Las Vegas

Trip Start Apr 30, 2013
Trip End Mar 01, 2014

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Sunday, August 4, 2013

Monday July 15th - Thursday July 18th 2013

Las Vegas

I'll start by saying that Las Vegas was the first place I went that would have been a hell of a lot more fun if I had a travel partner. You don’t need me to tell you that drinking, gambling and general debauchery are associated with 'Sin City’, but I didn’t touch a drop nor spend even a dollar in a casino the whole time I was there. Granted, I only had a couple of days but still…that’s remarkably well behaved on my part! It may have been different had I actually met anyone; the hostel I stayed in was inconveniently located and definitely the quietist I’d lodged at. Having a pool and Jacuzzi to yourself is nice, but I would have happily substituted them for some other human beings!
Actually, I wasn’t so well behaved on my flight from Vancouver. I was munching M&Ms whilst sitting in front of a woman with a serious nut allergy. Oops! Won’t be doing that again…

The Strip
I embarked upon a less than sensible 10 mile walk in 40 degree heat (honestly, some day I will just suck it up and get a bus) from the hostel to the end of the strip and back. First stop on the way was The Stratosphere tower, which has some nerve wrecking rides on the roof that I simply had to experience. Two of them go right over the edge of the building and dangle you a thousand feet above the ground. It’s times like these you seriously begin to question how secure the safety mechanism is, and whether the steward was rigorous enough in checking your harness. I guess that’s all part of the fun though isn’t it? The threat of death, the risk you take in going on a ride that’s surely to fatally malfunction one day. Hmm…maybe I need to re-evaluate my notion of ‘fun’.

The Grand Canyon
I so very nearly missed my opportunity to visit this majestic wonder of the world, and I would have been kicking myself had I not managed to book myself onto a last minute tour. Vegas is the nearest place to The Grand Canyon you’re ever likely to go so there’s just no excuse for not making the four hour trip to the south rim, which is typically where the best views are to be had. Four hours may sound like a lot, but after being in a van for stretches of up to 18 hours at a time with the Aussies on the road trip to San Francisco, you come to have a different perspective on what constitutes a long journey. Once I arrived, I spent the first half hour frantically searching for a WIFI hotspot in order to message a friend from home who happened to be visiting the canyon on the very same day. I was unsuccessful in reaching him and had to abort. This was a sidequest which very nearly resulted in me missing my tour bus back to Las Vegas, but we’ll get to that.
Much like sunsets, skyscrapers and boobs, photographs just do not do justice to what you see with your own eyes. A picture or video will never be able to replicate the sense of awe I felt upon first experiencing it (I promise I’m talking about The Grand Canyon now, not boobs). My first reaction was one of disbelief, an inability to comprehend what I was seeing, as if my brain simply refused to admit what I was seeing was true. Initially it looks like some sort of three dimensional postcard blown up to an enormous size and painted on to an invisible canvas just beyond your reach, but then your focus begins to home in on details – the shape of the rocks, the birds of prey circling above, the Colorado River way below – and you begin to realise…"shit, it really is that big”. Yep, that’s my wonderfully eloquent way of describing one of the most impressive places on Planet Earth – "It’s big” (Trystan Pugh, 2013). In some ways though, I think that’s the best description. I could sit here and come up with metaphors and similes and poetic depictions (or I could try) but ultimately it wouldn’t matter; you’ve either been to The Grand Canyon or you haven’t. There, I’ve started to boast about my travels now, but as I’ve spent a sickening amount of money already I feel I’m afforded an occasional smugness.
Thought and logic and self preservation told me not to do it, but I couldn’t resist the slightly macabre temptation to stand right on the edge and look down into the abyss, the chasm, the end of the world. I soon backed off, shaky of leg and short of breath but glad I possessed the courage to do so. It was at this time I realised time was of the essence and I had lingered too long gazing in wonderment. I was a good two miles away from the departure point, and the ominous words the tour guide uttered before we left the bus were reverberating in my head - “If you’re not back by 15:30, we’re leaving without you”. Whether this was a genuine threat or not, I preferred not to wait around and find out. I quickened to a canter and soon realised that, despite all the intense hiking I had embarked upon recently, I still can’t run for shit. Panting, wheezing and spluttering like the dismal asthma sufferer that I am, I eventually reached the pickup point just in time, and was glad to find the welcome embrace of the air conditioned bus. The journey back promised two Las Vegas themed films to occupy us on the journey. Great, I thought. ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Viva Las Vegas? Oh no, those would be obvious choices. We were instead treated to two of the most diabolical films I’d ever seen – Destination Vegas and Fools Rush In. My mind was on other things anyway, as the following day I would be flying to my last American State – Hawaii, where I’d be joining forces with university chum Wils to most likely drink a lot of beer and burn in the hot sun, much like we did in Miami a few years ago. It promised to be an interesting trip, as my next entry will surely confirm!

To view my Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon album, click here
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