Watch out Vegas!! Arrived in Vegas and are getting used to the people and the noise and the traffic. It’s funny how you block those things out of your mind when you are secluded for so long. Vegas is a really big city. We stayed on the outskirts for a couple of days. Spent a night at one of the Harvest Host locations. Actually I think this was the one and only location in this area. It was a church parking lot. People there were super friendly and nice. One guy even offered to let us do laundry at his house. We declined the offer. Across the street from the church was a Philippine deli. We had lunch there. We had no idea how or what to order so we basically just ordered what the guy in front of us ordered. It was delicious.
Headed to the strip a few days later. Did some research on the different casinos and the fees they charge for parking and resort fees. Basically, it’s all relative so a thirty dollar room with low resort fees will add on a $15 parking fee. It’s a big scam if you ask me. It would be easier if you just tell me what the room cost. So we wound up getting a thirty dollar room at the Tropicana which cost is $85. It was a nice room right in the heart of Vegas and we were able to move the van so that we could see it from our room on the 15th floor. We met up with some friends and had dinner and gambled the night away. We went to a bunch of casinos. Each one is just amazing. We won, we lost, we won again and lost again. Bottom line is none of that really matters. We were having lots of fun.
We went to the MGM buffet on Fat Tuesday.It was amazing. Then on Ash Wednesday, I went to this huge church next door to the Tropicana. The singer was like vegas lounge singer playing a grand piano. It was pretty entertaining. Plus they had these gigantic sculptures depicting different stories from the Bible.
The next night we decided to sleep in the van. Like we have said in previous blogs, most casinos welcome campers and Rvs to stay overnight in their lots. Some even give tickets to hang on the rear view mirror or to place on the dashboard. The parking lot of the Tropicana didn’t have any signs saying no overnight parking. We spoke to the security guard to let them know the night before that we had a room. He didn’t seem to care either way so off we went to sleep for the night. At 5:30 am we got the dreaded KNOCK KNOCK!!!!! The only difference between this knock-knock and the previous knock-knocks was that this time we didn’t respond to it. And he continued knocking and knocking and knocking and then shining his light and knocking some more. We had the van in total stealth mode so he couldn’t see inside at all and really had no way of knowing if we were in there or not. We had read from other Vandwellers that you should just ignore the knock and that eventually they will go away. And that’s pretty much what happened. So we slowly started our day, made coffee, went inside to the casino and then left around 8. We never saw the guy again.
We drove to the Rio which is a couple of miles from the strip. Penn and Teller are performing here so we treated ourselves to tickets for our birthday.
The parking lot at the Rio had a few campers in it so things were looking up. Rio is off the main strip so it has a totally different vibe. Also there was a gaming convention going on called Dice Towers West so that made things even more interesting. The Penn and Teller show was so amazing! Greg was able to get 3rd row seats and we were so close to all the action and some amazing tricks that I will never be able to wrap my head around.
We did not get the knock-knock at the Rio so it was a successful Stealth parking camping spot. We left there and drove about an hour to Pahrump. Did some shopping at Walmart and went to a small casino called the Nugget where Greg and I both won back all the money that we lost in Vegas. Seems these small town slots are a lot looser. We had a nice meal at their restaurant and then headed back into the desert for the night.
The BLM we stayed at was just outside of Pahrump Nevada which is a small Casino town sort of like Laughlin but even smaller. We spent one night in the desert and the second night we spent in the parking lot of the Nugget. We won, we lost, we won, we lost…. And on and on.
Two nights in Pahrump is plenty and so we moved on to Death Valley National Park which is below sea level and therefore atleast 10 degrees hotter there than anywhere else in Nevada. That works for us. The only bad news is that it’s back in California where the gas prices are RIDICULOUS!!!
Thankfully we were only about an hour and a half over a mountain range to get there and so we didn’t need to get any Diesel over that way.
Like most National Parks, Death Valley has no cell signal or WiFi. It may look like you have three bars of a cell signal but really it’s just the extended network and basically just for emergency purposes. Greg somehow was able to get an AT&T WiFi signal in the main lodge area of the Furnace Creek area. I was unable to get any signal at all. I’m glad I brought a book with me.
I have been to this National Park before and it is definitely in my top 10. However a lot of that top ten reasoning was based on the solitude and serenity I felt when exploring here. Basically I was the only one in the park. Boy how times have changed!! This park as well as most any National Park is nothing like when I visited. The parks are completely overcrowded with people which takes away from the beauty of it.
We spent the first 2 nights at the Texas Spring Campground in the Furnace Creek area for $16 a night. We stayed in the upper level of the campground and the views were amazing.
Across the street from the barren desert campground is a lush populated lodge type area with stores restaurants and a saloon. They even have a golf course and a pool.
After we settled in, we took the van exploring some unbelievable areas.
First stop was the visitor center to get some maps and hiking suggestions.
The next stop was at Badwater Basin which is way below sea level.
Next stop was the artist’s palette drive and then the Golden Canyon Trail. I know the below pictures all look the same but trust me when you are there in person, it’s one marvel after another.
The second morning at the campground a coyote came sauntering through.
The third night we decided to travel to the Stovepipe wells section of Death Valley. This area isn’t as dramatic as Furnace Creek. It’s a smaller community but also has a pool, restaurant and saloon as well as a general store and gift shops. We got a nice spot in the campground which was basically a parking lot for $14. It was right across the street from all the amenities including an ice machine which is like winning the lottery for me!!
The wind definitely calmed down and we were able to buy pool and shower passes for $5.
We had a nice lazy day in this area. Next day we drove down a long dirt road to go do the mosaic canyon hike. What a great hike!!!! There’s nothing like a slot canyon especially when you don’t have to climb up or down any obstacles to see it. Actually about a mile into it, we did come upon some rock scrambling but we decided to turn around because we had seen so many beautiful parts of the canyon.
