Hitching Across America — Las Vegas


Rule of Thumb — Part Three

Hitching across the United States, a very different kind of travel guide. Part Three.

Let’s be straight with one another, let’s get this over with. I don’t like you and you don’t like me. I think you’re brash, wealth-obsessed, full of losers and. Well. Just plain ugly. You think I’m a bum. Rest assured I’m only here anyway because Nevada comes before California in the geography alphabet – east-west – of American states. My backpack makes its way through Vegas

I watch the thousands of tiny, little lights as they light up the thousands of tiny, little lives. Those who aren’t losers already are sure to be by the end of the night. The house always wins, that’s what it’s built on. These concrete blocks rising out of the desert valley, foundations laid on the dead hopes of a billion deadheads who dreamed of the better life. The only other person I like in this place is my shadow.

Hitching Across America — New York to San Francisco

Illustrations, Will Harvey

You should go, take a look at it. The place looks better when you’re leaving. I look at Bellagio, fountains illuminated like some high-end garden centre. Everyone’s excited because they saw these places on a big screen and now they’re actually here, as close to that Big Screen as reality allows. Inside the casinos are no clocks, no windows, no thing to help you keep track of time once you lose track of how much money you’re losing. They say they pipe oxygen into the casinos, so as to make you feel good about yourself, emboldened on the way to new heights of stupid at the blackjack table. All I smell is stale cigarettes, because we’re in Vegas, where you’re allowed to smoke indoors. A pole dancer takes her abs and buttocks in and out of stage lights, pale skin turning green and then blue. She looks bored, disinterested, an object of desire that everyone’s too busy losing money to start desiring. I try to remember the last time I saw a human look so sad. Back outside a Mexican dressed as a dinosaur has removed his soft, cuddly head, he stands beside me and I watch the body of a dinosaur as its head smokes a cigarette.

I head out, I walk the last of the Strip. The crowds thin as the lights fade. I turn round. I look at it. Glowing, shooting, throbbing. Lights in the darkness. I turn again. I walk out into the desert.


Documentary project postponed for twelve months, London home rented, Julian Sayarer – former world record holder of circumnavigation by bike, author of Life Cycles and devout consumerism antagonist – finds himself at a loose end in New York. A some time travel writer, Sayarer decides the best decision for his career is to hitchhike some 3,000 miles across the vast republic. As you do. New York to San Francisco: welcome to another side of America…

Hitching Across America — New York to San Francisco