My wife, Michiko, attended a conference on Iridology (the study of the iris and it’s connection to your health). I was able to accompany her and, while she was dutifully attending the four day conference, I was out and about taking in the local color.
So where was I? Where is it sunny and shady, all at the same time? Las Vegas, of course! It had been a long time since my last visit. I had traveled to Las Vegas over 20 years ago, when I attended a conference related to my field of engineering. While the casinos on the Strip are newer and bigger than ever, the feel was the same: smoky, dark casinos; gamblers who “can” standing next to or sitting beside gamblers who “shouldn’t”; and a night life that never sleeps.
Neither Michiko nor I were much interested in Las Vegas shows, so each evening we enjoyed dinner together, watched some of the Winter Olympics, then went to bed early so that Michiko would be ready for the next day’s seminars. During the day, I explored a few of the casinos on the Strip, including Planet Hollywood and New York New York. I like to play craps (dice), but I am a small time gambler. $10-$15 minimum tables are a bit too expensive for me. In order to find a $5 table, I visited the Silver Seven, a smaller casino off the strip next to our hotel. I had a great time! Craps is a lively game, and I was yelling and hollering as loud as everyone else as we tried to beat the house odds, if only for a few rolls.
A week before we flew to Las Vegas, I booked a mountain biking excursion with McGhie’s. I do not mountain bike, so I thought this would be a novel experience. I was picked up at the hotel by Bob Sawyer, and he drove us 30 minutes to Blue Diamond, a small town that is the trailhead for the bike trails. My bike was waiting for me, and within a few minutes we were off on a 14 mile loop through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. While most of the trails we rode were smooth and relatively flat, there were some very steep ravines and “rock gardens” that were hard for me to navigate, i.e. I had to get off my bike and walk through the rocks. I did ok for a newby, and only crashed once. My right arm and knee have memories that will stay with me for the next few weeks!
The desert was beautiful! We road by miles of Joshua trees, yucca plants, sage brush and Cholla. We passed a half dozen wild burros grazing along a hillside. It was too early in the year to see tortoises as they were still hibernating, and the crimson blossoms of the barrel cacti were still a few weeks away from announcing the beginning of springtime in the desert. March would be a better time of year to ride if you wanted to see these natural wonders.
Towards the end of the loop, we took a short hike up a hillside to a spring to see Native American petroglyphs.
If you have a free morning while staying in Las Vegas, give the McGhie’s Red Rock Canyon mountain bike tour a try. It was well worth the time, and since it did not happen in Vegas, it did not have to stay in Vegas!