Normally we head south after Canadian Thanksgiving (same date as Columbus Day) but this year we had a date with Elvis in Las Vegas. We left home in late September, allowing ourselves a week in case snow came early to the Rockies between home and there.
We drove the first day from Meadow Lake to Taber, Alberta and stayed overnight in a WalMart parking lot.
Crossing the border the next day was uneventful and quick. They x-rayed the fifth wheel trailer, but it checked out okay and we were quickly on our way over dry highways to stop at a Passport America affiliated RV park in Rexburg, Idaho. Rexburg is an agricultural town with a satellite campus of BYU.
After arrival we went out for dinner and then to Walmart to stock up on groceries which we had depleted to avoid problems with border crossing. The Walmart shopping experience was unsettling. It took a few minutes to figure out what was wrong. It is probably the first time in years that I have been in a crowded public place that had no visible minorities. It was kinda creepy in a 1950's vanilla flavored way. A bit of a shock after spending over a month in the nited nations work force of the oil sands.
The next day we left the rig in Rexburg and drove north to Yellowstone Park.
Yellowstone National Park
Before going into the park from the West Yellowstone entrance we had breakfast at an Arby's and then shopped a bit without buying much and browsed through a couple of bookstores. There was one road closed on the loop in Yellowstone so we doubled back about thirty miles to complete the loop, plus we spent a lot of time just wandering around shops and book stores in West Yellowstone so ended up coming out of the south entrance to the park in the dark on ten miles of road under construction and just seeing the Grand Teton mountains from the east as the sun had pretty well set. We have seen them before several times so not broken hearted.
Stopped for a late supper in Jackson, Wyoming and then over the mountain on Teton pass - a fair bit of climbing including 3 miles of 10 percent grades both up and down so glad not pulling the rig. Got home about 11:30.
We had planned to visit a museum or two the next day, but vegged around a bit and then couldn't find the one museum that we were more interested in so headed down to Idaho Falls and bought some plumbing fittings to fix the sewer outlet on the rig, then shopped for a book at Barnes and Noble and went to look at the "falls" of Idaho Falls. Pretty regulated these days, but probably noteworthy when the river was running wild at certain times of the year in the distant past. Then back home for a quiet evening and a relaxed start the next day to drive the relatively short distance to a Flying J truck stop a little south of Salt Lake City.
Zion National Park
We settled down in St. George, Utah for a couple of days in an RV Resort and a couple of days of touring from that base. We drove up to Zion National Park and back one day. While there we took a shuttle that took us up a side canyon. Once we had taken the shuttle to the end of the line, we got off at a few spots on the way back and then caught subsequent shuttles.
The next day we drove a loop to Bryce Canyon National Park which included a stop at Kolob Canyon in another corner of Zion and we came back through Zion where we had to purchase a permit to go through the tunnels, particularly a long tunnel that our truck's hips were too wide for so they had to stop oncoming traffic through the tunnel and then let us through. The alternative would have been to travel a long way around and not get home until after dark.
Bryce Canyon National Park
On the way into St. George we had been seeing ads for a casino in Mesquite, just a few miles into Nevada. They offered $4.99 steak dinner. Well, that seemed like a good idea for dinner, but a closer inspection of the billboards showed that the casino was 37 miles away and the steak may have filled the plate in the picture, but the baked potato seemed kinda large compared to the steak. Must be a small plate. I phoned the casino and asked how big the steak was - "six ounces." Scratch that dinner idea. maybe for lunch on the way through Mesquite. As for the 37 miles, Mesquite may be a few miles into Nevada and St. George may be a few miles into Utah, but there is a small corner of Arizona between the two states at that point. easy to forget about or maybe easy to block from your memory if you have ever pulled a trailer through it.
On departure from St. George we left at noon for the "two hour drive" to Las Vegas figuring we would get there just after check-in time and have lots of time to meet up with the family members going out to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand.
Doing circle checks I noticed the right turn signal light was not working on the trailer. No problem. We would stop at the WalMart in Mesquite and get a bulb. The WalMart in St. George was not a viable option with a roundabout between the Interstate exit and the store. The roundabout might not be a problem if everybody had the same rules in mind when negotiating through it, but they didn't seem to when we used it a few days before with just the truck, and there was no way I would willingly take the truck and trailer through it.
