So I found myself with some vacation time that I couldn’t carry over to next year. “Self,” I say. “You don’t want to be a schmuck and use it up in November when we’ve got lots of days off anyway, or in December when everyone else will be using up theirs. You need to pick some time in October.” Then I notice that Halloween would be on a Thursday this year. “You can take that week off! Travel out on Monday, do tourist things on Tuesday and Wednesday, party with the spooks on Thursday, recover on Friday, and return home on Saturday! That’s a cunning plan!”
But where to go? The last time I traveled for Halloween, it didn’t work out too well. And there wasn’t anything there that I particularly wanted to see….again. What about Las Vegas? I’d been there before – several times, actually. And it would be rocking for Halloween, right?
I booked a hotel right on Fremont Street, so the party would be outside my front door. Can’t go wrong there! And a day trip to the Grand Canyon – why not?
There are plenty of tours going from Vegas to the GC. I went with “Comedy on Deck”. They went to the West Rim, with a stop at the new Hoover Dam Bridge on the way. An early morning pick up, but you’re back in time for dinner. I had a great time on the tour; our guide, Ralph, was a stand-up comic by night. He kept us in a good mood throughout, even with his constant reminders that we were on a tight schedule and the bus would wait for no one.
The West Rim is NOT a part of the National Park; it’s actually “owned” and managed by the Hualapai tribe, who lived on the land since before the white folks came by. They do a great job running the place, and according to Ralph, the money they get (both from the West Rim and the federal government) actually does get into the hands of the 2,300 tribal members.
I’m not going to bother you with photos (well, just one to give you some hint of the scale). Photos cannot possibly do the canyon justice; and even when you’re there, it’s far too easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer vastness of it. See that little dot over against the shadows on the left? That’s one of the tourist helicopters….
Back in town, it’s worth noting that Las Vegas is constantly changing. Since my last trip, they’ve acquired a hockey team (Golden Knights stuff is all over the place), and by the next time I visit, the NFL Raiders will be calling the city home. The stadium is half-built. There are at least two hotels (one on the Strip, and one on Fremont St) under construction, too.
FOUR THINGS THAT YOU WON’T FIND ON THE STRIP
Or on Fremont Street, for that matter.
Benches. If you’re going to sit down, you’re going to do it in a casino, bar, or restaurant. Even the bus stops don’t have benches to speak of.
Water Fountains. The fountains at the Bellagio don’t count. You’re going to pay for a bottle of water. I get that the place is in the middle of a desert, but come on. It’s not like people are going to be taking showers in the things. You’ll even have to go all the way to the back side of a casino to find a rest room.
Bank-run ATMs. Pretty much every place of business has at least one cash dispensing machine. But be prepared to pay through the nose in fees! They must be afraid you might actually deposit your winnings and not spend them!
Bike Shares. I only saw one “rent-a-bike” stand, and it was Downtown – and away from Fremont Street. Look, I get that traffic is a huge problem, and you don’t have room for bike lanes. But start thinking about it, OK?
TWO THINGS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CARRY WITH YOU
A Water Bottle. Top it off whenever you pass a rest room. You’re going to need it. You’re in a desert, remember?
A Small Bottle of Lotion. If you have dry skin like me, this will make your day a lot nicer.
In my usual strategy of padding out my post count, I’ll deal with the actual Halloween festivities next time.