Thursday, November 28, 2013

Death Valley to Vegas - Desert Lovin’

The drive to Death Valley begun uneventful besides the occasional dirt bike area signs that looked like the standard brown recreational signs that allowed such activities on government land. After about 6 hours we reached the outskirts of the valley which were glowing from the sunset and then slowly dimmed pinker and pinker as it receded. There were some winding roads to get into the park, but most weren’t very steep. About halfway through we went to a rest stop/ scenic view point. We took some pictures and used the bathroom. The wall of the bathroom had bullet lumps all over it and the signs had holes through them. We thought that was interesting for government land.

At one point we were driving on a straight and endless looking road. Up ahead we saw some cars stopped and swerving around something. It ran to the other side which we were driving on and as we got closer we realized it was a little fox. I rolled my window down to get a picture. It was sooooo freaking cute. I wanted to take it for my own. I began talking to it in that embarrassing baby voice we all use to speak to our beloved animals and it started walking closer. I got all giddy and talked to it more as I took pictures and it looked freakishly comfortable with us. I got a little freaked out though so we drove away as I proclaimed my love aloud for the little guy. ***Update*** So my Uncle John just called hysterically laughing at me because the below creature is not a fox, but a coyote! Oops! guess he didn't love me and wasn't my soul creature… he just wanted to make me his dinner.

It was night when we reached the campground and the front desk was closed so we just picked a number off the list and tried to setup as quick and simply as possible. We managed to do that effectively. Unfortunately we had to go to the store to get something for dinner and everything in there is extremely expensive. Suffice to say we weren’t very happy about that and to top it all off I once again had zero phone service and had to call my parents on a pay phone. I didn’t even want to buy fire wood because first off it wasn’t cold and second it was $10 for a tiny bag when we're used to getting at least seven good sized quarter logs for $4-6. 

So we didn’t have the best night and ended up going to bed super early. However our neighbors who looked Asian and yet spoke some African sounding language decided to talk at the top of their lungs for hours, not a moment, not a second, without their mouths running. Seriously there was no pause, no time for a breath with these people. I swear the main speaker must have been telling one amazing freaking story. Mind you not only did we go to bed to that, we woke up to it as well at 5am. 

You could probably guess I wasn’t very happy with this place. It seemed like we weren’t having very good luck there and as all people with good instincts know; it is better to get out while your ahead. We decided to just stay that one night, spend a little while at the sand dunes, and my secret weapon to get Finnley to agree with me: head to Vegas. 

That next morning we packed up and headed to the sand dunes for what was intended to be a short hike. On our way there we stopped at this little stream and walked on a wooden pathway through it. It was a peaceful walk because we were the only ones there and it looked desolate, but in a beautiful way. It was like the desolate that is glamorized in literature and movies. As we walked back Finnley decided he should climb the rocky hill on the side of the trail. It looked so funny as he slid down on his feet so fast it looked like he could easily lose control of his footing. I was dying laughing at him. Afterwards we headed over to the sand dunes. 

Taking the advice of a random dune hiker, Finnley decided he should hike them barefoot; (disclaimer: this man also advised he bring backup flip flops). As Finnley always does he needed to hike all the way to the tallest dune because of course. I however am more of a different kind of experiencer, I don’t have to be the best or the tallest or the highest to enjoy something. I’m more like "let’s climb a couple and sit on top of one and ponder at the fact that I’m here". Finnley takes himself to the extreme, he is your standard adrenaline junkie. His fun level is dependent on his heart racing and the thought “hey that could have been really dangerous and hurt me”. As you could imagine our opposing philosophies create the perfect potion for controversy when evaluating any decision on what we should do.

I usually try and be open minded (however not shy of whining and bitching and moaning the whole way) about these things so I at least have the experience and a good story to tell. So I went along with his plan to climb to the highest dune. At first it was really fun. It was weird because just standing there you don’t realize how tall these things are and how hard they actually are to climb. Basically about half way there I had enough. Finnley as he often does however pushed and pushed me. One thing I couldn’t complain about though was the view. It was really beautiful out there. 

Finnley also decided that he needed to roll down the sand dune, it was awesome. I video recorded as he went barreling down in what I imagine to be a dizzying madness and came to a sand splashed stop. It looked really fun, but I didn’t take that bait. He also decided he should run down a sand dune. That one was really funny looking and this was no small sand dune; it was one of the biggest ones. You could just see him start off strong and steady and then get faster and faster until he lost control and fell to his knees. It was so amazing and hilarious. 

When we had the last two largest dunes ahead of us I decided I was so ridiculously done with this hike and just sat on that dune as Finnley ventured off to the two tallest. I took some pictures of him out there; he looked tiny, he was so far away. Something weird we noticed about the dunes was even though he was so far away, we didn’t have to yell to speak to each other. Somehow we were able to talk at a normal level. Walking back Finnley’s feet were bright red. The sand had ground his feet raw. 

We headed to Las Vegas after filling up the tank with their $5/gallon gas. It was supposed to be a fairly short drive so we were looking forward to that. Now this was an iconic drive for us. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas comes to mind, as do many other stories and movies that do Cali to Vegas. It looked as I always imagined, endless roads and desert land. A sight so epically freeing it instantly made Finnley and I ready for anything and everything that could come at us. 

We got to Vegas in the early afternoon and booked a surprisingly cheap room at Planet Hollywood. Finnley stopped at a gas station before we got to the hotel to buy something and when he came out he told me a lovely story. He said when he went to get his money out of his wallet he ended up dumping a pile of sand on the counter. The lady looked at him like "what the hell" and Finnley said “sorry I just came from the desert”. Oh man, he’s so funny. Only something so awkward could happen to him. We got to Planet Hollywood and luckily they let us check in an hour early. 

We were pretty disgusting and felt out of place from camping for the last 4 days so we took a shower first thing. Afterwards we walked around the mall that they have connected to the hotel. Then we found some dinner to eat. We went to Earl of Sandwich and it was pretty tasty. Finnley needed beer so he could have his Hangover moment so we went and got some at the convenience store inside the mall. He slammed a couple in the hotel room before we went out to walk on the street. We watched some cool break dance routine until they started asking for money... lol. Las Vegas was a lot cooler than I expected, but it’s definitely somewhere you need money to really enjoy yourself, otherwise everything is a bit of a tease. However, we enjoyed ourselves to the best of our pockets abilities. 

It was cool we could see the Paris hotel from our room window and the Belaggio fountain show too. We lapped the mall a few more times before it was time to gamble. I had a couple ones on me so we decided that is all we would use and we would just play on the penny machines. I was down a dollar, and Finnley had breezed through two when I looked over and his machines numbers were moving fast. I asked him what happened and he said he won. We ended up winning like 23 bucks. Not to shabby for a penny machine. 

We went to bed around midnight when we were finally tired of all the walking for no reward because we couldn’t buy anything. We woke up fairly early and got some breakfast for $3.95 at a Mexican restaurant inside the mall. I also got my favorite hot chocolate from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that was more expensive than the breakfast.. lol. I made Finnley walk around the mall with me one more time, determined to buy something, but unfortunately never found a thing.

The plan was to head to the Grand Canyon from there, but the plan quickly changed when we realized how long of a drive it was. We decided to go to Zion National Park first because it was about half as far. Around 11:00am we checked out and headed to Utah.

On to the next...

No comments:

Post a Comment