As we passed the "small steaks" casino in Mesquite it was an exit ahead of the WalMart exit and parking was a bit tight for our rig, so we decided to eat at Subway in WalMart.
Then we took the new tail light lamp out to put in the trailer. Nope - not a lamp. Well, several hours of re-wiring later we had a new plug-in for the trailer lights, a few new fuses and had the signal and brake lights working at the expense of having no running lights. Enough already! We will just plan on driving during the daytime. Back on the road to the bright lights.
By this time of the day the head wind was so strong that we had to run out of overdrive much of the time even traveling on the level, not just up hill, but we made it. I drove the rig through the arrival area of the Circus-Circus hotel. Try doing that with a twelve and half foot high rig anywhere else but Vegas. And parked in a back parking lot while we went to check-in. Then we drove the rig and parked it near the wall of the parking lot where we could see it from our room and schelped our stuff up to the room, changed, bought a three day bus pass and caught the bus to the other end of the strip.
With thirty some people for dinner (six people missing) we arrived last and got served just about first so no loss with being half an hour late getting there. Hard to visit with so many people and the jungle beasts vocalizing, but we did visit a bit and then went for coffee with my sister Judi and her husband, Joe and his cousin and spouse from England who just happened to be in Vegas that week. They left the next day.
A note about the Circus-Circus. On the same property is a KOA Kampground which charges about $45 a night to park your rig. We opted to stay in a room which by booking ahead cost us only $26 a night. In plus ninety degree heat our rig is not really equipped to keep ahead with its single air conditioner, but for nineteen dollars a night difference my Celtic frugality would be severely tested even if the temperature was lower.
In Las Vegas with Elvis
My niece Sherry and her husband Glen Lawson were married twenty-five years ago this year. They decided to celebrate the occasion by renewing their vows in Las Vegas at the Graceland Chapel with "Elvis" officiating. They invited a bunch of people and 42 showed up to a festive evening during which they provided transportation to and from the ceremony in an original double decker bus and then hosted dinner and a show at the Stratosphere including a ride to the top of the tower.
From there we went in stretch Hummer Limos to spend an hour walking around Fremont Street enjoying the light shows on the canopy over the street and people watching and other diversions. Then it was back to the hotel by the same stretch Hummer limos.
With so many people we didn't get all our visiting done, but I did manage to connect to two cousins from Powell River who I have hardly seen since moving from there in 1987.
Congratulations and thank you, Glen and Sherry.
According to E-Zinearticles: "Hoover Dam, also known as Boulder Dam, is located on the Colorado River on the border of Arizona and Nevada, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. With a height of 726 feet, it is the second highest dam in the United States. (The Oroville Dam in Butte, California is 770 feet high.) Construction of the dam began in 1931 and was completed in 1936, two years ahead of schedule."
Visiting Hoover Dam from Las Vegas is an enjoyable day trip. One day Nick, Rebekah, Ezekial, Juanita and I went there. Juanita minded Ezekial and took him in his stroller across the top of the dam while the rest of us went on a tour of the dam and the power plant. When we were done. Rebekah nursed Zeke while Nick and I walked across the dam and checked out an exhibit of the history of the Colorado River watershed and flood control provided by Hoover and several other related dams. While we were on the dam somebody jumped off the backside of the dam into the reservoir. The reservoir is low enough that the jump would be reliably fatal. The police cordoned that area of the sidewalk off, but traffic and tourists continued their flow unabated.
Later that same day the five of us went out and celebrated Rebekah's birthday at the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant of her choice.
Our last day in Las Vegas, Nick, Rebekah and Ezekial drove to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I wasn't particularly interested in ten hours return trip in a car to get there and back. Juanita and I used our bus pass to go to the Mandalay Bay hotel at the south end of the Strip and check out hotels and other attractions as we worked our way back on foot and by bus before our seventy-two hour pass ran out at 6:30 pm.
Then early the next morning we were on the road to Arizona, stopping overnight at a Flying J truck stop at Eloy, Arizona before a less than two hour drive on Saturday morning to the October SOWER project at Sahuarita Christian Academy in Sahaurita, Arizona.