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April 15, 2017 - Conclusion next week, for now, part two of the travel blog:

April 8, 2017 - So much for not getting caught in the rain. Last night was cold and raining and I had to stand outside to wait for the bus getting wet. I think a poncho certainly needs to be added to the list of things worth taking, also a slightly more waterproof backpack might be necessary, but I'm still evaluating how much I need to pack. Up until this point having both a jacket and a sweatshirt seemed redundant, but I was definitely glad to have both now as the sweatshirt is too damp to use for warmth at the moment. If it's April now, this means having proper attire in San Francisco will be difficult for half the year.

Anyway after I boarded the bus, I removed my wet sweatshirt a put on my longsleeve t-shirt over the t-shirt I was already wearing and put on the jacket. My previous night had been rather cold on the bus and especially being somewhat damp I wanted to stay warm. Every seat on the bus sold out, making for a cramped uncomfortable ride, and it took about an hour for people to really figure out the concept of a redeye and stop talking, so I'm not feeling like I got the best sleep. Overall the bus ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles is proving the most popular, perhaps due to leaving at 10:30pm instead of an hour later, and it's making it the most uncomfortable in the process.

Arriving in Los Angeles my socks were still a little damp, so I made a beeline to the bathroom to change into dryer socks. I then made my way back to USC to change the rest of my clothes in one of their bathrooms with the intention of spending the rest of the day in one of the libraries until my friend K informed me her plans for the day had changed at which point I went to her place to hang out, shower, do some food shopping, and write this blog.

In a bit of a departure from previous days I bought heavily discounted hotdog rolls instead of bread, a carrot, and a can of beans, all for under $2. But now writing this later, having consumed all that, I'm not sure it was enough food. I had intended to hold out until Monday for spending on a Las Vegas buffet, but may end up doing that tomorrow instead. The other big goal is laundry if you don't count hopefully finally getting a bed to myself and catching some sleep, a much more preferrable catch than last night's rain catching me.

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April 9, 2017 - I lost my sweatshirt yesterday and have no idea what happened to it. I think this may be an issue tomorrow night as I'm waiting for my final bus as it was quite cold when I disembarked in Las Vegas this morning.

Otherwise the lack of sleep is catching up with me so I'm grateful to have checked into a hotel to deal with that, what I'm not grateful for is Hotwire not informing me of the resort fee I was wary I would encounter when checking in and using vague language about whether or not it was included. I was aware that Las Vegas is notorious for mandatory resort fees (and I think it's an issue that the consumer protection agency should crack down on and hard in the near future) and as a test run I did want to take a risk in booking a hotel other than the one hotel that promises no resort fees, but it's looking like it didn't pay off and instead of paying $27 for a room I'm paying $41. Either way it's a really cheap room, but I really wanted to get the cheapest and may have been able to do better (and $41 plus $6 for bus tickets plus maybe another $3 for gym fees, laundry, and other living related expenses equals $50 a week, which might even be enough for like actual rent in some parts of the country). But part of that is on me for booking the room last minute for a Sunday night, instead of booking well in advance in the middle of the week. Lessons to take forward I suppose.

On the bright side, there seems to be both a laundromat and a Burger King within walking distance, though I'm unsure where I'll get my daily loaf of bread. I may end up skipping it and then really be solid on getting that buffet tomorrow. I did a lot more walking today than I really intended to do, and cheated a bit in terms of sourcing what I can do to occupy my time by dipping into the budget I have for my later vacation and gambling rather than looking into more affordable entertainment options. I swear I'll check out the Las Vegas public library tomorrow. For now, I'm going to take a shower and then head over to the laundromat, even though I'm not going to be able to wash my sweatshirt.

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April 10, 2017 - I failed to realize the lateness of the hour in my last entry and subsequently decided to forego the laundromat for another day in favor of basking in the freedom to walk around a hotel room barefoot and not being in an unfamiliar location after dark. With the exception of the few times I've been able to change socks and the handful of showers I've taken, removing socks has not been an option and the ability to at least sleep barefoot is an overlooked luxury. Also worth considering is the fact that I still have clean clothes for another day, a clear indication I overpacked.

In the morning I get a text message from my father indicating he read the entries I'd posted. I'd avoided telling my parents about this experiment for I feared they would disapprove, and I call him immediately to try to reassure him that I'm okay. I don't think I do a great job, and I can hear concern in his voice about my diet and my safety. After hanging up I take a shower and get a chance to really evaluate my emotional state. It's not seeming great, and I end up crying, which if nothing else at least offers a release.

