BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: WILD WILD WEST EDITION
Hi, Everyone! I’m sure you missed me while I was gone, right? What, you didn’t know I was going anywhere? Well, that’s not surprising. I don’t normally wonder too far away from home. However, for the past week and change, I have been traveling out west like the pioneers of yore. Well, if said pioneers drove in air conditioned covered wagons and stayed in Best Westerns. My adventure began June 23. Here is my story.
DAY 1 – Saturday, June 23, 2007: This morning, the 3 Pratts all awoke at a painfully early hour so that we could make it to the airport at the still painful, but not overly so, hour of 6:00 a.m. Luckily we weren’t flying U.S. Air (whom I still haven’t forgiven for losing my luggage and making me spend the night lying on the floor of the Charlotte airport) so our flight was delayed no more than 5 minutes. We flew into Atlanta and were told that the flight had been over-sold and they were looking for volunteers to give up their seats. Um, hello…if people didn’t want to take this flight, they wouldn’t have bought the tickets. And how do you “over sell” a flight anyways? You have x number of seats, you should sell x number of tickets, right? At any rate, this problem, plus the fact that they had to get a different plane, made our flight leave a half hour late. I wasn’t going to complain about that, though. Not after the Charlotte debacle. On our plane, they had the monitors that normally show movies and safety videos, playing a computer simulation of the path the flight was taking. There was a red line from Atlanta to Las Vegas and the little plane would move as we grew closer to our destination. I kept expecting to hear the Indiana Jones theme! The flight was uneventful for the most part. I sat beside a couple whom I lovingly dubbed “Mall Perm and Dragon Shirt”. We didn’t bother each other, but Dragon Shirt kept getting up and down the whole flight. Either he had a cocaine habit or traveler’s diarrhea, I don’t know, but he went to the bathroom an uncountable number of times during the three hour flight. When we approached the Vegas airport, I could sort of see out of the window, but not very much. Mall Hair kept her fat head in my way, but I was able to get a few glimpses as we landed. My first thought about Las Vegas was “brown”, once we deplaned, my second thought was “Hot”. My third thought came once we were in the rental car area, and that one was “Dry”. It’s kind of unnerving to be able to describe a town the same way you can describe a badly cooked steak. At any rate, we had arrived.
If there is one thing I’ve learned while traveling with the Pratt men, is that there are two phrases that one needs to remember to make things move smoothly. These are: “Whatever y'all want is fine” and “It doesn’t matter with me.” I have found that, since they don’t listen to me anyways, these phrases seem to make things go by faster. I had almost forgotten about this, but remembered right away when Mr. Lee asked me to pick a car out of the line-up. I picked a Green Dodge Charger, we drove off in a powder blue Grand Marquis. No problem. So we drove around a while, looking for our motel. Once we found it and got situated, we were trying to figure out where to go from there. Steve wanted to go see something called the “Star Trek Experience” and Mr. Lee was hungry –so what to do first? Since I read a brochure about the Star Trek Experience and saw that there was a place to eat there, Quark’s, I asked why we didn’t just go there and kill two birds with one stone. They said OK, and we ended up at The Mirage Casino and Hotel eating in what had to be the world’s biggest buffet. No Problem. From there we went to Caesar’s Palace to look at the inside shopping mall. I had never seen so many designer stores in my life! Dolce & Gabbanna, Versace, Fendi, Seven Jeans – pretty much every store mentioned in the song “My Humps” I realized. There was even a Harry Winston there! I wanted to go in, but realized I’d have to sell Steve by the pound in order to be allowed to look around. I didn’t get to go into any other shops because Mr. Lee wanted to run to the other end of the mall to see some kind of weird statue thing. That wasn’t a big deal, though. Not only could I not afford anything in any of the stores, but they don’t make anything that would fit me. Chubby girls aren’t allowed to wear designer stuff! Anyways, we left that place, found our car and went to the Star Trek Experience. It. Was. Amazing. We saw both the Borg Invasion and the Klingon Attack shows, and both of them were so much fun! I had no idea what to expect, so going into full scale mock-ups of the Starship Enterprise and running through hallways, basically a huge set that looked exactly like the ship on TV, was incredible. My only problem was the part where they tell you to line up to go into the ride (a ruse which was well played by our tiny little tour guide) and while you’re watching the safety video, the room goes pitch black and when the light some back on, you are somehow in the transport room. That was fun, but apparently being “transported” feels like a big rush of cold wind blowing up from the floor. The problem was the big gust of cold wind blew my shirt over my head. Luckily I was able to fix that before the lights came back on! We went onto the bridge of the 1701-D (a perfect replica…awesome) and then into a Turbo-Lift that took us to the “Cargo Bay” where we got on the escape shuttle. That part was a very fun motion based simulator that literally felt like you were flying through space, running into things, getting shot…I mean, my geek quotient went through the veritable roof, people. I have always loved Star Trek, but now I love it more. Once the ride was over, we were dumped into the gift shop and then out the door. It was, by far, one of the most enjoyable amusement-park like rides I’ve ever been on!
