Worn out from yet another trip to one of the world’s various crapholes, I had recently returned home to San Diego, just missing the insane El Nino-driven flooding. The sun was out, the skies were clear, and I was looking forward to some nice R&R on the beach, even with the stinking hippies lurking about in my alley. Alas, it was not to be.

I had accepted an invitation from SOFREP to go take a look at the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show, taking place in America’s worst large city—a city where the hopes and dreams of countless young boys and girls are gambled away at the craps table, a city in which you can never really rule out the possibility that the woman you are talking to in a bar is actually a man/prostitute. Of course I’m speaking of America’s scabby, amiable panhandler: Las Vegas, Nevada.

I lubed up my trusty Toyota 4Runner, kicked the tires, and lit the candle. I reluctantly left Ocean Beach and started heading into the deserts of inland California.


Realizing that gasoline in California is still like twice as expensive as the rest of the country (it’s still almost three bucks here in a lot of places), I formed a plan. I had enough fuel to get me out of city centers, and I figured I’d gas up out in the desert somewhere, assuming that the fuel would be much cheaper. Of course, I hadn’t counted on the unrelenting greed of the high-desert bastards.

I pulled into the Shell station on Cima road, only a few miles from the Nevada border. By the time I left, I was seething. Don’t get me wrong: Did I enjoy urinating into the decorative fountain urinal? Yes. Did I enjoy the 14 different selections of homemade beef jerky? Obvie. Did I enjoy the outdoor display of the life-size prospectors panning for gold? It was freaking outstanding. All of those things were good.

What was NOT good was the price of gasoline. FOUR GODDAMN DOLLARS A GALLON. I mean, what kind of desert grifting CHISELERS have the gumption to charge that much for a gallon of gasoline? It was appalling. Frankly, I was even a bit offended. But, since I was running on fumes, I really didn’t have a choice, so the sons of bitches got over on me. I felt like running over the prospector display, but they looked so friendly and old-timey, I just couldn’t do it. Four bucks a gallon…how do you people sleep at night?

So, not a great start. But I figured it would all be worth it when we arrived. SOFREP had arranged for us all to stay at an Airbnb that the company had rented. I had already pictured it all in my head. This was Vegas, and men-about-town such as myself were going to be put up in a pimpin’-ass mansion. I was picturing something along the lines of this Jay-Z video. You know, phat crib, probably some Dom on ice, maybe a few scantily clad chicks running around serving us cocktails. We’d all get our own rooms, maid/butler, probably a new watch for everyone, etc. Basically, all of the things rappers have informed me that I, as a man, may expect when in the company of big-time media ballers.