Last week I went on a road trip from Knoxville to Phoenix. When we finally arrived in Arizona I realized that it was 110 degrees outside and I hadn’t planned anything fun to do. Then, it occurred to me that I was only 300 miles from Las Vegas, a short trip compared to the previous days travel. So, I called my friend Alaina (check out her awesome running blog here) and asked if she wanted a weekend guest. I booked a rental car and departed for Sin City at 6AM the next morning.

Most of the trip was on a two-lane road lined with cacti and joshua trees that winded through small desert towns. I was surrounded by nothing, and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean it quite literally. For much of the drive I had no cell service and the radio would only pick up one station. Somehow even when I had no service my GPS was still able track my route. Thanks NSA.


Instead of a crazy Hangover-style weekend, I wanted to sample a little bit of everything Vegas had to offer. I planned to visit the Hoover Dam, spend an afternoon on Lake Mead, and, of course, hit the casinos.

The Vegas Strip
The Vegas strip was exactly what I expected, loud, bright, and full of people.

Vegas Strip

We stopped to watch the Bellagio Fountains three times. It was excellent.

Bellagio Fountains

After wandering and seeing the sights, finally it was time to do a little gambling.

Trying My Luck

I wanted to play four games when I got to vegas, slots, craps, roulette, and black jack.

I started with slots. We looked for a game where you actually had to pull a lever to play, but it was nearly impossible to find one. Finally, I settled on some sort of fish slots game because it at least had a fake lever I could pretend to pull (see above). I am easily amused. I put $5 into the game, and won absolutely nothing. Stupid fish game.

Next we moved onto craps. I still don’t understand how it works. Alaina’s husband, Adam, basically instructed me when and where to put my money. He told me to put it on the “pass line” and that if a 7 or 11 came up I’d win, if anything else came up, I’d lose. I place my money, the guy rolled the dice, and I won! A seven came up the first time. As the song goes, I know when to walk away, so I picked up my winnings and moved on.

Roulette was next on my list. We found a table with an open seat. I went to Vegas with the intention of playing 20 black, a la my favorite movie Run Lola Run. However, when it came time to play I chickened out and put all my chips on black instead. The dealer spun the wheel . . . 20 black! That’ll teach me not to trust my gut. While I did double the money I put down, I could have won 35 times the bet I placed. Que sera, sera.

After those games I’d got the gist of the gambling scene and decided to skip black jack. Maybe next time.

Hoover Dam
I stopped at the Hoover Dam on my way to and from Vegas. When I initially stopped I just thought it would be a quick visit to check it off my list and then I would hop back on the road. I wasn’t prepared for the impressive enormity of the dam or the beauty of the lake behind it.

Hoover Dam Panorama View

This is a view of Lake Mead from on top of the dam. The water was bright blue and pictures do not do it justice.

Lake View from Hoover Dam

The other side of the dam. You can walk across the bridge in the background to view the dam. It was so windy that I almost got knocked over by a strong gust. It was a little scary up there.

Bridge View from Hoover Dam

On the way back I decided to take a tour of the dam and power plant. When I signed up for the tour all I could think about was this:

The tour was fascinating. It led you though the belly of the dam and into the power plant. We got to learn all about what it took to build it (an amazing feat for the 1930s), the people who died during the construction, and how it functions today. It is definitely worth the time and money if you are in the area.

Lake Mead Recreation Area
Alaina also took me to the Lake Mead Recreation Area, a place for hiking, boating, swimming, and anything else you might like to do.

First we visited the Anniversary Narrows, a slot canyon not far for Lake Mead. I could have spend all day in there. It was so narrow that you could reach out and touch both sides with your hands.

The Anniversary Narrows
After the Narrows we were to Boulder Beach for some swimming. Did you know there were beaches near Vegas? Me neither.

Lake Mead Boulder Beach

There were a few things I really wanted to see and do that I missed out on because there simply wasn’t time to see it all. I promised Alaina that I would be back soon. While the party aspect of Vegas isn’t really for me, I really loved everything else it had to offer. 

My Big Move
There is a good reason my post is so ridiculously late this week. (And why my next post will be late too.) After I got back from my vacation out West I packed up and moved across the state to start a new job. I had a few delays on my moving date. I was supposed to move before the road trip, but I ended up getting to town the night before I was supposed to start work. So, I promise once I get settled in, and I finally have internet at my house, that my posts will be back on their regular schedule.

Moving Day