Fear, Loathing and Tony Robbins in Las Vegas - Chapter 3

Continued from Chapter 2

One to Get Ready

I considered a million ways I could try and raise money for the trip and nothing sang to me. I have a process where I review my options and look for something that sings to me. That feels good and right. Nothing.

Of course, I considered putting up a GoFundMe page. But my experience there, for much better causes than sending me to Las Vegas, was not so good.

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.gofundme.com/" target="_blank">gofundme</a>

Begging to my friends and family thankfully wasn’t an option, because I had no reason to believe it would work.

As the day of departure drew near, I decided it was in God’s hands.

I would go with not quite enough money for Hostel and food. I could still afford to lose a few pounds.


In my youth, I hitchhiked across the country; often making an impromptu campsite out of the bushes. I decided to throw in a little tent. That should have set off alarm bells but it didn’t. I had a big bag … why not?

I didn’t think it through, I had a old picture in my mind of the Las Vegas of my youth, 50 years ago. When you could just walk a block or two into the desert and call it a night. I was thinking maybe I might do that a night or two to allow for eating money.

Finding the desert in Las Vegas these days is impossible.

What was I thinking? There are people sleeping in tents in Las Vegas today but it is very different.

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.mission.net/nevada/las-vegas/pictures.php?pID=9270" target="_blank">LDS Missionary Network

Ground Transportation

So, the day finally arrived. Yeehaw (my Service Animal) and I were packed and ready. From our home on Treasure Island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay we took the Muni bus across the Bay Bridge to the Embarcadero BART station to SFO, San Francisco International Airport.

We got to the bus stop a little early and one of our neighbors asked where we were going. I said Las Vegas to see Tony Robbins. He said he had met Tony. He had been to one of his seminars many many years ago.

I thought of other people I knew who had been to one of Tony’s events. Worried me a little bit. It’s tempting to think of Tony being a sort of magic portal to success.

It made me acknowledge to myself that meeting Tony Robbins won’t guarantee success. He can rev up the motor and help fine tune the plan; but it will still be up to me to execute on the Lemons2 game plan.

Baggage Fee?

Getting to SFO was a breeze and before I knew it I was checking in. And the first surprise “How do you want to pay for the baggage fee Sir?” Huh, baggage fee? I only have one bag. Right Sir that will be $25.

San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport

Quick accounting, the $57 ticket was paid for. The Hostel reserved without paying. I had a total of $124. OK, bag on board and we have a grand total of $99. for 5 days in Vegas.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Las Vegas has great bus service to the Airport! Only $5 for a 24 hour pass!

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rtcsnv.com/touristms/routes.html" target="_blank">RTC</a>

But finding the Bus Stop took a trip or two across the Airport and Yeehaw was getting really tired. Yeehaw is 11 and has been in Service 10+ years. She is still doing great but has arthritis. We had a long way to go before we were going get some rest today!

I was really worried about her.. About then I noticed an abandoned wheelchair.


Being the brilliant Service Animal that she is; Yeehaw learned how to ride a wheelchair in about a minute! We positioned my bag on the foot rests and off we went. We found the Bus Stop eventually and got on board headed to Downtown Las Vegas!

The wheelchair was working awesome, simple to get on and off the bus and easy to push. Yeehaw was loving it. Bus drivers had to think about it, it was a new thing to all of them. But a disabled persons service animal in the chair instead of the disabled person didn’t break any rules. So everyone waited while the driver put down the ramp and strapped her chair in.

Take Out Delivery

We missed the Fremont Street stop, and we got off the bus a few blocks away. It was full dark and the lights of the Fremont Street Experience were bright and inviting in the distance. We could hear the music, I thought it sounded exciting.

As I pushed Yeehaw down the sidewalk, we saw a young woman coming our way. We moved to the side to allow her plenty of room to pass. But she stopped and said; “Would you like something to eat?”

The combination of the totally unexpectedness and the nature of the question caused me to say something intelligent like; What? She said, “I work at a restaurant nearby and I just got off. Would you like a Fruit Salad?”

