Miles Out: 14478 Miles In: 15080 Miles Driver: 332
332 miles. A little over 530km for those who like to think in metric. It doesn’t say much and it means even less, unless you know what those 332 miles represent to the two of us who experienced every second of them.
It started on Friday night. I was later getting into Vegas than expected thanks to delays in fuelling our plane and the need to de-ice the wings. Instead of landiing 20 minutes ahead of Emily, I was about 20 minutes behind. She was already there, patiently waiting at baggage carrousel 6 at Terminal 1.
We hopped the shuttle and headed over to the rental car center. After waiting in line we walked down to the parking level to see what car would be joining us on our madcap Nevada weekend.
The young lad at the booth looked us over and browsed our paperwork. “Hmm. Just you and your lady friend?” I replied in the affirmative. He gave me a knowing smile and said “I’m going to do you a favor. Take one of those Mustangs over there.”
He gestured towards a low concrete wall where two convertible Mustangs sat parked. I know my eyes must have opened a little wider as we started to drag our bags towards the cars. I couldn’t believe our luck.
Picking the blue one over the silver, I grabbed the keys from the ignition and popped the trunk. We tossed our bags in the back, stuck the GPS to the windshield and worked our way out of the parking garage and into the Las Vegas night. Adventure underway and the first of those 332 miles were under our belt.
Our first destination was Boulder City and the Boulder Dam Hotel. It’s small, it’s quaint, it’s historic. I love that place. Check-in took a little longer than expected thanks to the older fella behind the counter who wanted to engage us in conversation and explain every nuance of the hotel. We really just needed to crash. Thanks to the time change, our bodies were telling us it was well after midnight and we had been up since early morning.
After a not-so-quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant (sometimes paying for a $2 orange juice is an adventure itself) we were back in the Mustang and off into Vegas to see the Neon Museum. This is an amazing collection of old neon signs from casinos that have long since disappeared off the map.
From there we toured Fremont Street and then worked over to the Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Then a visit to the Atomic Testing Musuem. Then a visit with friends for pizza and an evening of conversation.
Back to Boulder City, but not before heading out to Hoover Dam to drive across it and take some pictures of it in the night. The dam rules at night are so fun: Don’t stop on the dam. You may park on the Arizona side but do not leave the parking area. Do not approach the dam or attempt to walk across the dam, Do not look at the dam cross-eyed, Do not even curse by using the word ‘damn’.
An action-packed day, but a mere dent in those 332 miles.
Day two! Another hotel breakfast. (Don’t order the orange juice, we don’t have time to pay for it!)
Back to Hoover Dam. Since it’s dayllight not all the same rules apply. We could now actually walk across the dam and do the normal tourist things. We also walked out onto the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and shoot photos of the dam from the pedestrian walkway. The bridge itself is just as much a marvel of engineering and attrraction as the dam itself.
But, those 332 miles won’t add up if we don’t keep moving. Off to Arizona where a Virtual Geocache at an abandoned highway bridge allowed us to both claim our first ever cache finds in that state, Back to Nevada and a drive along Lake Mead on our way to the Valley of Fire.
With the top down on the Mustang and the music turned up those 332 miles were just rolling away so easily.
A drive through the Valley of Fire with a couple of stops to shoot pictures of the red rocks and wildlife. Keep making miles…
Back to the far side of Vegas and out into the Nevada desert to see the ghost town of Goodsprings. Back to Jean, NV to look at some rail cars, check out a casino (no gambling though!) and then back to the airport to drop the car. While those 332 miles were now done, the adventure continued.
The cab ride to the hotel was a but of a mess thanks to the Rock n Roll Marathon taking place. The cabbie eventually dropped us off on a dark dead end street a couple blocks from The Strip and wished us luck. We could have had him continue to try and get us closer but the meter was moving even if the traffic wasn’t.
We arrived at the hotel, dropped the bags and set off again! Not quite 332 miles, but this time all on foot.
We checked out The Venetion where my conference is being held. We toured The Conservatory at The Bellagio. We watched the fountains dance out front three times. We ate at Denny’s. We collapsed back in the room — worn and weary.
A 3:30 alarm clock and a walk down to the taxi cab stand so Emily could get to the airport to catch her 6am flight back to Chicago. That’s how I found myself here, alone in a dingy Vegas hotel room at 4am pounding out a post.
It’s one thing to live in the moment and relish an experience as it happens. It’s another to live both in the moment and in future moments. To know as we’re racing across the Nevada desert in our convertible we’re creating memories for future years. To know these are the moments we’ll remember on future visits to the area, the moments we’ll be telling our kids about.
332 miles. 48 hours. Countless memories.