Published: August 16th 2012August 8th 2012
Thursday 02/08/12 – I woke up naked and sweating at 7 am this morning. The heat was almost unbearable, its definitely not camping country… We packed up our gear whilst trying to chat with the locals, they seem to have an unusual dialect here, I think it’s the redneck, trailer trash, hills have eyes, I was engaged to my sister but not anymore - dialect. I later found out that the US government has, and continues to, bury nuclear waste not far from this town, I’ll leave you to finish my thoughts on this…
We travelled on the highway enduring temperatures in the 40’s again; luckily we reached our destination of Las Vegas in a little over an hour. We checked into the hotel early and we couldn’t believe we were staying in an air-conditioned room with a door, and a bed, and a bath, and electricity and running water; we were pretty excited as we have spent almost 5 weeks staying in a tent!
We went for a walk halfway up the Vegas strip and was surprised by how tacky and run down most of the buildings looked; once the sun went down however the lights came on
and everything looked amazing. We went for a buffet dinner at Flamingo’s Casino which was totally fantastic and totally unnecessary, and then went to the Bellagio fountain where they were shooting water jets into the air whilst Elvis sung Viva Las Vegas over the PA. We then headed to the free Treasure Island Pirate Show and the volcanoes that ‘erupt’ every hour outside the Mirage Casino. The night was finished off by enjoying the ‘Jubilee’ Vegas showgirls show at the Bally’s Casino which was a fun 1950’s show where the dancers wore the showgirl style feather headdresses and the men were dressed in mob/gangster attire.
Friday 03/08/12 – Today we enjoyed the luxuries of our air-conditioned hotel by sleeping in way too long and then being very idle for most of the afternoon. We headed back onto the strip and walked around checking out the shops and casinos. We decided to go to the Tournament of Kings which is a dinner and show set in medieval times! We were sitting in the Russian section so we were cheering for the Russian knight. There were 8 different knights representing different sections of the audience and the show included
sword fighting, horseback jousting, pyrotechnics, flame throwers, javelin throwing and general mayhem. The Russian knight was a cheater and kept breaking the rules much to the pleasure of his fans, we lost our voices and our hands hurt from banging on the tables with great enthusiasm. Also there were no utensils to eat your food with so we all had to eat an entire roast chicken, bread roll, and roast potato each with our hands – it was great fun!
After the show I went on the rollercoaster at the New York New York Casino. It was after midnight by this stage so the city looked amazing from up high. It was a fun but terrifying roller coaster as it had a loop and a corkscrew. Kenz wimped out. We walked the entire strip back to our casino and got offered all sorts of interesting items and experiences by strangers on the street – all illegal in most places I have been. It’s also strange that the endless stream of “partiers” here seem to delight in drinking alcohol out of giant modified plastic tubes/cocktail glasses (I think it’s a requirement that the glasses must be at least half your
height, preferably more).
Saturday 04/08/12 – We went shopping in a local mall today. After accidently taking a portrait photo of myself with my phone yesterday and seeing just how hideous my beard was; I decided to take action! I went to the barber at the mall and asked them to shave my beard. I was too busy chatting with the lady to pay attention to what she was doing; she had recently emigrated from Ethiopia and was interested in my experiences in Africa. Anyway she gave me a strange manicured beared that you usually see on the guys in GQ magazine or in the Myer catalogue. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t what I wanted as she was so nice she only wanted to charge me half price and wouldn’t accept a tip. She even offered to cut Kenz’s and my hair for free - a really nice lady. So I guess I am stuck looking like one of those sleazy guys from a box of men’s hair dye for a few days…
The weather was still too hot, at least 40 degrees every day. We spent the afternoon alone in
the casino pool and then went to the Stratosphere Casino for dinner and entertainment. It is the tallest building in Vegas and similar in shape to the Sydney Tower. It also has 3 amusement rides at the top! I went on all of them (solo of course). There was a rollercoaster that is on a short track that tilts like a seesaw over the edge of the tower (on floor 110). An octopus like ride with arms that go out over the edge and spin around so that you are parallel to the ground; I didn’t like this one much, it just made me feel sick. And finally there was a big shot on the roof of the casino that shoots you about 10 extra floors straight up a pole so it’s about 120 floors up. The pole was so tall it was swaying in the wind! Also there were 360 degree views of Vegas from the top.
After all the scary rides and pizza for dinner we headed back to the casino after midnight. We had to walk past the Sahara Casino that was closed and abandoned over a year ago. It’s strange as the casino is a
full city block, went bankrupt and they just shut the doors one night. It was pretty dodgy walking around it as the walkway went through some old abandoned gardens with no streetlights. I wouldn’t like to do it again as Vegas has plenty of the unsavoury characters that a town built on gambling and partying too excess attracts.
Sunday 05/08/12 – Our last full day in Vegas started out by walking onto the strip again and buying some tickets to Le Reve. It was billed as the hottest show in town (and probably the most expensive!). You can get the tickets cheaper if you buy them on the same day from small outlets – this ensures that the shows here are full. After picking up the tickets we had to go and reserve our seats at the actual venue, which meant we had to stand in another queue. After spending another 30 mins standing like bumps on a log with the rest of the annoyed patrons, I displayed my disappointment to the manager at spending over $250 on show tickets and being made to wait. She didn’t care too much so I just looked like a fool. Most
other people were getting upset as well.
After finally organising the show tickets we went back to the casino pool to cool off. We decided to go for a classy meal tonight and picked out a local Italian restaurant. The meals were fantastic, without doubt the best we have had on the trip. We decided to get desert and when the waiter was reading out the desert menu Kenz got so excited that her leg involuntarily shot out and kicked the table sending her full glass of water, glass of wine and a giant salt shaker flying across the restaurant sending customers and waiters running in every direction! The waiter was horrified and wouldn’t talk to us for the rest of the night, he also never got Kenz another glass of water - I can’t take her anywhere!
