With Buses by the Bridge over, we woke up in our BLM camp spot almost plan free. During the night, we discussed our long term plans, as we had met a lot of people from up north over the past month and they weren’t complimentary about our chances of travelling around Canada from the start of March.
We would never have planned to be in Canada that early, if it not for our limited visa. A lot of people had recommended heading south into Mexico, to enjoy some warmer weather whilst we waited to be out of the States long enough to reapply for a new visa. Originally, we set ourselves twelve months to complete our trip, and as we were finding out, there was so much that we wanted to see, and it was nearly impossible to do it all in our unrealistic time frame.
Eventually, when we returned to England, we would most likely continue our careers in teaching, and we planned on picking up some jobs for the next academic year. The problem with that idea however, is that most schools start advertising for positions at the start of May, and we would be in no position to interview in person. If we decided to head south to Mexico, we would still have to decide on our route up to Canada. My Mum has arranged to meet us in Toronto at the start of July, so we would have to decide if we would drive up the west coast to Vancouver, try to fit Alaska, Banff and Alberta in around spring and then head east. Or, we could cut across the States, passing through Colorado, Denver, Chicago, making our way to New Hampshire to meet friends, before heading to Toronto after that. We could then head west and do all of the things we’d like to do in late summer, which would most likely be more enjoyable. This would most likely mean that we would extend our travels more than twelve months.
Without getting to ahead of ourselves, we made the decision to head south to Mexico, we could spend the next 4-5 weeks planning our route during that time.
Before we headed south however, we still needed to head back to Vegas one final time. We still had some merchandise that hadn’t arrived during our last two visits, apparently they arrived some time after our last visit and had been sat at the hotel for almost two weeks. After originally asking the hotel to forward them to Willow’s parents San Fransisco hotel room, I had to call and ask them to hold onto it as the package took so much longer than expected to arrive. And so we set off once more, desperately hoping that the message had been passed on and that our clothes weren’t currently in San Francisco.
We set off to Vegas fairly early, hoping to allow ourselves the spend the rest of the day ticking off activities that we didn’t get to complete in our last two visits.
The majority of the drive snaked through scenic desert, hopping over a train line which followed the road north. We eventually rejoined the main interstate which would lead us to our destination. Stopping for fuel, it was evident that we were back in Nevada based on the slot machines in the petrol station.
The drive back to the Comfort Inn Hotel took just over two hours and we were chuffed to find our package waiting for us at the main reception.
If it felt strange heading back the first time with Willow’s parents, it felt ten times stranger being back once more by ourselves. Time moves on so quickly, and it already seemed like so much had happened since we waved Antony and Carole off in San Fransisco. If our trip kept passing us by as it was, we would be back in our old lives before we knew it. A thought which displeased us both.
With our T-shirt’s in our possession, we set off to find a Walmart to use some WiFi. We had fallen further behind on our blogs and if we were planning on staying longer, we would need to really push our online store to bring in some additional finances to pay for more insurance and to import Ruby properly. After lots of comments at Buses by the Bridge, Willow designed some more T-shirts and stickers to try and make a few more sales.
Once we’d had enough of staring at computer screens, we set off to find a laundrette, as we were readily running out of clean underwear! Whilst we waited for the clothes, we made plans for our final night in Vegas, feeling like we hadn’t quite partied hard enough the last time. Searching Groupon, Willow found an offer for Madame Tussaud’s and the Big Wheel which involved thirty minutes of free bar in both for $140. Standard entry fee for both was around $40, so with a free bar as well, it was a very good deal. We could do a lot of damage to their bars in thirty minutes!
With a plan of action sorted, we just needed a place to park, ending up in a paid car park near the big wheel, which was $15 for the night. With Ruby secure, we set off to Madame Tussaud’s, ready to see some wax models and to get our drink on. Right across the road from Madame Tussaud’s was the Mirage Hotel, and we were around at just the right time for the volcano show. Having missed it the last time, we darted across the street hoping to catch it from the start.
We made it just in time to witness the legendary volcano, which started with as one tribal music, building up to the point where flames erupted from the imitation volcano. Lighting up the Vegas night sky (which was quite an achievement!) You could feel to immense heat from the pyro display, even from across the lake. And the tribal drums got louder and louder, more flames erupted, at one point, the entire lake seemed to be on fire. I could see why this was one of the most sort after event in Vegas. As the flames went out, we crossed the street to the museum.
