April 27, 2009 GMT
And So to Las Vegas, Nevada

Thursday 23rd April - “Viva Las Vegas” (by Paul)

Sadly we have to leave behind the magic of the Grand Canyon today. We retrace our steps south for an hour to Williams and then back onto I40 westward for a bit over 116 miles before heading north into the desert again.
So far, we have briefly travelled through the Great Basin Desert as we crossed Arizona and then the Mojave Desert in Arizona and then today back up into the Great Basin Desert as we came into Nevada. This is the largest desert in North America covering all of Nevada, most of Utah and parts of Oregon, Indiana, Wyoming and Colorado.

Needless to say that it was pretty damned warm. That wasn’t so bad, but the strong blustery winds were back up again today so it made riding uncomfortable.
During the course of the day, we noticed unusually large numbers of bikers on the road and in some large groups. At a fuelling point I asked somebody what was going on and she said something about a big rally going on at somewhere called Luflin. It wasn’t Luflin but Laughlin. This is about 30 miles south of Las Vegas and upon discussing it with another biker at lunch, he reckons it is the largest gathering outside of Sturgess rally each year. They are expecting around 25 – 30,000 bikes. These yanks don’t do things by ‘alves. I might jump back on the bike tomorrow and slip down and see what it’s all about.

On the way through to Las Vegas, we came across the Hoover Dam. Everyone is mighty impressed with it, but I don’t know that it’s any bigger than Warragamba Dam back home. Oh well. I might be wrong. One thing that did impress me about it was the new road bridge that they are building over the top. Take note as to how far the water is below. As I said these Septic Tanks (Yanks) do things by ‘alves. Sorry Bill.

From 13 Las Vegas

We continued on through the heat, wind and dust passing through Boulder City until we arrived on the outskirt of Las Vegas. OH NO!!! It’s a bloody big city!!! I caught Steve at a set of traffic lights and said as much. Neither of us were expecting this. I guess we never gave it much thought at all. I know I was kind of expecting a few streets of bright lights and tall buildings. But, I suppose they have to have the infrastructure to support it all. Oh well, just push on into town.

We arrive at the Trump Tower Hotel. Now we’re talking. I’m greeted and shown where to take the bike, while Steve has his car driven away for him. Poor pet, he’s done it tough. The chap in the carpark is waiting for me and then escorts me back to the lobby.

From 13 Las Vegas
Nice fella, but I forgot to tip him. I hate this practice of tipping just because they are there. The whole hotel is just luxurious. I’ll leave it at that. There are other photos of the hotel room, if you click on this one. Now for a short snooze before stepping out tonight to see what this place is all about.

We wandered up and down the strip for about an hour or so, well only a small part of it. Spent a bit of time in The Pallazo and also The Venetian.

From 13 Las Vegas
Both of them are amazing places. It should go without saying that the Venetian is set on Venice, Italy and fair dinkum they’ve done a great job. They’ve got the canals, the gondola rides some even with drivers singing in Italian.
From 13 Las Vegas
The have St Marks Square (minus the million pigeons), even the famous clock that is in the Square. They have even done the ceiling to represent the sky. If you didn’t know you would think you were outside with clear blue skies and some soft white clouds drifting overhead. Carol & I saw another example of this in a Dubai shopping centre a couple of years ago. They've even got the art work painted onto the ceilings in some areas.
From 13 Las Vegas

We stopped off and a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant where the waiter even boned my fish for me. Steve had a huge feed of pasta and prawns.

Afterwards, we headed outside and jumped in a stretch limo for an hour long tour of the city. That was pretty cool, I’d never done that before. $60 for the three of us. At the completion Steve and Janelle called it a night.... the old dears had even had a sleep in the afternoon. I wandered around a couple of the casino having a bit of a look. I did my whole $10 in one poker machine (oops slot machine) in about 20 minutes.

Friday 24th April – Las Vegas

Today Steve and Janelle went back to the Hoover Dam to do a tour. I decided to wander the ‘strip’ and take photographs of where we’d been the previous night.

From 13 Las Vegas
We were meant to head out to the Nascar race track but the dam tour took longer than anticipated. Steve’s comments of the tour – It’s ok. Great sight to see. During the afternoon, it was siesta time and then out to prowl the strip again. I booked into see a hypnotist comedian named Anthony Cools at Paris Las Vegas. It has been a long time since I laughed so much. Great value. In fact I used the ticketing agency that we used in New York that sells them for 50% off normal price. So great value and great show.

Sunday 25th April – Las Vegas, It’s show time

Today is the day we have a couple of things booked up. First up, it’s a trip out to the raceway for a ride in a Nascar. Bill Kniegge from www.bluestradatours.com , our very good man in Charlotte has organised for us to head out there for a high speed ride around the circuit.

We arrive to the roar of these whopping big V8’s screaming around the circuit. The guy has us kitted out in race suits and helmets and then it’s into the car. This is one very noisy and extremely fast sucker!!

As we accelerate out of pit lane, he plants his foot and my initial thought was ‘hmm, nothing too impressive’ but then he drops it into 2nd gear and my head snaps back into the head restraint. Into the first corner and into 3rd gear and I can feel my body wanting to lean out the window just through gravitational forces. Man, this thing can go. Down the back straight and “shit, where did that straight go???” Into the back corner and I can feel the tyres grabbing on the surface, then ripping up the main straight.... I didn’t even see the grandstands.

The first lap was a mediocre 120mph or 200kph, then it’s up to 160mph or 265kph and then the final lap at 175mph which is just a touch under 300kph !!

That was a real buzz. 3 laps done and dusted before I had time to get comfortable. Next time, I hope to do the drive yourself experience. Thanks for that Bill, that was great.

Ok, now to the main event. CHER, live on stage in the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. We’ve been waiting for this since before leaving Oz. A huge crowd filled the Colosseum and as has become her trademark, she puts on a show full of high energy, great entertainment and wild costumes. Unfortunately, we’re disappointed somewhat because she does one song and then disappears to do a costume change nearly all night, while we’re left to watch old film clips of her and Sony. So we felt a bit ripped off.

After the show we head off for dinner or as Steve put it, “the last supper”. For tomorrow he and Janelle fly home. It’s disappointing to see him go, we’ve built this trip over the past year and to see him leave before the end is a let down. I suppose when you get up the ladder in the corporate world, they own your life. Thanks Steve you are a great mate.

Posted by Paul Brealey at April 27, 2009 06:45 AM GMT

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