VIVA Las Vegas: A Positive End to the Winter Road Trip

VIva Las VEgas Graphic

This is the final installment of our Winter Road Trip to Arizona and Nevada. To read how it began, click Part One and Part Two .

Once I cancelled the rest of our reservations on New Year’s Day while still in Sedona, and we agreed on the decision to end our road trip with a few days’ stay in Las Vegas, I caught myself humming that Elvis Presley tune “Viva Las Vegas.” I felt a load off my mind as we waited for the sun to melt the snow so we could leave Rancho Sedona RV park. There was still significant snow through which to drive.

View of Rancho Sedona Campground
Pink arrow marks our trailer/truck

Afternoon Arrival to Sam’s Town RV Park

After a six-hour drive from Sedona to Las Vegas, we pulled into Sam’s Town RV Park at about 3pm. Check in was swift and we received a free night’s stay for booking 5 nights. We also got casino discounts for Sam’s Town Casino a few steps away from the RV park. Although we missed happy hour due to unhooking and setting up, we ate dinner at the food court using some of the discounts. Of course, we played a little at the casino and I managed to break even.

Sams Town RV Park
A nice spot on the corner!

The next day, Thursday, we mostly did nothing but acquaint ourselves with the park amenities, which included two dog runs, three restrooms with free showers, clubhouse, pool and a hot tub. We then shopped for a variety of items, visiting Wal-Mart (ugh), Costco and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Note to self: Don’t shop at Wal-mart during the holidays, especially in the afternoon. Need I say more?? The place was so crowded I actually got hit by another shopper’s cart! We attempted to buy tire chains, but the genius cashier informed us they only had one box left which contained one chain. “Don’t you buy them that way?” she asked, then her snarky comment after, “we don’t need chains in the desert.” Had I cared at that point I would have showed her a photo of snowy Sedona, but I believe she wouldn’t have known where Sedona was anyway.

What to Do in Las Vegas

Other than gambling, what else is there to do in Las Vegas?

On my list was a trip to the Hoover Dam and maybe nearby Lake Mead. I also wanted to shop for some turquoise jewelry. I still wanted to try to drive back to the Grand Canyon, but the roads were still iffy and the holiday crowds were still around. I also had wanted to visit Red Rock National Monument just west of Vegas.

A funny thing happened when I looked on Google. I found Valley of Fire State Park just 60 miles north-east! It looked very similar to Antelope Canyon with its twisted and striated red sandstone rock formations! And a slot canyon to boot!

The Valley of Fire

Friday was the day we planned to drive to Valley of Fire State Park. What a relief to drive on dry roads!

When we arrived, we stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove along the suggested route. The red sandstone formations are incredible in both size, variety and colors.

Posing in Valley of Fire Arch

Nevada State Parks have few restrictions on bringing dogs on the hikes with us (unlike many trails in the National Parks). Someone along the sandy, winding trail described Aero as agile!

Red Rocks and Dogs
Hans with Brodie and agile Aero!

Since I didn’t get to tour Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona, we headed for the White Domes area which boasts its own slot canyon! It did not disappoint. In the photo below, you get the idea of the sheer size by looking at the tiny hikers in the lower right corner.

Red Cliffs
Immensity of the slot canyon

The holidays crowds were soon out and about, and we ended our sightseeing in the early afternoon. There was still so much to see! Check out the website here.

It was a bright sunny day and the temperature rose to 66 degrees! What a difference from just two days before in Sedona! Isn’t that how winter weather in the Southwest desert is supposed to be?

We got back in time to enjoy the Friday night steak and seafood buffet. We raced over thinking the lines would be ridiculous, but no one was in line! The weekend after a major holiday like Christmas and New Year’s sees more people staying home. Lucky for us!

The food was great. I noticed our waitress wearing turquoise rings and she told me she bought them in Boulder City, near Hoover Dam. I added that spot to my list!

Another Blogger Meet-Up

Terri and Maria
Lunch with Maria in Las Vegas

We met Maria and her cute daughter for lunch on Saturday and had a great time chatting about how she liked living in Las Vegas. Maria had recently moved there from Northern California, a couple of hours north of Sacramento. In case you’re wondering, Maria is Ms Zen from Sagittarius Viking! Check out her recent visit to Valley of Fire State Park.

