This is the last entry in our travel blog, about a week late after we returned.
This is the last blog of the trip. We’re heading home. I’m typing this on the gray last stretch from Tulsa to Louisville. We circumnavigated winter for a few weeks, but it was right back here waiting on us.
Las Vegas Recap
The motto should be “the money you bring to Vegas, stays in Vegas”.
We somehow thought it would be relaxing to stay in a hotel for a few days after camping. Perhaps it was a misjudgment, or perhaps we had gone feral. It’s silly to ever think of Vegas as relaxing. I think we hiked more in Vegas on asphalt than we did in Yosemite.
Here’s the highlights:
- We stayed at the MGM Grand, the biggest hotel in the world.
- Saw Criss Angel mindfreak magic show - second row tickets.
- Made the mistake of participating in a vacation timeshare orientation to get cheap show and food tickets. There’s four hours of our life that we’ll never get back. I think the kids learned valuable lessons about how sales people work.
- Enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner at Las Pampas brazilian steakhouse. Yes, there is such a thing as too much meat.
- Took a day trip to the Red Rocks recreation area in the Sportsmobile, found a great spot, popped the awning and a few beers, and enjoyed a pre-Thanksgiving day in the mild temperatures.
- Explored as many different casinos and hotels as possible, including Luxor, Monte Carol, Aria, Cosmopolitan, Caesars, New York New York, Paris, Tropicana, and Bellagio.
- Braved the Fremont Street Experience under the world’s largest TV screen spanning four blocks, and visited the older casinos like the Golden Nugget.
- Spent nearly all of our money. Actually, we spent all of our money.
Tip: nothing is cheap in Vegas, even it seems so. Here’s the perfect illustration.
My feet hurt a lot and a foot massage sounded good. As we were walking on the strip a guy wearing a sign that said “Foot Massage - $9.99” aggressively pulled us aside to sell us. Cheap massage, sore feet - it seemed like a good deal. As I sat down I said “$9.99, right?”, and there was a gesture on his part which, in the United States, was the universal sign of agreement, although it must have meant something far different in his native land. A little into the footrub, the guy said “$15.99 per foot - you want other foot, too?” They guy had hands that could crush steel, and they were right on the knot in my heel where my plantar faciatis is worst, but I salvages a total price of $20 bucks.
That’s the thing in Vegas - nothing is as it seems, and you just get constantly ready to get screwed over at every turn. Even the ATMs at the casinos, which are enabling you to spend all of the money you have, charge a $6 fee for withdrawing your money so you can give it to them.
Airport security and Sportsmobile don't mix
We put Sebastian back on the plane to head home. The airport in Vegas discourages any private drivers from dropping off passengers or waiting to pick them up. Generally, airports and the Sportsmobile are a bad combination. Low clearances. The SM looks like it’s full of terrorists.
Kelly was parked outside, against the rules, while I walked Sebastian in to get on the plane. Some security ran over and started yelling at her to get out of there, that he couldn’t believe that Homeland Security hadn’t detained her. She couldn’t get out because the clearance in the non commercial section wasn’t high enough. More yelling ensued.
I’m glad they didn’t detain her.
So, although it was great to see Sebastian and McKenna, I was glad to leave and hit the open road and fresh air as we left for a side trip to the Grand Canyon on the way home.
The Grand Canyon
When you look at a map of the west what appears to be a small detour is actually much farther than that. It’s part of the charm of the west. The scale of everything is bigger.
We left Vegas for a quick “jaunt” to Grand Canyon National Park. Arizona is beautiful and I’ll be back again. As the day turned to twilight the dark blue of the sky contrasted with the red rocks and cliffs, and every spectrum of red and orange in the big bowl of the sky above us. We made the last leg in the dark.
It felt deserted as we pulled into the park - which, by the way, is really well kept, and felt less crowded than some of the other national parks we visited, with more privacy in the sites.
Funny thing about National Parks - although they contain the most beautiful natural features in the U.S., they are not the least bit wild in the areas that you travel in. There are tons and tons of people, at least half of them from other countries, and their are lines at everything from the restrooms to the ubiquitous gift shops. It’s just the price for access.
Most of the National Parks have National Forests around them. The forests are a much different vibe - lots of dirt backroads, wide open spaces, fewer crowds. I like to stay in them better.
We came, we saw, we punched the Grand Canyon off our bucket list. We could have stayed for days at the Park. But it was time to come home.