Las Vegas and Grand Canyon

After spending six days tent camp with night temperatures around freezing we really enjoyed the warm climate with almost 30 C and the comfort of staying at casino hotels. We started off in Bullhead city where Emil have some very distant relatives. It was good to see them since he saw them last time 15 years ago and also nice to get into an American home.

We then continued to Las Vegas the metropol of world gambling. Las Vegas is certainly a different city, where the fantasies of a very few come true to be able to build massive casino complexes most of them with their own theme. It’s not really their own, this fake city is imitating others with replicas of famous buildings and places around the world like New York (New York New York casino), the Eiffel tower (Paris), a giant pyramid with a sphinx (Luxor), medieval castles (Excalibur), roman palaces (Caesar’s palace) or just luxurious buildings as the Mirage, Mandalay Bay or MGM Grand. It’s both impressive how they can afford all this luxury and at the same time very sad to know it’s literally all built upon lost money and many broken dreams. The city also host the very opposites – at the same time we never have seen such an extreme wealth where every other car is a limousine and helicopters flying everywhere, we also encountered the extreme poverty and sad lives of beggars, homeless and the streets littered with people handing out catalogs with pictures of girls offering their services within 20 minutes.

This said we still enjoyed the city very much. We enjoyed the casino hotel comfort staying five days at Circus Circus (hosting a constant ongoing circus and the world largest indoor amusement park), we enjoyed those activities along with the outdoor pool. We also enjoyed walking the strip, visiting most of the major casinos spectating their different themes, enjoyed their very cheap all you can eat buffets, enjoyed some free shows outside the casinos such as a real sized pirate ship battle (Treasure Island) and then we grown ups took turns doing the city in the evenings on our own also visiting one standup show each. One thing we didn’t do was gamble, instead we went to a brand outlet spending a big pile of money receiving an even bigger pile of nice clothing.

The last day in Vegas we got a special deal staying at one of the nicer casinos the Golden Nugget. They had the world largest golden nugget weighing 26 kg. The also had a three story outdoor pool with a water slide going through an aquarium filled with sharks and other fish. This casino was placed at Fremont street an exciting arcade filled with street artists and on the hour shows in the ceiling used as a giant screen.

Emma fell in love with Las Vegas at first sight. She just loved all the lights, flashing, music and sound everywhere. Emma wanted us to move here. This is a city which never sleep, it’s just keep on screaming. Las Vegas was a shock for all senses and a dramatic contrast, coming from the peaceful tranquil desert – we certainly preferred the latter.

Since the government closed down and with it the national parks, we had to skip many of the parks on our itinerary and postpone Grand Canyon. To our rescue the state if Arizona paid up the money to open Grand Canyon early since they lost too much tourist money. When it opened we fled Las Vegas and back tracked in our car tracks towards Grand Canyon. We made a brief but impressive stop at the Hoover Dam where we actually drove on top of the 222 m high dam wall. The whole family also enjoyed a 2 minutes helicopter ride for just $29 a person, you actually cover quite a distance in that time. The kids just loved it.

We then finally arrived to Grand Canyon after all our struggles. Grand Canyon is really an impressive site but it’s also hard to take in due to it’s massiveness. It’s 500 km long, about 2 km wide and 1.6 km deep – a giant whole as we describe it to the kids. Far down below the Colorado river is passing by, carving its way downwards a sheet of paper thin every year and has done so the last six million years forming the canyon exposing layer after layer of rocks down to 2 billion years old crust – half of earth’s existence. Since we did not have the possibility with the kids and especially not the energy to trek down into the canyon we just enjoyed the grandeur from the south rim.

After all being a bunch of happy campers the first month of the trip we then started to get quite a sick pitiful bunch of people. Lina the poor thing has suffered by far the most with both blisters in her mouth and a really bad cold with sore throat, fever and runny nose. The grown ups have instead suffered from both food poisoning and this bad cold, while Emma just keep on feeling well keeping the mood up for all of us with her intelligent thoughts. The illnesses has muted our impressions lately and we have been taking it slow, but we are now all finally slowly recovering.