It was time to leave the beautiful Sun Valley and continue on our journey. The leaving part of travel is always bittersweet for me, because there’s so much of this world to explore that I rarely get a chance to do repeat visits. But Sun Valley, Idaho is a lovely place. I knew I’d miss it.
But we were on our way to Las Vegas, to stay at the Venetian! We figured, since our trip to Italy was cancelled in May, why not splurge on one night in virtual Venice on our way to our next stop? So off we went.
En route, we crossed the immense Snake River Canyon. If you’re at least my age, you may remember that Evel Knievel attempted to jump this canyon in a rocket in 1974. (You can check out the youtube video here.) The man was an expert at publicity, I’ll say that. But standing there and seeing how unbelievably wide this canyon is, I could have told him that of COURSE he wasn’t going to make it. I’d have said it was foolish to try. But I remember watching at the time with bated breath. What can I say? It was the 70’s. You had to be there.
The ramp is still there. We could see it in the distance. A monument to foolishness.
Onward. We went through Shoshone, Idaho, and passed a mountain of potatoes that must have been 20 feet high. I wish I had gotten a picture, but it kind of snuck up on me, and then I was too busy picking my jaw up off the ground to think of my camera. That’s a lot of French fries right there.
Our trip on this day was 580 miles, and much of that was farmland. We saw lots and lots and lots of corn fields. And it was a really windy day, so the corn was dancing, just for us.
We were driving the length of Eastern Nevada, and when we entered that state, we made a quick stop at Cactus Pete’s Casino in the town of Jackpot. Gambling really isn’t my bag, but it was my husband’s vacation, too. And seeing all the colorful flashing lights was kind of cool.
On the highway south of Jackpot, we saw a sign that said, “Report shooting from highway. Operation Game Thief.” Oh, joy.
And as we entered the great basin, a desert area that looks devoid of life, we saw a rusted old water tank in the middle of nowhere, and painted on the side of it were the words, “Everything has a price.” Again, I didn’t have time for a picture. But it made me think.
We also went through Rock Canyon, which was cool and unexpected. It’s amazing how many varieties of rock are out there. It’s astounding how quickly the terrain can change. Nature is fascinating.
The sun went down, and I was grateful, because it had been in my eyes for hours. And then suddenly, there it was. Las Vegas. The entire valley lit up like Christmas on steroids. It was beautiful and otherworldly.
I’ve always found it a bit ironic that Las Vegas has this particular name, because in Spanish, Vega means fertile lowlands. Vegas is far from fertile, in my opinion. It’s a dry, sun-blasted desert, and this city is completely dependent on water from elsewhere, for all its extravagant use thereof. It’s a city that thrives on being wasteful, and we were about to plunge into it headfirst.
We drove the strip. I hadn’t been there in at least 25 years, and it has quadrupled in size. It was a festival of lights, indeed. You can’t help but be impressed with how much man is capable of creating, if you can get past the fact that none of it is natural.
Can you tell that I have a love/hate relationship with this city? My late sister and my late mother haunt me here. They lived here when my sister was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. I came to visit a few times, and it was here that I witnessed my mother begin her long, hard, brutal battle with cancer. The BRCA1 genetic anomaly is a rot in the heart of my family tree, and it took them both. Fortunately I do not have it.
It’s strange to think I’m the only one left of the three of us. Life is so precious and fleeting. But that’s not Vegas’ fault.
These are weird times in this weird city. It was less crowded than usual, and yet it was still very crowded by any other city’s standards. And a lot of the people on the street were not wearing face masks, except, oddly, for the people standing in a block-long line for food from a taco stand.
This was to be, by far, the most people I’ve been around since March, and it felt really strange. Vegas, a city that thrives on risk, was taking a lot of precautions. Every casino was doing temperature checks before you could enter. There was Purell everywhere. There was plexiglass between each seat at the tables. Every other slot machine was off, and every other chair was missing. The number of people allowed on elevators was limited. More people were mask compliant indoors than out on the street, but there were some diehard smokers and gamblers who didn’t care about themselves any more than they cared about anyone else. I washed my hands a lot. A whole lot.
We checked into the Venetian, and I have to say the suite was luxurious. I felt like a queen.
We then went out to explore. We decided to have dinner at Yardbird Southern Food, right on site, mainly because the Italian restaurant we had planned to eat at was closing, but it turned out to be a good choice, because we had Lobster Mac n’ Cheese, and it nearly made me swoon. They even knew how to cook collard greens properly, which is something I haven’t experienced since living in Florida. What a treat.
Then we window shopped, and watched people riding the gondolas. I’d rather wait for the real thing. I’m bound and determined that we’ll go to Venice one of these days.
It was hot. 90 degrees, after dark. I don’t miss that. It’s really hard to wear a mask when the heat is already making you feel like you’re suffocating. But we soldiered on.
Then we went back to the suite, because I had spotted my biggest weakness: A bathtub that I could actually lie flat in. So I had a nice long introverted soak, trying not to feel guilty about wasting water in the desert, while my extroverted husband got his Vegas on. Everybody happy, that’s the goal! We slept like royalty, looking forward to the following day.
Here are some of our pictures from this leg of the trip. Enjoy!
There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!
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