Oct. 10/11: Las Vegas and Surrounding Area

On October 10th (day 25), we got up fairly early at the hot and loud truckstop close within Las Vegas, and decided to go check out the Hoover Dam. We hadn't expected to be in Las Vegas as early as we were, so we were in need of something to kill the time before our reservation at the Circus Circus Hotel on the 11th. We drove to the Hoover Dam and got there fairly early. As the sun rose, we ate breakfast overlooking part of Lake Mead.

We finished up our breakfast and headed across the dam, into Arizona. The dam was interesting, undoubtedly, but we didn't figure it was interesting enough to warrant paying anything to go inside. Thus, we just took a few pictures from beside the dam, and then drove back across into Nevada (oh how I'd missed the Silver State those few minutes gone) towards the trail which leads up to the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which bypasses the Hoover Dam and connects Nevada and Arizona over the Colorado. After a short jaunt up to the surface of the arch bridge, we took a few more pictures of the dam from above, walked into Arizona and back into Nevada once again, and then returned to Bilbo.

From the Hoover Dam, we drove towards the Lake Mead National Recreation Site visitor's center, where we used some wifi, watched the park's informative film, and got a few maps as well as an NPS Centennial T-shirt for myself. We decided we wanted to try for a swim, so followed the suggestion of the lady at the visitor's center, and drove half-an-hour to a spot on the Colorado – crossing once again into Arizona.

Upon arrival at the spot along the Colorado, we found there to be a strange smell in the air, litter blowing in the wind, as well as a fair amount of algae/grass in the water. Needless to say, we weren't super stoked on swimming at this location, so we headed back to Boulder Beach on Lake Mead, in Nevada.

Being that Lake Mead is man-made and simply a flooded desert, the beach leading to the water is, as the name implies, rocky. We found a slightly flat area on the shore, and made our lunch as the temperature began to rise. Although Lake Mead too wasn't super inviting compared to some of the swim spots we were accustomed to at home, we caved and had a quick dip. After a bit of drying off in the sun, we packed up and drove to a Starbucks in Boulder City, where we spent a few hours on our computers.

From Starbucks, we headed back into the Henderson area in order to celebrate the holiday back at home ([Canadian] Thanksgiving). We decided to get dinner at a Whole Foods we'd spotted while driving towards the dam earlier that day. At Whole Foods, we loaded up on their salad/hot bars and ate a delicious albeit expensive (for us) meal consisting of various salads, lime chicken, beans, rice, and much more. While the meals came to around USD$40, we had leftovers which we saved.

From Whole Foods, we crossed the street and wandered around an up-scaleish shopping complex (think Victoria's Uptown for those at home) which had promenade's lit with twinkly lights. At the shopping complex, we loaded up on camping supplies at REI, as well as got a few other small items at Bath and Body Works.

We then drove back to the truck stop we'd stayed at the night before, and spent another loud, but a little bit less hot night there.

Day 26, Oct. 11th, we woke up at the hot/loud truckstop early without having a plan really for what to do before our check-in at Circus Circus hotel at 15:00. We didn't really want to hit the strip early and 'ruin' our experience of it, so we needed to come up with a different plan. Looking at an Offline version of Google Maps on my phone, I saw there was something called Sloan Canyon close by. I'd quickly looked up the place last night at Whole Foods, and had seen that they had an impressive gallery of petroglyphs. Foolishly, however, I'd forgotten to note the directions to the canyon. After some guesswork and breakfast at one of the expansive suburbs' parks. I used the satellite messenger to get directions to the canyon from my dad.

With directions in hand, we then navigated the maze of suburbs towards the canyon. When we arrived at the trailhead, we found a near-empty gravel parking lot adjacent a construction area, with a mobile trailer serving as a visitor's center sitting beside two outhouses and a generator. We made some tea, and then walked over to the trailer. Inside the trailer was a slightly eccentric woman who frantically informed us that we were in a wilderness area where we can't disturb anything, and if we want to hike we need good footwear and lots of water. She also told us that hiking to the petroglyphs and back would take “at least four hours”.

We exited the trailer and walked over to Bilbo, discussing if we wanted to hike the trail or not. From we decided that we didn't really have anything else to do, and began walking through the wash along the trail. We reached the petroglyphs in well below 2 hours, and gazed at the many paintings covering the canyon walls and surrounding rocks. I was disappointed that there weren't any signs explaining the significance of this area to the First Nations who painted the impressive gallery. It just seemed odd that this place, seemingly not much different than the rest of the canyon we'd walked through, was chosen.

After eating our Whole Foods leftovers for lunch while under the shade of the canyon's walls, we headed back to the vehicle, completing the trip in far less than the women insisted – are we super hikers? Then we headed to Circus Circus to check in, stopping first at a grocery store to pick up some wine, icecream, and other snacks; very healthy indeed.

We checked in at the hotel and then rode the elevator to our room on the 25th floor of the West Tower. Then we both showered (for the first time in eight days or so), ate snacks, and watched some TV – Friends was the best thing we could find. It was pretty nice just to chill out on the king-sized bed for a bit.

Eventually, we decided we'd best quit lounging, and headed downstairs to get some pizza and wings at the hotel's pizzeria. Again, we had plenty of leftovers which we put in the room's minifridge. We then wandered down the strip for a bit and then did a bit of slot play at Circus Circus. In total, we lost about USD$15. Then, at the latest in a very long time, we went to bed at around 23:00.

The next morning we awoke, showered once again, and then left the hotel at checkout around 11:00, stopping at McDonald's for breakfast using the coupons that came with our room. From the hotel we drove towards DTLV where we stopped at an outlet mall on a search for more shorts for me. We found what we were looking for at the Lululemon outlet store, where I found two pairs of pretty rad shorts for only USD$29. For those who don't know, this was some pretty righteous savings. At the mall, Danielle also got herself a couple things also at incredible discounts.

We then ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, once again coming out with a good amount of leftovers. After lunch, we drove towards Zion National Park, in Utah. On our way, we left Nevada and passed through Arizona. We stopped for the night at a Walmart in St. George, Utah.

Follow along with our adventure in real time by clicking here.

The Hoover, with the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge visible.

The Colorado River. The white rock has been bleached due to past rises in water level.

State line on the bridge.

The petroglyphs at Sloan Canyon.

We took a few photos in our hotel room at Circus Circus before we walked the strip.