September 2008 - USA

We woke up earlier than expected (Trent didn’t sleep so well) and headed back into the park to take more pictures and go to the Visitor’s Centre. Soon enough we were getting petrol and one very stale croissant (Trent’s) and one average, but edible chocolate muffin (mine). We drove through bushlands, into shrubs, into grassland into desert. We drove and drove through nothing, through speckled run down houses in the middle of nowhere. It looked like people lived there but there was no farming so we were at a loss to explain why they were there. We drove a 30 mile straight stretch of road with old sign after old sign of For Sale acreage. How long had these signs been there?

We past through huge truck stops and a town that has clearly thrived from being on the main route from Los Angeles through Arizona. RV Parks and places that sell RVs, including one that they had designed based on the Flintstones. Trent had to pass four RV's in a row on a two lane road. One step at a time.

Eventually after the nothingness we started heading into the hills again, turning corners towards the Nevada border and the Hoover Dam. We were stopped at a security check point before being allowed to drive across the Hoover Dam. There was just a few people and cars around. Now I saw the Hoover Dam when I was about 15 and I thought it was huge and I was almost disappointed when I saw it again, it looked smaller then I remembered, still engineering greatness, but small. Maybe this was because the water was significantly down in the Dam. Anyway we parked the car for $7, Trent got angry at me because I missed the sign that said leave your ticket on the dashboard (it didn’t say it on the ticket), he was hungry though, that stale croissant did not help him earlier in the day. We got out in all the heat and walked across the Hoover Dam from the Nevada side to the Arizona side.

They are currently building a suspension bridge over the Dam which will take much traffic off the dam itself. It was really interesting to see the bridge partly constructed, blending in with all the power cables. I suspect that it will be finished around 2010. They have just started on the arch of the bridge. It will be pretty cool site once it is finished.

Now in Nevada we headed into Vegas, noticing that the closer you got to Vegas the more expensive the Hotels were. They started at $29.95 a night and went up from there (our room for the night was considerably more expensive than that). Soon enough they were a few iconic hotels in the distance and sure enough we turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) right next to our Hotel (after Trent overshot it). There I was walking through the doors of the Bellagio. We had a room on the 25th floor and even though we did not look out onto The Strip we had a great view of the mountains and the construction going on next door at Caesar’s Palace (looks as though they are adding another tower). I then had to wait patiently for Trent to arrive after dropping the car off. Finally after almost an hour I was FREE.

After a short stop off to pick up our ‘O’ tickets for Thursday night I went through our Hotel to Caesar’s Palace and more importantly the Forum Shops. SHOPS! YAY! I had waited so patiently for this part of the trip. So I spent a decent 3 hours walking around, trying things on, buying things. Clothes mostly (The Strip lacks bookstores and electronic stores). I bumped into Trent in FAO Swartz (that’s a toy store) and shortly after he left and I continued on my merry way. Tried on this beautiful heart shaped silver necklace which I later found out was covered in pink sapphires and worth a mere $6000. Needless to say the necklace isn’t weighing down my suitcase (although other stuff probably is).

I was soon running out of time because I had to be back in the room at 7pm to meet Trent for dinner so my last stop of the evening at Victoria Secret was a little shorter than I would have like. I still managed to take full advantage of their 7 for $25 special (usually 5 for $25 online).

After many burgers and steaks we both felt like something ‘less American’ to eat. Trent had scoped out a little place called Noodles in our Hotel which served a mix of Asian dishes with either rice (for me) or Noodles (for Trent). We were seated at the counter and started with Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (delicious) and Trent had Pad Thai and I had Mongolian Beef. We were very satisfied after dinner and decided to hit The Strip and walk down to New York, New York for dessert. It was another world outside the Hotel. People everywhere (well there were people everywhere in the Hotel too), girls that had just turned 21 thinking it cool to walk down the street with those huge slushy/cocktail glasses, guys lining the streets flicking advertising cards for gentlemen clubs, guys wanting to give you a hug because you looked cold… (he offered to Trent and Me) and construction EVERYWHERE! The soon to be City Centre is next to the Bellagio and looks like it will be the next big thing, it’s already starting to take shape but I don’t think it will be fully done till at least the end of next year. Next door on the other side, the Monte Carlo looks positively small and ready for implosion.

We wandered around New York, New York for a while, I was able to get a quick look inside the Coyote Ugly bar where a girl that was celebrating her 21st was standing on the bar dancing her little heart out for a bunch of drooling guys below…. Very classy. I grabbed a Choc Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream from Ben and Jerry’s and started walking back to the Bellagio because Trent was going to call it a night. We watched “My heart will go on” played out by the Fountain outside the Bellagio.

At this point in the evening I said goodbye to Trent and headed up The Strip. I didn’t have a plan but found my feet leading me towards The Forum Shops again to see the stores I had missed earlier. This was around 10, the shops close at 11 which was perfect tonight. I found one of my favourite jewellery stores (which has closed it’s shop in Sydney) this was a high, then I was left rather uninspired by Banana Republic (it was on the top of my hit list). Only then did I call it a night.