As Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “No this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted. Buy the ticket, take the ride”. Which is exactly what my boyfriend and I did to celebrate my birthday. I mean, Vegas baby! Where else?!
We arrived late Thursday afternoon and walked out into a heat I’ve never experienced before! Initially, desert heat is suffocating but it’s surprising how quickly you’re able to acclimatise. I actually prefer the 45 degree dry desert heat to anywhere that simply makes you look like you’ve walked through a shower in your clothes, ugh. Leaving the airport we headed straight to Paris, aka our hotel. Beautifully replicating traditional Parisian architecture, it’s noticeable immediately by the imitation Eifel tower soaring by its side. Our room was just as nice with antique style furniture, emerald and gold décor, complete with tower view, how larvly.
The strip is vast
I never had myself down as the gun-wielding type but I was in Vegas, the land where anything is possible, curiosity got the better of me and somehow, we ended up in ‘The Strip’ a shooting range based opposite the Stratosphere. Greeted by a receptionist and a wall full of guns to choose from. Seriously, you name it, they have it; western revolver pistol, rifle, even an uzi! I settled on a $159, 3 gun package that included a gloc (standard police gun to you and me), a machine gun and a sniper rifle.
After five minutes in the waiting area, watching a compilation of movie shootout scenes we were introduced to my instructor and lead into the range. Nic Cage game face on, I was ready! Pah, just kidding! I was shitting myself but the instructor was brilliant. He was super calming and took time to explain the functionality of each weapon, what to expect from the kick back and where to aim on the target. Now, my personal opinions around public gun control may differ to that of American laws but current controversy aside, in a controlled environment it’s an exhilarating experience and let’s be honest, shooting a fully automatic machine gun is totally bad ass!
The shows are a huge part of Vegas entertainment and there’s so many to choose from. Michael Jackson is alive and kicking through the medium of hologram and of course Celine’s heart STILL goes on. We’d bought advance tickets for Aretha Franklin’s show at Caesar’s Palace Colosseum but she cancelled the week before! I know, devastating but I did get to see the Princess of pop (circa ‘99) BRITNEY! And boy, does the woman know how to put on a show. It was a jam packed 90 minutes, pounding out a darker version of the hits, from Baby, One More Time and Work Bitch to Womanizer. The staging and visuals were in-sane and I loved Britters appearing in a ring of fire during her ‘Circus’ performance. You go girl!
We also saw The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Solei show. A psychedelic show where aerial artists, gymnasts and actors spread the message that Love, really is all you need. Opening with giant silhouettes of the four dancing around, the show chronicles the glory days of Beatlemania and their effect on cultural society. The whole production is an animated kaleidoscope of colours, dance routines and acrobatics. Who doesn’t want to listen to I am the Walrus whilst someone roller-skates over a VW beetle?!
Hours: 7pm | 9.30pm
Price: average ticket $98
For our final night, We headed North to Old Town Vegas; fantastically tacky in comparison to the skyscrapers lining the strip. It has an authentic ‘Bright Light City’ charm, complete with old-style neon flashing lights. We ate in the Golden Nugget, which by the way has a shark aquarium in the centre of its pool. The star of the old town though is it’s Freemont Street Experience, an LED TV sheltering the street that plays a musical medley light show every hour, whilst people zip line from one end to the other, appearing from a giant slot machine (SlotZilla).
Being in Nevada, we HAD to take advantage of the close proximity to the Grand Canyon. There are tons of excursions to choose from but a helicopter trip is the only way to land inside. We booked with Maverick as apparently they’re the best in the biz but being my first time in a helicopter, you can imagine how thrilled I was when the pilot turned out to be a 12 year old child. Okay, he wasn’t 12, our baby-faced captain had actually served in the Air Force and like veterans before him, had become a tour guide for one of the natural wonders of the world. Feeling a little more secure, we headed South West, passing over Lake Mead, an extinct volcano and Hoover Dam. We floated over the red rock formations and like an opening scene from an episode of Attenborough – minus the silky smooth narration of course – the Grand Canyon appeared; all majestic, with the Colorado River flowing freely below. Very surreal moment!
I’ve always thought the Western style of riding looks way more fun than the English way I’ve grown so accustomed to and during our visit to Bonnie Springs ranch, I finally got the chance to give it a go. A 40 minute drive from the strip, situated within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the ranch offers riding trails, dining fit for a cowboy and an authentic 1880’s mining town, that encapsulates the spirit of The Wild West. I was partnered with a beaut palomino called Oscar and hopped into the saddle/armchair. I know they’re specially designed to keep a cowboy’s tushy comfy whilst he’s hard at work all day but seriously, I need to get me one of those. Sadly, there were no ‘YeeHaa’ moments or galloping into the sunset but instead we stuck to a leisurely, relaxed pace through the desert, enjoying the mountains and breath-taking views. Gods Country never looked more stunning.