I, my sister and our friend took a trip from Yuma, AZ to Laughlin NV and along the way we discovered what we have now come to call “The Gilligan Vortex”.
Our day started out joyously and uncomplicated. It was filled with the anticipation of riches to be won which required nothing more stressful than getting everything packed into my sister’s car then getting in and driving away. My sister stopped at a gas station in Yuma and filled up before we officially headed out of town at 9:00 a.m. according to our friend’s GPS which she fondly calls “The Bitch”. Our estimated time of arrival in Laughlin, she announces, is 12:30 p.m. not accounting for stops along the way, and so our tale begins.
When we arrive in Quartzsite, AZ, 84+ miles from Yuma we stop for gas and a potty break (10 minutes max) then it was onto Lake Havasu City AZ, another 75 miles, where we stopped again and grabbed a quick bite at a fast food restaurant and filled up (20 minutes) with our last stop anticipated to be Laughlin, NV. Prior to pulling out of the station our friend once again consulted The Bitch which now estimated our new time of arrival in Laughlin, after the two stops, at 1:00 p.m. Awesome, lots and lots of time to get lunch, head into the casino, win lots of money, no problemo…we thought. With no delays, no stops, nothing to account for an extended arrival time we pulled into the hotel parking lot at 2:35 p.m., an hour and a half later than anticipated. What started out as a casual, fun filled, 4 hour tour/trip from my sister’s house in Yuma, AZ to the gambling Mecca of Laughlin, NV ended up defying all the laws of physics and common sense when it turned into a five and a half hour trip leaving one and a half hours of our lives unaccounted for. Now, before you even go there, understand between the three of us (two having actually been there several times) scratching our heads while figuring and refiguring, going over the day which included the stops already mentioned, the speed of the car and traffic, setting and resetting “The Bitch” we still couldn’t figure this one out.
Well, it eventually took a backseat to all the fun and gambling we were doing and was only brought up here and there over the next couple of days with wonder, humor and, I admit on my part, a small amount of consternation. What the hell did happen to that hour and a half?? All that aside, we had a great time, my sister won all my money, the two of them got to see Reba Macintyre perform and I had a relaxing enjoyable weekend with my sweet sister and her crazy, funny friend, all in all, lost time aside, it was a great weekend.
Sadly, as we all know, vacations have to end sometime and the day ultimately came for us to leave. My sister went to get the car while our friend and I went up to the room to get all our bags. Our friend grabs her already packed bag, I grab my already packed bag along with my sister’s then both inspect the room thoroughly not wanting to leave anything behind. Satisfied that we had everything we headed downstairs and met up with my sister at the car. It is 10:40 a.m. when we consult The Bitch and pull out of the parking lot headed back to Yuma.
This next part I fondly compare, in my mind, to an unaired episode of Gilligan’s Island where the Marx Brothers mysteriously show up and confusion and hilarity ensue.
We leave the hotel at 10:40 a.m., I’m driving, our friend is next to me in the front seat along with “The Bitch” and my sister is in the back relaxing. As I drive toward the main road my sister says to go left, her friend says the Bitch says to go right. I stop at the road and wait for them to come to some kind of consensus – it’s to turn right. So right I go for less than a quarter mile where I am stopped at a light. Construction is happening behind us and on the road ahead, cars are backed up but we patiently wait for our light to turn and the traffic to start moving. It’s quiet as we wait when suddenly I hear a startled, “Oh my God!” come out of the friend next to me. I immediately look around for some kind of danger heading toward us that she must see and I don’t; my first thought being a bull dozer or backhoe about to ram into us. Seconds later my attention is drawn back inside the car by our friend who is frantically waving around a white piece of paper. It turns out to be a slot machine ticket worth $75 that she’d forgotten to cash out. Relieved we weren’t in any imminent danger of maiming or death, I determined we were easily able to turn around, which I did and we headed back to the casino we had just left a few minutes before. Not a big deal, my sister and I wait as the friend goes inside and comes back out about ten minutes later with her money. She straps in and we head out again, it is now 11:10. We are soon back to where we were before, same spot on the road, sitting in traffic. After a few minutes of looking at the cars backed up, unmoving and unending, I make an executive decision; we’re taking a different route out of there. Our friend consults the Bitch who advises us to turn around and head back the way we came (twice now), down Casino Road, past the entrance to the hotel technically taking the left my sister had originally suggested. A short few minutes later we find ourselves at the crossroads of Casino Road and the Needles highway, directly across from Gilligan’s Bar and Grill where our friend tells us the Bitch says to take a left, so left we go, finally on our way home.