I had never visited Madame Tussaud’s before, and I found the experience enjoyable, if not a little eerie. The models were very realistic, and it almost felt at times they were staring at you. Sometimes you would look straight into their eyes and it was as if they were staring into my soul. Which was obvious crazy, as they were ultimately just giant candle sticks with faces.
The bar had a theme based on Hangover the movie. With characters spread around the nearby areas. Fancying a glass of white wine, we order to glasses of Pinot and watched in horror as the bar maid attempted to pull the cork out without removing the foil.
“I don’t normally work on the bar and my boyfriend normally opens the wine!” She offered in her defence.
Unable to watch any longer, I offered to open it for her and poured us very generous measures for my troubles. We then continued around the museum, taking pictures of all of the famous celebrities posing around the rooms.
Wanting to get our monies worth, we made two more stops at the bar before leaving,receiving very generous measures after her earlier troubles.
With the museum about to shut, we made our way back to The Bellagio Hotel, stopping off for a daiquiri along the way. We paid the guy serving us a tip and in return he offered us some incredibly strong vodka jelly shots. We would definitely have to stop off for food at some point or we might not have made it to the big wheel!
Once again, we watched the dazzling water display, this time at night with lights. The Christmas music had long since been replaced, and the lights added another depth to the choreography.
When the display ended, we grabbed some pizza and then made our way to the wheel, and was pleased to find that there was hardly a wait for a booth.
We shared our booth with two other couples and had our very own bar man on hand to make us whatever we fancied. We switched to gin and tonics and we would have more chance of getting a few in before we made it all the way around.
Drinks in hand, we watched as we slowly crept over the Vegas skyline, taking in the views we had now become quite familiar. Looking at it from above at night time, was a truly remarkable experience. All of the star attractions lit up, decorating the strip. Vegas really is a strange creation, and I was glad that we were able to go back and see it properly at night.
I managed to fit three gin and tonics in by the end. They were quite strong, and even after the pizza, we were both starting to feel the effects of our drinking.
Before heading to bed though, I wanted one last go in a casino. One last chance to turn $50 into something more.
Needless to say, $50 doesn’t get you very far in Vegas, and before long I had spent my chips, Willow had once again made a small profit, but after some interference from a tipsy boyfriend, she ended up losing it, rather than cashing out. Ooops.
On our way out, we popped into a Gordon Ramsey fish and chip shop, hoping to get some proper English chips. Sadly, they had no food left as they were about to close. After joking that we had travelled all the way from England and were desperate for fish and chips, a guy popped into the back and brought us out some fish and fries. It said chips on the menu, but they were not. But for free, I wasn’t going to complain.
Weary but well fed, we made our way back to Ruby and was greeted by Aimee, who was desperate for some cuddles when we got back. She most likely would have liked to have gone out and explored Vegas herself, but I told her that I would take her for a walk in the morning, when she no doubt wakes me up at 7am… Which she did!
Before heading off, we had a few things we wanted to see and do before we started making our way south. Top of our agenda… food! So we set off, grabbing a veggie breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts before heading the the famous ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign.
In our first visit to Vegas, we passed the sign and was shocked by the large queue waiting for the selfie opportunity. It was Christmas Day then, and maybe Vegas was busier than we expect at Christmas. There was still a large line formed when we arrived, but nowhere near as big as the previous one, so we chomped on our veggie sausage patty whilst the large groups of tourists did their thing.
We joined the line, behind groups from Asia and Brazil, and watched as an Elvis impersonator posed with eager tourists. There was another guy at the front of the line offering to take pictures in exchange for a small tip. We had seen this once before in Philadelphia, at the Rocky monument.
Normal, I dislike the idea of paying someone to take a photograph, especially if there is a large line of people who will most likely take one for you. So I came armed with my selfie stick! As we approached, Willow suggested that I popped back to the van to grab a dollar, not wanting to be that ‘tight couple’ who refuse to help a guy just looking to ‘get by’.
Pictures taken, we paid the man, who was probably earning $50ph for clicking a button, and then headed back to the van. With the sign ticked off our to do list, we decided to track down an insurance company to enquire about Mexican insurance, as our current provider would not cover us once we crossed the border.
After we received our quote, We said goodbye to Vegas and set off in search of somewhere a little quieter to recover. Glad that we did Vegas justice, but not feeling the urge to head back anytime soon.