Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lake Havasu City, AZ to Las Vegas, NV via Laughlin, NV

I'm doing this post from the Las Vegas airport. Our flight is delayed by 2 hours, so it won't leave till 1:00 in the morning here. Fortunately, there is a free wireless connection here at the airport so I won't be bored.

To offer evidence for the rant in my previous post, I render this photograph, which I snapped just as we were leaving our motel in Lake Havasu City. This boat was parked at the condo next door over night. The owner or driver had to take a couple of stabs at getting it out the gate and onto the road. And let me tell you it by far is not the biggest one I saw.

But enough of that. We were heading for Laughlin (pronounced Lofflin). Since we had come down from Laughlin on Friday, I wanted to take a different road to get back there again, just for the heck of it. This was to take south to Parker, then west over the Colorado River into California to the hamlet of Vidal Junction, then north on 95 till we would turn east on 163 just after we crossed the Nevada state line. 163 then leads straight into Laughlin. Roughly this is a rectangle.

Overall, that was a mistake and a waste of time, let's be fair. The drive to Parker is nice enough, but into California the desert becomes somewhat monotonous and the state of the roads is such that the driver really has no time to sight see. Furthermore, there is an awful lot of traffic on the road.

Anyway, one bright moment did occur when I spotted a desert golf course. Literally no grass, just dirt. Some people were out on the course as you can see. I wonder if they knew the location of the sandtraps. At least they wouldn't have to replace any divits...

The other interesting bit is that once again the approach to Laughlin becomes a long descent down a mountain slope. Though it isn't winding or twisting, nonetheless it is a long slope which finally delivers you to Laughlin. This time we stayed at the River Palms, a slightly older hotel, though still in very good shape.

After we settled in we went for a walk along the river, with the ultimate goal of getting a drink somewhere. We made a little detour and took the free train at the Ramada Express, very cute and authentic, narrow gauge rail. Still not having found a cheap place for a drink, we were getting awfully thirsty. Finally we struck gold back at our own hotel, where Happy Hour had just begun. Since the drinks were so cheap, we had another and well you get the picture. What they didn't tell us is that Happy Hour turns into Sleepy Hour and while you're at it you might as well stay in bed for the night. So that took care of Sunday nite.

Monday morning we were up bright and early and why shouldn't we be after twelve hours of sleep. We had an early cheep, cheep breakfast, it's amazing how far $ 2.22 can take you. Then we hit the tourist info again to get information on more, you guessed it, mountain walks. Having procured the necessary documents we headed for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which isn't really a lake, but more of a mountain area. We parked the car at the Grapevine Canyon and found ancient Indian petroglyphs next to graffiti proclaiming that Jason loves Amy.

We actually also found a bit of a creek, the odd thing about it was the higher you went, the bigger the creek became. Reason for this was that the creek ran over a gravelly type surface which absorbed the water as it progressed downwards. Very strange.

Not quite ready to call it quits after this walk, we continued on the dirt road that led us to Grapevine Canyon in the first place. Higher and higher we went, all by ourselves. Naturally I was looking out for geological oddities which I spotted with some regularity. The best one was this huge rock in the middle of a fairly level stretch of ground, sitting there all by its lonesome self. Somewhat below the top of the ridge, I turned the car around, as the road was getting very rough and I din't fancy the prospect of the car hung up on an axle, front wheels spinning useless in mid air, with Anne frantically pushing from behind, me encouraging her from behind the wheel to give it all she got.

About half way back down the dirt road I spotted another rock formation and threw the car into park while doing about 30 km an hour. This it didn't like. However, that's not the reason for mentioning this little incident, for as I got out of the car, I spotted what appeared to be a stick right in front of our car, actually about 10 meters or so. Wanting to make sure it was just a stick, I walked over and discovered it was not a stick but a snake, a live one, not an unfortunate victim of a traffic accident. So I shot some photographs of course. I found out I had to employ a trick in other to get it to stick
out its tongue: any movement would do it. Which I used of course. I haven't been able to identify what kind of a snake it is as of this writing, but you're in the desert so rattle snake immediately comes to mind. However, I've got pictures of the tail and no rattles are visible. Anyway, more on the kind of snake once I find out what it is.

Update: It appears to be some kind of non venomous gophersnake. That's my guess anyway.

At still another curious rock formation, undoubtedly solidified lava flow because of the molten look it had, we actually spotted the town of Laughlin deep down below.

Once back in Laughlin we shopped at the pawn shop and the outlet mall, then went for dinner, extremely reasonable prices. This is the granny/grampa gambling capital of the USA no doubt, but you can sure get some good deals.

Next morning we had to pack to get ready for the flight home that night, so I made sure to make myself scarce for that event. Actually, I hauled several loads to the car, which wasn't all that close. Then we headed out, back to Vegas, just as the rain started.

Halfway there, I snapped a few shots just south of the hamlet of Searchlight of a particular long straight stretch of Hwy 95, I estimate it to be about 25 km or so.

The first people to lay eyes on us after we arrived in Vegas were the outlet mall security staff, because that's were we headed first. However, frantic searching for more than a few hours only yielded a pair of sandals for Anne.

Absolutely famished, we found a Mexican restaurant, where we ordered a bunch of stuff, don't ask me what, I was to starved to really care what we ate. While eating I spotted an employee of Starbucks make good use of the trash bin, so after lunch that's were I gave our trusty cooler the royal heave-ho.

Having a few hours to kill yet before the plane left, I parked the car on the strip somewhere and we went for a long walk, north on Las Vegas Boulevard ('The Strip'). Exhausted from that, we drank a very expensive tea at Bally's ($5.39! yikes), and rested like two bag people on a bench in the convention hall at Bally's. Like school children, we poked fun at whoever went by, especially the guy with the red shoes and tie, it turned out he was the piano player at the fancy restaurant, it did occur to me he looked at lot like Liberace.

We gassed up the car one more time, drove to the airport, couldn't find Alamo, since their car drop off is the only one of the car rental companies nowhere near the car rental return park. But what else is new on this trip, one of the days I'll start using GPS...

Next post will be a wrapup, with good things, bad things, tips and tricks for others to use.

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