It took most of the day to drive from Yosemite National Park to Las Vegas. We had left California and were now in Nevada – the second American state I had visited on my tour of the American west. We arrived late in the afternoon and as we vacated the trek van we were greeted with a wall of heat. Vegas was absolutely baking hot and the temperature was well over 100 degrees. Apparently, the locals did not even consider this hot – it had to be over 110 degrees for them to classify it as a hot day! I had a glimpse of Las Vegas and I was excited. It was very much larger than life with the bright lights of the casinos. It knew it was going to be fun! First, though it was time to enjoy the luxury of air conditioning and of course a good shower having spent the previous few days camping in the wilderness of Yosemite National Park. It was also time to do some washing! Even though I had adapted well to camping and sleeping in a tent we had been camping since San Francisco and I was ready and really looking forward to two nights in a hotel and a comfy bed!
We had another surprise lined up. I had been impressed with the sunset boat ride in San Francisco but even more impressed with our Las Vegas surprise. We were told to dress smartly as we were booked on a limo tour of the Las Vegas strip! I had never been inside a limousine before and so it was exciting! A black Super Stretch Hummer H2 pulled up and it had a luxurious leather interior, state of the art LCD TV’s, a premium sound system and fibre optic laser lighting – not bad for a group who had been camping for almost a week! The group gathered inside the limo and enjoyed the complimentary champagne which I think I drank too fast. Cruising along the Las Vegas strip was certainly an unforgettable experience and there was time to observe the Fountains of Bellagio, the Mirage Volcano eruption and the Fremont Street Experience which is a spectacular display of laser lights and sound. The Viva Vision is the largest video screen in the world and after a 32-million-dollar upgrade boasts a screen with 16.4 million brilliant pixels which provides spectacular, pristine light shows.
At the end of a magical evening cruising the Las Vegas strip in our luxury limo we enjoyed a buffet meal at the Bellagio casino. I do not think I have eaten so much! Although the camp meals had been alright it was fair to say that I was ready for an all you can eat Las Vegas buffet! After our meal it was time to hit the casinos. As a group we decided to play roulette. With roulette and most of the other games I was not too sure of the rules and planned to go to the slot machines after the group game on the roulette wheel. Everyone in the group had to decide a number and my choice was 21. I bought a $5 chip and placed it on 21. Minutes later I was celebrating a win of $180! I was absolutely thrilled and could not believe I had won on my first go! I did not realise I had won to begin with, but the trek leader told me I had in fact won! How lucky was I? I cashed my chips in straight away as I knew I would not win anymore. After some more time playing on the slot machines and not having much luck, we headed out the Bellagio for a walk along the Las Vegas strip. It was a whistle stop tour really as it was getting late and we had been travelling all day. However, we saw Caesars Palace, the Luxor, MGM Grand and New York-New York.
The next day we had a free day in Las Vegas, and we left our hotel early to make the most of it. We caught the shuttle bus from the hotel to the strip so we could have a look around the casinos and enjoy each different theme that the casinos had. It was interesting watching other people gamble on the roulette wheels. One guy had chips all over the roulette wheel, yet he was still losing! I wanted to tell him to stop! We tried to stay in the casinos to shelter from the baking hot sun as it was 104 degrees outside and thankfully fully air conditioned inside the casinos. Of course, we needed to venture outside just for the sheer spectacle of the street. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before and as well as the larger than life casinos there were also some interesting characters along the strip including a guy who seemed to be taking a giant lizard for a walk! He had it on a lead and everything – he had all the tourists around him taking photographs!
The casinos were spectacular. The Mirage casino had Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Inside here you could observe dolphins, white tigers, white lions, leopards, and panthers in a relaxed garden setting with jungle-themed music. The animals were amazing to observe. We decided to have a go on the slot machines in the casino and after placing $1 in one of the machines I was lucky enough to get $40 back! I was incredibly lucky and decided that the money would be well spent on another one of those glorious all you can eat Las Vegas buffets! We also passed the Little White Wedding Chapel and could see the Pink Cadillac outside and inside Caesars Palace the ancient Roman setting was pretty cool as was the pyramid shape of the Luxor. We returned to the Mirage for an all you can eat buffet meal towards the end of the evening and once again it was absolutely delicious. Before we headed back to the hotel we had time to enjoy the Fountains of Bellagio which was a spectacular show of interwoven water, music and light and is the most ambitious choreographically complex water feature ever conceived and was absolutely free to watch! Each performance is unique so you can see a variety of performances at different times of the day. As it was extremely late in the evening it felt more effective in the dark, but it was amazing to watch. We were also awe-struck by the Mirage Volcano show! In just a day we had managed to cram in a lot, and I had thoroughly enjoyed my time in Las Vegas. However, a day was not nearly enough time to see everything, so I hope to go back there again in the future.