Sign in or Create your own Travel blog
Select Location: 

View Entire Trip

Share |
    

Friday 4 Oct 2013
Las Vegas, USA

And the drive just keeps getting better...

The next section of our drive along Highway 12 took us towards Bryce Canyon.  We began to see evidence of the changing season.  The green forests on the hillsides were speckled with the stark white bark and bright golden leaves of silver birch trees.  The higher we climbed, the more we saw, until it felt like driving through a treasure chest of gold and emerald.  Highway 12 loops through the tip of Bryce Canyon National Park, giving us a glimpse over the outer canyon, but we were unable to see the dense hoodoo-packed bowl of the canyon proper, which I'd really wanted to see.  It was gutting to be so close and yet so far.  We drove to Ruby’s Inn, a trading post hotel at the entrance to the Park, because we'd heard about some private land near the canyon.  We got lucky – it was true!  Ruby’s Inn owns some land on the edge of the canyon and they were running free shuttles for visitors.  We didn’t get the full Bryce experience, but we saw a few hoodoos and got closer than we could have from the main highway, for which we were both grateful. Some people climbed over the gate into the closed National Park lands, but we were still a little wary of the Ranger stories, plus had a long drive still to go. 

When I came to Las Vegas five years ago, a friend of my then boyfriend refused to let us spend another day on the Strip and kidnapped us for the day.  Aeon drove us out to Zion National Park for a day’s hike in the Canyon.  It was stunning and left a real impression on me.  What left an equally big impression was the delicious food served at Oscar’s Café in Springdale, the small town at the entrance to the Park.  I had mentioned Oscar’s several times and we were determined to find it again.  The drive down to Zion took longer than we’d expected so we were ravenous by the time we reached the Park border.  But what a drive before lunch! 

Entering the Park, the road starts off on a fairly high flat plateau, but soon begins to dip down between Martian rock formations.  Unlike Joshua Tree, with its alien piles of boulders, Zion is surrounded by huge curved sweeping red formations, like sand dunes turned solid.  They are patterned with thin strata of pink and cream swirling in every direction and leave you feeling dwarfed as you drive though.  We had been given strict instructions by the Ranger on the Park gate that all stopping was prohibited, including lay-bys (though she did at least seem a little embarrassed to have to tell us this).  The road winds back and forth as it dips, while the rock formations get steadily bigger and taller.  We pulled over frequently to let faster vehicles past so that we could crawl along with Verity playing the drive-by photographer.  Before long the smooth rock dunes turned into tall craggy cliffs and we were plunged into a long steep tunnel.  We descended a mile in the darkness, with the occasional flash of light from a window, before we emerged to find ourselves high up on the side of the enormous Zion canyon.  The cliffs still towered above us, but there was a long drop below the tight hairpin bends too.  We zig-zagged down the canyon wall on long narrow switchbacks, admiring the breathtaking view and driving as slowly as we could get away with.  I would have been more than happy to turn right around and drive back through just to be able to spend longer in this glorious place. 

But it was now almost 4pm and we still hadn’t had lunch, so we left the Park and found Oscar’s Café moments later.  We waited a few minutes for the table, but were rewarded with a huge plate of ribs and sweet potato fries that were every bit as delicious as I remembered from my last visit.  Verity and I sat there grinning at each other, feeling very full but content with the world.  Neither of us could quite believe we’d been so lucky today – seeing the Petrified Forest, the rim at Bryce and the stunning drive through Zion – or that I’d managed to find Oscar’s Café again so easily after so many years.

We eventually dragged ourselves back to the car and set off on the home straits for Las Vegas.  We followed the Interstate rather than the scenic route, but it was still a good drive.  Rolling into town from the opposite direction, we came off the Interstate at the top of the Strip by Circus Circus and topped off an amazing day with the full pizazz of the neon city.  Our timing wasn’t quite right for catching the Sirens battle outside Treasure Island, but the Bellagio fountains were blasting sky high as we passed.  We carried on to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and took our night photos in the company of a crowd of wedding guests having their pictures taken by Elvis – naturally!  Verity got chatting to a guy who bore an uncanny resemblance to Mo Farrah, though he didn’t seem to know who we were talking about.  He thought we were really nuts when we tried to jog his memory by doing the Mo-hawk!

We’d managed to get a last minute booking at Luxor, the Egyptian-themed pyramid casino, and got that surreal feeling again as we traipsed past obelisks and roulette tables with our backpacks on our way to reception.  The rooms all hang off the inside of the pyramid, leaving a big open space in the centre. The casino is on the ground floor, with a mezzanine above for the restaurants, theatre and shops.  Wi-fi was available only in public areas, so I left Verity to shower and went out to the balcony hallway outside our room to see if I could pick up the wi-fi from there.  I could, so I spent 20 minutes catching up and then discovered my keycard wouldn’t let me back into the room.  So I knocked.  And knocked.  And knocked again, louder.  After 20 minutes of trying to get Verity to hear me, I gave it up for a lost cause and made the 10-minute trek back to the corner lifts and across the casino to reception, where of course they wanted to see my ID.  As this was in the room, I was told to go back and wait for Security, who would let me in and expect to see my ID straight away.  So feeling grumpy and tired, almost an hour after I went out to check the wi-fi, I finally got back to the room just as Verity was leaving to come and look for me!  The bathroom fan was too loud and the rooms too well insulated against the casino noise for her to have heard me banging on the door.  Another 10 minutes later, Security still hadn’t turned up so we went off to explore the casino anyway. 

Verity has played roulette in the past and wanted to try it here, so we both put down $40 and tried our luck.  The table had a $10 minimum play, though it could be split over ten $1 bets.  My luck went something like this:

$10 bet… nothing.

$10 bet… nothing.

$10 bet… nothing.

$10 bet… WIN! $37 back for having a chip on the exact number that came up!

$10 bet… nothing.

$10 bet… nothing.

$10 bet… nothing.

Final $7 bet… nothing. And I’m out.

Verity, on the other hand, had at least doubled her money and was going strong.  Hmmm, clearly roulette is not my forte after a long day on the road.  While it is true that you get free drinks while you are playing at a casino table, the waitress spent so long doing a circuit that I only managed two drinks, despite playing only every third or fourth round.  Effectively, I paid $20 each for two small gin and tonics… As they say, the house always wins. 

 

Mileage: 1942

0 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

Travel blog by zobeedoo

DSC00329.jpg

DSC00329.jpg


Here I go again! After the incredible experiences of my first Big World Adventure, I'm off again for part two, starting with a classic American Road Trip through California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona...

visitors: 74,374

Currently in:

Orchard Road, Singapore

Buy this Blog on CD!  More...


Makes a great gift for anytime!

Photo Album

  • DSC02500_2.jpg

    Las Vegas

    USA

    DSC02500_2.jpg
  • DSC02499_2.jpg

    Las Vegas

    USA

    DSC02499_2.jpg
  • DSC02498.jpg

    Las Vegas

    USA

    DSC02498.jpg
  • DSC00841.jpg

    Las Vegas

    USA

    DSC00841.jpg