Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 21 - 10 September 2000
Semi-arid in the canyon, but it's real desert all the way to Las Vegas. The 10th was very warm and sunny.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
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  Zion National Park to Las Vegas

 
Vanessa We woke to a fine day with not a cloud in the sky. Breakfast was back at the restaurant and both of us had pancakes. I saw only two hummingbirds at the feeders.
  Across the road from the motel and restaurant was a petrol station with a gift shop. The large car park had been deserted yesterday evening, as the station had been closed. While we were eating dinner, Chris had said we would need to fill up the tank again before leaving and he planned to do it this morning. He also wanted to pick up some souvenirs at the same time. That was a big mistake. During breakfast, we saw the first RVs arrive. Then the buses. By the time we got there, there were at least three coaches pulled up and the car park was full of RVs, cars and motorcycles. Getting petrol wasn't much of a problem, but we could hardly move in the gift shop. It was literally jammed full of Japanese and German tourists pushing their way around the narrow confines between the shelves. Chris bought one item and then we got out of there!
  We were soon heading west on Route 9.
  As I had mentioned in yesterday's journal, today we were to go through Zion Canyon. This was an unexpected bonus for us as we had not deliberately planned to visit this canyon. In fact, neither of us had even heard of the place until we had first seen advertising and tourist material about it in the visitor centres at Bryce Canyon and then, later, at the Grand Canyon.
  Which way do we go?You see, as we were planning our overall travel route all those months ago, I had said to Chris that I wanted to see Bryce Canyon and Chris had then suggested that we should also visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon, as it was in the same area. He had entered the two places into the software package we were using to plan our trip and then told it to plot our route from the North Rim to Las Vegas, using the most scenic route available. When we printed out the maps of our route (a very useful folder-full of A4 pages which covered our trip from start to finish), Zion Canyon had been right on the very edge of a map and we hadn't noticed it. It wasn't until when Chris actually came to look at that part of the route in detail last night that he saw it.
  So, we were to go through the mysterious Zion Canyon. We had no idea of what to expect...
  It took some effort to dig these tunnels!Oh, if only we'd known what an amazing place it was! As it was, we only saw very little of it, having to stick to our route along the main highway. We still managed to see more than enough to make us want to go back there one day. We entered from the eastern side and were soon confronted by towering, rocky cliffs and spectacularly weathered mesas. The road wound through some tunnels cut through the rock. These tunnels were usually only wide enough to take one vehicle at a time. One tunnel was immensely long and to dig it out of the solid rock must have been a huge undertaking. It was so long that it actually had large windows cut in one wall to let in light and fresh air!
Chris Shortly after coming out of one of these tunnels, I glanced to my left and saw a woodpecker pecking away at a tree. Unfortunately, by the time I had mentioned it to Vanessa and reached for my camera, it had flown away. We pulled over at a few more vantage points along the way to take some photos of the spectacular scenery.
  The park seems to cater more for tourists entering from the western side, as the visitor centre is on its western edge and the majority of the pullovers were designed for travellers heading east.
  We stopped at the very well set-up visitor centre, just before leaving the park. There were heaps of tourists here and this wasn't even peak season. Because of the large number of tourists that visit the park, the authorities have banned private vehicles from most of the park area. Free visitor buses do a regular shuttle service to the various popular locations inside the park - most of which lie to the north of the visitor centre.
Vanessa We seriously considered taking the time to go on one of the free bus trips, but the shortest tour would have taken 90 minutes, which was, unfortunately, just too long for us.
Chris The deciding factor against the trip was that we had pre-booked a show in Vegas for tonight and we couldn't risk being late for it. There was still a fair amount of driving to do and we also wanted some time to rest and freshen up before the show. Otherwise, we would've definitely accepted being late into Las Vegas and taken the time to see more of the park.
Vanessa Environmentally friendly - yes!We did take the time for a short rest and comfort stop. I was highly impressed by the facilities at the visitor centre. They had made a real effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Even the toilets had hand towels made from recycled paper. The taps were sensor driven and turned on and off as you put your hands in and out of the sink, so as not to waste water. The toilets themselves were extremely sanitory in that they were also somehow sensor driven and they flushed themselves!
Chris It was late morning as we left Zion Canyon and the temperature was rising. It was probably about 30 degrees Celsius by now. The humidity was low, though, so the dry heat wasn't too uncomfortable for us. Still, I would not like to have been any of the numerous cyclists we saw riding through the area.
  Just outside the park, we stopped at the Indian Village Trading Post in Springdale for a spot of souvenir shopping. The visitor centre in Zion Canyon had only a limited choice of souvenir items, most being impractical for us to carry, and with the debacle at Mt Carmel Junction trying to shop in a place packed with tourists, we still wanted to get some items to remember the area by.
  The shopping satisfactorily done, we pressed on, passing the town of Hurricane at 12:30pm. By this time we had definitely entered desert country as it was quite arid. The soil was a very red sand and pitch black rocks stuck up through it. We saw a sign showing the temperature to be 35 degrees.
  By 12:45pm, we were back on I15 with 124 miles to go to Las Vegas. At 1pm we briefly re-entered Arizona, before crossing into Nevada at 1:20pm.
Vanessa The landscape here reminded me a lot of some of the episodes of Lost in Space when the Robinsons were out riding across arid alien planets in the Chariot...
Chris Lunch was at a café in a small roadside building in Mesquite. There were not many places open, perhaps because it was Sunday. I didn't want to have take-away from some fast-food joint Vanessa didn't like the sandwiches at all.and we both didn't want to spend our time or money in one of the big casinos. Our little café still had one-armed bandits, though. We both had egg salad sandwiches which were not great, as far too much mayonnaise had been lathered on them.
  Mesquite was the location of the Casa Blanca casino. We had been seeing roadside advertising for the casino since at least Salt Lake City. To go with the casinos, there were the almost obligatory pawn shops everywhere.
Vanessa I didn't like this part of Nevada. To me, it seemed to be a very artificial and brutish environment. I didn't feel as if I could trust anyone, as everyone seemed to be out to make a quick dollar.
Chris There was still 77 miles to go, so we returned to the I15 to continue our day's journey. We passed through a very windy area with strong crosswinds buffeting the car.
Vanessa We knew we were approaching Las Vegas by the appearance of a strong brown haze in the sky. It hung over the city in a thick, horizontal band. My first impressions of Las Vegas were not good. It seemed to be a very ugly city with lots of flat, bare dirt and concrete roads. We found our way off the I15 and travelled down Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly known as the Strip, until we came to the Treasure Island Resort where we were to stay the next few nights.
  We parked the car and walked through the adjoining casino to the registration desk. I think I went into mild culture shock at this point. I was surrounded by so many people in a such a completely artificial environment. There were rows upon rows upon rows of gambling machines. There was gleaming chrome, coloured glass, flashing lights, bright unnatural colours and so much electronic white noise. It was much quieter and calmer at the registration desk, One of the suitcases was damaged...but there were still a lot of people milling about. We had to wait some minutes in line before we could check in.

