Saturday 14th October
Day 25 - Deep Creek to Las Vegas.
We woke at first light after a cold night. The sun was just rising over the mountains illuminating our remote desert surroundings, along the dusty rutted track that we had driven down last night.
We got up and dressed, turned the van around (not easy!) and drove back down to Bowen Ranch.
At the deserted ramshackle crazy hillbilly ranch we stopped and picked up a map / information leaflet (“No fireworks, no guns, no tan-lines”!)
We put $5 each in an envelope and posted it through a hole in the wall, drove through the gateway and parked. After a quick breakfast we packed up our rucksacks with swim kit, snacks and lots of water.
We set off to walk for about 45 mins through dusty, rocky desert to Deep Creek.
Once again we had blue skies and sunshine and it was already warm even the sun was still low in the sky.
At the bottom of the valley, we came to the creek and waded through the cold meltwater river. At the other side we climbed up onto a rocky outcrop dotted with natural pools fed by hot springs.
We changed into swim wear and stepped into the nearest hot pool. It was the size of a jacuzzi with a series of rocky shelves that made good perches. We sat and soaked. It was glorious. Hot water, natural rocks and beautiful, peaceful surroundings.
There were numerous other pools and streams at different temperatures. We clambered over the rocks to try different pools and eventually were glad to slide into Deep Creek to swim and cool off.
Gradually a few other people appeared - mostly naked, as expected - we all wanted peace and solitude and so we kept to our own space and continued swimming although it was hard not to be distracted by the man balancing on the slack line suspended over the Creek. He repeatedly fell off, into the water and clambered back up the rocks like a monkey, to try again!
After about an hour or so we dressed and hiked back up the steep, hot and dusty trail.
By now, it was almost 11am and there was a steady stream of people walking down the trail to the Creek.
Amongst the strange sights, we saw a naked man, with bare feet and a long beard and carrying a huge rucksack and walking staff, a fully clothed family of tele-tubbies, carrying a cat on a lead, three young Asian men in smart designer clothing carrying a large cool box.
Meanwhile, as we trekked up hill, Chris ran to the top, then back down to us and continued to relay up and down until we made it back to the van for an early lunch, and to start our journey to Las Vegas.
Today really was an example of the sublime to the ridiculous. Several hours after swimming ins remote desert creek, we were driving onto the Main Strip of Las Vegas.
On the way we had decided that it would be good to see a show whilst we were in town. The Cirque de Soleil’s ‘Mystere’ appealed to us all so we stopped at a Starbucks to grab some Wi-fi and book tickets and research parking / camping options. The former was successful and straightforward, the latter seemed problematic and incomprehensible! The show was at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. They offered free parking - but not for over sized vehicles. Their neighbours, the Mirage had oversized spaces, but only with a special permit. The Toutist ingotmationoffice suggested the Luxor or Excalibur Hotels. Both had space for oversized vehicles but on arrival, once we had found the specific parking area, they insisted we get a permit for the Hotel front desk, who then decided it was for residents only....
By now it was 6.45 and our show started at 7pm.
The car park attendant suggested the Flamingo Casino.
With 10 minutes to spare, the boys dropped me somewhere near Treasure Island so I could collect the tickets from the box office and they drove away to try to park at the Flamingo. As I battled my way in through a staff entrance in the valet parking lot, they were battling through the evening traffic of Las Vegas. As I ran up and down corridors and staircases trying to find the treasure island box office, they were pleading with the car park attendant at the Flamingo for an oversized parking space. As I joined the end of s long queue to collect tickets, they were parking the RV in the far corner of the Flamingo employees car park. As I left their tickets at the Theatre door and dashed to my seat, they were causing consternation to the local police by running through the streets. As the performance began they were shuffling very quickly through the front roots of the treasure island foyer. As the strains of the overture and opening sequence faded away, they were standing in the Theatre entrance waiting to be shown to their seats - phew!
The Cirque de Soleil performance was outstanding. The athleticism, strength, costumed and artistry were just amazing and we loved every second, spellbound for almost two hours. Such a perfect choice.
Then it was time to explore the famous city of Las Vegas by night. We wandered through the casino and foyer and out into the city. It really was remarkable. Huge hotel complexes, bright neon lights, crowds of people - many dressed to the nines.
The hotels and casinos were enormous with floors of slot machines and casinos, shops and restaurants. The Venice Hotel actually had a replica of the Grand Canal, complete with bridges, water, canal side restaurants, a painted blue sky with white fluffy clouds and motorised gondolas complete with singing gondoliers!
Each hotel had a different theme and each was glittering and glamourous. There was a sphinx and a pyramid, and a replica Eiffel Tower. Brightly coloured flashing lights and huge advertising screens were everywhere. Scantily clad hostesses stalled the streets in sequins and feathers, tempting potential customers into their casinos.
The people watching was almost as great as the city. There were great hordes in every pavement t and surging over bridges and pedestrian crossings. Some looked fantastic in their ultra short skirts and high heels, some were downright alarming. Baseball caps and paunches were everywhere. And everywhere else were Asian tourists photographing and videoing it all.
It was all very kitsch and gaudy, but very entertaining. It was all good natured and fun.We don’t want to come again but we are glad we did it!
Eating out proved something of a challenge. The big hotels were full of sophisticated and expensive restaurants with queues outside. The streets were full of cheap brightly lit diners serving indifferent hotdogs and tacos .
We eventually struck gold at the Hard Rock Cafe who served us good burgers with cold beer on a first floor balcony from where we could see both ways up and down the strip.
After that we wandered back towards the Flamingo Casino. We passed the Bellagio Hotel just in time to see their water music display of spectacular fountains set to a particularly evocative piece of music, that I have now forgotten. Magical.
Finally, just before we left the strip we watched a street artist working with cans of spray paint, a few stencils and scrumpled pieces of paper. We could not believe that the work on display was being produced by the same artist who was alternately spraying paint onto the canvas and then dabbing and rubbing it with screwed up pages from a phone directory. Then he turned the finished work around to reveal a sunset scene with a shooting star, trees, waterfall and wolf howling at the sky. Not what I would want to hang in my wall but incredibly clever!
We then crept guiltily back into the ‘Employees only’ car park, climbed into the RV, closed the curtains, and with fingers crossed, fell asleep.