As soon as we heard of another wind storm heading our way, we made plans to get out of the Desert. 50 mph winds in the desert are no joke with the sand and dust blowing everywhere. We decided to head back to Pahrump, to the Casino Parking lot where we figured it would be a little more tolerable.
On the way, we decided to stop at an old Ghost Town called Rhyolite where they have some roadside attractions.
We went back to the Pahrump Nugget first to enjoy the Blue Plate Special at the cafe. The Blue Plate Special for Wednesday night is Pit Roast for $11. Can’t go wrong with that so we both ordered it. Guess what? You can definitely go wrong with Pot Roast and it was so DISGUSTING. We still ate what we could but would definitely not recommend that dish. We decided to play a little Bingo here before heading to the van for the night. We splurged on the large machine which basically does all the work for you and tells you when you win. All you have to do is yell Bingo and that exactly what I did. I yelled Bingo Bingo!! Screamed it out. Woke up these very serious Bingo players. Walked away with a 50 dollar win. It wasn’t the big jackpot but still made the locals angry.
I took my winnings back to the van. I’ll save it for the next days slot machine donation. We moved the van to the other end of the parking lot by the other campers and had a nice nights rest. Next morning, the wind sure did come!! Holy crap, was it windy!!!the van was shaking so much that we had to turn it around do that our windshield was facing the wind. That helps a lot. The only bad thing about that is yesterdays drive here, we got another rock to the windshield. Our second one this year. Greg was unable to repair it because it’s just too windy outside. Hopefully not too much dust gets inside the crack before tomorrow’s repair.
We headed back into the Nugget for breakfast and another round of Bingo and this time Greg won 50 bucks!!!! Plus it’s a great way to kill an hour without losing too much.
Spent this very very very windy day indoors. Had a good nights sleep and the next day the wind was gone. Greg was able to repair the windshield in the morning then we headed to Walmart to restock and head back into the desert. Greg and I follow this YouTuber called Wonderhussy who is an avid hot springs locator and reviewer. We have been marking hot springs on our Google map for years after watching episodes of hers. So this area that we are in now has lots of green flags on the map for exploring. Our first stop was about 45 minutes from Pahrump towards a town call Tecopa. We saw a couple of cars parked on the side of the road and so we parked as well and hiked into the desert to see the Natural Hot Spring. There was a few people in the spring but it was so big that there was plenty of room for privacy and solitude. We walked back to the van to get our bathing suits on. I don’t usually go into the hot springs but this one was only 87 degrees so it wasn’t scorching hot. Plus I wanted to see what the mud bath felt like.
This one in particular is totally natural with a slimy mud ground that people rub all over their skin. I tried it. It stunk to high heaven like rotten eggs. But it did make my skin feel softer and smoother which was pretty cool.
After that we headed to the China Date Farm and Bakery. We had Date shakes, date muffins, date cookies and bought some gourmet dates to take with us. They had so many kinds of dates to choose from. The ones we picked are the locally grown ones from their farm that you can’t buy anywhere else. They are super sweet and gooey and so delicious. Plus the smell of them baking was wafting through the air at all times. I highly recommend this place. They even have a nice hike to take along a stream. A stream in the middle of the desert. Pretty cool.
Next we went back towards the town of Tecopa and drive down a dirt road until we found this loan Palm tree in the middle of the desert. That’s where we found the Tecopa Wild Pool where someone laid some cement and a little patio and made a nice spot for soaking in the spring. We set up the van, had some dinner and then Greg went to soak while I sewed some holes that have been forming in our screen doors. We stayed the night in the desert maybe a hundred yards from the spring. Talk about alone and secluded. This place is amazing. We were trying to figure out why more people are not spending the night and the only thing we could come up with was that there’s no cell signal here. None at all for either one of our cell phone carriers. I have Verizon and Greg has AT&T and between the two of us, we usually have a signal but not here.
Currently back in Pahrump because I left my “vanplant” on the curb here yesterday to water it. It’s not here. I’ve asked security, the hotel people and no one has seen it. I raised that little plant as a seedling. I’m gonna miss that little guy. We are considering maybe a tomato plant next. And then I can plant it in the community garden in Raquette.
Headed back to the strip and slept under the giant Ferris wheeel by The Flamingo. The lot was 23 dollars but it was safe and daily quiet. We have pretty much been to every casino in Vegas. It’s great people watching. We had some Sushi for dinner. This second trip back to Vegas landed on a weekend. What a difference. So many more people. And waaay more excessively drunk people. People watching at its finest.
Headed over to The Fremont Street Experience. I feel bad for all the people that visit Vegas and never make it to Fremont Street. It’s such a fun spot and the slots are much looser than the strip. We got a room at the 4 Queens Casino and Hotel. Unfortunately our van would not fit into their parking garage so we had to park down the road at a paid lot. That was kind of a bummer but atleast the van was safe. We did pretty well there. I think I’m actually up $200. But that can change in a day. We had a really good prime rib dinner at Tony Roma’s for $8.99.
Old School Machines that still use coins!
Freemont Street was so much fun but really all you need is a day. We headed over to the Red Rock Canyon area for a couple of days. Played a little bingo and Keno over at the Red Rock Casino. I think our winning streak may be coming to an end but you never know.
The actual Red Rock Canyon itself is amazing. Absolutely beautiful. I am going to bombard you with way to many photos of that area and then call it a day. Enjoy
Not sure how much longer we will be staying in the Vegas Area. The weather has been so perfect here. 72 every day. we eventually want to head to southern Utah but it’s still a little too chilly for us there.