Feeling a bit tired, we decided to use the valet service to take our luggage up to the room and to park the car. Chris realised later that the luggage service was separate and he could have parked the car himself.
Chris Our room was on the 26th floor overlooking the freeway and some of the Strip. The bathroom was huge and, like the rest of the room, was nicely decorated and appointed. After our luggage arrived, we had a short rest before getting freshened up for dinner. The shower in the bathroom was wonderful - good pressure, warm and with various massage spray types. Just the thing to revitalise the system.
  We went down to the ground floor of the hotel to check out the food places. I had a rough idea of what to expect after viewing the in-house TV channel and examining some of the advertising material in the room. As we were walking around, we stopped at one of the many gift shops in the massive complex. One tacky souvenir later, we joined the queue to the Treasure Island Buffet. All you can eat for $11.50 plus tax. The food was on par with Sizzlers, but with perhaps not quite as good a range of food choices.
Vanessa After dinner, we had a little time to fill before the show so we returned to the gift shops and bought some postcards. We took them back to our room and watched some TV until it was time to leave.
  The show was Cirque du Soleil's Mystère. We had seen Saltimbanco, also by Cirque du Soleil, back home in Brisbane and had enjoyed it greatly. It was a natural decision to try to catch one of the permanent shows while we were in Las Vegas. The Treasure Island, where we were staying, was host to Mystère, so it was not a hard decision as to which one to see. "O" was also currently on at the Bellagio resort, just down the Strip.
  The live music that accompanied the acts was great!Mystère was excellent. It went for about one and three quarter hours and it was much more stage orientated than Saltimbanco had been. The stage itself could rotate, sections could lift and drop and move - one of the benefits of being a permanent show, I guess. The music was just as good and the acts just as breathtaking. The costumes, makeup, lighting and sound effects were all brilliant.
  Our seats were right up the back of the theatre, very high up, but still with a good view. Unfortunately, sitting in front of us were three very rude people who were intent on talking nonstop. They disrupted the show for both of us (and others around them) a number of times.
  Still, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Afterwards, we retired to our room and took some photos of the night-time view from our room. I then began sorting out the day's souvenirs.
Chris As Vanessa was doing the sorting, I went down to the casino to do a bit of gambling. The last time I was in Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to win some money on the roulette wheel. Not this time. I wasn't willing to part with an excessive amount of money, so I found what quarters I had on me and headed for the slot machines. A few minutes of wandering around produced no good results and I found the slot machines boring. After losing $2.50 and getting quite sick of the cigarette smoke, I returned to help Vanessa write up the journal notes and plan what we were going to do tomorrow.
 
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