After lunch and still on my quest to find turquoise jewelry, we attempted to drive to a couple of pawn shops and GPS sent us right through the Vegas strip! Just as crowded as I remembered!

Of course, sticking to our theme of winter weather, it rained Saturday afternoon and evening. It even snowed on Mt Charleston!

The Dam People in Boulder City

Boulder Dam Hotel

Sunday, our last full day, was spent driving about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas to a town called Boulder City. This town was originally built in the 1920s to house the workers and their families who built the Hoover Dam. Boulder City is one of two Nevada Cities that does not allow gambling!

Hans loves antique shopping and found a bonanza of goodies in the local antique shops. I found some beautiful sterling silver turquoise rings at an antique store and at a jewelry specialty store. The store owners were so helpful, honest and friendly!

rings
Turquoise Ring Collection

It was a cold sunny day with a bit of wind. We thought we might drive over to Hoover Dam, but we simply ran out of time.

Saying Goodbye

Once we got back, I started packing the non-essentials while we still had daylight to get ready for Monday’s long drive back to Sacramento.

Our last evening was spent warming up leftovers for dinner in the microwave and utilizing the hot tub at the clubhouse. A fun and fitting end to our 12-day Arizona/Nevada road trip.

Sam's Town Sign

Our drive home took 11 hours. We drove home the same way we came, through I-15, back up through Kramer Junction and Tehachapi Pass with no incidents. This was our view of the Sierra Nevadas at a rest stop on Hwy 99 in California’s Central Valley, a few hours from home.

Snowy mountains
A look at the snowy Sierras on the drive home.

As I reflected on this road trip, I was extremely disappointed that I missed out on seeing Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as camping at Lake Powell, which was the gateway for visiting Monument Valley, Navajo Nation and Antelope Canyon.

We learned to be flexible and to go with the flow. Arizona is not very far from where we live in Northern California, and we intend to go back and try again, whether we pull the trailer, or drive and stay in hotels.

The Positives of Our Road Trip?

  • Enjoying the Arizona desert area and appreciating its beauty
  • Spending time with two bloggers and their families
  • Getting and taking advice from folks who have traveled there
  • Learning about the trailer and its features
  • Becoming a better traveler by paying attention to surroundings and using technology for fuel stops
  • Feeling a sense of peace as hard decisions had to be made to change the itinerary
  • Discovering more about the Las Vegas area with its surrounding desert beauty and points of interest
  • Learning to expect the unexpected!

The Sunday Stills Photo Challenge is hosted by Hugh this week. Sunday Stills will be back in my hands beginning Feb 3. More Valley of Fire photos!

Sharing today’s photos for Snow’s Friendly Friday photo challenge!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Has anything beyond your expectations ever happened to you while traveling?

41 thoughts on “VIVA Las Vegas: A Positive End to the Winter Road Trip

  1. Your photos are breath taking Terri. We took a flight over the Hoover Dam and then a helicopter down into the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River for a pontoon ride. It was magnificent, and I would love to visit again. Such natural beauty. I did enjoy walking through the casinos and especially liked The Venetian with the gondola rides. Thanks so much for sharing at #MLSTL and once again your photos are just beautiful. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love your photos Terri with the magnificent colours and rocky outcrops. It looks amazing although the snow must have been a bit disconcerting! Your trip sounds like it went well and I agree expect the unexpected and all will be well when you go travelling 🙂 Pinned this for #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well that was certainly a more pleasant few days Terri! Loved all the canyon photos and the fact that you got to meet up with another blogger. After spending the last few days meeting Sue and then some of the Queensland bloggers, it’s these sort of catch-ups that really make me remember why I love blogging so much.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy Johnson

    I’ve been to Las Vegas (and I don’t gamble or drink) and we found a lot to do but I never knew all these amazing hiking places were nearby. Now I feel I need to go back, but next time skip the strip. Visiting from MSTL.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful trilogy Teri. You do indeed know how to make lemonade out of lemons and I love your attitude about making difficult decisions. Although I know it was a disappointment to not get there, your narrows photographs are every bit as beautiful as any I have seen from Antelope Canyon. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great end to your road trip, Terri. I had to laugh at your thoughts about the store assistant who you were trying to buy tyre chains from. I dislike shopping at the best of times, but I never go anywhere near a big store these days. They seem to be full even on weekdays, and the odds of getting hit by a shopping trolley is high because most of the people pushing them have their heads stuck in a screen while their fingers scroll. I’ve even seen some of them pushing the trolley with their stomach!

