Monday, July 15, 2013

A Drive to Death Valley

View Drive to Death Valley in a larger map

Monday we left the lights and glitz of Vegas behind for the barren desert.

We picked up our rental car at the airport.  Instead of talking to a person at the counter, we spoke to a lady over a camera phone.  We thought it was pretty cool and futuristic.

Strangely, driving through rural Nevada reminded us of driving through rural Iceland.  There were lots of mountains in the distance and few cars on the road.  Also, whenever we got to a small town it was always beneath us in a valley making it seem like a moon village, just like in Iceland.

Our first stop was in Pahrump, Nevada.  This town is know for it's infamous brothels such as the Chicken Ranch.  We decided to pass on the brothels and instead stopped at Mom's Diner for some chicken fried steak and pie.  Very good.

Before leaving Pahrump John insisted on doing some "bookin'" saying, "I just want all the money Lydia." We stopped at a local thrift store.  Unfortunately the lady Inside was not very friendly.  After creepily staring at me for a few minutes, she noticed I was using my phone and said, "You aren't taking pictures are you?"  Despite insuring her that I wasn't in fact taking pictures, she continued to be annoying and watched us closely.  Later she said, "I notice you have California license plates, are you from California?"  What a creeper!  She went out of her way to go look at the car we were driving!  She continued to interrogate us asking if we lived in the area, and why John had on an Iceland shirt.  Weirdo.  Luckily, John found a few worthy books, and we got the heck out of there.

An hour or so later we arrived to Death Valley.  We drove to Dante's View and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the salt flats.

[John: I think that the plants were one of my favorite parts of Death Valley. There were these balls of prickles evenly spaced over much of the ground there.]

We drove a little further and stopped at a gift shop.  The thermometer there said the temperature was 125 degrees.  Wowie!

[John: I'm guessing this was a date tree outside of the gift shop. I'd never seen one of those before.]

[John: Our only gift shop purchase was this gummy cactus made with prickly pear juice. Read here about how I learned how to eat real prickly pears. Spoiler: I got prickled.]

Despite the heat we saw some crazy people running through the park. I especially liked their silly hats.

Luckily we bought gas in Pahrump because it was $5.43 in the park!

On the way back, I spotted a gas station called "Area 51 Alien Center."

Obviously we had to stop.  It wasn't quite as cool inside as it sounded, but we did find a few good picture opportunities.

When we got back to the hotel we decided it was time to do a little relaxing by the pool.  But when we got there at 7:50, we were informed that the pool closes at 8pm.  Bummer! It turns out all the pools on the strip close at 7 or 8.  Maybe because they want people inside spending money on booze and slot machines?

So we decided to change our clothes and head back out for more exploring.  We drove to the north end of the strip and visited  The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop home of the History Channel show Pawn Stars.  None of the show's stars were working, but it was definitely cool to see.

[John: I thought this was pretty genius. They can make items in their store more valuable just by featuring them on their tv show. The two businesses sort of feed off of each other.]

The next day we drove by and saw a crazy line to get in!  We were glad we went at night.

Leaving the pawn shop, we headed for Circus Circus.  We had considered staying here because the prices are insanely cheap (like $25 a night), and we wanted to see what we were missing.  Turns out not much.  We were disappointed to find that nothing inside that was circus themed.

Before leaving we ate dinner at their buffet.  At $16 a person It was much cheaper than the one at Rio.  But  Going in I thought to myself, "It's a buffet, there will be a lot of food, how bad can it be?"  I was sorely mistaken - it was bad.  Every single thing on the buffet was fried and seemed to have been sitting out for awhile.  Oh well, it was a good excuse to eat lots of soft serve ice cream.  We saw another funny sight walking out of the place - a lady was completely passed out in a booth; she wouldn't even wake up when her husband brought her dessert.  Maybe she had food poisoning?

Our next stop was Bally's where we had tickets to the show Jubilee!  According to our guide books it's one of the best showgirl shows in Vegas. I would have to agree; colorful costumes, ambitious scenery, pretty good songs, and lots of boobs.  We thought it was funny because all the boobs were the exact same size (pretty tiny) and their nipples were all in the exact same place.  You must have to meet very specific boob criteria to get cast in Jubilee!

Jubilee! left us in a boob kind of mood, so we decided to check out the Hooters casino.  There we found a few more pairs of boobs, wood paneling, and slot machines.  I've never been inside a Hooters restaurant, but I'm guessing the casino was pretty similar.

Our final stop was the Hard Rock Casino.  This was one of my favorites, despite its location off the strip.  It was very sleek inside and did a good job sticking to its theme.  Just like the restaurants the casino had collections of memorabilia from rock stars on display.  After checking out a few rock star outfits, we headed back to the Mirage for some much needed sleep.

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