Saturday, 15 April 2006

Vegas Baby, Vegas!!

11 April - Woke up reasonably early and headed straight out towards Death Valley. Another pretty brutal drive along pretty heavy grades and very tight turns. My state of mind was not helped by the fact that the petrol guage went from 3/4 full to 1/4 in what seemed like the space of a few hours and I was also kicking myself for not getting the multi park pass when I paid for my park entry at Yose-might. However, passed through the lowest dry point on Planet Earth (which was kind of strange considering we were on Mars) and made it to Furnace Creek with enough petrol and I also found that I could upgrade the Yosemite park entry to the multi pass card for no extra cash. It was pretty warm but nothing like the killer summer heat that kills about a dozen people a year (its not called Death Valley for nothing). Because its springtime there were great swathes if greenery all over the valley (Red mars, green mars, blue mars???) which kind of spoiled my illusion of pretending to be on a different planet but it sure made the environment a lot prettier. - wanting to do at least one really good walk through the valley I as recommended to try the Golden Canyon walk which had a two mile, four mile or seven mile route. Once again, in the main centre of the valley there were heaps of tourists but once I got past the first section of the walk most of them disappeared. Met three splendid Oregonians, all originally from different parts of the country, Joey, bruce and ... Let's call him Jim, who were pretty serious hikers (Bruce leads trail walks for a living) and we climbed up to a small peak together where we got an xcellent view of the desolate surroundings. They were really interesting guys and were very curious about my story and were quite impressed with my ambition to see the country in such a limited time and they also offered me a place to stay should I return to oregon (i may do that on my return, not sure of the route i'll be taking yet). Did the full 7m with a great climb out to zibrowsky's point which had an excellent panorama of the valley and then went on to the gower gulch walk which was kind of scary because although I could still see footprints along the dried up riverbed there were no obvious trail markings. Eventuallywhen I was convinced that i'd gone the wrongway I decided to head back (there were lots of offshoost and alternative parts to explore on the way) but after backgracking about 2m I came across a family coming the other way and they convinced me to return the way I came (i was about half a mile from the end when I decided to turn back). A great walk, which unfortunatlely proved to be too much for my 10 year old bootses - I could have stayed in this place for days but the schedule forced me to keep on moving and the next stop was Las vegas. A reasonably pleasant three hour drive took me into the tackiest city in the world but it turns out that death valley was not only too much for my boots but also for my trusty steed, rocicnte. I'd checked the fluids prior to entering the national park and they’d seemed okay but shortly after entering the strip the heat shot up and smoke started coming out from under the bonnet. The coolant levels were dangerously low so I called the roadside assistance for some advice and after a little bit of a chat they told me to head to the airport to swap him out. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently it was done - I was only about 15m from the airport and I was worried that he wouldn’t make it but when I got there they were expecting me and I was moved into rocicante mk ii, a silver pontiac with california plates (i'll need to swap him out before I enter canada again) who should hopefully be a bit more robust than my last steed. By the time I made it ito the sin city hostel and had pried myself free of a very talkative irishman it was about half ten but I headed into the strip to be confronted with a world that pretty much lived up to my expectations. On the fa├žade it's a pretty amaiong place - the lights and neon can be pretty dazzling but i've been to casins before and they're pretty despressing places. These ar the americans you read about - loud, hyperobese, some pretty nice but most I just wouldn’t want to know. All the buffets were closed so I had a subsidised steak and then hit the tables. Blackjack is a pretty dull game and even if you know the game intimattly the odds ar stacked towards the house sp after a little while of playing that I went off in search of a high stakes poker game. Where was robespierre when I needed him/ in the first round I had a killer hand but was too nervous to bet high and you can’t walk awy after one round. Free drinks were sent in my directiond they helped to steady my quaking nerves.n everything I know about poker went out of my head while I was playing - everyone else on the table were pretty seasoned and despite winning a couple of more hands I didn’t walk away when I should have and I didn’t cut out of the game when I knew I should. In any event, any hopes of subsiding my trip with vegas winnings were dashed but I managed to walk away without loising too mtuch and and having a relatively cheap adrenaline rush. This city is a pretty horrible place when it comes down to it but at least I can now say that i'ev won and lost at vegas.

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