    Great photos of the slot canyon. I’m not sure I would have felt ‘closed in’ walking through it. I like my space, and my worse nightmare is being buried alive.

    Glad your trip home was ‘traffic jam’ free and that you broke even at the casino.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the “going with the flow” part is key to any good adventure. It’s essential to have an idea of what you want to experience, but then gratefully accept when the road offers other adventures. I think your trip seems magical! It was truly wonderful to meet you and your charming husband. your photos of Valley of Fire are incredible 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Maria, this experience was definitely a lesson for this structured planner! I love this: “gratefully accept when the road offers other adventures.” Isn’t that how life works? I accepted it but not with much gratitude, other than for being safe on the road. I have more photos ready for my next Sunday Stills post. Glad to read your daughter is enjoying her new bed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I’m a lot like you, coming to a new country as a foreigner forced me to be more humble. “To gratefully accept when the road offers other adventures” is my mantra now. LOL Looking forward to see more photos!! I’m happy you found some turquoises. The jewelry looks beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful photos of Valley of the Fire state park. The tunnels were amazing and I wonder if you felt claustrophobic when walking through them, or were they wipers than they looked in the pictures? I went to Las Vegas once, accompanying my husband when he went there for a conference. I wasn’t excited about going, since I don’t enjoy gambling. But I decided to look for other things to do while we were there and ended up having a blast. We stayed on the strip and simply walking from one hotel to another and taking in the architecture was very cool. During the day I would plan an evening activity and buy tickets, so we saw a show every night. I went to see a play one afternoon. There is so much to do! A truly unique city. The next time we go, I’d like to venture out of the city to see more of nature’s architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Molly! The one stretch of the narrows was very short, I was more in awe especially looking up into the sky. This was the first time we went to Vegas where we ventured out. Previous trips were all about the traditional entertainment which is fun. Staying in our trailer in a RV park with our dogs gave us plenty of incentive to get out and about. You definitely need a vehicle!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great photos of Valley of Fire State Park. I love the landscape of the southwest. If I didn’t live in Hawaii, I’d be tempted to live somewhere in that region. I’m glad you had a good trip with lots of adventures, even if they weren’t what you thought they might be. That’s what traveling is all about! Glad to see you’ve found Snow’s Friendly Friday challenge too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, Terri – I greatly enjoyed this series. I love Las Vegas (even though I have spent more time in their Home Hardware Stores than on The Strip). Good on you for having the flexibility to change your itinerary and go with the flow. I love that you included advice from other travelers as one of your highlights. And I completely, utterly, whole agree…NEVER EVER shop at Wal-mart during the holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Donna! Nothing like any kind of travel to inspire one into writing and other creative ideas! I live a fairly uneventful life so yes, missing out on the places this time was a bummer, but I learned a lot on the journey! I try not to shop at WM but hubby insisted! The rest of that story was we high tailed it to the nearby Costco which was a much more pleasant experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice recap of the end of your road trip. I’m so glad your visit to Las Vegas worked out. FYI … you’ll want to avoid spring break in AZ. We were in Page during the last week of March and into April and the place was overrun with tourists. By the second week in April, we could breath and the rest of our stay was fantastic. Those holidays are rough no matter where!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Quite a road trip!! I’ve never been anywhere near that part of the world but would love to do a road trip somewhere similar! Those canyons look amazing and you have so many great shots here. And definitely lots of coral! 😀
    I’ll try to get on board with Sunday Stills in Feb! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m glad you had such a nice end to your road trip and vacation, Terri. And, that you managed to experience a slot canyon after all. The colors and features of the desert are so beautiful. I’m looking forward to traveling in Arizona in our camper van soon as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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