see for about 10 to 14 hours. I had just woken up from napping to find myself driving the car. Now that I was feeling refreshed, I really started to enjoy being out on the open road, until....
I eventually came up on some slow traffic due to some obviously deranged lunatic driving 35 in a 55 mph zone. Around this time I had also noticed that there was a police car or what I call a “smokey”, a couple of cars behind us. But since I wasn’t currently being framed for a crime I didn’t commit, I thought nothing of it. One by one the cars in front of me passed this certifiable menace of a dawdling driver. It was now my turn. I waited for the oncoming lane to clear and executed an absolutely perfect pass, with proper blinker usage and all. Seconds later the cop car was behind us with lights flashing. He couldn’t be pulling me over to compliment me on my exquisite passing skills and unsurpassed intellect could he? No.
“Hello Mr. Officer”, I said with as much fake cheer as I could muster.
“You’re lucky I’m not pulling your mangled bodies out of some burning wreckage,” he said.
Wow, these Nevada state police troopers have an odd sense of humor, I thought. Turns out they don’t. He was completely serious and quite the ass. Apparently, while I was passing that mentally unbalanced lethargic driver, I drove past a dirt farm road that was perpendicular to the highway. Turns out the police officer considered this an “intersection” even though there wasn’t any stop signs or any signs at all for that matter. And it’s illegal to pass someone while going through an “intersection”, as I had just learned (in Nevada the word intersection must be one of those words that have different meanings for different people, like homage, chippy or homonym).
We eventually did make it to Las Vegas without suffering any fiery deaths. Erin was attending UNLV so we were able to stay in the dorms with her. Melissa and Zan were in her room while Pat and I got to stay in the room across the hall which belonged to a couple of Erin’s friends who were just heading out of town for their spring break. I remember Erin’s friends being very impressed with my story telling capabilities and unsurpassed intellect.
We spent our time in Vegas touring UNLV’s campus and visiting all the cool casinos, which I remember hardly any of. But for some reason I do have a very vivid memory of watching the movie “Quick Change” starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid, in the lounge area of Erin’s dorm, during one afternoon. So as you can see, it was a very wild time in Vegas.