Las Vegas

 [no photos - watch the TV shows for all the glimmer]

Thursday, May 11, 2006, Las Vegas, NV
After two days I can certainly agree that Las Vegas is an experience! When we arrived on Tuesday, we checked into the only RV park on The Strip. It's located in the Circus Circus complex and is a mass of tar with the occasional tree set in a grassed island. We paid extra to get some of this shade which did last into mid-afternoon. We both took a long shower and we did the laundry, and then in the evening we went out to sample night-life along the famous 'Strip'. (I can certainly see why Las Vegas has the second highest electricity use in the country - it is absolutely neon heaven!). There doesn't seem to be much to do there unless you want to drink or gamble or both, although if you can find a spot to sit and watch the world go by, it is an interesting people-watching experience.
But after a couple of hours we returned to the camper to sleep. Unfortunately, like most city RV parks, this one also had all the features we have come to expect - busy freeways, railway lines and in this case, building sites which continued working through the night!
Yesterday morning we decided that we would move to some other sort of accommodation for the remainder of our time in Las Vegas, and we found a one bedroom apartment just off The Strip for about $10 a night more than we were paying in the RV park. It is really nice to spread out a bit after the confines of the camper. We always thought that we would do this occasionally and this experience reinforces the idea.
We also lined up yesterday for reduced-price tickets for a show - our show of choice was one of the five Cirque du Soleil performances currently on here, called Le RÍve. It didn't start until 10.30 which is usually a bit of a problem for me, since I really like to go to bed by about then, but we had a long afternoon nap and I was still relatively awake when we set out for the theatre at 9.30. Once it started there was never any doubt that it would keep me awake. There was so much to see that sometimes you wanted to be looking in several places at once. It was a whole new look at synchronised swimming combined with amazing aerial stunts, sometimes combined with dropping from great heights into the pool below. The performance area was purpose built for the production, and there wasn't a bad seat in the house! Impossible to describe but worth every penny of the ticket price (US$88 p.p.).

Monday, May 15, 2006, Zion National Park, Utah
We left Las Vegas yesterday after 5 days. You may wonder why we stayed so long in a place that didn't really impress us much - sometimes you just have to catch up on things that can't be done in National Parks.
On Thursday we spent most of the day at one of Las Vegas' outlet centres. We were searching for walking boots for both of us. Juergen has been taking to the trails in a pair of shoes with almost no tread left, and it's not a pleasant sight, wondering if he's going to slip over and hurt himself. We actually chose the right place to search - there must have been at least 20 shops selling shoes and most of them had some sort of hiking boots. I found one pair that felt really good but somehow couldn't come at spending $110 + tax on them. Juergen found a pair that fit him at a much more acceptable price, so at least he should be stable on the trails from now on. It took us about 5 hours to go through this place from one end to the other, and by the end of it I couldn't tell if the shoes felt right or not. I'll try again another day.
On Friday we went shopping and in search of internet access. We have discovered a couple of supermarkets here that we particularly like for some items, called Trader Joe's (introduced by Suzy in Long Beach the first day we were here) and Whole Food Market (introduced by Lisa in Baton Rouge). Whenever we are coming to a larger town or city we check the internet to see if they are there and then drive however far it is to stock up on our preferred items. This sometimes takes a large portion of the day, but we figure it's worth it. After shopping we went in search of internet access - this time a hot-spot at Borders, a large bookstore. I also bought a couple of phone cards to call home - first time. Managed to get a large portion of my family at my sister's house for my nephew's 21st and had a chat to everyone.
On Saturday we spent the morning repacking things in the camper - we had emptied the fridge and defrosted and cleaned it earlier. Juergen went back to Border's in the afternoon to try to fix our guest book by re-installing it, but unfortunately there still seems to be a problem which he can't seem to solve. The main problem is that we are spending most of our time in places that have no power, phone or internet access, and we certainly like it that way, but it means that we only have time to quickly upload our diary and photos and check and answer email before we get away from civilisation. We shall certainly try to fix the guest book and will let you know when it is again functional. We love to get your comments there.
On Saturday evening we decided to check out the downtown area of Vegas. The area we were interested in going to is a pedestrian zone which has some of the oldest casinos on it. We walked down this street and wandered through a few of these much older casinos. One of them had the most amazing carpet through the whole place. It must have been a special order, because I can't see anyone laying it in the living room! We ended up having dinner at the Golden Nugget - one of the few casinos that I have actually heard of. It is actually quite nice and rather understated - I think I'm trying to say that unlike others it didn't appear garish! The other thing we noticed driving in this area is that most of the famous (or is that infamous?) wedding chapels are also in this area - maybe because it's close to the government office that provides the marriage licenses! I read somewhere that this office keeps very extended hours, particularly around holidays and Valentine's Day.
On Sunday we had planned to leave reasonably early to start toward Zion NP, but encountered a lost keys problem. We had a spare truck key but no spare key for the camper. So we spent a considerable part of the day (not to mention the cash!) getting a locksmith to open the camper and then buying a replacement lock and getting a spare car key cut and so on. In the end we were happy to leave Las Vegas behind after 2.00 in the afternoon.

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