Day 147 – 1/24/21 Death Valley to Las Vegas

It’s moving day today.  We are going to Las Vegas!  Woohoo. 

I’m excited to show Vegas to the girls, especially the Bellagio, Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, etc.  We have two possible routes today.  The first is to go south towards Barstow, which is the way we came here, then from there go back north east to Vegas.  That has a good path for trucks and trailers, but it takes over 5 hours.  The second path is to go through Death Valley and cross it from here (west) to Beaty, Nevada (east), which is a path we already did with the truck.  The only challenge with that path is the long and high altitude climbs of about 5,000 feet, and twice.  Also, the potential for high winds at the valley floor, especially near the dunes.  But, high winds can happen in most of the path anyway.  This second option will take a little over 3 hours, so we are probably taking that one.  I scoped this path a few times thinking about how it would be with the trailer and felt it’d be fine.  I also have to decide how I’m leaving the camp site as the roads are very bumpy and the exit is a bit raised, so I’m afraid I’ll scrape the back of the trailer.  Not sure which path I’ll take for this one, but I’ll figure it out later.  As the morning went by, I went to the office to check on the weather forecast and both routes seemed fine.  Then back at camp, I turned the trucker GPS on, and put the destination in, and it sent us through Death Valley, so that’s the route we took.

Our morning routine was the usual for Sunday travel days.  I was up first, wrote a bit, but didn’t finish any posts, so I’m falling behind again, but at least I captured the main things.  Then the girls and Carol were up around 8.  Carol and I talked about leaving ASAP, to give ourselves plenty of time for the road, so we started working on packing up right away.  The girls were told to change and eat breakfast before using their electronics, and that always works to get them ready faster.  Bia also came out to help a bit.  She swept the camping mat, put away the lights, and she loves using the screwdriver, so she raised the scissor jacks, and disconnected the X-Choks as well.  Carol finished all the inside, and I did the outside, and we were rolling out just before 10am.  This campground is quite bumpy and some of the exits would make the trailer scrape the back, so I carefully chose the way out.  We ended up backing out of the spot, since there was enough room, and basically going out the exact same way we came into the spot, and it worked well.  And as we rolled out, we started our ride through Death Valley towards Vegas, but not before seeing a road runner passing by.

Our drive through Death Valley was great.  We took our time, the truck pulled up the mountains like nothing, and the engine brakes held strong down the mountains, and I barely had to use the actual brakes.  The drive was also very beautiful as we went through a few mountain ranges and valleys, and some pretty big mountains.  As we got closer to Vegas there were some mountains that had peaks covered in snow, and we even saw signs for skiing.  There’s another one I didn’t expect, skiing near Las Vegas.

It took us about two hours to go through all of Death Valley and exit California.  I made one stop within the first hour for a bathroom break, and then stopped again as soon as we crossed into Nevada.  I was waiting to get gas in Nevada as it is much cheaper, and sure enough, we crossed the state line, and there was a small casino with a gas station and gas at $2.71.  Finally paying under $3 for gas, well, diesel.  The casino also had a petting zoo, and an RV park, so after I filled up the tank, the girls got out to check the petting zoo animals.  Bella got out of the truck with a bag with left over chips. The ducks heard the noise of the bag and approached her.  She threw some crumbs down, and they all came and started following her.  It was pretty funny to watch her followed by ducks.  Carol was inside heating some left overs for our lunch break, and I was outside taking pictures of the girls playing with the animals, checking them out, and just stretching my legs.  It was a nice day, warm and awesome.  When lunch was ready Carol called us, we went inside and ate.  The girls then went back to check the animals one last time before we headed back on the road, for the final two hours of our drive. 

The entire drive was pretty good, easy, nothing crazy, no tight spots, no major wind, and I’m glad it was all like that as it makes the drive much less stressful.  From the Nevada border to Vegas the scenery was very pretty as well, more mountains, valleys, cactus and even an area with lots of Joshua Trees. 

As we rolled in to Vegas, we got to see the side of Vegas I never get to.  I’ve been here over 10 times, and always stay right at the strip, and rarely venture out.  Only went out once, when we had a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon, which we were bused to the heliport from the strip, and that was a 30 minute drive out of town.  Vegas is huge, and is very much like any other big city out there.  We drove through a lot of the town, we could see the strip as we drove in.  Then, when we got close to the campground, I realized both GPS systems had me do a U-Turn to get to the campground.  Wait, that’s tough.  A U-turn with a trailer is already tough, add to that the fact we have the weight distribution system, which does not like super sharp turns, and you get a bit of a challenge with a U-turn.  Fortunately, the road is very wide and large, and not much traffic was coming by, so I was able to make a very wide turn and make more of a C turn then a U :). We checked in, no worries, and were actually assigned a spot, which is unusual for Thousand Trail campgrounds, but I kind of prefer that way. 

