On our third day in Los Angeles we decided to start our journey to Las Vegas. A road trip through Nevada’s deserts through to Las Vegas, I was sure it would be just like Fear and Loathing (minus the bats). Well, it wasn’t. It was just one long concrete highway with nothing to see or do along the way.
In Australia, if you drive anywhere far, you could easily find something interesting to stop at, a big kangaroo, an old town or some random sign pointing to places you have never heard off. America is different, the large population has turned everything into efficient multilane highways.
On exiting Los Angeles we were presented with the San Bernardino Mountains through which the highway winds around, presenting some amazing views. On the high peaks in the distance you could even see snow. Three hundred kilometres north east of Los Angeles we come across an unusual road sign Zzyzx Rd, apparently this is the alphabetically last place name in the world.
In four hours, we arrived in the evening at Flamingo Hotel, Sonya recommended Flamingo hotel as she had stayed there when younger, and it was also fairly inexpensive at $70 per night. Stepping out of the hotel we were greeted with the famous bright and overly excessive lights of Las Vegas.
Whilst I didn’t see a point in gambling, we both agreed that we should see at least one show, and we thought there was no better choice than experiencing Cirque du Soleil. Cirque du Soleil has a total of seven shows at various hotels is Las Vegas, we chose Mystère which was $72 each for reasonable seated tickets. The show was great, a lot of elaborate costumes and all the acts I had not experienced before. The clown during the audience’s seating at the start was also very funny.
After the show Sonya insisted we try Serendipity 3 for an evening sugar hit, we ordered a ‘Can’t Say No Sundae’ and their famous signature ‘Frrrozen Hot chocolate’. The Frrrozen Hot chocolate was a let down, essentially a cold chocolate drink, but the sundae was fun. The sundae mimicked those you see in the movies, huge, with bananas, cream, nuts and a cherry on the top. Sadly, we couldn’t finish it.
For the rest of the night we decided to checkout The Venetian, one of the most extravagant hotels which with a Venice theme featuring indoor canals and huge Italian Renaissance murals.
Day Two – The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon South Rim is roughly four hundred kilometres from Las Vegas or just over a five hour drive. From what I had read, the South Rim offers the most spectacular views, so I wanted to try and get there. Unfortunately, we woke up a little too late and by the time we got passed Hoover Dam and the addition of the slight time difference I calculated we would have arrived very close to sunset. So Sonya convinced me to drive to the Grand Canyon West Rim, two hundred kilometres from Las Vegas or a little under four hours. Sonya made the right call.
A little bit from Las Vegas we reached Hoover Dam, what an engineering marvel. A huge mass of water on one side and a huge drop on the other. There was construction of a new bridge over the river which I thought was also very impressive. Hoover Dam also marks the crossing from Nevada to Arizona.
Even though the South Rim dominates then West Rim, it still offers amazing views. Another drawback of the West Rim is it has been highly commercialised especially with the creation of The Skywalk. The Skywalk is a glass bottom platform that extends a little over twenty metres from the Grand Canyon wall all one thousand and four hundred meters up. The whole experience is fairly expensive at $71 per head, but is worth it if you are short of time, like us. Now, I say this a lot, but I have never seen Sonya so scared when walking over the glass bottomed Skywalk, having to hold onto the handrail the whole time. After the Skywalk the tour bus takes you to Eagle Point, which offers-breath taking views and isn’t so crowded. We started our drive back to Las Vegas as the sun was setting, not bad for a day trip.
That night Sonya introduced me to In-N-Out Burgers, for six dollars you can buy burgers, fries and drink to feed two, the best value I had seen on the trip.
Day Three – Mexico
Yes, we drove into Mexico. We had a whole day to drive back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles with an afternoon flight the next day, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to drive into Mexico for a little bit, like I have said, I like to cram as much as I can into my holidays. The Mexican city Tijuana is situated on the America-Mexico border, and located roughly four hundred kilometres from Las Vegas, or a five hour drive.
The Mexico border was just like the movies, plenty of cars and people walking across, what I didn’t realise was how easy it was to cross and get into Mexico. Now call me naive, but I had this image that Tijuana would be a transition between America and Mexico, I did not expect that as soon as you crossed the border you would be hit with the poverty and dirtiness of Mexico. This combined with the GPS map finishing as soon as we entered made me very uneasy. Through luck, we managed to find a place that had a very basic map, and then found a shopping centre. After browsing the supper market, in my opinion one of the most interesting things to do in a foreign country, we had some Mexican food at the food court and then made our way back to the border. As expected, the border crossing into America wasn’t as easy, with passport checks and even confiscation of some of our food. We were glad to be back.
We reached Los Angeles late at night and checked in a budget hotel. In the morning we made our way to the airport and departed America on a sixteen hour flight to Dubai.