Normally I would have felt awkward and said, no thank you. But the reality of a Fruit Salad sounded wonderful! It was over 90 degrees and nothing could have been better.

And it seemed like a part of the adventure. I got over my pride and said; Sure, Thank You!

She reached in her bag, handed me a cool, sealed salad. She reached in her bag again and handed me two huge cookies. “We bake these fresh.” Flashed me a smile and was gone. I yelled “Thank You!” at her silhouette as she disappeared.

Yeehaw was grinning, I decided this was all good. She is the best people barometer ever.

Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign

If I had the choice of anything to eat from anywhere at that moment a Fruit Salad would have been it. It came out of the blue like magic; free, delivered! The first thing to happen after getting off the bus in Las Vegas. I took it as a sign, a sign of what I wasn’t quite sure. But it didn’t feel like we were going to hungry. So far so good!

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.neonmuseum.org/?utm_source=GOOGLE&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=the%20neon%20museum&utm_campaign

I look Homeless?

She had obviously brought the food to give to the homeless on her way home from work. A really wonderful young lady that was out to help the homeless directly. But why had she thought we were homeless?

Then I realized; bags and dog on a wheelchair on the back streets of downtown Las Vegas. OK I guess I could look homeless.

Homeless in Las Vegas
Homeless in Las Vegas

That is kind of weird and disturbing but given the nature of my adventure, I decided to accept it. The Fruit Salad was wonderful and the cookies kept me going to the next two days!

As long as the Casinos didn’t think I looked Homeless! That would be a problem. You see zero, I mean really zero, homeless looking people inside the Casinos and their malls. We didn’t want to find out how that was accomplished.

Freemont Street Experence

Five blocks of city street turned into a walking mall covered by one giant video screen.

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://vegasexperience.com/" target="_blank">Fremont Street Experience</a>

It was live! Bright lights, crowds and loud music. I was excited to see the band when I noticed that Yeehaw wasn’t so happy. Riding in her chair she was gliding through the crowd getting lots of attention but her expression wasn’t happy. I realized it was the volume of the music hurting her ears. So much for dancing, we made our way down the Experience away from the music that had suddenly become noise.


It was hot and I was sweating. So, we went into a Casio looking for someplace to sit down in the AC. After walking through a couple of Casinos with no luck I decided to sit at a penny slot machine. You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket they say. I thought I would give Lady Luck a chance, just one. And if nothing else see how long a dollar would buy me. Turns out not very long.

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2555025/Who-Lions-Share-Las-Vegas-slot-machine-hit-jackpot-20

Still hot and tired but not sweating anymore I decided we were done with the Freemont Experience.

Oh Thank Heaven

I needed a big drink and Yeehaw needed a treat. I brought up Maps and there was a 7-11 a few blocks away. A Big Gulp and Big Bite deal would be perfect and in budget.

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://classiclasvegas.squarespace.com/display/ShowJournal?moduleId=593482&registeredAuthorId=85663&c

It was late and there was only one hot dog on the grill. When I asked for it, the clerk said it was old he was going to throw it away. I could have it for free if I wanted. I wanted. I said yes thank you. Knowing Yeehaw would love it even more that way.

My Big Gulp looked sooo freaking good! I realized I needed to hydrate more, the heat was starting to get to me already. At check out, I brought up the App and it was my 7th, a freebie!

The second time this evening we were eating for free. Cool, but hummm, you know what I mean? Thank You God! But things that make you go hummmm? It’s getting a little weird.

Signs, signs everywhere a sign.

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.neonmuseum.org/" target="_blank">The Neon Museum</a>

Passport in Vegas?

By all accounts Las Vegas is still a part of the United States, right?

So why would any American need a passport in Vegas? Because they want to stay in a Hostel, that’s why! Passport required plus State issued ID, State Law the Las Vegas Hostel said.

Sure enough it is on their website. You don’t need a passport if you have Canadian Drivers licence. Huh? But a US Drivers Licence won’t get you in, you also need a US Passport. You can’t stay at all if you live in Nevada. Wierd!

