Arriving in Dallas we approached the immigration counter where we were greeted by a most fascinating character, “So where y’all coming to the United States from?” “Mexico” was the simple response in an ever attempt to keep it all short and sweet. “And where y’all goin’ to today?” Again “Las Vegas” was the response. 20 questions later we were admitted into the USA the next stage of our journey. Next stop was going to be Sin City…….
As we disembarked our plane in the Sin City, we were greeted initially by an endless supply of slot machines; this was definitely home of gambling. We cleared the arrivals hall and were greeted by our friend, Kim. A brief exchange of hugs we were led to Kim’s trusting green truck. Our first stop was an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant for a taste of Asia in America. 3 full hand rolls later, a bottle of Saki and a rice ice cream dessert, it was time to roll out of the restaurant and find a place to sleep. Kim graciously donated her bed to us where we enjoyed a perfect night’s sleep. The following morning we made our way to breakfast, where we ordered a full breakfast (not learning from the night before) and were presented with containing 4 fried eggs, half a cow (rump steak), half a pig and what seemed like a kilo of potatoes diced into home fries. Experiencing some déjà vu, we again rolled out of the restaurant and made our way to Starbucks for a grande frapaccino latte. Treating our hostess to a coffee I asked what she would like, I was a surprised to find out that the order was not a simple one, it was more like a tall half-skinny half-1 percent extra hot split quad shot (two shots decaf, two shots regular) latte with whip. Attempting to memorise the order I approached the counter and when asked for the order I failed miserably. Turning to Kim I asked for the order again and when she repeated I turned to the girl behind the counter and hopefully asked “did you get that”, fortunately she did so I did not have to repeat it. Coffee in hand we used this time to catch up with our peeps and set up my new phone card.
Kim knowing my love of the United States and everything American and the fact that I can eat most food because they use corn syrup instead of wheat took us straight to Costco. For those that don’t know, Costco is heaven where you buy in bulk. Three boxes of chocolates, 4 kilos of M&M’s and a bunch of other bulk buys we were on our way. The following day we joined up with Kim at work at the Pink Jeep Tour Company where we journeyed out to the Grand Canyon. Our journey although long, was enjoyable as our company was a group of three friends who enjoyed a chat. We stopped briefly for breakfast where we stocked up on some supplies and then ventured further into the desert. We stopped at the helicopter facility for the Grand Canyon where we waited for the other passengers to journey down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, take a 15 minute raft ride then fly back up again. All for a small fee of a few hundred dollars. The helicopters looked nice, though their review made me find comfort in my excessive purchasing of a few kilos of M&M’s the day before.
On we travelled by coach this time, to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is in the Grand Canyon West and is privately owned Hualapaii Tribe. To say that the Indian doing their ceremonial dance outside the entrance was cliché would be an understatement, though it was nice to have the music in the background. From one charge to the next, the Hualapaii Tribe is certainly on an endeavour to cash back in on tourism as we paid a substantial fee for entry though it was well worth it just to see a feat of engineering mixed in with a fantastic view of the Grand Canyon in all its glory. Many people refer to the Grand Canyon as either Wally World or the Big Ditch; I tend to agree with the latter though standing on a glass bridge is suspended 4000 feet above the Colorado River on the very edge of the Grand Canyon made this view of the ditch well worth it. The bridge passed engineering requirements by about 400 percent and it is said that it can withstand the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes (more than 71 million pounds), but I wasn’t about to test that theory as I stood on the glass staring straight down. Unfortunately we were not able to take our cameras out (I think it a scam, as they try to tell you that the cameras may scratch the glass) as we padded around in our little cotton booties required if you want to walk on the glass.
For a small fee you can get a photo taken by the staff on the bridge, though there personality seems to have taken a stroll off the bridge. We opted to grab the photos on a USB key to share around, though it seems that if you pay peanuts….. I might leave that comment on the note that they failed miserably in their ability to copy photos onto a USB key (only to have found out after we had left the Canyon). Off we went to another lookout and some lunch. The view at the lookout was absolutely amazing and left you breathless as you looked down and watched the helicopters whizzing up and down shuttling passengers from the top to the bottom and vice versa.
After lunch we went back to Las Vegas.
The next day we did the same trip again, but this time we stopped at Hoover Dam.
Again, an amazing piece of engineering, and as usual the American’s know how to impress. We burrowed deep into the belly of the dam with a guided tour and a show before being ushered back to the top for some photos. That night we made our way into the city the “Top of the World Restaurant” where I was un-ceremonially all but alien probed at a security point to the restaurant. The restaurant sits atop the tower and revolves with floor to ceiling windows so that you see the breathtaking view while dining. Feeling somewhat violated we were ushered to our table and enjoyed a beautiful bottle of wine before dinner arrived. I ordered a steak with some vegetables and as I raised the fork to my mouth a scene from the Body Guard flashed to mind as I watched in what seemed like slow motion an over enthusiastic waiter who felt it necessary to literally throw himself in front of my fork in an effort to stop me eating a meal that had been cross contaminated. 20 minutes later and as Jayde and Kim finished their meal, I was finally served with a fresh plate that was serving me a meal that was coeliac friendly.
After dinner, though not before Jayde and Kim had managed to get all 3 desserts for free as well as the bottle of wine for the complete stuff up and the probing incident, we made our way to the Mirage Hotel where we enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil performance of “Love”. With LOVE, Cirque du Soleil is on a mission to celebrate the musical legacy of that of The Beatles using all of their timeless recordings. Words I fear could not do this show justice to describe the vivid and powerful performance. It was simply amazing.
The following day, was a bit of a reality check, as Kim lent us her truck and we did a bit of shopping for the vital supplies that we would be needing in Ireland and knew that it would b cheaper to buy in the states rather than waiting till we arrived and would have to pay three times as much. Off to Target we went and 4 hours later we emerged back into the Nevada sun about three full shopping bags each heavier. The following day we ventured down to the strip and decided to walk the length. After many hours, we finally made it out of the first Casino (we got a bit lost) and once on the pavement; felt it would be safer not to venture inside again, unless we had to. Down one side and back up the other, Kim was finishing work so we decided to venture into Coke world, (yes there is such a thing) and more importantly, M&M world. Jayde made a new friend, although I think it was a little more than “friends” as I think she wanted to eat him up, and we did the tours before ending up in the gift shops. Off to dinner for our last night and more importantly we had to figure out our next big problem, how the hell we were going to pack for our trip tomorrow as we were off to Richmond, Virginia….