Massachusetts to Nevada and Back Again, Part III

We last left our travels driving to Nevada. After leaving Salt Lake City we decided there was really not much else to do but drive. It was less than a day until we reached Las Vegas, but we couldn’t crash anywhere until the next night. We wanted to spend some time during the day in Vegas, so we had no choice but to drive basically until we both felt too tired to continue. We talked, I drove. He fell asleep, I drove. Finally we stopped at a truck stop somewhere in southern Utah to get some shut eye. The next morning, while I cleaned up in the bathroom (which has the largest stalls I’ve ever seen), Steve got us both giant coffees, and we were on our way.

The drive was beautiful. Neither of us had really been to the desert before, and it was quite a sight. Surreal actually. He was thankfully driving at this point, and it didn’t take us too long to reach Vegas. We were both pretty beat, but like I said, we didn’t have a place to crash until that evening, so we took to exploring. It was 104 degrees on the strip. We parked at the Bellagio and headed outside. It was Steve’s first time in Vegas, my second. I was 15 the first time, so this was going to be the first time I could actually walk around the casinos without getting dirty looks. We basically went everywhere we could during the hours of 10am-3:45pm. Of course we had to stop off at Caesar’s Palace and pretend we were in The Hangover.

I found him on the roof the next day

From there, name any casino and we probably explored it. My favorites were the Wynn and Encore. By the time we got back to the car we were completely exhausted, so we drove to a restaurant near Steve’s friend’s place, where we would be spending the night.

The place was called BJ’s Brewhouse, which, unsurprisingly, had some pretty tasty beer on the menu. Oddly, though, they also had some of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had – and that’s saying something, as I live in the Chowdah capital of the world (Boston).

We finally got word that we could come relieve our weary legs at Steve’s friend’s place. Her parents, bless their hearts, had agreed to put us up for the night. They even made us a delicious home-cooked meal, which was heaven after days of pb&j and granola bars. After a lengthy shower and some of the aforementioned deliciousness, we hit the town.

We spent most of our time on Freemont Street, which is “old” part of Vegas. Clearly attracting those who are aiming to focus not so much on glamor and luxury, but nickle slots, cheap drinks, and celebrity look-a-likes. Easily my favorite part about Vegas night life. Steve and I both got very large drinks, and the three of us walked up and down the street for quite some time.

When in Vegas...

It was all spectacularly absurd. Apparently it was ’80s night, which is always a fun time. There was also a gaggle of “celebrities”, namely “Captain Jack Sparrow”, “Mr. T”, and “2-Pac”. After the drinks had gone, we went to the strip and explored New York New York, which I believe Steve liked best, and afterward called it a night. I don’t think I need to explain how happy we were to be sleeping on our very own pull-out sofas. Seriously, I was so very happy. Another shower that morning, and we were off!

The next day or so was rather hellish. Arizona was next on our list. We were suppose to see the Grand Canyon that night, then off to New Mexico the next morning. From there it was Texas to New Orleans. We were very much aware that the drive from New Mexico to Texas was going to be one of our longest, so we were working out what would be the best way to complete it. Clearly the road trip gods had other plans.

Our drive began with Steve getting some In-and-Out Burger, and stopping to get some “Native American” souvenirs. Also, we did some planking at Lake Mead.

Necessary
Necessary, squared

Our first real stop was the Hoover Dam. They had built a new bridge which allowed the most spectacular view of the dam, so we hiked (climbed the stairs) to the top, which was 880 feet above the water, and very windy.

View from the bridge

We drove across the dam to get another view.

Quite a height!

As it turns out, the road on the other side of the dam is closed, so we turned around and traversed the bridge. In the middle-of-nowhere Arizona we came across some strange traffic. All of our fellow travelers had come to a dead stop, so much so that we were able to get out of our vehicle and walk to the cause of the traffic about a half-mile from where we had stopped. Apparently a fatal accident had occurred between a car and an 18-wheeler. We walked back to the car, giving the news to those who didn’t wish to leave the comfort of their air-conditioned cars as we passed. It was another two hours until we could leave. We had quite the drive still left to complete before we reached the Grand Canyon, and no where really to go in between. We drove until it was clear we would not be reaching our destination that night, at least so we could see what we had come to see.

I have to admit, I was pretty grumpy at this point. I was kind of sick of eating out, and kind of sick of staying at motels we had not planned to stay at. My paleness was not fairing too well in the desert either… the sun is no bueno for a fair skinned, light haired, freckled Irish girl. I just wanted to be at the canyon. Truly I felt like driving all night, even though my body was in desperate need of sleep after spending the better part of the afternoon in the sweltering sun. But, we stopped. To be exact, we stopped in Williams, AZ on Route 66 where we had a meal, did some more planking (to the bemusement of the locals), and where I got Mike a couple of presents. Steve loved it, so it was worth it. We did a bit more driving and stopped at a campground for the night.

We headed off the next morning right away, as we still had quite a ways to go, and we needed to be in Albuquerque by that night. I was still pretty grumpy, but Steve was amped, so I sucked it up. The Grand Canyon was amazing. There’s really not much else to say. Your life isn’t complete until you visit because there’s no way to describe it adequately. It’s a giant chasm created in a time frame we can’t fathom with any sort of relative comparison. It’s more large than your brain can process. Despite my grumpiness, I truly wanted to stay and hike to the bottom with the groups that were going out. Alas, that would require and extra night’s stay, as well as energy Steve and I simply didn’t have. So we drove from viewing point to viewing point along the lip of the drop.

On the far left on the ledge, those little dots are people

Honestly, no pictures do it justice. This is only one small sliver of what you can see.

What do you expect?

Yea, planking. We did it at the Grand Canyon too.

Anyway, we spent a few hours doing that. As we were leaving we encountered a few random Native Americans who had tables set up with things that they had made. I bought a couple of necklaces from a very nice woman who told me a story about how the stone (turquoise) was found in the canyon by people in her tribe, which she had then carved into the round shape thus displayed by my necklace. I bought a charm in the shape of a bear from another woman who gave me a similar story. I don’t really care if the story was true or not, it was a damn good one with great delivery, so I was sold. Whatever, I got some beautiful jewelry out of it. Unfortunately, Steve did have the dream catcher he bought debunked by one of these women as a fake. But again, it’s a good story, so who really cares?

Next stop, New Mexico.

OPR

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