Apr 15-22 - Las Vegas NV
This was the leg of the trip we were most curious about - the crossing of two somewhat daunting mountain passes east of Bakersfield, CA.
Sat 4/15 - After a frustrating fuel stop in Bakersfield (just one RV lane, and lots of RVs - took over an hour), we headed up the road (literally). No problems, Despite some 10-15 mile grades up to over 4000 ft, the RV ran just fine. The speed bogged down to around 40mph sometimes, but no signs of overheating or other strains. Crossing the Mojave desert brought some crosswinds, but nothing blew us off the road, so that was good. There was even enough space in the McDonald's parking lot in Mojave to park for a store-bought lunch. We spent over an hour almost stalled in traffic going around Las Vegas to the RV Park, but checkin and setup was smooth. 400 miles is somewhat over the daily drive comfort level, but there was no other logical way to break that trip, geography being what it is (largely empty). After setup, we went out to find the First Presbyterian Church, hoping to avoid getting lost on Easter Sunday morning. Good thing we did - it was kind of shrouded by much bigger and brighter signage.
Sun 4/16 - The humidity was 12% today. You can drip-dry out of the shower faster than you can towel off. We had scoped out the First Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas as someplace to go for Easter. It was a good choice. Biggish church (900 members) with an emphasis on music. At the early service, the place was about 3/4 full. 90+ folks in the choir, a handbell choir, seven member brass ensemble, full pipe organ. Wow! The post-sermon hymn was the Hallelujah Chorus. It was a well-produced, well-organized service, and a most wonderful way to celebrate. Then, for a spiritual contrast, we went to the Easter Buffet at Sam's Town Casino. Also well produced and well organized. In the PM, we went to the Bellagio Hotel to pick up our tickets for Cirque du Soliel's "O" production, and then lay about a bit until time to go to the 10:30 performance. Our seats were exceptional, and the show was absolutely amazing. It was one of the main reasons we went to Vegas, and it alone was well worth the trip.
Mon 4/17 - Judy had broken her sunglasses during the drive to Vegas, so we spent a lot of the morning trying to find a fixer. No luck. Finally called Bay Optical Labs in Oregon (where the glasses came from), and they said ship them back and we'll replace them under warranty. Wish we'd called earlier. Around noon, we headed out to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead - a most impressive structure. Traffic was pretty congested at the dam, and there are security checkpoints to go thru (a post-9/11 thing), but we managed to park, get into a tour and finally checked out around closing time. Back to Vegas, we headed downtown to the Fremont Street Experience, had a cheap steak dinner at one of the casinos, and took in the street show and the overhead light show. Long day. Good Day.
Tue 4/18 - After breakfast, we headed to the strip and a half price ticket outlet we'd read about to see what shows might be available. We bought discounted tickets to see Rita Rudner at New York New York, and half-price tickets to the Star Trek Experience at the Vegas Hilton. While we were at New York New York to pick up our actual seat assignments, we also rode the roller coaster there. Still as good as we remembered, but the ride is a lot rougher than it should be. Maybe time for a refurb. After lunch (Nathan's Hot Dogs, what else), we drove to the Hilton and did the Star Trek Experience, helping to save the Federation twice. If you're a Star Trek fan, you have to do the Experience. Dinner afterward at Quark's Cafe, and then back to NY NY for the Rita Rudner show. She is a very funny lady, and has probably the most PG-rated show in town. Much enjoyment.
Wed 4/19 - Ethel M candies are legendary in Las Vegas, especially their liquor-filled candies. We did the factory tour. Ethel's last name was Mars, and she was the matriarch of the Mars family, creators of M&Ms, Mars Bars, Milky Way, Skittles, etc. Didn't know the family connection. The candy factory is generous with samples, but we bought some more anyway. The factory also has a wonderful cactus garden - a much better walk than the name might suggest. In the afternoon, we bought some half-price tickets to a ho-hum magic show, and then came back for the late show of the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana. It was an excellent topless production, and Judy said it compared well to the real thing she'd seen in Paris a long time ago.
Thu 4/20 - We started out at the Sahara Hotel for a most exhilarating roller coaster ride - magnetic propulsion accelerates you almost instantly, so there's no wait for the rush. You fly out of the building, do a couple of loops, and when you get to the end of the track - pointed straight up - it does it all again backwards. All in about 40 seconds. We then went to Circus Circus, bought day passes to their indoor amusement park, and rode some of the rides there. Late afternoon, we went out to the Las Vegas Factory Outlet Mall to do some shoe shopping, came back by way of the Strip and did dinner at the Harley Davidson Cafe.
Fri 4/21 - Our last day in Vegas. Judy did laundry, we did some more shopping, and generally took it easy.
Sat 4/22 - After checking out of the RV park, we headed for an RV wash to see if we could get some of the dust off (not much came off), gassed up at Costco and headed east, driving across Hoover Dam into Arizona, headed for Williams and a full week in the Grand Canyon area.
Al's Highlight - Everything in Las Vegas is so over the top, it's hard to pick a standout. We'd come to Vegas for roller coasters and the Cirque du Soliel show. I'd have to rank the Cirque Show as the highlight, but that Easter Sunday service is right up there. With all that marvelous music, Judy was beaming the whole service. Disappointment: We received an invitation to attend a preview performance of the next Cirque du Soliel production - "Love" - a collaboration with the Beatles. And we'll be long gone when it happens. Sigh.
Judy's Highlight - Ditto Al - I had a wonderful time - I'll add Rita Rudner to that list - I've been a fan for years, and she does the woman/man thing perfectly. Years ago she did the dating scene just as well as she now does the man/woman and family thing.
Click here to see a slideshow of some of our pictures from this leg of the trip.
Stay tuned . . .