The Desert Rat.

A twisted juniper in Red Rock Canyon.

A twisted juniper in Red Rock Canyon.

I’ve been to Vegas four or five times. I’m not a gambler, I simply don’t understand the lure of it. I have no interest in drinking my face off and I don’t trust any buffet that’s only a dollar. So what keeps me going back to Sin City? Besides the ideal climate, it’s the desert. Also, I’m a huge mafia buff. Vegas is steeped with a rich history of mob run businesses and casinos. In organized crime’s heyday of the 20s-80s, Las Vegas was where they would bring their ill gotten gains to launder and legitimize their wealth. It started back in the early 1940s with Bugsy Siegel being given the task to establish the mafia in Vegas by building a casino. From there, every faction sent at least one person to represent each family and stake claim to their own turf. It was a mobster’s dream to run a place in a state with little to no rules.

On our last trip to Las Vegas, we each had one thing we wanted to do. Since it was Devon’s birthday, she got to choose the all of the activities on her special day. Everybody else got to choose one activity. This trip was planned well in advance of her actual day of birth and we invited two close friends to join us. The trip itself was actually really fun. We spent a week exploring Vegas, walking up and down the strip for an entire day.

Devon free climbing.

Devon free climbing.

We mixed it up a bit by flying down instead of driving. After arriving we picked up our rental SUV and drove down the highway to our hotel. Devon picked the place. She had been there on another trip and enjoyed her stay. We pulled into the Red Rock Casino & Hotel and checked in at the front desk. I honestly don’t think I’ve been in a bigger hotel. Nor have I seen one with nine pools before. With a casino floor and seven different restaurants to choose from, we really didn’t need to leave our hotel at all. There was also a keno lounge and a bingo hall.

Once checked in, we went down to the casino floor and walked around. After all the travel, sitting on a plane, driving to the hotel & settling in, the only thing on our minds was food. Since Devon had been there before, she knew which restaurants had the good eats. We settled on the Yard House, a draft beer pub with gourmet food. We ate probably the best nachos there. The portions were more than enough and we were sufficiently stuffed. After eating it was off to do a little gaming. We spent about an hour playing some games then we went back up to our room to relax for the night.

Devon having a blast.

Devon having a blast.

The next couple of days were spent walking around old Vegas and shopping at one of the large outlet malls. I’m actually impressed with Devon on this. She’s not a fan of shopping and an even bigger non fan of malls, yet she managed to hang in there for three hours of insanity. Our friends had never been to Vegas and they enjoy shopping. A part of me thinks that they think it’s a sport. All I know is they have black belts in retail therapy. We walked up and down each side of the mall, stopping at what seemed like every other store. Finding a few things we needed and a handful of stuff we didn’t, it was back to the hotel to rest for a bit before heading off to dinner and a little gambling before calling it a day.

On Devon’s birthday she wanted to go to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area. Driving up to the park is nothing special but driving down into it you can visibly watch the scenery change before your eyes. The crazy hues of yellows, oranges & reds saturate your vision and everything seems crisp, vivid. We walked down into the canyon a bit and took some pictures. There were a few people around so we decided to move to another less populated area. Driving further into the park, we found a nice area with huge rocks jutting out from the rock face. It was there that we went for a short walk. There was some primitive art of hand prints along the wall and we stopped to take a few photos. The park had a feeling, very hard to describe. I felt an energy present, that’s all I know.

Elephant Rock.

Elephant Rock.

After that, we drove 128km (1hr & 35 minutes) to Valley of Fire State Park to look for rock formations. We ended up at Elephant Rock which, not surprisingly, looks just like an elephant. We hung out on top of the rock face for a bit, watching the sun set in the distance. As the sun went down, so did the temperature. The desert is famous for it’s heat. During the day it can get blazing hot but at night the temperature drops so drastically that it plummets into subzero weather. There is a harsh beauty to such an unforgiving environment. With the temperature down to an uncomfortable level, it was back on the road and back to our hotel.

The next day it was back into Vegas for a day of walking the world famous Las Vegas strip. Devon & I have been there several times before and we’ve walked the strip a few times. But every time we go with someone who’s never been there, the strip is still pretty fun to check out. We went from hotel to casino, up and down the strip, checking out all of the sights. We had lunch at Pink’s hot dog stand and continued on walking. You never really know how long or how far you walk, but I have a pedometer. I use it daily, and on this day it told me that we had walked over twenty-five thousand steps. So long as you keep moving, everything is fine. But the second we got back to our hotel room it seemed like everything ached with pain. For me, it was my knees. I felt my heartbeat in them. It was still a fun day and we saw a ton of what Vegas has to offer.

The next day would be the one item I really wanted.

– Jade

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One Response to The Desert Rat.

  1. Nick Nichols says:

    Are you sure “Lucky” Luciano didn’t start ‘Vegas’? I heard the ‘Mob’ thought he was crazy for wasting their money, so they ‘hit’ him for it!

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