At first look, we were not impressed with the campground.  Feels like lots of permanent residents here, or long stay residents.  Lots of mess, people with stuff all over, clothes hanging to dry, and even workout equipment junk laying around some sites.  We found our site, unhooked the bars so we could back in, chose our path and where we wanted to park and backed in.  The spots are large enough, so we have plenty of space on both sides, and even in front.  The spot is mostly level, with gravel, and all the hookups are there and easy to access.  We got unhitched, unloaded and all hooked up as normal.  Bia was helping with the screwdriver part until it twisted her arm, then Bella helped a bit.  Bia continued helping by connecting the water, then her and Carol did the electric.  As we settled, Carol went to check out the laundry room, and was not too happy with what she found.  Two machines and only one working.  Coins only and no change machine, and no app.  She put one load in, but didn’t have much more change or machines for the tons of laundry we have.  We may need to go to a laundromat in town to do all the laundry.

As we were settled in, we talked to Bob and Judy for a while.  It was nice to talk to them, it had been a few weeks since we all chatted.  Always good catching up.  As it was getting dark, we decided to go get food, then take the girls to see the Fountains of Bellagio.  I found a sushi place nearby, and we went there to check it out.  They were reservations only, and had a few tables very spaced out in different sections.  I went in anyway to see if they could accommodate us, and they did.  They put us in a separated area, where there were three empty tables, and we were by ourselves.  So, we felt comfortable with that and had dinner there.  Their sushi was very good, everyone really enjoyed their rolls.  We had a good time there.  Bella even dropped her sprite all over the table, and without much thinking they just came and moved us to the next empty table by us, and we just kept going.  I had some spicy sushi, and some had a smokey flavor to it, which was pretty good.  Carol and I shared two big bottles of Asahi Dry, and the girls had sprite and sprite with lemonade.  Good dinner! 

Then, I found a parking spot behind Paris Hotel that was free and we went there.  When we got there, the signs showed max height of 6’8”, and we are just about that tall.  I didn’t want to go in, but Carol insisted we should try.  We tried and made it, but barely.  I was really nervous and went super slow.  I told them to put their hands out of the truck and up, and they could touch the beams.  Wow, it was super close.  But, we made it without any incidents.  We had to park on level 5, so it was close calls all the way up.  hahahah..  then, we exited to the side street, and walked towards the strip.  The girls were in awe at all the lights, we crossed right away, and were 2 minutes away from a show at the fountains.  Some guys dressed in costumes came to take pictures with the girls.  I had told them they just wanted money, but we got suckered into pictures, and then they asked for $20.  I had no cash, so Carol offered $5 and only if they gave her change.  So, fine… $5 for pictures with dudes in costumes hahahaha… Bella said she knew this was going to happen and didn’t even want the pictures anyway, but ok. 

We moved on, and found a spot to watch the fountain show.  And it started sharply at 7:15.  That show is very cool, and the view it presents with all the lights and water, with that beautiful hotel in the background is very magical.  It is only one song per show, so it was done pretty quick.  The girls loved it and said they want to come back. 

We were on a tight timeline as we still needed to get some Amazon packages at a gas station locker near our campground, and it’s a school night so we didn’t want to be too late.  We started walking back, and I said we should try to find our way out by going through the hotel, so we went in.  It was pretty cool to walk around there, and show the girls the inside of a casino.  They were impressed and excited to be in Vegas now, and said they’d be telling all their friends tomorrow.  We ended up not finding our way out from inside, so we went back to the front and walked back the way we came.  We found the truck, and started driving back towards our campground, and to the Speedway gas station where the Amazon locker is.  It feels like everything here is 15 minutes away, so it was about that to get out of the strip and back towards our site.  The Amazon locker by that Speedway was just outside, pretty much just a locker in a well lit area by the gas station.  Very handy for us as we travel and don’t have a local address to ship to.  Carol got the packages, and then we headed to the Alberts grocery store that was next door, for a few quick supplies for tomorrow.  By time we got back to the campground, it was a bit past 9, so a bit later than the usual bed time, so we got the girls ready for bed.  We had them shower before we left, so that was a good call.  After the girls were in bed, I worked on getting the internet working, and checked a few things, but was also tired so went to bed soon after that.

We had a great drive out and through Death Valley and into Vegas, and a nice quick visit to the strip to see the Bellagio Fountains show.  Just a nice day.

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