After just over a week in California, today was one of the days I had been most looking forward to – Vegas. Prior to the drive, we headed to a diner for breakfast (John’s Place) by our motel in Twentynine Palms. By now we have learnt not to judge a book by its cover and that the places that look the worst are the best. Breakfast was served by large, brash women and was super cheap – definitely two reasons to go 😂. The drive to Vegas was so scenic – mainly because we took the non-motorway route and were constantly worried about running out of petrol, but it was the best idea as we would’ve missed the amazing landscapes otherwise. Arriving at our hotel, M resort, was like being in a different world. We had complimentary valet parking and a beautiful room with floor to ceiling windows and a bath with a view. We were offered an upgrade to a suite, but at this point in our trip the extra $100 a night wasn’t cash we had. I’m glad we didn’t as we hardly spent any time in our room. After a quick refresh, we headed to the strip around 4pm. We were about a 20 minute drive from the strip, but with most hotels offering free parking and our hotel offering shuttle, it really wasn’t an issue. We were amazed by the sheer size of the hotels on the strip (with some having over 1000 rooms). After parking in Caesars Palace, we wandered around trying to get our bearings. Being a massive fan of Cake Boss (American tv show), I dragged Jack to the restaurant by the chef in the show, Buddy V’s in the Venetian. On our wander, we saw the Bellagio fountain show at dusk, which was pretty. It’s crazy how quick time flies as when we next checked our phones it was 9pm. We headed back to the car via the sports bar in Caesars for a drink and for Jack to spend time in his new favourite place.
Day 2 in Vegas was an early start as we were heading to the Grand Canyon. We really didn’t have the $500 each needed to fly to the canyon, so opted to drive. It is a 9 hour round trip, but so worth it. We took a packed lunch and plenty of drinks and made a day of it. We spent a couple of hours in the national park viewing some spectacular scenery and ate our lunch with a view and great weather. By 5pm we were both bored of being in the car, so were happy to make it back to our hotel for a quick change. Heading out to the strip at 7pm was a completely different vibe from the day before. People drink all day, but the evenings is where it all happens. There were people everywhere and everyone seemed to be up for a good time. In an attempt to see a different part of the strip, we started at the Stratosphere for a drink at 107 bar – yes it is on floor 107. We then walked to Circus Circus. We had been told mixed things about this hotel, but thought it was pretty nice. The casino was massive (as in all of the hotels on the strip) and was Circus themed obvs. We missed the shows that run throughout the day, but this gives us a reason to go back 😉. We decided to have dinner in Chipotle as it was 10pm by the time we were ready to eat – great cheap food. After feeling exhausted, it was time to get a taxi home. Uber had a crazy surcharge on, so we opted for a normal cab. The cab ended up being more expensive than uber at almost $50! We were both so annoyed at how much it had cost, but really didn’t want to hang around for the surcharge to drop or for the shuttle. When I’m tired, I just have to get home otherwise I’m sooo grumpy – just ask Jack.
We were going to spend the day at the pool on our third day in Vegas, but decided we had too much more to explore. We drove in and visited the biggest souvenir shop in the world (so they claim). Most of it was toot, but I found a shot glass to add to my collection. We then headed to Linq for brunch at Hash House a Go Go. This restaurant is a man vs food favourite and is known for massive portions. They really are big. Jack had the famous hash and I had a mushroom burger. The burger was great, but a mistake for my stomach as I felt awful for the next couple of hours. I powered through regardless (with some sympathy from Jack) and we wandered through the shops at the Venetian. The shops are all inside with a canal running through and a fake ceiling which gives the idea that the shops are actually outside – pretty cool. We made our way back to our hotel after to relax and refresh before our night out at Omnia to see Calvin Harris. Before we went out, we had a few drinks at our hotel and won some money on our new favourite machine, the big six. Before heading into the nightclub, we had a go on the Blackjack tables in Caesars Palace. The odds were pretty crap, but I managed a 21 with my first hand, then lost the money that I had won the next hand. All part of the fun! Omnia is a super club, similar to those in Ibiza, and was absolutely rammed. Even though it was rammed, we were only like 10m away from Calvin Harris and could see his head 😂. When we rolled out of the club, we thought it was a good idea to have another go on the big six game whilst we were waiting for our uber. Again, we were up on our bets. It was a great night and we loved every minute.
