Trip Summary Calendar - Where we went and when

August 16, 2004

Melting in Las Vegas

We're still way behind on blog entries. My goal is to catch up by the time we get back home. It might happen. Maybe. This is one of two reports for Las Vegas, which I'm writing two weeks after the fact (not too bad, really.).

We left the Grand Canyon area for Las Vegas on Thursday, July 29, figuring a simple trip. We did arrive fine, but not after melting our way through the Arizona and Nevada desert. Much of our trip was in 110-degree searing heat, especially the latter half of the drive. The truck managed reasonably well, requiring a few stops to cool down but otherwise alright. We, on the other hand, were asking the question "Why on Earth would we chose to drive through the desert at the end of July???" The only interesting part of the trip was the drive over the Hoover Dam, not far from Las Vegas, and we were just barely conscious enough to enjoy it.

We stayed at an RV park right on the strip, behind Circus Circus. The park was a glorified parking lot, just what you want to stay on when in 110-degree heat. The cold water coming out of the shower head was warmer than the showers I usually take - everything was hot. But it was on the strip, which minimized the need to drive. Which turned out to be a very good thing.

We had a special visitor for the first part of our week in Vegas, my sister Debbie. Right in the midst of studying for her oral exam to get her Master's Degree (which she did pass - yeay!) she flew from Massachusetts to Vegas for the weekend. She took full advantage of her time. She and Alysa spent two very late nights out in the clubs. Not my thing, so I stayed in. But we had a great time together touring the many beautiful casinos in the area. Really, some are extraordinary.

Two things surprised me about Las Vegas. One was the huge number of people here on the strip. We were there for a week starting July 29, probably the hottest week of the year, and the streets and hotels were packed. Traffic was miserable. One night I took a trolley bus ride from one end of the strip to the other (perhaps two miles long). The trip took 90 minutes.

The other surprise was the sheer volume of excess. Las Vegas is in the desert. But everywhere there was water - lots and lots of it. Huge fountains, massive waterfalls, etc. They were beautiful, and I'm a huge fan of water features, but the amount of water that is needlessly evaporated into the air must be incredible. I'm sure the residents have strict rules on water use, but the hotels are obviously given carte blanche.

Our first full day in Vegas Alysa and I went to a Star Trek convention before meeting up with Debbie. I'll post a separate note on the convention. We met Debbie near the Mirage, where she spent her first of three nights (the other two nights were with us in the trailer - an interesting contrast!). We toured Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum - a very odd but slightly amusing experience.

We went through an upscale shopping mall attached to the Venetian. We had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant - except that I found a bug in my gnocchi. Luckily it was just after I got the dish, and the little critter earned us free desserts. After dinner (or was it before?) we came across a nice art gallery selling signed Al Hirschfeld prints. Alysa and I like his work quite a bit, and saw one of a rabbi we liked quite a bit. We came back later in the week and actually bought it. I guess this makes us art collectors. (We also have a signed Keith Haring print.) I'll post a photo of the artwork when we do the photos. It should arrive at our house sometime after we get home.

The following two days (Saturday and Sunday) was mostly touring of fancy hotels and trying to stay as cool as possible. Which wasn't easy! Sunday afternoon we brought Debbie to the airport, and she took the redeye back to Boston.

Monday afternoon we ran into a major glitch. Our truck has been great to us this cross-country trip, but a snag was bound to occur. Whether it was bad gas, the hot air, or just bad luck it stalled near the hotel and wouldn't start up again. We had it towed (it BARELY fit on the rollback!). We had the fuel pump replaced, and it's been running alright since. Thankfully it didn't impact our trip much since we were on the strip and could get around alright without it.

Tuesday we had several things to do, including buying the print mentioned above and seeing George Carlin at night. George was funny, but a bit odd. Even in his hands, a 20 minute chat about suicide can only get so funny. But it was great to see him live. We also went to the "Star Trek Experience" - two virtual-reality rides/movies based on Star Trek at the Hilton. They also have a huge Star Trek "museum" of sorts - costumes and props from the TV shows. We had dinner at Quark's Bar, straight from Deep Space Nine. A Ferengi, a Borg, and a Klingon kept us entertained walking around in full character. (Ok, the Borg wasn't particularly entertaining but very effective.)

Our travel Tuesday was on the new Las Vegas Monorail, which connects many of the hotels along the strip. If you're ever in Vegas, be sure to stay at one of the hotels on its route and use it to get around. It's very fast, bypasses all the traffic, and is well worth the money.

Wednesday was an R&R and errand day, getting ourselves ready for driving again Thursday. We picked up the truck that afternoon. We had a great dinner though - the dinner buffet at the Bellagio. Mmmmm! I'm dangerous at buffets and hope I didn't send them into bankruptcy. Excellent food - prime rib, lamb, pasta, pizza, salads, vegetables, desserts, etc. Alysa says the fish was great too (I'm allergic so I stayed away). I'm glad we didn't discover this until our last day, as we would have been there for every meal and likely wouldn't fit into the trailer at night... We also did some gambling that night, all 25-cent slots. I did pretty well - broke even!

Thursday it was off to Los Angeles - stay tuned for that report.

Posted by Mitch at August 16, 2004 11:21 PM

Thanks again for your wonderful hospitality in Vegas, and for allowing me to crash your honeymoon! I had such a great time that I forgot all about studying! I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures once you post them. I'm also looking forward to seeing the two of you here in Boston!

Posted by: Debbie at August 17, 2004 12:40 AM
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