I headed up after work on Saturday night, making the trip in a little under 5 hours. It’s a scenic drive through some beautiful desert. A good stretch of the way, Joshua Trees line both sides of the road. The expanse of Vegas is impressive, especially at night when the bright lights of the strip can be seen from miles away. I got onto the Las Vegas Boulevard from the South and soon the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign was in sight. Being a Saturday night, the crowds were out. I found a secluded parking spot behind the Tropicana resort and took to the streets. I had been to Vegas once before, but was still amazed at the size of these casinos. They are honestly all like mini-cities; every one has shops, restaurants, rooms, gambling machines, and theaters of its own, all to different themes. I walked the strip taking in the crazy atmosphere. Music was thumping, street performers were dancing and doing flips, women in costumes pranced about in front of each casino, and everywhere shady looking characters were slapping their hands with hooker cards. It seemed like a million things were vying for your attention, and your money, all at once.
It was a bit of a Geiger reunion in Sin City. My Grandma and Aunt Lisa flew in via Milwaukee while my Uncle Steve drove down from St. George, Utah. Not wanting to miss the action, I decided to drive up and join them… who can say no to Vegas!
One crazy man had a cardboard sign saying for $20 you could kick him the nuts. I watched as a passerby took him up on the bet and gave him a powerful kick straight into the groin. Instead of falling over in pain like any other man would do, the guy shrugged and started laughing. I almost puked. I witnessed one of the epic water displays the Bellagio fountains put on. In tune to the song Con te Partiro (think Will Ferrell in Step Brothers), water sprayed a hundred feet high, flying back and forth across the 8 acre man-made lake. Equally impressive was the Mirage Volcano a couple of hotels down. This was a series of fire blasts that I could feel twenty feet away from the sidewalk. Incredible! It was about 2am when I finally made it back to my car. I snuggled up for the night in the back of the Dew Mobile because I’m stingy like that! In the morning I walked for a bit more before meeting everyone up at Fremont Street. Fremont Street is the old downtown of Las Vegas.
Not much seemed to be going on up here, though the huge cover they put over the several block stretch kept it a lot cooler. It was great to see everyone again and we were excited to have a good time. Steve and I started with a little blackjack before moving on to his favorite, video poker. We gambled a bit here before meeting back up at Bally’s. We had lunch before hitting up the machines some more.And so the night went, moving from casino to casino trying our luck. I continuously lost my money, while Uncle Steve couldn’t lose. He literally won at almost every machine he sat it! The drinks kept coming and night faded away. It was a great time. To top it all off, this time I was able to crash on a real bed!
After another morning of gambling, we changed pace and headed over to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In terms of maximum water size, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the U.S. Without it, Las Vegas wouldn’t exist. Mead supplies as much as 90% of Vegas’ drinking water each year. And due to drought and increased usage, the lake hasn’t been at full capacity since 1983. Just like Lake Powell, it has a bath tub ring of white, revealing how far the water has receded over the years. We came out to enjoy the lake on a scenic boat cruise I had booked via my work. The ship was a nice Mississippi style paddle wheeler called the Desert Princess. It was a decent cruise; very informative, but lacking any spectacular scenery. A nice breeze kept us cool on the top deck, and we did get a great view of the Hoover Dam. When the cruise was over, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. It was quick weekend together, but definitely worth it to see them again. Though I lost some money, I gained some great memories.