Since neither my husband nor I have ever been, we went hiking and exploring the Las Vegas area. As if we need an excuse to do some hiking, we were able to visit both Red Rock Canyon (not to be confused with Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater) and in the Valley of Fire State Park. The most fun part of the trip was hiking in Red Rock Canyon and the superb cactus garden at the Ethel Mars Chocolate factory in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. Henderson was already on my list, because one of my spice book customers Sheffield Spice Shop has a spice shop there. I found some new blends (the fajita seasoning really enhances turkey burgers, Cheryl) and found the perfect light-weight, metal water bottle.
We got up early one morning to beat the heat and the crowds and scrabbled along the rocky trail to Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon Park. It was an out and back hike totaling 2.5 miles, but climbing around the boulders was plenty of exercise and like a playground for adult kids. Although there is no longer a waterfall in the canyon, we were able to admire the smooth rock formations that had been carved into the cool ending point of our trail. Just the shadows themselves hint at a waterfall.
My husband later tried his hand at the atlatl, an ancient hand-catapult for throwing spears further. The local park service folks were giving a demonstration.
As far as the city of Las Vegas and its accompanying gambling, we loved the Bellagio fountain performance on the strip and, of course, the people watching. Putting on a mask and costume gives one a little more courage to let the alter-ego escape for a moment of unfettered freedom. Those not wearing masks can freely play the voyeur.
Fremont Street was much seedier, a bit creepy and from a safety aspect not to be seen solo. We did enjoy the two-decker Container Stores in actual truck-like trailers there and the overhead zipline. People watching reminded me of going to a strip show at Halloween. You couldn’t escape the smoke in either gambling location, though. The airport was about the only place to gamble smoke-free.
Like Phoenix, Las Vegas is in the dessert with few trees other than palms planted there over the years. Denver’s semi-arid climate is much more lush, but the cactus garden in Henderson was worth the visit for any nature lover and a quiet oasis from the gambling fever. Say hi to Cheryl Sheffield if you go there and check out my spice book.