What could possibly compete with the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon? The man-made garishness of Las Vegas, of course.
On our way we made a few detours. Nick had asked me about Route 66 – I knew that it passed through this part of the country, but despite the signs we’d seen in Flagstaff I didn’t put two and two together and realize that the current Interstate 40 is the old Route 66 in many parts until we were leaving the Grand Canyon. When started seeing signs for the ‘Historic Route 66’ – I had a little ‘aha’ moment. We hit the road early, so we got off in Ash Park, Arizona to find somewhere to eat our breakfast. The town used to be a main hub for the Santa Fe Railroad, and also had a large hotel in town. When the railroad moved its line, the hotel closed, and I-40 bypassed the town, Ash Fork was pretty much deserted. It still has some folks living there, but it’s pretty quiet. Sound familiar? It felt like the movie Cars could have been based on this little town, though I am sure there are a million more like it out there.
Next stop: Hoover Dam. It’s nice to go to a major attraction that they don’t make you pay to look at! It’s big. And it was windy. I have to say I wasn’t too excited about looking over the edge, but Nick was. I was more tempted to use the fancy art deco bathrooms in one of the columns – just to be able to say I went at Hoover Dam. Actually, the most interesting part for me was the bridge that they are building just a bit up the road from the dam. It is meant to be a bypass, and will be HUGE. They’re building it from both sides, and it looks like it is about to meet in the middle. I can’t imagine a much worse job – being suspended above the water like that doing construction. Gives me the willies just thinking how far down it would be…(can you sense a theme? I’m not much of a heights fan).
We arrived at my Uncle Pat’s place in the ‘burbs of Vegas on Fathers’ Day, just in time for Kathy’s awesome pulled pork sandwiches and mac & cheese. The golf was on and everyone was already happy. It was a well-needed early Sunday night, and it meant we were ready to get an early start on the strip the next day! We happily got stuck into the mid-morning traffic, which gave us a good chance to look around and ogle the sites. I’d been here once before, but wasn’t 21 at the time so it wasn’t much fun. To be honest, Vegas isn’t really Nick or my scene, but we wanted to check it out. We tried to stay out of the Vegas heat as much as possible – it was hotter than a (insert some random, funny phrase here – I’m no good at those). We parked on the one end and made our way through a bunch of the casinos. I felt like we weren’t really taking Vegas seriously – it was almost 5 before we even had a drink! But luckily we caught up with a few margaritas and beers, then decided to try our hand at gambling. We are both major losers (not it the general sense, just when it comes to gambling…). Knowing this we only put aside a little cash to play with. Nick probably lost his in 5 minutes at the blackjack tables. Mine lasted longer, but only because I was playing the 1 and 5 cent slots. Not exactly a high stakes gambler! I was just mesmerized by the pictures, hoping they’d all line up – kept me entertained. We should have listened to our yes/no coin, which kept answering ‘NO’ whenever we asked if we should play this particular table or machine.
We ended the evening with an amazing dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Casino – we sat out on the patio, which overlooks the dancing fountains at the Bellagio (one of Nick’s favorite parts of Vegas). It was great to sip sangria, eat blue cheese smothered steak frites while listening to ‘I’m Proud to be an American’…Yes. Odd. Nick thought it was the funniest song out there, and I can’t say I disagree. We headed home with lighter pockets but our heads full of lights. It really is a kind of fairy land at night with all the colors and flashing pinpricks. I can see how it would be addictive!