The Deserts and Rocks Tour offered something old and something new and always with a back drop of orange and gold in the state of Arizona and a hint of Silver in Nevada. We touched down in Vegas and its really hard not to start singing Viva La Vegas with an Elvis drawl but landing in the evening is the best way to hit Vegas baby with the Strip lit in anticipation of an evening ahead. You can not help but be wowed by the razzle and dazzle of this long road of entertainment and neon.
We were staying at the Luxor but for first timers I would always recommend staying about half way down the Strip at somewhere like the Flamingo which is very affordable. Staying half way down the Strip means you can walk up or down on either side of the road whereas staying at one end means you are always covering old ground and in the Vegas hair dryer heat it’s hard work.
One big reason for staying at the Luxor is the very reasonable all you can eat deals, it offers a great deal of choice and you can even buy an all day deal! The pool area is vast and welcome after a day trogging in and out the vast hotels. As you enter the lobby you feel like you are entering a pyramid, the decor is grand as a Pharaohs tomb!
Get a taxi to the Rio as its just off the the main road, it looks close but believe me it isn’t. The carnival atmosphere is great to experience. Floating floats (!) drop sparkly necklaces down on to tourists and I have to admit it’s great trying to race others to catch the prize.
The Venetian is one of my favourites it never fails to impress but I also like the Bellagio particularly it’s ceiling which looks like it is festooned with glass flowers. Both are upscale and both offer a world away from the hustle of the strip and you really do feel like you walking in Venice and hearing the gondoliers shout and heckle each other.
There are many special offers to be enjoyed in Vegas when it comes to meals and deals, there are any number of shows to be enjoyed both day and night but it depends who is in your party as to what you might like. Children will enjoy Circus Circus, New York New York and MGM, whereas adults might prefer the glitz and glamour of Caesars Palace. Rooms are fairly cheap compared to other American cities and often very reasonable mid week. By Friday night the big rollers come into town and room rates tend to rise. Vegas is of course a gamblers Mecca but despite going there 3 times have never gambled merely slotted a coin or two for the fun of it…….although the slots now empty out ticket rather than coins.
3 nights was enough for me and we hired a car and slid out of town ready to do the Dam Tour.
I had visited Hoover Dam before but with Grumpy and Grumpier our two teenagers at the time, they saw the Dam as a glorified school trip but much hotter so we had only seen some of it. Even I was impressed with the tour this time, the underground corridors have been used by Hollywood and as a geographer I can see the need to manage the water in this dry area.
We crossed the border from Nevada to Arizona and soon the landscape got a little more orange and grand as we got closer to the Grand Canyon. We stayed at a chain hotel at Tusyan Village within the park area. Having seen the Grand Canyon so many times on TV and having taught the formation of canyons many a time I felt that I had been there before albeit virtually.
Not sure I would have the energy to trek down to the bottom but walking along the South Rim trail with the other tourists was satisfying enough. Chipmunks seemed happy to walk with us too. We returned to the rim at sundown and of course we oohed and ahhed as the rocks changed colour every minute as the shadows fell across it.
We soon moved on to Flagstaff and arrived as a thunder storm stopped us from using the chairlift at the Snowbowl. A little disappointed we arrived early at our home for a couple of nights – The Little America Hotel, and I still dream about their prickly pear crime brûlée. It’s an elegant hotel on the edge of town, loved the bar and dining areas and of course the pool area.
For more on America click on