Las Vegas, Nevada
An epic journey should end with a resounding crescendo, I know—but real life doesn't always deliver. The last stop on our road trip was Las Vegas. I've been to Las Vegas before and quite enjoyed the experience: watching the inimitable Cirque du Soleil, drinking fruity cocktails out of glasses that are two thirds my size, eating amazing food in one of the city's many culinary hotspots, and dancing on podiums wearing the tallest stilettos and tiniest dresses til the wee hours. But you need time to absorb the city's very particular atmosphere, and we only had a few hours. It's like coming to New York and only seeing Times Square; it's a postcard shot but it doesn't define the city. More importantly, I think you have to be in a Las Vegas state of mind to enjoy the excesses and over-the-top entertainment Sin City has to offer—and a week of enjoying spectacular natural sights just doesn't predispose one to being impressed by, say, the "waterfalls" and "lagoons" of the Wynn.
Add to that the fact that we were just plain exhausted and quite crabby from our unintentionally long hike and terribly lengthy but largely unexciting drive back to Nevada. A hike through the strip on a hot afternoon when the neon lights hadn't quite glossed over the garish facades was not bound to impress. Kate summed up our feelings with one comment dripping with snark as we were walking down the strip:
"I feel faint. I don't know if it's from the hike this morning, the five hour drive this afternoon, or the sheer tackiness of this place."
Kate later conceded that Las Vegas looked quite remarkable actually once night had fallen and the strip was all lit up. "Well," I told her, "everything looks a lot less tacky in the dark and under neon lights, right?"
Las Vegas never did win us over—not on this trip, at least. I don't blame the city. Like I said, it can be great fun and I've loved it at another time. This was more of an "it's not you, it's me" moment, really. But we made it there, and with this trip it was always about the journey and not the destination. We didn't get a flat tire, hit any cows, get bitten by any rattlesnakes, or fall off a cliff. We'd made it back, a little windburned and sore, but safe, sound and with memories that'll bring a smile to our faces for years to come. I'll always cherish the memory of those two crazy girls in short shorts, hitting the road and the trail for an adventure of epic proportions. We had the time of our lives.
Special thanks to Kate Mawby who drove an insane 1158 miles, taught me how to camp, pushed me to do some glorious hikes, and took some gorgeous photos on this trip. I miss you lots and I can't wait to see you again. We'll just have to cook up another adventure!