Towering trees to the towering Strip
Trip Start Jul 02, 2010
18Trip End Jul 16, 2010
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The largest tree on earth, General Sherman, was in the middle of the Giant Forest down a trail and we parked and made the short half-mile hike. Shortly before arriving at the tree we were treated to a female deer and her fawn treading lightly through a Sequoia Glade before disappearing into the woods. The General Sherman is like something from another world. It is not the tallest or widest tree but its broad trunk and towering height are impressive
From the Giant Forest we made a large loop through the rest of Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks before plunging back down about 50 miles on the narrowest and windiest road in America (edging out the Yosemite descent) back into the low valleys and golden-grass hills of central California. We turned due south to go around the impassable Sierra Nevada Mountains via the Mojave desert for our next stop in Las Vegas. We passed through Bakersfield and Barstow flying across vast expanses of rock-sand ridges, low-growing grasses and brush, and fields of gnarly Joshua Trees clinging for life in the empty desert. It was after dark when we spotted the glittering lights of Vegas filling the otherwise naked desert in the distance.
The juxtaposition of Giant Sequoias of the Eastern Sierra that we experienced in the morning compared to the Giant Resort Hotels of Vegas was enough to bend our minds as we entered the city. The lights, neon, half-naked girls (live and on 50 foot high televised billboards), incredibly over-the-top theme hotels, throngs of tourists with large fruity cocktails sucking on straws as they walked down the streets, and all manner and taste of temptation gave us both sensory overload that took a while to adjust to. We cruised the strip a couple of times past all the big name hotels and resorts – Bellagio, Venetian, Excalibur, etc. and even some of the old-timers like Circus Circus and the Sahara - and even saw a lady of the night being rounded up by the police before heading to our hotel room at the Treasure Island Resort. Once there we changed and freshened up before grabbing a late bite to eat, some drinks, and walking around to immerse ourselves in the hedonism of Sin City. Las Vegas is everything I expected and a little more and we had a fun for the short time we spent there even if we were a little too tired to enjoy all that it has to offer. As we settled in for bed I looked down on the blinking lights of the northern section of the Vegas Strip from our 29th floor hotel room and recalled that just several hours ago I was in one of the most sanctified, serene, and natural places on earth. Now I was in one the most exciting, bacchanalian, and unnatural places on earth . . . What a trip in more ways than one. . .