Big Winners

We are currently sitting in a parking lot in the big city of Las Vegas. It's actually not really a parking lot but a RV park that sure does resemble a parking lot. It is complete with a concrete space to park your RV, painted lines that tell you which spot is yours, neighbors that are so close to us that if we aren't careful when we open our door, we will smack the side of their RV, and a swimming pool that has nothing in it but some dirt. We have been mostly camping in the boonies or at some pretty nice state parks and national parks so this is a bit different for us. Luckily for us, we aren't the type to sit at home in our home on wheels all day long, so this parking lot is just a place for us to sleep at night while we are in town.

A lot of our neighbors are “snowbirds”. Since you may be new to this RV retired lifestyle like we are, I will do my best to explain to you what a “snowbird” is. Snowbirds are basically old-folks that chase the sun. They come from all over the world and avoid the cold winters where their permanent home is located. As soon as the temperature back home starts to drop, their joints start to ache, so they pack up the RV and head for warmer temperatures so they can work on their leather (ultra tanned skin) and be around other snowbirds that understand their aches and pains and which pills do what for which type of ailment.

Some of these snowbirds seem to be hoarders and bring with them everything and more from home than could possibly fit into their home on wheels. Since most of this stuff wont fit into their RV, guess where it goes? Into the parking lot for the rest of us to see. Dog pits...lawn chairs...big screen tv's...signs to mark their parking name it, it's here. These snowbirds are a social bunch. There are activities up the ying-yang like bingo at night, bake sales, craft sales, poker with the fellas, knitting with the ladies, shuttle rides to the doctor, cocktail hour, and's actually a pretty great community if you are in your 70's. I don't know if you are aware of this, we aren't quite in our 70's. There is a pretty big age gap between us and the next oldest couple in this parking lot...that's not a bad's just that we aren't really hanging around for social hour. Everyone here is really your grandma kind of nice. We just don't want to eat dinner at 4pm so we can be in bed by 6.

Our main reason to stop by the city that never sleeps was to see my Dad and step-mom Dadee. They moved here about 6 years ago to get away from the gray skies and constant winter drizzle of Seattle and they love it in the desert. They live in a great little community with some super nice people and have made a good life for themselves with friends and constant activities, warm sun, golf courses, shopping, and other old-timers to spend their time with. It's a pretty nice place to be retired and it was great to spend a little bit of time with them on our way through town.

We have officially had our hardest hike of our trip to date. We are generally over prepared when we go out on a hike. We take extra food and water, extra clothes, sunscreen, bug spray, gps, flashlight, etc...just about anything you could think of needing to survive an unforeseen night in the wilderness. We take all of this stuff on just about every hike we go on because we have once been out when we needed this stuff and didn't have it. We learned our lesson the hard way, and since then, we are generally over prepared. Unfortunately we sometimes forget the lessons we have learned and are lucky to have made it out of the wilderness alive this time.

This hike that I am going to tell you about was extremely dangerous. There were wild animals. There was intense heat. We had a lack of food and water. We didn't dress appropriately for the terrain that we were to encounter. We suffered from smoke inhalation. We were just plain unprepared for the 12 miles that our poor little feet were to carry our weary bodies. Our short planned hike went way beyond what we expected and we suffered the consequences of our actions. This hike that I am talking about is the Las Vegas Strip.

We started out on one end of the Strip and started walking toward the other end thinking that we would just stop by and see the fountains at the Bellagio and maybe a couple of other things in between. If you have never been to Las Vegas, I am going to tell you a little secret...the place is huge. Each casino is like its own little city and takes up a huge footprint of land. If you want to get from one end of the Strip to the other, plan on a 3 day trek and bring extra supplies. We should have hired a Sherpa.

Vegas has more wildlife than Yellowstone (the best people watching in the world), more lights than the all of the southern hemisphere combined, the tallest margarita that I have ever seen (4 ½ feet tall was the biggest one we saw...and it was only $ also came complete with the most intoxicated person that I have ever seen still standing upright), more dancing girls than my high school prom (these girls also come complete with the smell of lost hopes and dreams and disappointed parents), and the easiest way to throw away some money fast. I don't know of any other place that you can smoke 2 packs of cigarettes while eating a 32 ounce steak while drinking a 4 ½ foot tall margarita while playing poker with a dancing girl in your face. It is truly the city of excess.

While on our trek through the desert wilderness that we now know as the Las Vegas Strip, we decided to try our best to throw some money away. We are high rollers so we bumped up our usual gambling allowance to twice what we normally give ourselves. We each had a big-huge-whopping $20 to spend. I know what you are could we be so frivolous? Well, all I can say is that we only live once, it's only money, and we are made of it so why not go big? Brenda made a B-line to the penny slot machines and I figured that since I have a big $20 burning a hole in my pocket, I am going to have better luck in a different area of the casino...the desert line. Yep, I got myself the biggest apple fritter that you have ever seen and a delicious cup of coffee to go with it...I won big. Brenda came back from the penny slot machines $10 richer. We both won big. Incredible.

While in the area, we have tried to get some other activities in besides just the obvious Vegas stuff. Red Rock Canyon is a world class place to hike, bike, and rock climb and it is only about 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Since I broke my thumb while playing football with my nephew last week, rock climbing and biking were off the table...bummer. Hiking it is. We put some miles in at Red Rock and loved every minute of it. After Red Rock, we stopped by the Mob museum and brushed up on our gangster history, we ate at some great restaurants, and all-in-all had a pretty good time in Vegas. We are pretty excited to get back on the road though. It's always fun to visit with family and be in a big city for a few days but I have to say, I prefer to be out in the boonies with my wife. Just the two of us. Nobody around but us and the critters and the stars at night.


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