Friday, July 16, 2010

+ Vegas baby!

To celebrate Memorial Day last month, Ben and I drove out past the wonderful Zzyxz Rd exit and spent a week in Las Vegas visiting friends Rob and Mary.

Yes, a lot of time was spent in casinos but I think you'd be fooling yourself if you didn't have a go at the slots at least once. Plus I played roulette for the first time! (I didn't win but the stream of free strawberry daiquiries helped ease the suffering somewhat).

First night in, we went to see ostensibly George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic at Red Rock Casino. I say ostensibly because George never appeared! (though the P-Funk kept the lie alive the whole night, promising an appearance at each break). Nevertheless a good time was had in the blistering cold desert night winds as boogies were shaken and feet splashed (not mine!) in the many pools around the stage.

We also spent the tail-end of one night (post-karaoke) downtown which had changed signficantly since the last time I was there (aged 9). Chiefly, it now has a giant LCD ceiling covering most of the drag, including the iconic cowboy sign. I can only wonder about the electricity bill for such a thing, which was supposed to have been erected to generate more tourists to the area (luring them from the more popular Strip establishments). I'm not sure if it's been successful, but it certainly promotes that aspect of 'timelessness' that pervades the atmosphere of all the casinos. Is it midday or midnight? Who cares, let's gamble!

Despite the hours of fun derived from neon lights and the jingle of a thousand poker machines, the highlight of the trip was our hike in Red Rock Canyon.

Driving along big red mountains, few people and a nice sunny day made for a brilliant start.

A pre-hike Benj.

We were very fortunate to have geologist friends of Rob and Mary, and Rob's energetic puppies, lead the way on an unmarked trail used mostly by rock climbers and boulder hoppers.

Up a very steep mountain, and down gently through a dry canyon that during colder, wetter months becomes quite an impressive river.

Vibrant desert blooms dot the rocks,

as do striking wave patterns.

It was thirsty work for everyone but well worth the effort.

Eventually the rocks give way to a gentle, but still rigorous, march back to the cars. Funnily enough the dogs were absolute troopers until this last stretch... something to do with the sand under paw apparently!

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