I remain in the hotel until about fifteen minutes until checkout time, and then proceed to the laundromat after checking out. Laundry ends up taking 90 minutes or so and costing me $2. Combined with the knowledge I overpacked, I'm not certain that laundry is a worthwhile expense, and I'd be better served attempting hand washing and drying clothing in my own hotel room. But the potential for disaster for that problem seems very high. As it stands, after washing my clothes, two of my T-shirts seem to have horrible stains or stains I failed to notice before my trip. I'm going to try to see what I can do when I return home, but if the shirts are unsalvageable that may mean that there are durability concerns with some of the clothing I brought which would only add to costs with a living situation like this.

After the laundromat it's off to the buffet. I end up going to the Port O Call Buffet at the Gold Coast. It costs me $11.90 after tax, plus a $3 tip because while I may be cheap, but I'm not going to be such a dick to stiff service. I think if I join some kind of membership program I can shave $2-3 off the $11.90, but I'm not going to do that now. Either way, this food is quite possibly the worst food I've ever eaten, and this is coming from someone who's barely eaten in a week. Almost everything is bland, overcooked, and/or the wrong temperature and only by being so hungry am I really able to force down four plates of it. In theory it should get me back to one hundred percent as far as dietary requirements are concerned, but since eating it I've felt truly lousy and it's hard to determine if it's a food quality issue or if it's related to how little I've eaten the past week. Afterall, yesterday I did indeed only end up having Burger King chicken nuggets.

After eating I have to make a beeline to the bathroom, and then about half an hour later, I'm again in the bathroom a little ways down the road at Ceasar's Palace. There's a large part of me that wishes I'd done the buffet yesterday to have the hotel room to fall back on, but it would have been a hellish journey from the buffet back to the hotel. Instead I make my way to the Library having to stop frequently on account of the meal I consumed. Though not nearly as nice as the San Francisco library the Las Vegas library still has a lot of the useful amenities though I opt not to try to log on to the internet while I'm here. The intention is to stay here until just before dusk and then probably do some more gambling before heading to the bus station, though hanging out in the casino sports book watching espn seems like an alternative one could regularly do more cheaply.

Tomorrow I meet with my friend T for lunch in LA at which point I will declare this experiment officially over. This is already my longest entry so I think I'll reserve any conclusions for a bit, I am still digesting this lunch after all, but there is still my intention to check out the Los Angeles public library tomorrow and more importantly catch that 1am bus back to LA. I hope I don't get too caught up in the casino and realize the lateness of the hour when it's time to head to the bus station.

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April 11, 2017 - Made my way to the Los Angeles public library as a matter of completion. It's fine.

Otherwise I don't think there's much else to say about what's occured day to day since my last entry, so I suppose now I should examine some of the conclusions I've reached. First and foremost is the fact that physically this seems totally doable. There are a handful of supplies I didn't have and would have liked to have had, the diet needs some serious revision but actually doing this would afford more openness to accepting handouts (which I still somewhat cheated on) but is overall looking acceptable despite the awfulness of the Gold Coast Buffet, and I did somehow manage enough sleep. If the goal was to end the week relatively close in terms of physical health to how I started the week, I succeeded.

Now, of course, comes an analysis of how actually practical such a plan is. I discussed April 9th that this was still running about $50 a week at least, which could still probably afford a more comfortable living arangement. Guaranteeing $1 bus tickets seems almost impossible with how these things evaporate almost as soon as they are posted and serve more as an advertising gimmick than a resource one can reliably obtain especially for specific times, such as redeyes (though it may be possible to work out some sort of deal calling customer service). There are also challenges to keeping one's pack light which I feel I could have managed better and minimizing physical exertion which I also feel I could have managed better. There's also the issue of revising my diet, which I already alluded to. And this furthermore doesn't take into account the potential emotional strain it may put on many of one's personal relationships as I discussed yesterday.

Still, I feel this kinda worked. Though those italics hardly do justice to how heavily I should be emphasizing kinda. I'm not completely burned out (again notice those italics), and I think a certain romanticization of life on the road remains. I can't really describe why I wanted to do this project, just that it was something that had me curious and if no one else was going to do it why not me?

And honestly, that question of "why not me" really should be rephrased as "why me" because as I alluded to last week, there are certain considerations about my health, race, and gender that should not be ignored. But right now I need to meet my friend T for lunch and actually enjoy eating food "normally" again. I will be posting a conclusion that addresses those other considerations to conclude this trip though at least as a matter of completion.

-D