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/apply.html" target="_blank">U.S. Department o

Yes, this whole story turns into an extreme endurance event because of all things, I didn’t bring a passport to Las Vegas. If I tried to use this in a sitcom or drama you wouldn’t buy it. But reality can be weirder than fiction. So, yes indeed I needed a passport in Las Vegas.

I stood there in dumb shock saying again and again this can’t be right. It was right, no passport no Hostel.

This sign said danger rough road ahead!

Hustled not Hosteled

I realized that we couldn’t afford the cheapest motels. I was in shock and really didn’t know what to do. I sat down on a bus stop bench. A young lady was also sitting there and we started to talk. She couldn’t believe the passport thing either! She asked what I was going to do? I said I really didn’t know.

She said maybe she could help. She had my full attention. She said she had a spare bedroom. Just her husband and her. They could use the money, if I was willing to pay them the $15 a day she thought he would go for it.

I was elated! Not the pool I had planned on but a room with AC would be just great. We walked a couple of blocks to her place.

She said to give her the money and she would go in and talk to her husband. She would be back with a key or my money. I didn’t think twice I handed her $60 and said thank you!

A half hour later I knocked on the door. Yes, they knew the girl I was talking about. Yes, she had been there but she wasn’t there anymore. She didn’t live there.

But there was a peculiar smell in the air, one I recognized. They were smoking meth. He noticed me notice. I told him that I guess I would just have to call the police then, to report being ripped off here. Suddenly he was more cooperative.


Turned out she had picked up some Meth and went out the back door. No, they didn’t know where she lived. I was really angry. They were angry, with her for bringing trouble to their door. They sure didn’t want the cops coming!

Trying to calm me down he opened the door and offered; “I’m really sorry that happened to you. Did you want to come in, sit down and have a smoke? It’s really good shit. Free!”

At that moment, it did sound really tempting. One hit on that pipe and I wouldn’t care that I didn’t have a clue where we were going to sleep tonight. I simply wouldn’t sleep.

I briefly considered spending the next 4 days wired and shuddered. I did my time not sleeping long, long ago; before we all learned its destructive, evil nature. I got out of that world without damage but I know so many who didn’t. People I love, lost to that evil drug.

It was a temptation that given the moment was non-trivial but it wasn’t even a serious consideration. That was not a solution to anything. I wouldn’t live with tweekers. I said no thanks and left.

The Breakdown

So, $93 - $60 = just $33 left and four days to go. What are we going to do now? I found a private corner hugged my Yeehaw and cried. What was I going to do? How was I going to take care of Yeehaw! Why God? Why?

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.tonyrobbins.com/leadership-impact/lifes-guiding-force/" target="_blank">Tony Robbins</a>

I pulled myself together and decided this was a test. A test I was going to pass. We would survive and triumph!


For now, I was going to focus on gratitude, it’s a life saver. I was so grateful for my wonderful furry Angel Yeehaw being with me. I wasn’t alone and she loves me. That is so much more than many people have. I am so grateful that I am blessed with my sons, my strength and smarts. . .

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.tonyrobbins.com/" target="_blank">Tony Robbins</a>

As I counted my blessings a sense of peace came over me. We would be OK and there was value in this experience if I was willing to see it. I would trust God has a plan and this is all part of it.

Time to get off my ass and see what is waiting around the corner. I wiped my face off and headed off down the sidewalk pushing Yeehaw. I realized I was smiling! I started singing Zipped De Do Dauh to myself, everything good is coming my way... I just keep walking for a very, very long time.

The start of Tony Robbins Business Mastery was less than 8 hours away!

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.tonyrobbins.com/" target="_blank">Tony Robbins</a>
Thank You for Reading Chapter 3! In Chapter 4 Yeehaw and I life Hack our way to Tony Robbins with a $25,000 Poker Chip and our adventure continues. Thank You for reading so far. I really appreciate your comments and feedback. Jess
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.