[17 August, Tanju] If you are not into gambling or don’t find kitsch imitations of historical artifacts, monuments or even whole cities interesting, the heat and the crowds of Las Vegas are turn offs. But our main objective was to stay in decent hotel rooms before heading to California and in addition, to see the Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) at night.
We left Grand Canyon around noon. It was a four hour drive which seemed like a breeze after the whole day marathons of the previous week. We stopped at the Hoover Dam which is half an hour from Las Vegas. We walked on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge to view the dam. It was 111ºF and we did not want to get into the queue to drive across the dam and continued to Las Vegas.
When we arrived at Caesar’s Palace around 4 pm, the thermometer was showing 114ºF. I dropped our luggage along with the family members at the front for check-in and parked the car in the structure behind the hotel (these hotel complexes are huge). I had to walk for about ten minutes through the slot machines, roulette tables, and other games to get to the reception. It was like walking through an IKEA store except with more glitzy light and noise.
We were at the Top of the World restaurant at Stratosphere tower half an hour before sunset. This is a rotating restaurant 800 feet (244 meters) high. This way we got to see the city in day light as well as with the night lights. Yes, the night covers a lot of ugliness. We all liked the food. At the very top of the tower there are some thrill rides. One interesting activity is to jump from the top in free fall tethered with a steel cable that slows you down right before the ground. While we were in the restaurant many people “fell” in front of us. We did not dare to try any of these rides.
After dinner we went to Bellagio to see the water and light show. It was OK, but I had seen a more impressive one in Dubai in front of the Burj al-Khalifa. (There is some parallelism between Las Vegas and Dubai in their artificiality.)
We headed to our luxurious rooms around 11 pm since we had another 12 hour drive (according to the plan) to San Francisco through Yosemite.