Sometimes we end up in the darndest places! We explored Oatman Az a very interesting mining town that has about 126 permanent residents, and about a zillion donkeys. Ok – not a zillion, but a lot. Oatman was a gold mining town years ago but once the gold rush was over, the town was almost deserted. The burros that had been used to help with the mining – pulling ore carts, for example – were turned loose into the desert to fend for themselves. As Oatman became developed as a tourist attraction, the donkeys – descendants of the original burros – started coming to town to mooch from the tourists.
This was encouraged as people loved seeing the donkeys, and today you can buy hay cubes to feed to the donkeys. The one tiny problem is that the donkeys are feral, which means they want the food but are really wild animals so you do have to be careful.
We found a parking spot and headed down the boardwalk to do some shopping. It wasn’t long before we encountered a donkey on the boardwalk, and saw another that was being encouraged to leave one of the gift shops. Unfortunately there were also many bikers in Oatman – who knew biker’s wanted to see donkeys? 😉 After we had walked the whole town we headed back to Ursula and got back on the road.
I thought we were just heading north to trek home but Warren had a different idea. Soon we were pulling up to the Hoover Dam. It is a HUGE structure – the pictures do not convey how absolutely big this thing is. And I must say that there is part of me that was in awe of the minds that came up with this thing. Not just of the dam itself, but to identify a problem, decide this was the solution, engineer this massive thing, and then execute the plan. I kept looking at the dam and the bridge and thinking ‘this once was just a river…’
After the dam we headed off again – to Las Vegas! What an excellent surprise! I could not believe my eyes when I saw the famous Strip – again a sight that was familiar from tv and now here we were! We stayed at Harrah’s which is a casino right on the strip, and the room was excellent. After checking in, we headed out to see the sights and what sights there were. People of every shape and size were expressing themselves freely because, I guess, what happens in vegas stays in vegas, right? It was pretty astounding. Before we wandered too far though, we stopped for supper at Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips and had (of course) fish and chips. The fish was excellent but the chips were a bit soft and cold – not the best. I had the lemonade and ginger drink and omg was that good – so over all it was a pretty good meal. Warren didn’t eat his chips and since the fish portion was smaller we knew we’d have to stop for a snack again later. Luckily, you can get anything anywhere in vegas at anytime of the day or night so we knew a snack would not be hard to find.
We strolled down the strip and saw so very many things. We saw The Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, The Bellagio, The Palms – I could go on but I think you get my drift. We stopped to watch the water fountain display outside of the Bellagio which was set to music – really cool! Then we walked back down the strip towards Harrah’s. On the way we saw a couple of show girls in full regalia and not much else – it was interesting… When we got to the casino I stopped and put a dollar in one of the slot machines. I pushed maximum bet and it took me one second to lose a dollar. sigh. So although I wanted to put another dollar in, Warren encouraged me (dragged me) away from the slot machines. It was time to find a snack and some drinks to take upstairs so we stopped at a small hotel deli and Warren got a Reuben Sandwich and some water. It is interesting to note that while we got a smoking hot deal on the room, it cost more for that reuben sandwich than it did to stay in the hotel for one night. Yep. Viva Las Vegas!
After a good night’s sleep we were up again and found the Las Vegas Ihop. It was a bit seedy and there were many interesting characters there – fancy people and quite unfancy people… but the same good breakfast we’ve come to know and love. Across the street from the Ihop was the Holiday House Motel, complete with wedding chapel – and it was for sale. Well, that got Warren thinking but I think we’ve decided against the motel as a business venture. I could not handle living in Las Vegas full time… yikes!
With full tummies we headed off to explore. The first place we went was to The Pawn Stars store. Now I have only seen Pawn Stars once, maybe twice, but it is clearly a popular show as the place was packed. I’m not sure that the jewellery in the pawn shop was such a good deal – $16,000 for a used rolex? Pfft. LOL. It was interesting to see all the stuff though.
After we left Warren wanted to see the garage where Counting Cars is filmed. So with a little googling we found it. And they let people tour the showroom so in we went.
The cars in there were fabulous – I liked the Riviera with the intricate paint design and all the glitter; Warren couldn’t decide if he liked the hot rod with the flames or the Cadillac better. The showroom was full of neon and the walls were purple – it was fantastic. We bought a couple of t-shirts and that concluded our visit.
Next we did our favourite thing ever – we drove through the city of North Las Vegas and saw a side of the city that many people probably don’t see. The north part of the city is very poor – stark in contrast to the strip. It is troubling to see the huge disparity between the people living under blanket tents in an empty lot in the sweltering desert sun, and the glittering strip with store after air-conditioned store of ridiculously priced goods: Does anyone need a purse that costs thousands of dollars? We drove for a while and then headed back to the hotel feeling a bit unsettled.
After we got back, we headed back up the strip to see a few more sights then hopped on the bus and headed down to the Freemont Experience, and what an experience it was! Freemont street is about 3 blocks that is blocked off to traffic and has a roof over it. There are casinos and bars on either side of the street and kiosks, buskers, show girls, and a zillion tourists walking down the middle. There are zip lines that run the whole length of the street overhead and the roof over the street is the longest video screen in the world. Cacophony. Chaos. Sensory Assault. That’s the Freemont Experience. We snagged a table on the Starbucks patio and sat to watch the world go by. It was amazing. Eventually we decided to finish the walk and got to the end of Freemont St. The return walk was just as interesting as the walk there – you’ll see in the photos below.
We hopped the bus back to Harrah’s and strolled over to the Linq to find some dinner. We decided to go to Guy Fieri’s restaurant for burgers and fries. They were excellent! After dinner we headed off to bed – Vegas is exhausting!
Tomorrow we head for Utah!