After spending a few weeks in the desert, it was time for some civilization. It was time to head for Vegas baby! Las Vegas is an absolutely fascinating city. On one hand, it is the pinnacle of American culture. It has everything, in excess, from great restaurants (buffets of course), great shows, and world-class gambling. On the other hand, it is a city running on borrowed time with regards to water. Eventually, the city will run out of water according to this BBC article. I suspected, and this article confirms, this has more to do with people who think that green lawns and golf courses belong in the desert than the oppulent casinos.
Partly in jest, I tried to snag a $30 budget hotel room on the strip via Priceline.com for the weekend so we could enjoy Vegas without worrying about camping nearby. The computer laughed me right off of the internet and onto my phone where I gave my mom a buzz. She reminded me that we had second cousins, Joyce and George, in Las Vegas (whom we had seen recently at cousin Rachel and Ricardo’s wedding, as mentioned here). As we were driving into Red Rocks Conservation Area (about 30 minutes from Las Vegas), I gave my second cousin a call. We had just barely entered the visitor’s center when we got a call back from them graciously offering to host us. We are so fortunate to have a great family! Joyce and George were wonderful hosts. Just as we loved having company in Atlanta, Joyce and George loved having us at their home. It was really great to get to know them better. They are a very socially active retired couple, playing cards, bowling or golfing with friends almost every day. We only hope our retirement is as socially active as theirs!
Teresa and I might seem like an odd couple to some folks. We are completely at ease in the wilderness, peeing in the woods and comfortable with the howl of coyotes, but yet we make the transition to the city quite easily. As such, Teresa and I had an absolute blast in Las Vegas. We soaked up the energy of Las Vegas like a sponge. We caught just about every free show on the strip and walked for miles through the surreal Venetian, and Paris, admired the Chihuly glasswork in the Bellagio, and stared googly eyed at the Fremont Street megatron. We splurged a few times, dining out and spending $150 on a superb pair of front and center tickets to a show named “Avenue Q“. It’s basically an R-rated Sesame Street musical. It would have been X-rated, except Muppets don’t have genitalia. It was entertaining, funny, and intelligent with a great message. My face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Of course, we had to do a bit of gambling. Spending $1.00 on slots, I cashed out with $2.65. Hah! Take that Bellagio! Teresa, on the other hand, lost about $6.00 on slots, so “they” made it back. Not surprisingly, our schedule went haywire. Teresa and I are used to going to sleep just after dark (9pm or so) and waking at sunrise. In Las Vegas, we got back to the house at 1 or 2 am a few times and still woke up at daybreak. Although we did drive back out to Red Rocks during our stay for a little break from the city, we left Joyce and George’s place totally exhausted and ready for some more wilderness time… ready to hear some more coyote howls.
But our next stop was another wonder of the world and an engineering feat of its time: the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Between vehicle checks by Homeland Security and road construction, traffic was reduced to one lane. There was a line of 50 cars or more, and of course, we got stopped due to our “threatening load” up top.
After a night in the desert camped in Lake Mead, we headed into Valley of Fire State Park. I guarantee you have seen Valley Of Fire, even if you don’t recognized the name. It has been in hundreds of TV commercials and looks something like this:
We actually saw the movie Redline being filmed in the park. Unbeknownst to us, they were filming a controversial scene in the movie involving the destruction of a rare $450,000 Porsche Carrera GT. It is said that Porsche is suing the movie makers stating that destroying the Carrera GT would hinder their ability to market it. Huh? Of course, this is just an internet rumor, and my google searches turned up nothing more than internet chatter, so who knows? It makes for a great story though!
Note: Teresa and I are currently relaxing for a bit at Villa Koransky in Edwards, CO. We are trying to keep up with the main blog and videos, but are finding out that we do not have enough time. Perhaps we are just burning out? We’ll do our best to finish the main blog entries, and we do eventually plan on working on the videos, but we find ourselves running out of time. Strange for a year off, no? We may get to them once we finish travelling for a bit, resulting in a podcast fest towards the end of the year!
Stay tuned for the next segment of our adventure in a Utah blog update. Be sure to check Teresa’s Daily Diary which is being kept more up to date than anything else. There are also tons of new photos posted. Like this one: