We were somewhere around Mesa, on the edge of the desert when the nicotine began to take hold. I remember saying something like, “I need to rewick, maybe you should drive.” We had four mods, three tanks, two RDAs, a spool of wire, a bag of cotton, a dozen coils, 200mls of juice, eight batteries, high nic, low nic…and also a charger and a rebuild kit. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious vape collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
It was almost noon and we still had several hundred miles to go. Tobacco Plus Expo, the American dream. They had given me $300 in cash, some of which I spent on an extremely delicious sandwich. Meatball marinara, the kind where the cheese oozes and sauce is thick. Only one stop along the way, an outpost gas station. Tiny, dank, I buy a soda and use the restroom. We arrive in Vegas and check in to the hotel. The hunger grips me again. We hear of a place across the street is great, and they brew their own. Good people drink good beer. Afterwards we go to a corner store for water. Vegas is a strange place. On the strip, fortunes are gained and lost on the turn of a card, people bustle around without a care and the glow of LEDs light up the night sky. Off the strip, darkness ensues and the homeless and downtrodden mill about. The contrast of the two images casts a different light on the city than previously known. After a well-deserved rest, it was morning and time for the expo.
The place is packed, and a thick fog hangs over. Vendors as far as the eye can see. It was business-to-business only, so the atmosphere was more relaxed than your average vape meet. Immediately, I am greeted by a thick, broken accent. The folks at Tesla invite me to their booth to view their newest products. I am impressed, very small but still powerful. They show me a 50w mod that fits in my hand with the tank attached. The tank goes down into the side of the mod similar to the VTR but much smaller. I decide to take a survey of the area so I’d know how much ground I’d have to cover. Bad idea. As I wade through the sea of booths I’m assaulted at every turn to check them out. A pretty girl hands me a card and invites me to their display. They have no vapor products, only the real deal. I can’t stop here, this is tobacco country! As I move on this process is repeated many times. Avoid the bad booths, find the good ones. I see the latest products from Aspire, Efest, Sigelei, Geek Vape, Innokin, Amigo, Pioneer, SMY and many others. I see Sigelei’s new touch screen mod which seems quite promising. The screen is hard like a cell phone and highly responsive. Feels more durable than the Touchbox. Aspire has perfected the hookah style vape. In addition to their previous top piece that you put into your own hookah, they now have an Aspire branded hookah and it looks amazing. Vaping in that manner really isn’t my cup of tea, but it was quite functional. In a party setting it could be just right. The Aspire Plato will release soon, and it’s set to be an improved Nebox. All of my complaints with that device are rectified in this. A glass tank that can be cleaned is the most notable one.
While I’m there I also try many juices. It’s a mixed bag. Between one-note honeydews and poorly executed tobaccos, I begin to lose faith and question whether I can continue on. No sympathy for the R&D guy; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, vape out, get beaten. I get more samples, flyers and business cards than I can carry back on the plane but the good folks at Amigo offer to bring them back to Arizona for me. They run a shop called Smokin’ Vapor if you’re in the Phoenix area.
After two long days, I limp onto the plane with no problem except a wave of cravings for my sweet, sweet nicotine…but my taste buds were so burned out, by then, I wouldn’t have cared if I didn’t vape for the rest of the flight. I was asleep when we hit the runway, but the jolt brought me instantly awake. After the plane landed I rushed through the gates outside. I opened my bag and took a hit off my vape immediately, and by the time I got home my heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Hon Lik…a Man on the Move, and just nic’d enough to be totally confident.