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Posts Tagged ‘las vegas’

lv 0 trump

lv 1 circusSo Las Vegas it is.  Like some sort of weird oasis it appears out in the desert from far away drawing you to it.  Gold high rise hotels, neon and the promise of good times.  I choose my hotel, Circus Circus, for two reasons – One because its cheap, and the other because of its connection to Hunter s. Thompson – The guy who brought us ‘Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, one of my all time favourite books (and movies, Johnny Depp is awesome as the Doctor, though Circus Circus wouldn’t let them film inside)

lv 2 encoreThis hotel is huge, and so much going on in every corner – gambling, drinking, eating, circus stuff, games, all sorts – though this is nothing to the casinos further down the strip!!  Hunter S. Thompson had this to say about it –

“The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis has won the war. This is the Sixth Reich”. – Though it’s really wholesome family fun these days.

Anyway,eventually I negotiate my way through the chaos to the outside world and the Las Vegas strip.I walk down the top of the strip dominated by the golden Wynn and Encore hotels, stopping to eat beef head tacos at the amazingly named ‘Tacos El Gordo’, before making it to the centre of the strip.  Here I check out the amazing Venetian hotel – with its replica canals and fresco ceilings.  The sheer extravagance of the place just blows me away.  Feeling out of place I find some cheap bars to hang out in.  In fact cheap isn’t the word.  I’m paying as little as $1 a beer in some places – and for $2 you get a hot dog as well.

8 venetian 2But this place isn’t cheap, the money just seems to drain from your pockets – a couple of dollars for the machines turns into 10, and with poker machines at every bar stool its hard not to resist.  They really know how to squeeze every last cent from you.

lv 3 ceasersI’m happy when I meet a guy called TJ from Chicago and have a couple of drinks.  He’s travelling to Los Angeles to make it as a writer – Oh yes, straight out of a movie. We drink, meeting all sots of crazy characters and end up in downtown Las Vegas, where the beer is even cheaper and the bars more dingy.  At one place we eat a prawn cocktail for $2 – bit of a weird thing to be drinking at 2am in Vegas, but hey, stranger things have happened. After this we crash – heading back to Circus Circus for some sleep.

lv 5 revoThe next day i wake up glad i didn’t get food poisoning from the prawn cocktail and head to the pool for a swim before getting out into the mid day sun to check out some more hotels.  I pass through treasure island with its tropical getaway vibe and xxxx with its endless Beatles advertising, then on to Caesar’s Palace – this place is enormous, with huge Greco-roman statues and endless shopping and restaurants.  Across the road is the Bellagio and Paris, both well thought out, beautiful hotels.  The replica Eiffel tower is so impressive.

lv 4 parisBy this time I’m all hotel’d out.  i find a local microbrew place that sell great new york style pizza and load up.  After this its a case of drinking my way back down to my hotel via any cheap dive bar I can find.  I get back to the hotel and crash out straight away.

The next morning I contemplate staying, but decide not to and hit the road north again through Nevada and into the Eastern Sierra Nevada

Next part 3 – Up the back and over the top

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4 the road

1 lariatGetting in a car and driving through a chunk of American nothing has always had some huge appeal to me.  I loved American road movies like ‘Convoy’, ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Vanishing point’ – I especially loved the comedy ones like ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ and the ‘Cannonball Run’ – but maybe the biggest influence was Jack Kerouac’s book – On the road.  The book that made me hit the road in the first place.

0 nothingSo with a little bit of courage and a lot of naive romanticism I hit the road heading south from Vancouver to the American border.  My route was simple – First drive through Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah to the gambling and entertainment paradise of Las Vegas, Nevada – Then return back through California to Oregon and Washington.  I’d brought camping equipment, cowboy boots, and a tub of Kimchee given to me by a Korean friend.  The only map I had was an A4 size one that came free with the Lonely Planet which didn’t exactly provide the level of detail needed – In fact I spent quite a bit of time driving while trying to read the inside maps of that massive edition – though I never got lost once.

2 petrolAnyway, driving through northern Washington past Seattle it wasn’t long before the green northwest gave way to an endless landscape of dry grass and rocks.  My first stop was the town of Yakima, home to much of Washington’s wine trade and apparently the Palm springs of the state.  Here I fill up on a massive, tasty pulled pork sandwich at the Lariat before heading on and climbing up onto the central plateau of the rocky mountain states.  I made pretty good time, stopping in Dunkee – where a plump gas station attendant, wearing a t-shirt that says ‘freedom Isn’t free’ fills my car while telling that his cousin speaks seven languages.  I eat again outside Boise, Idaho.  Filling up on a huge club sandwich.

nowhereJust before Utah 1372km in, as the sun is setting, I stop in ‘the middle of nowhere’ to get gas – the attractions here are two alpacas, and being the only fuel in miles.  At this point I’m ready to sleep and decide to stop in the first town over the state line.  The road around here is just one straight line to nothing.  At one point my car begins to shudder and shake. What’s going on?  I realise I’m sitting at 185kmph – I haven’t turned for 45 minutes.  I slow down pretty quickly.

3 alpacaAfter 1559km and 16 hour driving, I stop at some town 160km from Salt Lake City.  A couple of beers in the bar across the street – only 3.2% in Utah!!, and I retire to my motel – car parked outside the room, just like in the movies.

5 salt lake churchThe next day I’m glad to have made a big push the day before.  I only have a seven hour trip today, nothing!  First I stop in at Salt Lake City, visiting the religious centre for the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints.  Its a nice if pretty bland town, but definitely worth checking out if you happen to pass.  The central cathedral is pretty impressive and the people are as nice as you’d ever meet.

6 mormon kidsI roll on, hammering down the road stopping at the eagles landing service area and Beaver, Utah – birthplace of Butch Cassidy no less, just after here I break the 2000km mark and I know I’m close.  Listening to Right wing radio talk shows is great around here – they really love Obama these guys!!

6 mormonJust before I cross the border into Nevada I drop through the Virgin river gorge.  Dropping straight off the edge of mile high Utah is an experience I won’t forget.  Red sandstone walls on either side, foot heavy on the brakes as I’m going down so fast.  The bottom is the desserts of Nevada.  Its pretty flat from here on in.

As soon as you cross the border the casinos begin. Big grassed areas in the middle of arid desert – pretty surreal.  Surreal too is at the moment I’m seeing Vegas in the distance on comes the Who’s ‘Who are you?’ – CSI anybody??beast

I drive straight into my hotel, Circus Circus, and get ready to hit the strip.  What a trip 2320km, two days, five states and a shitload  of fast food…

Next part 2 – The City of Sin

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