I find myself sitting here writing this nostalgia piece because right now is the one year anniversary of Generation: High Output’s first trip to Las Vegas and our first trip to SEMA. I’ve said it before and you may be able to see it in the goings on of the site: We’re a small operation. That night one year ago, we all piled into a car halfway through the show’s run late Halloween night (So I could take my daughter on her first Trick-or-treat outing) and hauled ass into the cold, dark desert in the hopes of enjoying the last two days there and getting a taste of what SEMA was all about.
On the way there our first real stop was to play with our cameras by a large group of Joshua trees that also functions as a rest stop. It was freezing out and let me tell you that I had a new found appreciation for my beard. We stopped other times along the way, giddy with the excitement of the unknown, whacked out on energy drinks and definitely made our mark across the meekly populated southwest with our rather motley crew.
When we finally made it into Vegas, the sun was just barely rising in the city of sin. We ate breakfast at McDonald’s inside the Luxor and I was mystified by the size and ostentatious design of the city and every building I entered. My fellow editors had been there before and were possibly more accustomed to sheer ridiculousness of the city, however to my chemically-fueled consciousness it was very surreal.
We had some time to crawl the city a bit before parking at the Excalibur (which had to be the least exciting casino and made me feel like shit being inside it) and riding the shuttle to SEMA. There was no time to sleep, and check-in at the hotel wasn’t until 3pm.
Much like the first day of school, I felt confused, awkward and out of place on this giant bus, in a town I’ve never been in, hardly a penny to my name with only my camera, my glasses and three friends. Everyone around me was already at least two days in at SEMA, so even if this was their first time, they were a veteran compared to me. I didn’t have a fancy polo shirt with a gold bowtie on the chest, or a brand new shirt with the logo of my company. I’ve never had a GenHO shirt made ever. So riding that bus with my little point-and-shoot in my street clothes I felt a little out of my league. Shit, I was completely out of my league. A t-ball player sitting among the majors.
It was complete sensory overload when I actually got there, I honestly didn’t even know where to begin. If you’ve never been to SEMA, let me tell you- it’s fucking huge. According to wikipedia, the convention center is 3,200,000 sq ft. That’s insanely large.
Delirious from lack of sleep, I welcomed the energy drinks and coffee offered for being a member of the press. I can’t clearly recollect the whole day, but I can tell you that I had some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I was so swept away with the city that even after checking into the hotel around 5pm, I still did not sleep. I was back out on the pavement to see what Vegas had to offer. If it’s truly the city that never sleeps, then I was intoxicated with whatever magic it was that gave it that namesake. I ended up staying awake more than 40 hours. When I finally fell asleep (technically the morning of November the 2nd at this point) I even found myself dreaming of all the surreal architectural treasures Vegas had to offer. I couldn’t care any less about the gambling or other vices, I was simply swooned by all the engineered eye candy. It must just be the car guy in me.
It’s hard to believe that 365 days have passed since I found myself fired like a bolt from a bow into the dark blue of the Sonoran night. Although this time I’m prepared, heading into this with a veteran mind and ready to tackle the challenges that seemed to nearly snare my sanity last year- I hope that a little more of Sin City’s magic captures me again. I can’t wait to report back to you about it.