We tucked ourselves into the crazy jam and within a few hours we were climbing up the San Bernardino mountains, and out of the city and into the Mojave desert towards Las Vegas!
After a few hours on the highway we hit Nevada. Gambling is illegal in California, so as soon as you pass over the state border, out springs the small town of Primm - which is basically a small and pretty rubbish version of Las Vegas. We stopped to re-fuel and hit the highway, and within 30 mins we were in Vegas. What a crazy crazy place! It looked weird rising out of the desert, and it looked even more weird as we drove down the main strip to our hotel.........
After freshening up we bought a 24 hour bus card, and decided to go all the way down the strip and beyond to the old Vegas to the Fremont street experience
........wow, loads of freaks, loads of fat Americans and loads of tacky casinos! OK, so, Lou, lets go...! After 10 mins people watching, we headed on the bus back to the hotel. Our early start, long drive and the heat was making us feel so so tired. We even asked ourselves whether it would bad if we stayed in and got an early night - not in Vegas!!!??!
After a food fuel stop we had some more energy and decided in order to take in as much of the experience as we could we would walk the entire strip (about 2 miles with the many pedestrian crossings). After passing famous hotels such as the Luxor, MGM
and walking through a mini version of New York city,
we found ourselves at the new "City Centre" development. This is the new vision for Vegas, and is a brand new (and huge!) swanky development that is trying to move Vegas away from the "gambling and girls" image....it has top end hotels (with no or very small casinos) as well as amazing restaurants, art galleries, spas etc etc...
.essentially trying to Dubai-ise Vegas. It sort of works and we enjoyed having a look at the amazing art and gawping at the cool architecture. We then headed down to the Bellagio to watch the water display which is choreographed to music - We thought it was gonna be cheesy, but it was actually so good (and the water fountain jets are so huge!),
we watched three separate shows (they have different music and shows every 15 mins)...that was almost us done, but there was still so much to go so we continued on down past the Venetian, the Mirage where they have a volcano eruption show, and after going into Encore and the Wynn casinos and deciding we weren't going to gamble in a casino (l know l know, criminal in Vegas - but we are on backpackers budgets and it's a dangerous place before and after midnight!) we hit the hay for the night.......
The next day we drove to Hoover Dam and it was STILL hot and even hotter at the Dam. We checked out the tour of the hydro-electric power plant hundreds of feet beneath the dam, which was interesting and then headed up and outside to the Dam to marvel at the thing. They are also just about to open a new road bridge that will divert through traffic away from the dam and over a new road bridge that will be America's biggest arch bridge and highest arch bridge
....a sight that equaled the Dam itself.The water level in Lake Mead behind the Dam didn't look too good and it will near critical levels within the next decade unless the areas 11 year 'drought' clears up......we then drove to our overnight stay which was in a small town called St George. We could tell we were on our way to America's famous canyon land as the drive in places was truly spectacular.
We arrived, in we checked to a small motel, out for a plate of Thai food and then sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
After getting advice from Teresa and Eric that it would be best to leave LA early to miss the Tuesday morning rush hour traffic hell, we went with it and set the alarm for 5:30 AM!....we finally left at 6:15 AM, and even though it was still dark (and still damn hot...yes, even this early in the morning - LA was still hot!!!) the traffic was already building on the super massive highways that they have in LA.