September 6, 2011
Over the weekend, we saw a side of Las Vegas we’ve never seen before, thanks to my parents who played tour guide. My folks have recently retired there and know a thing or two about the area. Yes, we did get to spend one night downtown at the Bellagio (don’t you love that Chihuly installation on the ceiling?) but even better was the tour of Red Rock Canyon that we toured 20 minutes outside of town, beyond the city lights.
Call us ignorant, but we never knew there was something more to Las Vegas than big casinos, Snooki parties, and Elvis impersonators. Apparently, there’s a lot to see once you get away from the glitz, and the desert is quite a sight.
Red Rock Canyon reminded me of three things: Sedona (Arizona), Road Runner cartoons (high five if you also love those Looney Tunes), and sliced honey baked ham.
Am I the only one that sees the shapes of food in the rock formations?
OK, I guess I am. We took the kiddos on a little hike to stretch their legs and explore the territory.
I’m always looking for those teachable moments so I said, “Hey kids, local wildlife! Come look!”
I think this fella was afraid of us, because it coiled up and hid under a rock before I could get a true close up with the kids.
Okay, so these fellas are dead and stuffed and to be seen in the Visitor Center (and I Photoshopped their eyes) but it was the first time I was this close to a rattler, dead or alive. You can see all sorts of stuffed things that used to live in the desert if you’re into that sort of thing. Owls, foxes, mountain lions, tarantulas, John Wayne.
I’m kidding about a preserved JW, but here’s a random tidbit. My kids are obsessed and I mean obsessed with John Wayne. You see, the hub introduced them to The Duke a few months back and now it’s their mission to see every movie he’s ever starred in, Lord help me.
We left the Canyon on our way to see the mighty Hoover Dam, but not before we had an encounter with some local shady characters.
Beware, these wild burros approach you innocently.
They perk up their ears, bat their big brown eyes at you, and come right up to your car.
They stick their noses right in your face, it’s part of their presentation. Mighty pushy if you ask me.
They sniff around . . .
Then they start in with their sales technique.
“No thank you.”
“No, Mr. Burro”
Then they turn to Plan B, enter their partner in crime.
They’ve learned that two noses are better than one.
And they persist.
At which point, we delicately pat them on the noses, drive away slowly, then peel out quickly, leaving severe tire marks and hoping they didn’t get our license plate.
After that encounter, we made our way to the Hoover Dam, which is quite a feat in civil engineering and enough to give you a severe case of vertigo if you look straight down from the top.
Don’t look down!
Is it me, or is the Hoover Dam the inspiration for the Sarlacc?
Okay, we’ll let’s talk plants. While in Nevada, I fell in love with this perennial shrub with fern like stems and amazing ombre blooms. I learned it’s ‘Mexican Bird of Paradise’ and I can’t grow it in my yard. Boo. But I still love it.
Next time you’re in Las Vegas, do save a day trip for a drive through Red Rock Canyon, but watch out for pesky locals dressed in burro’s clothing. Trust me, they’re just trying to sell you something.