Adventures in the desert

I picked up my friend, Steph, at the Vegas airport early one morning and we started making our way towards Zion National Park.  For years I had heard things about this place and I had pretty high expectations.  We arrived to lots of rain, lots of people, lots of cars, more rain, and almost no campsites.  I had heard this place had high tourist traffic, but I was completely unprepared for this shit show.  We were informed that it was a state holiday weekend and it is like this every year.  Awesome.  We eventually found a campsite right outside the park where they packed people in like sardines for $34 a night.  At least they had a shower.

Zion from the top of Angel's Landing

Zion from the top of Angel's Landing

The next morning we had gotten a backcountry permit to hike the famous Narrows but with 30-40% chance of heavy rain and flash flood warnings everywhere we decided aganist it, opting for the Angel’s Landing Hike instead.  Angel’s Landing is a 5 mile out and back to the top of a huge rock fin protruding out into the canyon.  The hike was a little dicey given that it was 1000 feet down on either side, but there were chains anchored into the bedrock and the path was pretty obvious, so I didn’t think it was too bad.  The climb would have been way more fun it if weren’t for all the jackass tourists and the numerous traffic jams they caused at every narrow spot in the route.  Seriously some of these people would have trouble walking down a flat 10ft. wide city sidewalk much less climb this precarious path to the top.   I honestly stared at some of them thinking “How the fuck did you get up here?” and “How the hell are you planning on getting down?”  Despite the all annoying tourists from Texas (I just assumed they were from the lone star state), Zion is pretty remarkable.  It is an amazing place, and I really want to go back and hike the Narrows not during flash flood season.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

As our stay in Zion was shorter than expected we headed out for Bryce National Canyon ahead of our tentative schedule.  We got to Bryce at a decent hour, arranged for the next evening backcountry permit, grabbed a campsite, and set out for an evening hike.  In my recent travels I had been told several times about how amazing Bryce Canyon is, but all that couldn’t have prepared me for this place.  It honestly looks like you’re on Mars.  The hoodoos, rock bridges, stone arches, and spires seem to go on forever and seem to change appearance when you see them from different angles.  If you get the chance to go here, do it, it is a truly amazing place (and in my opinion BETTER than Zion).

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

Since we had a few extra days we decided we should go down and check out the Grand Canyon.  I was on board with this decision as I had never seen the canyon myself.  The drive down to the Grand Canyon was straight through the middle of the desert (imagine that) and was 6+ hours of straight driving.  Ugh.  FML.  I usually don’t like to drive longer than 4 hours at a time, but didn’t have much of a choice in this case.  As a result Steph got to experience how pleasant a person I can be when I get really hungry and spend a long period of time in an automobile.  I’ll give you a hint; I turn into an enormous asshole.    (Sorry about that Steph).  We arrived at the Grand Canyon and quickly got a bite to eat (before I started screaming at random strangers).  We found out there was a short program giving a brief rundown on the history of the Grand Canyon at sunset.  Ranger Robert did not disappoint.  He was extremely informative as well as very interesting and he timed the presentation to conclude just before the sun set behind him; one of my all time favorite sunsets.

We had planned on spending Steph’s last evening in Vegas (as she had never been there), so we hopped in the car and headed that way.  On the way to Vegas Steph wanted to stop and check out the Grand Canyon Skywalk, it looked like fun so I agreed.  We discovered two things about the skywalk that they don’t put on the flyers:

  1. It is WAY the fuck out in the middle of nowhere.  This place is at the end of a 70+mile desert road riddled with construction that has a 35mph speed limit. Gross.
  2. They charge about $80 per person for this stupid thing.   I watched a guy drop over $600 for his family of 8 without even batting an eye.   

Needless to say we passed on the opportunity to drop $80 on 15 minutes of huddling together with a bunch of strangers on a plastic bridge suspended thousands of feet above certain death.  Save your money folks, don’t waste it here. 

Fountains at the Bellagio

Fountains at the Bellagio

Vegas, baby. Vegas.  We got to Vegas early in the afternoon on Thursday.  After a few hours Steph was able to close her jaw, it had been dropped since we arrived.  I suppose it is that way for all Vegas newbies who have never seen the sheer outrageousness that is Las Vegas.  After walking the strip and a few drinks we rendezvoused with some friends and set about the business of our evening.  We started the evening by checking out the fountain show at the Bellagio (mandatory for any Vegas first timer) and then went to Bouchon at the Venetian.  Honestly some of the best oysters I’ve ever had.  If you’re a fan of raw oysters, make sure you go here on your next sin city excursion.  After Bouchon we took the LONGEST three block cab ride I’ve ever had to the Cosmo.  We went up to STK for drinks and some more light fare.  I’m a big fan of this place, great drinks, great service, and the best tuna tartar I’ve ever had.  It is a pretty sweet establishment except for the bathroom line, it sucks ass.  By the time we left STK things were getting a little hazy, we got a few drinks on our way to the Aria, and then proceeded on down to Haze, the very loud, very expensive night club.  I vaguely remember paying $66 for a round of drinks (2 vodka sodas and two beers) and hitting on the gorgeous bartender.  I don’t think this could be even counted as hitting on her, it was more along the lines of spewing forth incoherent drunken gibberish and telling her to check out my blog.  LMFAO, I can be such a drunken buffoon sometimes, how I even (occasionally) manage to get dates with women still baffles me.  Needless to say this was not one of those times.

The next day we awoke at 11:58am. Check out is at noon.  After getting a late checkout and a bite to eat, Steph and I said our goodbyes.  She was heading back to the midwest, and I needed to get out of Vegas, now.  I was looking forward to getting the hell out of the desert.