Finally, a short day in the car! I had planned the trip so that the long driving days were front-loaded. I figured, get the boring stuff out of the way, then we’d have time to see some sights out west. That kinda worked. What I didn’t count on was how ready everyone would be to be out of the car. So instead of spending a few extra hours driving through Utah and seeing Bryce Canyon, we decided to head straight to Vegas and just chill at the hotel. I was kind of bummed, but the more I looked into Bryce, the more I wanted to spend a day there, not just a few hours.
We still saw some amazing scenery on the way to Vegas. Utah is still quite mountainous, and has a huge variety of mountains to look at. They range from grey, smooth mounds that look like you could scale them in a single bound, to tree-covered mountains that wouldn’t be out of place in the Adirondacks of New York to rough red buttes. It was all quite stunning.
Even though we were bucking a really strong headwind, we made good time. It was an interesting study of aerodynamic efficiency as well. I’m driving my ’99 Honda Accord and my wife is driving the family truckster; a ’06 Honda CR-V. I used less than half a tank coming out this way, she used almost a full one. In fact, when we got to Vegas, her gas light came on (which violates the rule of never letting the tank get below 1/2 in the desert, but that’s another story).
One thing I didn’t realize is that our trip would take us through 30 or so miles of Arizona. The scenery changed suddenly, and it was apparent we were not far from the Grand Canyon. I wish I wasn’t driving, because I would have taken way more pictures than I did.
We climbed up a pretty good hill; actually, we had been climbing slowly since we left Richfield, UT. Suddenly, we crested a pass (I think the elevation was 7800-something feet), and we started down. And down we went! From a high of almost 8000′, we dropped to Las Vegas’ 2000′, and we did so in a hurry. It was a wild ride!
The rest of the trip was pretty remote. There are a few small cities between the NV state line and Vegas, but for the most part, it’s 130 miles of desert. Make note of that if you come through this way. Stop in Mesquite if you’re below 1/2 tank or need to use a bathroom. There’s not much after that…don’t ask me how I know.
Sadly, there was a giant RV blocking the Welcome to Nevada sign (seriously, didn’t you know people would be taking pictures as they drove by?) So we got the next best thing. A casino sign. If you see casinos in the middle of the desert, you’re in Nevada.
Once we made it through some particularly nasty traffic and construction around Vegas, we arrived at our hotel. After lunch and a dip in the pool, we headed up to the strip. Now, I was here back in 2003 and really enjoyed walking up and down the strip, going into the hotels, looking at the architecture, seeing what you can build when you have a steady stream of people giving you money 24/7. We had a great time. Not so anymore.
They’ve torn down a bunch of hotels and a major section of the strip is under construction. You walk under construction barriers, stepping over garbage and trying to dodge the hundreds (literally–hundreds!) of people wearing “Girls, Girls, Girls” t-shirts handing out cards for prostitutes. Vans and posters with nearly naked women abound inviting everyone to see the latest strip show. The place is filthy; in more ways that one. I was really disappointed. And because of high winds, the roller coaster at NY, NY wasn’t running, nor were the fountains at Bellagio. So we really struck out. I liked Vegas a lot better when they were going for the “bring the whole family,” concept.
Tomorrow, we’ll finally reach our destination. It should be a short ride, only some 250 miles. Our truck of belongings is already there, so we will be unpacking on Monday. Really looking forward to getting settled in the new place!
Stats: (I’ll put them up for day 3 as well, since I forgot earlier)
Day 3: CO to UT
Miles Driven: 478 (1388 total)
Overall Average Speed: 65.6 MPH
Moving Average Speed: 68.7 MPH
Time: 8:24 ( 21:10 total)
Moving Time: 7:40 (20:42 total)
Day 4: UT to NV
Miles Driven: 293 (1681 total)
Overall Average Speed: 65.3 MPH
Moving Average Speed: 68.5 MPH
Time: 4:34 ( 25:44 total)
Moving Time: 4:10 (24:32 total)