Exploding coke and searing heat

We got up well before the sun rose and drove to Death Valley before it became too hot to be outside. The fact that the sun wasn’t up didn’t seem to make a difference before at 5am it was still so hot I couldn’t stand it. We drove into Death Valley and immediately understood why it was called that. The heat there once the sun began to rose was unbelievable. We stood at a lookout point to watch the sun rise and once it had risen Mark suggested we go for a quick hike before it got too hot. I looked at him as if he was crazy. What was he talking about ‘before it got too hot’? It was already too hot! So I shook my head and said “no way”. He shrugged, walked back to the van with me, grabbed a walkie talkie and said “If I’m not back in an hour something’s wrong”. “Oh sure, no worries, I’ll just come searching for you in Death Valley”. He just laughed at me and told me to have a nap. It was too hot to sleep so I just chilled out in the van for a while until he came back. He came back with a few minutes to spare before I was meant to get worried and so we drove back, stopping at Starbucks to get an iced coffee and smoothie to cool us down. Once back at the hotel we packed up all of our things and began our drive to VEGAS. We didn’t have a hotel booked so I jumped online and found heaps available at a discount. Now we just at to work out where we wanted to stay. We decided to stay at the Flamingo for two reasons. 1. It was really cheap and 2. It was the first hotel in Vegas. Once arriving I realised we should have probably re-assessed our reasoning. The hotel was packed full of people and it was mayhem. We eventually got our room key and went back out to park the van and put up sun visors for the next 2 days. We were happy with how protecter the van seemed to be so we walked back to the hotel.

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Welcome to Vegas!

Vegas was not what I expected. I guess I’ve just watched way too many movies but I expected it to be more glamourous. The hotel we stayed at probably didn’t help but even as we walked the strip and around the other hotels we found everything was just a little bit tacky. I had all of these plans for our time in Vegas and in the end we did none of them. I wanted to go on a gondola ride but when we got there we realised it went under one bridge and for 15 minutes. How would that ever compare to the real one in Venice? I wanted to do the zip line through Vegas but when we actually went to book I realised that if I was going to do a zip line on this trip I didn’t want it to be in Vegas. We were going to go get (fake) married because we were in Vegas so why not? Actually turns out the chapels there are quite busy and you have to book a couple of days in advance unless you want to do the drive through one which I thought was the height of tackiness so we didn’t get (fake) married in Vegas. As the days went by I realised that I didn’t actually really want to do all of the things I had planned, I just felt we should do them whilst we were in Vegas. One thing we definitely did do was go gambling. We can happily say we doubled our money. It still counts if we only bet $5 yeah? but then we can sadly say we had the entire Vegas experience when we lost it all.

One thing we did enjoy though was simply walking around Vegas and checking everything out. There is so much going on constantly that there is always something to look out. During our walks we stopped numerous times to watch the water fountain music displays. We did manage to get up super early one morning and head out to play a round of golf. Well, Mark played and I drove the cart. We were done by 10.30am and couldn’t believe how hot it already was out in the sun. We spent that afternoon sitting by the pool under the shade of some palm trees.

I was happy to be leaving Vegas. It wasn’t what I expected and maybe it would have been better if we were there with friends but once we checked out of the hotel I was looking forward to getting into our van and driving on to check out the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Considering our average time in Vegas we were in high spirits once we got to our van, It didn’t seem to hot in there which was good. Oh, were we wrong. Once we opened all of the doors and pulled down the sun shades we found our van looking very different to how we left it. The joins between our walls and ceilings had all cracked, a can of coke had exploded in the box and sprayed everywhere, soaking through our blankets, sheets and mattress and to top it all off our kitchen bench had warped and caused the door to jam shut so that we couldn’t open the fridge. We were in shock. How hot did it actually get inside the van? We put away all of our things and then googled the closest laundromat and headed straight there. 4 loads of washing later we were back in the van on our way to check into a hotel because there was no way we could handle the heat in the van.

We got to the Hoover Dam early that morning and the weather was still unbearably hot. Simply walking from our car park down to the main ledge along the Hoover Dam took it out of us but we were quite impressed with the view and engineering behind it all. We drove out to the Grand Canyon after that and nothing could compare to what we saw there. We drove around the national park and stopped off at different view points to get a look at the Canyon from different angles. At our first stop we walked out through some shrubs to the edge so we could get a better view. Once we got the ledge Mark grabbed my shoulders. Now I thought he was trying to trick me by pretending to push me but I got scared so started trying to walk backwards, he kept trying to push me forward and wouldn’t let go. This made me more nervous so I kept moving until he yelled “Just stop moving there’s a snake behind us” Well that got me to stop straight away and sure enough as soon as I stopped moving I could hear the rattling of a rattle snake behind us. As I slowly turned around to look I could see it had it’s tail in the air rattling and the front of his body was up staring straight at us watching what we were doing. Without letting go of me Mark slowly steered me around and told me to walk slowly. I ran ahead instead and waited for him to catch up and lead the way back. For the rest of the afternoon we were so cautious about where we were walking and every bit of movement out of the corner of our eyes got our immediate attention. Our cautiousness soon disappeared once the sun began to set and we watched the colours of the sky change over the Grand Canyon. It truly was amazing to see. After waiting for awhile to take it all in we walked back to our van to see a group of people gathered around taking photos of a huge elk that had wandered into the carpark. We were definitely in a national park!

 

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Grand Canyon for sunset… amazing!
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