Desert and madness

Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
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Trip End Aug 19, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday

We started our day off in Palm Springs with a big drive ahead of us to get to Las Vegas. With that in mind we decided to breakfast in Elmers (rated no.1 on Trip Advisor for eating).  A really great place with fantastic breakfasts - Emma loved her chocolate chip pancakes.  A quick Walmart and petrol stop and we were on our way - about 350 miles to travel.  We wished we had had more time in Palm Springs as it was a lovely place with fantastic scenery - the main highlight being the back drop of the mountains against the city.

Our trip on the motorway firstly took us through a windfarm which must give a massive amount of electricity to somewhere as there were thousand upon thousand of wind turbines and the motorway went straight through the middle of them.

First stop was Pioneertown in a place called Yucca Valley.  This little town is about 5 miles of the main road and was built as a backdrop for Hollywood western movies in 1946 and little has changed.  We expected a massive tourist trap but it was deserted apart from a couple of other people.  We think Saturdays is their busiest day as they do a western style gun-fight.  The buildings are made of timber and look authentic enough as if they did date back 60 years.

Second stop of the day was Joshua Tree National Park so called because of the Joshua Trees named by  mormon settlers  as the branches of the trees reach up to heaven.  It is a beautiful park - which covers a big area.  We did the main drive through and passed landscape which is formed of big granite rockspushed up from way underground millions of years ago - you have to see to believe the way they have formed.  Quite a sight.

After that we started our long drive to Vegas - sat nav said 5 hours or so but we hoped it would take less time if we tried to do some short cuts.  Our drive passed through some fantastic scenery - wonderful vistas with desert valleys and mountains as the backdrop.  We passed through the Bullion Mountains home of the marine air ground task force and the valley along route 40 where they mined for sodium chloride.  One of the villages was called 'Grimm' and we thought that summed it up nicely if you had to live in this desolate place.  Along our way we passed a crater formed by volcanic acivity and which you can (if you can bear the midday sun) climb up to the rim of. Just as we were crossing over the railway tracks of the railway which goes along the valley a train just happened to be coming.  It had 3 engines and was about a mile long - you couldn't have planned that if you had tried.  It was a great sight.  Our route then took us onto the famous Route 66 for a little while which again is pretty run down now with most of the motels abandoned apart from the iconic signs which look good still. 

We then got onto the motorway and had a drive of around 2 & half hours to get to Vegas and it was pretty monotonous then with the same landscape and straight roads for miles and miles and then some.  We got to Las Veags in plenty of time and it is a crazy crazy place in the middle of the desert valley.  Our hotel Treasure Island is lovely and we have a view of the strip, which comes alive at night and you can see all the sights such as a replica Eiffel Tower and the Venetian Hotel which has replica bridge of sighs and canels with Gondalas you can hire. 

Very exhausted we grabbed somthing to eat and had a quick look round and caught the end of the Sirens show outside the hotel and then went to sleep.

Saturday

After a bit of a disturbed sleep (Party boy in the room next to us arrived home at 5am and started playing music loud so we had to get security to ask him to turn it down) we slept till 9am.  Emma didn't hear any of it and slept 12 hours as she was exhausted.

We did a quick breakfast at Denny's then went for a walk around the Venetian Hotel - there is an escalator over the bridge of sighs (weird) and then went into Ceasars Palace Hotel and shopping mall.  There they have escalators again which spiral around, so many 5* shops and some shows based around Roman Gods and Atlantis.  They also have a fish tank which holds around 300 different species of Fish. 

It's hard to describe Vegas to those who haven't visited it - it is full of people hell bent of partying and having a good time and is mad, manic and full of extremes.  The Casinos are full of people betting what seems to be their last lot of money .  It would be good to see the high rollers but for that you need to go to the Bellagio and other 5* hotels.

We are going to explore some more later on after dinner and see some of the shows outside the hotels.    We also decided to have a swim in the pool after lunch and thinking we could spend a couple of hours relaxing by the pool - not in a million years, as when you went into the pool area you happened upon a 'spring break' like party where most people were just standing in the pool listening to resident DJ and drinking slushies out of bizzare long glasses.  Very weird.  Needless to say we didn't stay that long.  Paul did enjoy the sights though especially the bikini clad waitresses and partygoers.

Off to Yosemite tomorrow and hoping for the peace and quiet of the park and en route we'll see the vastness that is Death Valley - it should be a massive contrast to Vegas.  You can't say we aren't packing in the sights!!
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