Leaving Las Vegas

There were Elvi – the plural of Elvis. There were gamblers and drunks and hookers and sugar daddies and Lamborghinis and whoo-hooo girls and guys out on a tear. That’s Las Vegas for you, but it’s not the Vegas we went to see over Christmas. 

Five years ago, on December 23rd, we rode up to the Little White Chapel on a Harley and exchanged vows. We always said we’d go back for our fifth anniversary, and so we did. At one time we thought maybe we’d renew our vows but ultimately we decided that the original ones were still in effect! Plus, we had been back a couple of years ago to launch a motorcycle trip to Arizona and in those visits, plus previous ones, we’d seen just about all we wanted to see of The Strip itself. The fountains, shows, shops, beautiful lobbies of spectacular hotels – been there, done that.

Me in the foreground, Derek behind me holding up his hand in a "five" in front of the Little White Chapel sign

Mandalay Bay is a beautiful hotel – er, sorry, I mean resort. It has to be a resort or why would they be able to charge a $36 per night resort fee on top of your room charges? That’s one of the insane aspects of staying on The Strip – the resort fee. What a load of hooey! But I digress.

We laughed a lot at Blue Man Group at the Monte Carlo and enjoyed various dinners and events along Las Vegas Boulevard, including a delicious wood-oven baked pizza at 800 Degrees, where we sat outside on the patio in the 18 degree evening. For Derek’s birthday on the 24th, we had a meal to die for at Tender, the steakhouse in Luxor. We visited what’s probably our favourite spot, The House of Blues, several time for various meals. And we discovered that Citizens in Mandalay Bay has the only coffee to rival Starbucks for flavour. They also do a full breakfast with unusual, lighter-fare options which appeal to me.

But the day trips are what made this particular adventure memorable. We visited Death Valley on a day so windy, Dorothy wouldn’t have ventured out with Toto. If you add Borax to your laundry, well, thank Death Valley for that. It’s the lowest point on the Western Hemisphere and a hostile, barren area, especially in the summer when it’s one of the hottest places on earth. Only the pursuit of money would convince men of the 1880’s to search for, and find, Borax deposits to mine.

Death Valley, a large, whitish, dry valley bordered by two mountain ranges

We’ve both been to the Hoover Dam several times but not since the new bypass was finished. We had heard that you can no longer drive over the dam but this isn’t true. There is higher security, but it’s not invasive.

Derek overlooking the Hoover Dam

We went on to Kingman, Arizona and then to Oatman, an old western town where friendly burros wander the streets looking for a feed and a pat on the head. Old Route 66 takes you to Oatman on a winding, narrow path through the mountains where guardrails are rare and burros and the odd mountain goat pop up just to make things interesting.

Derek pets the back of a white burro as it walks past him

Tomorrow I’ll share some of the Las Vegas city experiences we enjoyed.

If you’re going to party and gamble in Vegas, 3 days are about right. I’m glad we rented a car and could zip around wherever we pleased. The day we went to Oatman it got up to 22 degrees. When we were there at the same time of year, five years ago, it was so cold at night you could see your breath! You never really know in Las Vegas. And that’s what makes it so much fun.