After two strenuous walks in Zion, you’d think that a restful night’s sleep would be a certainty. Sadly, Willow still couldn’t shake her cold and suffered another terrible night without a proper rest. I must admit… I slept like a baby!
It was Christmas Eve, and we were both feeling excited. We just had to manage one final drive to a Vegas and then we would finally have a new belt for the engine.
We broke the drive up, stopping an hour away from Vegas to get some final supplies for the Christmas Day dinner that we had planned to cook in Ruby, running the generator in the car park whilst we shopped.
Back on the interstate, Vegas began to gradually climb out of the desert. Tall hotels standing out for miles.
Which a couple of hours to kill once we had arrived, we located a park right next to the airport and set about preparing some of the food for our Christmas dinner.
We decided to do it properly, and would attempt to cook a three course meal. Obviously not an easy feat in a small VW, so we made a start of two dished that could be made in advance. A nut roast for main course and a lemon drizzle cake for pudding.
Dressed in our Christmas jumpers, and with Bad Religions Christmas album blaring, We made a started prepping the food. Fortunately, we have the Remoska, which is almost a portable oven, and so with educated guess made on cook times, we cooked the nut roast and drizzle cake. The latter requiring extensive prodding to tell if it was cooked in the middle.
If being parked in a Vegas car park, cooking Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve wasn’t odd enough; a car pulled up enthusiastically alongside us. Worried, we watched as two men jumped out the car holding something.
As it turned out, they were carrying two hot meals, which they gave to us on paper plates alongside two Christmas cards. They clearly felt sorry for us and decided we were as desperate as the homeless.
After thanking them and grabbing a quick picture they drove off, and shortly after another car pulled over.
I approached the driver, who asked me if we had seen any homeless people hanging around the car park. Informing him that we hadn’t, he told me that he had gift bags to hand out and asked whether we would like one. Not wanting to take something from someone who may be more deserving of his gift, I politely declined and wished him a merry Christmas. I was amazed that people would sacrifice their time and energy, driving around to help those in need. It really touched my heart, and restored my faith in humanity a little.
From the car park, we could watch the planes fly into Vegas airport, so as the time approached, I kept an ‘eye out’ for Willow’s parents flight.
With confirmation of the plane landing we set off to meet her parents, stopping off at a 7Eleven to grab an Amazon delivery Willow had ordered. Waiting for Willow’s parents to call from the air port.
They eventually called us, informing us that they were at the car hire centre, finalising their hire car, so we headed off to meet them at an arranged point.
Seeing them pull up was weird. It had been four months since they had dropped us off at Gatwick Airport and said their goodbyes. So much had happened in such a short time and although we have met some many wonderful people during our time in The States, it was comforting to see family.
Understandably tired from their long flight, they were obviously keen to get checked in, so they followed us to their hotel in Henderson. We waited in Ruby whilst they got settled in their room, then snuck Aimee up when they were ready. Introducing her to her English grandparents.
We spent the rest of the night chatting over a bottle of stout we had bought in Vegas. It was only towards the end of the evening when we discovered that the strength was 11.7%! We would definitely sleep well after that.
The Comfort Inn hotel that they were staying in, had a disused overflow car park, and so we were able to sleep outside the hotel without any problems.
In the morning, we snuck Aimee inside again and spent the morning exchanging presents. Finally we got our hands on the elusive engine belt, along with an assortment of tea bags and cheese. Two items we desperately required from back home.
Willow also received a new phone, which was a blessing as her I-phone was about as useful as a chocolate teapot! Willow’s parents also informed us that for our present, we would be taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Not a bad way to start the day!
It was Aimee’s first Christmas and so when we eventually got her out of the gift bags, we took her back to Ruby to play with her new toys.
Before heading off to explore the Vegas strip, we had a well needed shower. At that point we hadn’t had a shower since Bluff, and had completed two tough walks since then. And We definitely weren’t counting our recent river falls as a cleaning experience!
Nothing beats a hot shower when you have been chilled to the bones. We both felt rejuvenated from the experience and piled into their hire car with a new found energy.
After a short drive, and not a lot of joy finding a suitable place to park, we eventually found a spot right at the start of the strip, near the ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign. As it was crowded, we gave it a miss, and set off on another mammoth walk. This time to soak up the bizarre high street rather than icy cold water!
Starting at the south side of the strip, we soon encounter our first extravagant hotel. The intruding designed Luxor complex. Shaped like an Egyptian pyramid.
Intrigued, we continued along and found ourselves back where our journey started. New York. This one obviously had a lot of competition, so came with it’s own rollercoaster! Who doesn’t want to ride a rollercoaster in Vegas of a Christmas Day?
As we continued, we passed many more strange and sometimes obscene buildings. Vegas truly was one of a kind.
We eventually made it down most of the strip, stopping at the Venetian. A place modelled after Venice. We stopped to observe some tourists ride the gondolas before crossing over to make the long walk back.
Carole, Willow’s s mum, had researched Vegas and wanted to see the volcano erupt at the Mirage, and the fountain show at the Bellagio.
We were too early for the volcano show, so carried on to the Bellagio. At this point I was desperate for the loo, and didn’t fancy witnessing a large water fountain performance. If it went wrong, I could have possibly be adding a guest performance!
Strangely, we passed many bars and hotels, but no toilets, so I arrived at the Bellagio desperately thinking of drier places.
Waiting outside the pool of water, we were notified that the show was starting by great jets that grandly rose out of the water.
Great bursts of water erupted, choreographed in time to Christmas music. It was Christmas Day after all.
When the show was finished, I was now reaching desperate to locate a loo, and so that became our next priority. Eventually finding restrooms in a nearby shopping complex.
Feeling relieved, we continued working our way back to the car. It was starting to get late and we still had a three course meal to throw together for four people.
Glad to be back at the car, our feet were starting to feel the excessive walking we had done the past couple of days. We returned to the hotel, and a more traditional Christmas resumed. Family gathered around for a large feast.
I’d described the van as cosy, but we managed to get by, kicking the meal off with asparagus wrapped in Canadian salmon. As we had pre made the nut roast, all we had to do was cook the veg and reheat the roast; feeling quite proud of our final efforts, which we enjoyed with a glass or two of fancy bubbly, which Willow’s parents had brought with them.
Everyone was far too stuffed by the time we had finished our mains, so we left the drizzle cake. Saving room for more drinks over nice conversation. We had hoped to go back to the strip to witness the volcano erupt, but everyone was too relaxed to faff about with parking
Eventually, Willow’s Mum went to bed, and Willow, Antony and I walked to a nearby casino. We couldn’t drive all the way to Vegas without a little flutter.
The casino was a strange place, designed to always feel like it is daylight inside. Great murals decorated the ceiling, depicting impressive skies. Most likely designed to keep people throwing money away.
Neither Willow or her dad had really done casinos before, and were left lost at the strange machines that littered the floor, and so we gathered around a roulette table and I tried to explain the basics enough for them to play a few turns.
I quickly lost my money, but Willow had some beginners luck and walked away from the table in profit. A very rare occurrence in Vegas I imagine.
Exhausted, we headed back, craving a good night’s sleep before we set off to the Grand Canyon. Willow still needed to replace the temporary bolt and install the new belt in the morning before we headed off once again.
It had definitely been a Christmas unlike any other!