The next half an hour passed pretty quickly, little traffic, good speed, all is right with the world when a voice comes out of the back seat and quietly say to me, “Where’s your computer?”
“FUCK! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” comes out of my mouth before I can stop it. In my concern to make sure I had my sister’s bag and my bag I completely forgot I had my laptop and that I had put it into the closet so it wouldn’t be out and readily in view should someone that shouldn’t be there came into the room. I had no idea I was also hiding it from myself! To make matters worse, it wasn’t actually my laptop, it belonged to my work….CRAP! So the next exit became our turn around and we were soon headed back to Laughlin at the highest rate of speed I felt I could get away doing. In the meantime our friend tries, mostly in vain, to get a cell signal out in the desert to call the hotel and ask them to secure the laptop. Time and miles pass and I finally see the Laughlin exit. I am about to take it when the friend shouts for me to keep going! “Remember”, she said, “it’s the second Laughlin exit with the purple billboard that we want.” Oh, right, I’d forgotten that. So, keeping an eye out, not for the Laughlin exit but the “purple billboard” I continue down the freeway at top speed, half my mind on the road and the other half ping ponging between worry about getting through to the hotel and visions of one of the staff absconding with the laptop. It’s silent in the car for several miles except for the constant hum of the tires on the road and our friend’s voice as she occasionally curses the cell towers then once again my sister’s voice comes from the back seat, this time with a great deal more urgency attached to it. “Oh, no! Take this exit!” Our friend and I both look at the exit sign zooming up on us which says ‘Starlight’ ‘Las Vegas’ not ‘Laughlin’ as we had expected. What the hell happened to the fricking purple sign!!??? Not interested in questioning the situation or our location, trusting my sister’s experience, I swing onto the exit realizing we’d obviously somehow completely missed the second exit with the purple billboard ending up quite a bit further north than we should have been. Now the question became, do we turn around and head back to the Laughlin exit or do we take this freeway which will ultimately, according to the Bitch, provide an alternate route to Laughlin? It was decided, keep going on that freeway which, it turns out, added another 40 miles or so and another 40 minutes to our already 30 or more minutes trying to get back. So what took us 30 minutes to drive away from, we were now driving back to in 70. We end up approaching Laughlin on the Needles highway from the opposite direction we had left in. Ironically we had to take a left at Gilligan’s Bar and Grill to enter Casino Road and return to the hotel we’d left at 10:40 and again at 11:10 that same morning. Fortunately my laptop was safe and was brought to me in the lobby whereupon we decided to take a few minutes and have one last drink while decompresing from the stress of the attempts we’d already made to leave Laughlin. After a drink and bit of gambling we made our third, and what we hoped would be our final departure from the hotel. So, at 1:40 p.m. the car with the three of us and all of our luggage once again pulled out of the hotel entrance, once again turned left onto Casino road, turned left for the third time at Gilligan’s Bar and Grill onto the Needles highway headed for home. I am happy to say we arrived, without incident, at 6:30 p.m. that night with little to no discussion from any of us regarding the fact that it took us five hours to get back, still a half an hour less than it took to get there. At least this time we knew why…
Later on we decided, after all the talk and all the debate and all the considerations were voiced and thought through, was the loss of time we experienced in the Arizona desert heading toward Laughlin boiled down to two possible explanations; 1) we were abducted by aliens or 2) we went through a vortex. We unanimously decided we liked the vortex theory the best because none of us want to think about what could have happened to us in an hour and a half….