The next day, we were sad to leave and agreed we could’ve stayed an extra day. There was so much we didn’t manage to see, so we will definitely be going back at some point. We were both a little bit groggy after our late night, but hit the road through Death Valley. The drive took about 5 hours, with a number of stops for photos and to enjoy the scenery. It really was spectacular. Dante’s view was 13 miles out of our way, but had the most spectacular view – I don’t know how you could miss it. The whole drive was pretty special, especially as the sun started to set whilst we were making our way through the twists and turns of the never ending road. Our motel that night was in Lone Pine called the Dow Hotel. Our room was a bit suspect, with a connecting room which looked like a storage room, but it was fine for a night on the road. There are a number of places to eat in Lone Pine, but we picked Mt Whitney which had a good selection and was reasonable. A glass of wine was $4.50 – crazy right. Jack struggled to sleep and it probably didn’t help that there was a power cut at 3am which sent the whole street into darkness. I woke up around this time and made Jack check the bathroom for me so I could go to the loo – never thought I would still be doing that at 22 😂.
After Death Valley, we made our way up to Lake Tahoe. The day started with the thermostat on the car being at freezing – after a bit of research, we realised it was just a bit chilly and nothing sinister. We took the opportunity whilst the engine was warming up to get a McDonald’s breakfast – I’m pretty sure the McMuffins are like half the size over here which really isn’t in like with the rest of the portion sizes. About an hour into our 4 hour drive, the scenery completely changed and we entered winter. Mountains were covered in snow and ponds were iced over. As we drove over the mountains, the temperature dropped significantly and we were forced to use the heather in the car for the first time. We thought the scenery on the drive was pretty special, but this was nothing compared to Lake Tahoe. The lake was crystal blue and surrounded by crisp white snow (I sound like I’m writing a novel right 😂) and so beautiful. South Lake Tahoe is a ski resort in the winter and a beach resort in the summer – so amazing. March is still ski season so we joined in the aprés with a drink in the sun and then grabbed an authentic Mexican dinner in the town. The sunset over the lake was pretty magical, but it was pretty chilly so didn’t hang around for long. We really weren’t prepared for the cold weather so hiked the heater temperature when we got back to our room. I have no clue how we are going to deal with the freezing temperatures in Toronto without any appropriate clothes.
We got up early the next day as we faced a long drive to Yosemite. The drive really didn’t seem as long as we thought and was broken up by a couple of petrol stops and lunch at Denny’s. Arriving in Yosemite was such a contrast to the snow we had experienced that morning. There was still snow on the mountain tops and trees, but it was so much warmer and everything was green instead of white. Yosemite is an extremely pretty national park and completely different to the views we had experienced in Joshua Tree and Death Valley. It was also a different experience as it was much smaller which meant much less driving and more tourists. The park itself is huge, but being there pre May meant that a number of roads are still closed. The closures didn’t massively effect us once we realised that we had to enter from the west side of the park, rather than driving through from Death Valley, as we still managed to see the main points (and the things we wanted to see). It would definitely be good to spend longer in the park and be able to go on some cool hikes, but hey, we’ve got a lot of years left to tick that off the bucket list. Our accommodation that night was a bit funky, I had booked us into a glamping tent (as it was the cheapest accommodation I could find) in the Yosemite Bug resort. It was actually a nice tent – not your standard pop up tent as it had a wooden structure – but it had no heating and was ages away from the toilets. Jack woke up thinking that we were going to be attacked by a bear or mountain lion, but other than that we both actually slept fine. For dinner, we made the short drive into neighbouring town Mariposa and went to a local diner called Happy Burger. The food was so good that we went back the next morning for breakfast.