Winter is approaching fast in the north. Southwards to Las Vegas, a trip to the Death Valley and the preparation for hibernation.
Salt Lake City, 8th October
It’s time to drive to the south. A blizzard is approaching Jackson – this strange village identifying itself solely thru tourism. It’s pretty cold. Prado’s diesel definitely shows its reluctance to do its job this morning. To our most love-hated restaurant. Quickly we finish the terrible breakfast at McDonald’s – due to no payable alternatives – and off we are on our way to warm’n’sunny Las Vegas. The place we plan to leave Prado for hibernation.
A few hours to Idaho Falls. Weather is still sunny; but extremely windy.
Idaho Falls: not really much to do or to see. We really have the feeling to be out in a very rural place. Of course the eponymous falls to see …
… and Snow Eagle to visit. A pretty cool brewery/pub – even if definitely decorated in a very American way.
The next morning: it’s snowing. The blizzard has arrived. So we quickly get ready to drive on, convince Prado to start despite the low temperature, and we’re on our way to Salt Lake City. A journey thru a snow covered landscape during Indian summer.
Finally we enter Utah and shortly later we’re in Salt Lake City.
The town somehow an unusual place. The CBD dominated by the religious and administrative buildings of the Mormons. A confraternity with many customs largely resembling to practices in the Middle East. Whatever, we don’t think they’re aware of this at all.
Las Vegas, 11th October
The next morning feels like spring. The frost has gone; some acceptable 14°C. We drive further to the south. Today to S. George. A lot of traffic around Salt Lake City, then it gets quiet. The landscape more and more dry and temperature rising.
S. George: definitely nondescript. In town a few historic buildings, but nothing really remarkable. In a car we observe a strange passenger – no idea if for the good or for the bad. But otherwise no need for incredible sights. Zion National Park is not far away. So the town serves as an overflow for tourists. And they have the Snow Canyon nearby.
As we have to reach Las Vegas very soon to verify Prado’s holiday home for hibernation, we decide for nearby Snow Canyon. An opportunity to admire a landscape completely different to what we experienced further north.
Then on to Las Vegas. Currently not really the town of great happiness. It’s rather the victim of the political pressure of certain wannabe cowboys to arm every crazy guy in the country. So the town still seems to run on half the energy after the massacre a week ago. No problem, the political leaders will solve that problem, as they know that the murderer is definitely a migrant. If not migrated in the last weeks, so surely a few generations ago.
1st of all we’re searching a decent parking for Prado’s hibernation. Unfortunately, the entrance gate of the place we’ve reserved is much too low. We would have to remove the rooftop tent. So no chance.
Finally we find a covered secured parking, where Prado can wait the next months for us in the outskirts of Las Vegas.
The city: even bigger than on our last visit in 2004. Quite some new buildings. Some of them even entirely golden.
So much to do, so much places to visit. But also some no-go buildings. If not for other reasons, at least for their unbelievable kitsch and excessive use of gold.
So we admire all these impressive constructions, …… the numerous exiting offers, …
… and of course we have to discover what is inside these huge buildings.
Then Monika starts gambling. Seriously. And – immediately she starts making 10% profit out of her investment. My dear, what a success, what a business. Where else in the world can you make so quickly so much benefit? Just calculate: you invest a million $ and a few moments later you have 1 million and hundred thousand bucks in your pocket. Even your pocket may become too small.
Somehow we’re worried about that. We already imagine that the casino may not be able to pay out all of Monika’s win, or later it may be broke. And all due to Monika’s irresponsible gambling. The insolvency of the casino may lead to a domino effect. Just imagine 10% of a 100 billion is 10 billion. Such a profit would even be unbearable for the owner of the casino in the golden tower. He would have to put all his energy into saving his respectable house. And hence have no more time for his current all-important world-saving job. He’d have to fully concentrate on his golden tower. And all that just because of Monika’s gambling.
On the other side. Maybe saving his golden tower would be the real opportunity for this gentleman to show his real talent – even on a long-term. Anyway, other guys will be eager to save the world. Just imagine what a tempting scenario.
Unfortunately Monika invested 1$ only in this gambling machine and got 1 buck 10 cents back. Despite this considerable profit the casino will survive, the golden tower remains as ugly as ever and the gentlemen continues to … Whatever – sometimes it’s difficult to save the world with just 1$. But don’t be discouraged.
Of course, Las Vegas only gets exiting after dawn. The time when it’s more difficult to spot all its signs of dilapidation and degradation. The time when the neon lights and LEDs dominate the scene. The time when good girls go bad …
… and bad boys go shy.
Well, time for a beer. Above The Strip, with a direct view at Bellagio’s singing well.
There’s even more. Of course, still avoiding any building with golden windows. Where else can you walk from an Egyptian pyramid advertising an exhibition on The Titanic to Italy’s Venice within a few minutes, …
… then, still in Venice admire the Gondolieri singing Oh Mama Mia on Canale Grande before crossing the road to arrive in antique Rome with Cesar still alive.
Finally, being overwhelmed by the sheer kitsch of these places, searching for something more exiting. Passing a latino-inspired world …
… to finally arrive in current modernism.
What an adventure; what an excitement. And you know, it’s all fake.
Back to the real world. We still have a few days left until we’ll fly back for hibernation. So we drive to the Death Valley National Park, just some 100km west of Last Vegas.
Beatty, 13th October
We drive to Beatty, not too far away from the national park. Somehow a pretty strange place. Despite claiming to be the gateway to the Death Valley it rather looks like a Mongolian district town. The inhabitants mostly seem to live in motorhomes no longer getting roadworthiness. Many of them seem to earn their life by selling scrap. Whatever. There’s a newly renovated motel with staff still living the mood before they improved the accommodation. And there are a few small eateries and watering holes to prevent poor tourists’ starvation and dehydration.
Then to the Death Valley National Park. The 1st day it’s pretty hazy. Due to the disastrous wildfires in California. The valley filled with smoke, strangely without smelling.
Nevertheless, we drive down, pass sea level – and go below zero. In other places now we would be diving. Here we’re simply driving on the smoke-filled, dusty bottom of the valley …
… to the salt flats and lakes in Badwater.
A drive to the Artist’s Palette …
… with all its colourful formations.
A visit to famous Zabriskie Point. Despite not having too many tourists in the Death Valley, at this place we’re definitely not alone. All the tour buses from Las Vegas stop here for 1 or 2’ before returning their passengers to gambling.
Finally a hike in the Golden Canon. Fairly easy as temperature is at a moderate 30°.
Laufaburg, 16th October
Back to Las Vegas. Getting Prado ready for hibernation: A spa and then to the storage. To recover from this year’s journey from Laos to Don’s Own Country.
A last pitcher of real Amber Ale in our all-beloved watering hole on The Strip …
… and we’re in the sardine tin on our 11h flight back to Swizzyland. Not many airlines fly directly to Europe – the 1 and only airline remaining is just a pain in the ass. Nobody taller than 1m should ever enter their planes. Another advice: don’t go hungry or thirsty. Apart from these minor issues everything is ok.
Back in Laufaburg. Business as usual. Weather has not too much improved. To avoid immediate depression we get a bottle of South African Allesverloren Tinta Barocca …
… and we’re getting ready for hibernation.
And that’s it for now – and probably for this year. We’re storing a lot of firewood, some bottles of beer and start hibernating – impatiently awaiting the end of winter.
In the meantime stop your jealousy, have a good time, merry X-Mas, happy New Year, Valentin’s Day and whatever you need to celebrate.
Next year we’ll be back with more nasty adventures.