Today has been a day of extremes as we started in Kingman, a small, albeit very comfortable, Route 66 motel and have ended the day in 5 diamond luxury at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. Of course, I have to mention the visit to the Hoover Dam along the way.
Let’s start with our journey to the Dam through more of the Mohave Desert, but with rocks and mountains of granite rather than the sandstone we loved in Monument Valley. There was an openness to the vista and wide sweeping valley floors, miles wide, before the land rose to another mountain range. Deep into the mountains at the edge of the state, we also knew that we would have to cross a magnificent bridge from Arizona into Nevada before turning back on ourselves to wind down a steep road back into Arizona to access the Visitors’ Centre and the huge dam across the Colorado River.
Any fans of thriller films will have seen heroes diving or abseiling from such structures but my heart was in my mouth at the mere idea as I tried to photograph the wall of the dam from top to bottom.
The engineering involved and the electricity generated, to say nothing of the spectacle created, are just jaw-dropping in terms of statistics and sheer beauty
We spent quite a bit of time walking across the top of the dam and around the terraces of the Visitors’ Centre before taking the odd comic photo and travelling the remaining 20 odd miles further into Nevada. A slight difference in scenery.
As Carolyn has never been to Las Vegas before, as I got an exceptional hotel deal, and as I hadn’t stayed here before…I thought I could justify a bit of luxury at this stage of our trip. Just as an aside, if anyone thinks luxury comes with total ease and comfort, think again. I am shattered. Just walking through the hotel to get to the elevators, only to walk miles of corridor to find your room, is a workout in itself. But the view! The Bellagio fountains are dancing, the Hotel Paris and its Eiffel Tower are opposite and the neon lights of The Strip are burning vast wattage. It’s Blackpool on speed!!
After cocktails and a wander, a visit to Caesar’s Palace, which has grown beyond all recognition from the place I once knew – they even have a Gordon Ramsay pub and grill! – it’s time to retreat and enjoy the luxury. So, with a cold beer in hand, that’s it for tonight.
So, we’re in Las Vegas. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it is impressive. ‘Blackpool on speed’ is one description but it is bigger and grander by far. However, despite its best efforts, it still has an air of trying too hard at pretence, somehow.
Every hotel, it seems, has a Casino. Games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker… and myriads of different ‘Slots’ – the latter, predominantly populated by women – are everywhere. I almost laughed out loud when I walked into ‘our’ Casino and heard the first track of music being played… The Police’s “Can’t stand losing…”!!! Seemed appropriate.
As Kath mentioned, the journey over incorporated visiting the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. It wasn’t on our original schedule but we wanted to build it in. Well worth the slight detour and the time spent there. Getting there brought us into disrepute with our Sat. Nav…. again. The website said we couldn’t cross the dam from Arizona. Ok, so, as we were coming from Arizona and wanted to drive over the dam, we intended to drive from Arizona to Nevada over the new bridge. Then we would drive over the dam from Nevada to Arizona. Hmm. But,… we found, once there, we could drive back over the bridge from… Arizona to Nevada! As Hannibal Smith used to say in the ‘A’ Team, “It’s good when a plan comes together.
The dam is impressive! Very impressive! Needless to say, security is important and we had airport type scanner scrutiny. Guns and knives were banned!
As today was a detour, we only spent about 600 yards on our beloved Route 66. Tomorrow will be the first (and last!) day of the trip without us being on any part of the Mother Road. America’s Highway will have to wait until the next day. Tomorrow is Las Vegas and the Strip with Rock of Ages in the evening.