We visited Las Vegas years ago on our way to Grand Canyon. The differences between now and then lie in two areas: then we stayed in luxury hotels, now we live in our Escape trailer; then we felt relaxed in this fun city, now we concerned about safety walking in the crowd.
We came to Las Vegas just several weeks after the horrible Oct 1 mass shooting at Mandalay Bay. The memorial service of local hero, Charleston Hartfield, a police officer and veteran, was being held on Oct 20. Roads were blocked by the police for the memorial service. As we drove to the Strip, the motorcade rode on the other side of the highway. I was in tears thinking about those innocent victims and loved ones they left behind. I didn’t want to look at Mandalay Bay when we passed it. Sorrow filled in my heart. I know people in Las Vegas are still healing from the tragedy. And it also had an impact on me revisiting the city.
We went to Bellagio to see the conservatory & botanical garden. Hotel security inspected every vehicle that was entering the parking lot. In front of the lobby was the small conservatory under the high glass ceiling. It was filled with colorful flowers and crafts. “Proud as a peacock 2017” was the name of the show. The artificial old maple tree had bright red glass maple leaves, with a face of a spirit on the trunk. The spirit rolled his eyes and opened his smiling mouth welcoming visitors. Giant pumpkins and quiet fountains were laid among flowers and under scarecrows. Artificial peacocks stood on the tree flipping their tails. A walkway going through an ornate round structure led visitors to the two giant peacocks above a field of bright colored chrysanthemums. The proud peacocks were showcasing their brilliant red and blue tails. A custom made willow tree had 100 glass trumpet flowers. Gold, yellow, red, and orange color brighten up our eyes. A huge acorn covered with green chrysanthemums was lovely against the red and yellow mums.
The big pool in front of Bellagio reminded us of the amazing fountain show. I was exited about the architecture on my first trip here. But I didn’t feel the excitement and I felt strange walking across the avenue with a crowd. Maybe the RV life style has changed my view on city life to some extent. The street where the In and Out Burger located had all kinds of scary Halloween characters. That made me think about the victims again. I hope their spirits will get peace in another world.
The new finding of Las Vegas from this visit was Chinatown. It is a small community near the Strip. We had lunch in a Chinese restaurant which served genuine Sichuan food. It was a food adventure for Stephen because Sichuan food is spicy and has the unique numb taste from Sichuan peppercorns.
Our campground is in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is not by the lake so it is less crowded. It doesn’t seem to have much to see. “But things started to reveal themselves over time.” As Stephen said. The campground sits above the canyon with a panoramic view of hills and desert. The water from Las Vegas Lake created a wetland in the canyon. Gambel’s quails climbed up the hills to the campground from the wetland every morning. Their distinctive voice and presence made this campground lively. They have funny looking comma-shaped feather on top of their heads. It was fun to watch them foraging around the ground and chasing after each other. Early in the evening, the howl of coyotes came from the canyon beneath. At dawn, the sound of an owl revealed its location. It was a big bird perching on the nearby tree. We could only see its silhouette. It took off shortly as we approached the tree. There were also ospreys. One osprey landed on a bare tree on the campground and stayed there for a long time. Other small birds perched on the same tree as if they knew ospreys were fish hawk not their predators. We also saw egrets and blue herons by the wetland. Roadrunners showed up on the campground occasionally. The campground was nicely landscaped. Beautiful eucalyptus trees shed their barks, exposing white trunks. Palm trees add tropical feeling. White or pink flowered oleanders beautified the campground and provided privacy to campsites.
Lake Mead is the jewel sitting by Las Vegas. It has a beautiful blue color. But the water is low. And the water level has dropped by100 feet. We took a walk at one of the overlooks near Lake Mead. Under our feet were giant slabs of rocks with shining minerals. Stephen scraped a bit of the mineral. It might be mica. Walked further down towards the edge of the overlook, white hard rocks covered the area. Scattered small white shells indicated this was once the bottom of the lake. Groups of white pelicans were floating on the the river. A couple of anglers were fishing by the water. Quite a few RVs were boondocking on the other side of the canyon. A nice place to boondock indeed.
The flight from Detroit to Las Vegas was full. People came to Las Vegas to show their support. Today we are leaving Las Vegas. The magnificent sunrise heralds another sunny day. Wishing Las Vegas a brighter future.