After guiltily slinking out of the restaurant we went over to the Wynn Casino for the Le Reve show. It was absolutely stunning! I can’t really explain the storyline as there was too much going on, but it was based around a young woman who was in love and she fell asleep and was having sweet dreams that turned into
nightmares. It was basically a first-class acrobatic dance show that was based around water. The stage was actually a deep circular pool with seating all around the edges. There was often a stage that would rise up out of the water during different parts of the show, and there must have been underwater entrances and exits as the performers would often dive in the pool and never surface, or they would appear in the water seemingly from nowhere. The acrobats were often hanging from moveable wires attached to the roof. They would pick up other performers, drag them way up to the roof and let them drop into the pool – one guy let go from about 15-18 metres up in the air! At one stage there was a waterfall falling from the roof about 25 metres high, and this was all inside a casino! It really was like nothing I have seen before, a great way to spend the last night in Vegas.
Edit: As the cat is already out of the bag, I guess we can announce that Mackenzie and I got married today. Deciding on the most cheesiest and fun wedding ever, we got married by
Elvis in a 1950’s style diner whilst he sang “Can’t help falling in love” and “Viva Las Vegas”. Not to be outdone, I was sporting a spectacularly fantastic white two-piece Elvis suit with flared bejewelled pants and a glorious cape (I could easily get used to wearing one of these, I hope they come back in fashion!); and Kenz was unmissable in a blue sequined showgirl outfit with a blue feather boa, blue feathery head piece, and blue sequined heels. It was a great time and we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our face. We have included some of our own photos as we do not have the professional photos yet.
Monday 06/08/12 – After packing the bikes and leaving the casino we headed to Denny’s for breakfast. There was a queue out the door waiting for seats, however as we were only 2 we basically walked straight to a table. Our experience in Vegas was interesting, sometimes exciting and sometimes depressing – there is definitely a dark side to the city. It is strange walking into a petrol station that has pokies. Every day we would walk past a homeless lady (basically a female version of Jethro
Tull’s Aqualung) who was sleeping upright at the same park bench with all her collected trash, whilst people walk past comparatively loaded with cash to party and waste on gambling or shows (myself included). I know this is the case in most cities but it is so obvious here. I had a great time in Vegas seeing the sights (not gambling at all) but the city just has a bad feeling about it during the day when the bright lights aren’t distracting you from the reality of the place (the rundown buildings, the homeless, and garbage in the streets).
Leaving all the faded glitter of daytime Vegas behind us and passing the never ending billboards that alternate between offering bail bonds and advertising divorce lawyers we headed east. The unrelenting heat hit us like a sledgehammer; I think the air-conditioned casinos made us soft. We crossed the border from Nevada into Utah and then Arizona. We ended up in a city called Jacob Lake which had no grocery store, but it did have a gas station with gambling, guns, ammo, and a walk in beer fridge. It also had one single, lonely-looking loaf of bread until we came along.
I was so disgustingly hot and sweaty that I walked straight into the far corner of the beer fridge and dropped my trousers for a few minutes.
We found the local campsite which actually had some shady tenting areas. We celebrated with some fresh brown bread and a cup of soup; a far cry from the previous night’s spread in Vegas but at least no table to kick over!
Tuesday 07/08/12 – We headed to the Grand Canyon North Rim this morning which was even grander than we expected. It stretched off to the horizon in both directions and there was much more vegetation than we were expecting. As we pulled out of the park a massive thunder and lightning storm swept overhead and pelted us with rain. The rain was so thick and hard it was difficult to ride as there was suddenly about an inch of water on the road, also the raindrops were so big they were hurting our arms and thighs. It was a prelude for the rest of the day as there were many short but intense storms that crossed our path. The locals say it’s the monsoons sweeping up from Mexico
and that it regularly happens at this time of year – we didn’t mind as it was cool and refreshing.
Of course the other drivers on the road didn’t change their behaviour and drove like typical lunatics. At one point this black ute over took us on a newly sealed road with no lines and signs up saying ‘no passing’ on a blind corner and half in our lane; to top it off we got showered in gravel! He pulled over about 5 kms up the road so I lent on the horn and gave him the finger. Then I spent the next 100 kms or so sweating that he might catch up to me and run me off the road…
We ducked into McDonalds and executed a sneaky plan that we have been doing lately. I cause a distraction near the counter whilst Kenz goes over to the drink fountain and fills up our 2 drink bottles with ice and water. We then jump on the bikes and tear out of there like bank robbers. If we ever get caught we will just make a bee-line for the Mexican border and hope for the best! On this
occasion we made a clean getaway and went to the Bryce Canyon National Park.
Wednesday 08/08/12 – We went into see Bryce Canyon this morning and it was spectacular. It consists of a series of peach coloured rock formation called hoodoos which can tower over 20 metres high. The park also had healthy populations of dear and squirrel that would chill on the side of the road. We left the Bryce Canyon NP and headed towards Zion NP which was even more spectacular than both Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. It was an incredible series of bare canyons with incredible sheer mountain cliffs and then deep valleys and cracks that were sometimes only a few metres wide but really deep. There was also a tunnel that went beneath a huge mountain range that ran for at least 3 miles and then the road wound down some steep cliffs. All the mountains and features of the terrain were odd and other-worldly, I swear the Mars Rover was out there somewhere. Apparently the landscape here is home to a number of elusive animals such as mountain lions, tortoise and tarantulas. The park also had some bison grazing at
the park entrance.
We left the park and headed to the town of Hurricane and after much buttering-up, managed to get a thin strip of grass in between RV sites at the local RV park.
There are more photos below