Nevada

Shortly after leaving Death Valley behind and entering Nevada, Google suddenly wants me to turn off the highway onto a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Instead of just blindly following it and crashing to my death off a cliff or something I stop to check, and sure enough Google is right on the money. This road past an abandoned airstrip cuts out about 12 miles of highway driving, and after about 3 miles turns out onto the highway to Las Vegas so I continue on.

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I got a cheap hotel for the weekend at the HoJo’s on Tropicana, a couple blocks off the strip past the MGM and Hooters. First night it’s Friday night in Vegas, so of course I spend the evening in bed with the AC blasting, all of my stuff plugged into actual power outlets, a long hot shower, and catching up on some TV. After awhile I run out a grab a pizza and lie in bed eating pizza and watching the last few episodes of the Deadliest Catch season. Next day the Vegas excitement continues (at a somewhat late hour after staying up late the previous night) as I make my way to Henderson and do some shopping at REI, get a haircut, and pick up some groceries.  On the way back I stopped at the Pinball Hall of Fame, it’s just a warehouse with a bunch of pinball and video games lined up in rows. They do have a card on each giving the date it was manufactured but that’s about it.

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I visited the Neon Museum, a lot of fun. It’s a guided tour which takes over an hour; our guide knew the detailed history of all of the signs and had many stories about the history of Las Vegas. Halfway through the tour the sun set and they turned on the lights, making for a great show. Most of the signs are not in working condition, they’re just lit by spotlights.

Made one trip up the strip to the Bellagio fountain and back. No gambling, the only money the casinos got from me was through their restaurants. Instead of eating dinner I just snacked my way down the strip.

I was waiting for my forwarded mail to catch up with me and needed to spend one more day in Vegas so I went east of the strip to Sam’s Town on the Boulder Highway. I saw on some billboards that they are having a Killers extravaganza at the end of the month for the 10 year anniversary of the Sam’s Town album and figured why not. Being a Monday the room was quite inexpensive and came with two vouchers for the buffet. This place is huge, in good shape if a little tacky, and has everything: the aforementioned buffet, 8 movie theaters, bowling alley, pool, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Panda Express, Dunkin Donuts, and of course all the usual gambling stuff.

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Another relaxing day, first off to the pool to cool off, then to the movie theater to catch Jason Bourne, then the enormous buffet for dinner. Being a Monday I think I’m the youngest person here. Someone in the buffet line actually called me “young fella.” Wandered through the casino but still no gambling. I don’t get slot machines at all…they did away with money and the slot part, then the giant handle. Nowadays you just swipe a card and press a button or two and see what happens.

After picking up my mail I’m off to Kingman. A lot of old Route 66 stuff along here. Every gas station, restaurant, and store is playing Elvis music.

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I’m looking for a campground around Kingman. There are 2 right in town but checking the reviews shows a lively debate on the first whether the drug users have been chased out yet or not (consensus says yes but it’s still a pit), and the second says that the cockroaches mostly stay hidden during the day but at night they are all over everything. I end up going to a county campground outside town, 12 miles up at the top of Hualapai Mountain. A nice place with lots of big pine trees and deer and elk wandering around. The campsite across from mine is lined off with police tape but I’m pretty sure it’s because of water erosion across the middle and not that the previous occupants were murdered in their tents.

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