The 8 hour drive to Vegas, from Yosemite, took us through the Navaho Desert which was an amazing sight to see. Flat, stoney and massive; the sun kept getting hotter and hotter and the warnings on the radio about how breaking down in the desert with no water supplies leads to death, more frequent. We began to think we were never going to get there.
Lunch was KFC - yes they really do get everywhere - in a place that doesn't usually see 'outsiders' judging from the stares we got, and the petrol was twice the cost, but I suppose where else are you going to go!
Eventually we saw buildings on the horizon and we thought we were there, but it turned out to be an out of town shopping mall/rollercoaster park/theme show - just a taste of what was to come. When we eventually got to Vegas there was no mistaking it: nothing for miles around and then suddenly a pyramid, the New York skyline, a King Arthur castle, 12 lane roads and the MGM. We were staying at the Tropicana, a slightly less flashy hotel but at $40 per night we weren't complaining!
Walking into the hotel was exactly what I imagined Vegas to be. The whole ground floor was a casino full of fruit machines, poker tables, crapps tables and roulette wheels. Croupiers in smart suits and showgirls in high heels and tall feathers completed the picture. Every wall in the casino was mirrored, there were no windows, no clocks and no exit signs, which succeeded in its intention of making you walk helplessly around, getting more and more disorientated until you succumb, sit down at a table, and gamble your sorrows away (unless you are penniless backpackers like us) .
We dumped our bags and explored the strip, well some of it, because the 105 degree heat was punishing. We saw the Eiffel Tower at Paris in Vegas, the Bellagio and loads more. We headed to the ticket booths and scored ourselves half price tickets to the Phantom of the Opera and a half price dinner too. The Venetian hotel/casino and was everything I had heard - canals, gondolers, guys in stripy t-shirts singing the Cornetto song! The canals went into the hotel and were lined with boutique stores and the ceiling was painted like the sky. Amazing.
The following day we joined the pool party at our hotel and spent the afternoon trying to get relief from the heat, and then went for our meal at a Brazillian BBQ restaurant that was all you can eat. We rolled out of there!
All in all Vegas was amazing and lives up to all expectations. It's cheap, it's tacky and I couldn't spend more than a couple of days there, but it was great to experience. Maybe if we were into gambling a little more, or had more money to lose, we could have stayed longer, but I don't think that $5 in a fruit machine machine means that Vegas will miss me!