After we left the Las Vegas Hilton (home of the Star Trek thing) we wanted to go back to the motel. We didn’t stay at one of the swank casinos or anything, but I’m kind of glad. I’d like to stay there someday, but there were just too many people and too many lights. Deep down I’m always going to be a small town girl, and while Las Vegas was an amazing place, it was overwhelming. It was too much all at once in too small of an area. I’d love to go back sometime, though, just to be able to see what else there is to see. We finally went back to our hotel and fell asleep in record time. I don’t even know if I made it under the covers before I was unconscious.
VALLEY OF FIRE
Day 2 – Sunday, June 24, 2007: We left Las Vegas at about 9:00 a.m. and drove off into the desert so that we could see Nevada’s very first state park, Valley of Fire. We made a short trip out to Hoover Dam and stopped to take some pictures. We took the dam pictures, but we didn’t take the dam tour. : ) We went from there and drove north to the state park. When I asked Mr. Lee what Valley of Fire was, he said it was a place where the rocks were red. I said OK, because that made sense. However, that description didn’t do the place justice. It was like another planet. You are driving along in the desert, the foothills of the Rockies all around you, brown and gray, and suddenly – and I do mean suddenly – you are on another world. Right in the middle of this valley are these huge, red sandstone rocks. They are GORGEOUS! They come out of nowhere. There is nothing else like them anywhere around, so it literally looks like you are some place completely different than the place where you drove in. The rocks have been eroded, smoothed, and molded by the constant winds that blow around it and they were in these bizarre shapes. There were caves and holes all through them and some of them looked as if they had been machine cut and sanded. There were also Indian petroglyphs in the walls of one of the rocks. They were beautiful and still so clear! They were also really strange. Steve said that it was simply a picture of a deer riding a magic carpet stick. I said OK, because that was as good of a guess as any! : ) Something that I have not mentioned is that the temperature outside was hot. No, hot doesn’t seem to be right. It was really hot. Hot in the way it never gets back here in Alabama. It was dry, of course, but it was like being baked alive in a microwave. I now know what an ant in the beam of a magnifying glass feels like. It was the kind of heat that makes you wonder if God is mad at you for something. It was so hot that it sapped your will to live. It also sucked the moisture out of your body without your knowledge or consent. I have rarely ever been so thirsty in my life, and I have NEVER been tempted to lie down and die like a dog just so that I didn’t have to walk anymore, until today. We finally got back into the car and made our way out of Nevada and into Utah. We were going to where, as Mr. Lee said, “the Mormons do their weird thing.” : ) They have streets named after Brigham Young like the south has streets named after Martin Luther King. After being in that bowl of hell-fire, I couldn’t help but think that there was no wonder that John Smith thought he met Jesus. I was so hot, I thought I saw Jesus too. He was sitting with Santa Clause and Optimus Prime, having a soda and playing poker.
As we drove, I was speechless with awe at the places we drove through. It’s hard to explain how that part of the country looks because it’s almost too much to process. It was almost indescribably beautiful. It’s not just the colors or the cliffs, mountains and gigantic sky that seems to never end…it’s like…looking back in time. It makes your chest hurt and your eyes tear up. It’s just, beautiful. I know that doesn’t tell you anything, really, but I can’t put it into words. I just wish you could have been with me.
We stopped for dinner and sleeping in a place called St. George, Utah. It’s a nice place!