Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vegas, Baby!

Off at last, we drove to Montreal and persuaded Air Canada to fly us to Toronto where we changed planes (but not terminals, for a wonder), collected bags, passed through security yet again and US Customs, and flew on to Las Vegas.  We collected our tiny Chevy and went to try and pick up some show tickets that had been reserved in advance, but the ticket booth was closed.  A little surprising in 24/7 Vegas.  On to our hotel to crash into bed at 1:30AM local time.

We staggered out next morning for a 6:00 AM bus ride to the tour depot where we changed buses and rode off to Boulder City.  Constructed to house the workers who built the famous dam in the 1930s, it has become a haven for celebrities and their multi-million dollar getaway homes on the shores of Lake Mead.  A short ride from there brought us to Boulder Dam, still an engineering marvel 80 years later.

Intake towers on the upstream side

Big Horn Sheep near the dam

After admiring the upstream end, we were off again to visit the West rim of the Grand Canyon on a Hualapi Indian Reservation.  This involved another change of bus to an older vehicle since the tour company wasn't about to bounce their million-dollar coach over the necessary 15 miles of washboard gravel road.  At the canyon end of the trail, were three visit-able sites: Guano Point, Eagle Point and the Grand Canyon Ranch.  A shuttle bus operates between the sites, so we hopped on (bus 4, if you're counting) at the airport and set off on the short ride to the first one, Eagle Point (so named for a rock formation).  The scenery is of course, awe-inspiring.  The heat equally so.  One can only imagine what it must be like at the height of summer.
One intimidating feature of the site was the total lack of guard rails.  Approach the edge at your peril!

Canyon from Eagle Point (note foreground rock formation)

Another short ride brought us to Guano Point for another series of stunning vistas in a near 360-degree lookout.  We lunched under an awning at the Guano Cafe (seriously).  By then the lack of sleep was beginning to tell, so we returned to our coach and sat in the air-conditioning with our Kindles until the time came for the return jounce down the gravel road and into our main bus for the ride back to Vegas.

View from Guano Cafe

We persuaded our friendly guide to drop us near our ticket collection spot, got tickets for that night's show and taxied back to the hotel.  After changing, we hopped into the car, found the Mirage Hotel and parked in their free indoor lot.  We opted to eat in the hotel at the buffet (a $64 extravaganza) and, suffering slightly from sticker shock and serious fatigue, filed into the Love Theatre for 9:30 PM to see the magnificent Cirque de Soleil show of the same name.

Stupifyingly complex, athletic and high-tech, the Cirque put on a great show as they have been doing in the theatre named for the show for the last 6 years.  An homage to the Beatles, we couldn't help feel that John Lennon would have loved it.

By now exhausted, it was back to the hotel and finally, to bed.  An amazing day.

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