States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Vegas: Saturday, April 24h

The day started well – we weren’t woken up until 8:45 by the little man diving on top of the bed and burrowing under the duvet; clearly, they were tired, they never stay in bed that late, usually everyone’s up and about well before 8!

Dave left about 9:30. He was being collected in front of Circus, Circus to be taken to his dune buggy experience. We knew he would have a blast and by all accounts, he certainly did! Some of the buggies were equipped for two riders but he got a single-seated one and kept his foot to the floor for the entire ride (big surprise there then!). They (there were 7 buggies in his group) had to follow the guide around the dunes – this ensures that no-one accidentally takes one of the 90° drop-offs and also adds to the experience by allowing speed, knowing that you don’t have worry about ‘what’s on the other side’!

Dave said he was grateful for the guide’s experience around the dunes – he’d been driving these dunes since he was a kid apparently and really knew the area well. He was excited to be able to floor it at the bottom and take off over the top of the hill knowing that he would be able to safely land on the other side. There was supposedly no overtaking but Dave quickly figured out how to get past those in front of him to be able to follow the guide exactly and felt he really had the best ride of the group.

He came back a little tired, unbelievably sandy and a tad sore – even though he was well strapped in, he said that sometimes it was impossible to keep his hands on the wheel and his foot to the floor as he was thrown around so much. I guess I should be thankful that we don’t live nearby; he said it was seriously addicting and he’d be very tempted to look into buying one if we lived closer. It was a great 40th gift from his family in the UK.

While Dave was off exerting energy on the sand, we stayed behind and the kids exerted their energy in the water at the pool. It was a wonderful temperature, so as always, it was quite the effort to persuade them out of the water. While I was watching them, I chatted to two sisters from England who’d come over to celebrate a birthday. Their flight was scheduled to have left the previous Sunday but due to the volcanic dust floating over Europe from the Icelandic volcano, they were still here and likely to be staying until at least Wednesday, making their 10 day vacation into 21 days – while it sounds wonderful, I can imagine it was getting ‘old’ – having to continue eating out every day, finding somewhere to do laundry, organizing additional hotel rooms etc. They told us about a couple who’d come out to celebrate their anniversary for a long w/e, leaving their kids with friends. That would be my worst nightmare, an additional couple of weeks of child-care for the neighbors, while stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic!

Once Dave had showered all the sand out of his hair, we walked over to the front of Circus, Circus. A bus system runs up and down The Strip all day: the Deuce, which you can ride for $7 all day. Given how busy it was today, I cannot imagine how busy it must be during the height of summer tourist season but it did eliminate the need to find parking. We hopped off at the Bellagio and watched the fountain show, more than 1,000 fountains dance, enhanced by music – we’d seen them lit up in passing the night before. We saw a couple of different wedding parties having their photos taken with the fountains as their backdrop.

We went into the hotel, what a beautiful entry-way, stained glass flowers decorate the ceiling, it was gorgeous. We walked back in to admire the flowers and spring vegetation in the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; Vegas is full of free enticements to get you into their casinos. There were so many places we could have visited if time (and energy) allowed. When we came out, the fountains were about to start again so we took the system of moving walkways and escalators and watched them from a different, higher, vantage point, before crossing over and navigating through the many vendors handing out their cards: “No thank you, I would not like to visit your club, meet your girls or take advantage of your bargain drink deals!” As we were crossing the road, we encountered a Star Wars Clone, which our Clone Wars loving kids thought was awesome! We also saw various other street performers waiting to be tipped for pictures: Captain Jack Sparrow, Cat Woman, and the Joker.

We were making our way to M&M’s world to check out the Nascar Racecar and admire the wall of M&Ms; we weren’t disappointed – at least not by the M&M wall. I have to admit that I really wanted to fill a bag of my favorite colors but was deterred a little by the price. Our intention had been to come and watch the free 3D movie, unfortunately they were refurbishing the movie theatre and weren’t planning to re-open until June – another thing to come back for (well, not really but it was frustrating none-the-less!). We bought yummy M&Ms ice creams and ate them while watching people get hydro massages – quite bizarre. Dave said it looked as though they were encased in a giant condom! Just as we were about to leave, the yellow M&M came out for photos; Nate wheedled his way forward to the front (not in small part due to a big push from his Dad) so we managed to get a great photo of it/her/him with all the kids, right before the Deuce bus appeared – perfect timing.

It took forever to complete the seemingly short drive from the MGM to Circus, Circus. I managed to have a long conversation with Sam while also trying to divert the children’s interest in the rather drunk (er, hello, it’s only 5pm!) party whose language was less than stellar, standing in the isle next to us (did I mention the crowds?!). They were quite funny really, extremely loud and chatty, I think they knew everyone on the bus by the time we got off! Clearly Jake and Caitlin were in their own world’s of oblivion, they had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned the bus volume levels after we got off – sometimes it’s good not to have an awareness of what’s going on around you I guess!

We made it to the Circus, Circus Stage at Carnival Midway just in time to catch an acrobatic performance by a pair of strong girls from Argentina: the Golden Duo. I was terrified for them, no safety net, they were high up and hanging off each other – I always fear the worst but the kids were fascinated. As soon as it ended, Caitlin started flitting about, hanging off the stage, stretching out with her arms! We enjoyed a quick dinner, promising Jake that we would do a buffet at one of the Reno casinos, and headed back to the camper.

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