Vajentic Family Western Odyssey: Week 1, Day 7 (Friday, July 19)

Upon awakening at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ, once again, Ben thrashed me at Uno, 3-zip.  After cleaning up the room and loading the car, we made our last visit to the Grand Canyon Hotel buffet.  Since the boys had been extremely well behaved during the first week of our trip, I decided to get them each a special souvenir.  Dominic had his eye on the obsidian knife, so he chose one he liked, and Ben chose a toy train.  Upon checking out of the Grand Canyon Hotel, I asked if a National Park entry fee had been included in our package price (it had), and whether we could get a refund since we had the America the Beautiful pass (we could).  Score!

It was time to leave the natural world behind for a few days, and head for Las Vegas, baby!  We departed Williams around 10:30 AM, taking a quick cruise down the main street.  It looked like the stereotypical Route 66 town, and I would have liked to spend some time walking the street, but it rained about 90% of the time we were in Williams.  At our first gas stop, I purchased a USB car cell-phone charger that worked for both the iPhone & iPod (Dominic and Ben) and the Samsung (Eric and Sharon).  I had no idea they made such a thing, but it was only $6, and much better than spending $20 apiece on separate chargers.

It was not a long drive from Williams to Las Vegas, and it was actually quite scenic in places, though very remote.  It was hot!  Just before we got to the Hoover Dam, the car thermometer registered 110 degrees! As for the Hoover Dam itself, I have to say I was a bit disappointed and underwhelmed.  For sure, it is a fantastic piece of engineering.  However, we never did get a good view of the front of the dam.  We drove over top of the dam after going through the security checkpoint, but it was so hot and crowded that I was ready to move on after about 5 minutes.  We hopped out of the car for a quick photo-op, and then we were on our way.  I was impressed with the bridge that crosses the valley in front of the dam.  It was probably one of the coolest bridges I have ever seen.

Hangin' out at Hoover Dam
Our Houston friends from the Grand Canyon Express had told us about a diner in Boulder City, NV, named The Coffee Cup, that had been featured on one of those famous TV restaurant shows.  We were excited to stop, but unfortunately they closed at 2 PM, and we got there at about 2:05.  So, we settled for their neighbor, Grandma Daisy's cafe, where I had a chocolate covered banana, Dominic had chocolate covered cheesecake, and Ben and Sharon had various other chocolate concoctions.  Boulder City was, in fact, a picturesque little town, and Dominic was excited to stop there because it is prominently featured in one of his apocalyptic video games.  There was an old-fashioned fortune telling machine and an automatic guitar player outside of Grandma Daisy's.  Ben tried his hand at both of these novelties.

Ben paying 50 cents for his fortune
We checked into the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas at 4 PM.  Now that we were at a fancy hotel, we were forced to use valet parking and have the bellman bring up our bags.  The bellman's family was from Pittsburgh, and he noticed my Pirates hat, so we talked Pirates for a bit, which earned him an extra tip. The boys immediately fell in love with the luxurious accommodations and bright lights of Las Vegas.  We had tickets to the Jabbawockeez dance/mime show at The Luxor at 7 PM, so after a short rest, we headed a few blocks south on Las Vegas Blvd.  Man, it was hot and the walk was uncomfortable, but we made it.  We got some fancy dinner at McDonald's, and then headed over to the theater to pick up our tickets and browse the gift shop.  Ben got himself a red Jabbawockeez shirt and white mime mask.  Dominic also got the mask, in addition to some art work and a ball hat.  We had great seats at the show, and the boys absolutely loved it!  It was very entertaining.  I think this was probably the high point of the trip so far for Dominic and Ben.

Who is that masked man?

After the show was over, we started to make our way out of The Luxor, but there had been a huge rainstorm during the show, flash-flooding, and the main entrance to the hotel was closed.  Fortunately, there was a side way back to New York New York.  Unfortunately, it went through the Excalibur, where the boys saw some more gift shops luring them with dragons, swords and other cool stuff.  Dominic bought himself a dragon/sword statue.  On the way into New York New York, he gave a couple of his dollars to a couple of beggars on the street.  Back at the hotel, we watched a little bit of The Nanny, for some odd reason.  My ankle was really sore again!  Ben liked looking out the hotel window at the lights on The Strip, and Dominic stated, quite emphatically, that he was moving to Vegas!  Week one was complete, and it was a resounding success!


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