Nevada: Las Vegas

  In-n-Out Burger in Las Vegas.

In-n-Out Burger in Las Vegas.

As we drove away from Coachella, my train of thought was split into two things; wishing that I had more time to reboot my sleeping pattern and being overly excited about arriving in Las Vegas. Because we had driven so much during the past few months, whenever we stay put somewhere for longer than a day or two, I get really anxious to pack and take off on the road again. The drive on this day lingered wonderfully. We stopped for lunch at Peggy Sue’s Diner. It was this pleasant little nook where the walls were full of 50’s décor occupied by Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and Elvis Presley prints in vintage frames and the meals felt like something my mother would cook for me at home.

Once we were back on our way, it seemed like there were miles and miles of desert with Joshua trees emerging from its grounds. I spent the rest of the way looking out for the green road signs that counted down the miles of how long there was to go until we reached Las Vegas.

I feel we arrived in Vegas in perfect timing. You know, that time of the day where the lights start to shine throughout the streets. Our hotel for a seven nights stay was the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, located right on the strip. It was a castle-like curious place that was chocker-block full of poker-machines and cheap booze — both things that later did much damage to the pennies in my pocket.

Kieran and I spent the week playing with an old friend of mine, Claire and her friend Tayla. The four of us undertook the mission to stay awake and celebrate Kieran’s birthday by having a 24-hour drinking bender on the strip. We spent these hours attending a magic show, walking from one casino to the next, dancing at a roof-top club, stumbling across a strip club and getting lap dances, meeting a working girl and her pimp, becoming acquainted with the local law enforcement and having a cartwheel competition on the main street. Kieran was so darn lucky to celebrate his birthday here, but so the saying goes; what goes up, must come down. Because we didn’t sleep for 24hours straight, when we finally did, we didn’t wake up for one whole day.

I think the trick to staying in Vegas for a week is to drive away from it every now and then. We drove to do our laundry one glorious morning. You come to appreciate minor things like this when you travel on the road. The feeling of putting on something when it's still warn from the dryer becomes so pleasing. We drove to the Hoover Dam, a place where Kieran had always wanted to go. And we drove to Freemont Street, a place they call the ‘old Vegas’. No matter what, there was always something to do in this peculiar and magical place.

It’s a funny concept really. Within Vegas you have the mini versions of the good things; you have a mini New York, a mini Paris, a mini castle and a mini pyramid. But on the other hand, everything in it is excess in size. It felt like the type of place that if you wanted it and you can pay for it, there is no doubt that it could be yours. So many poker machines, roulette and blackjack tables, half naked dancing girls, buffets, swimming pools, restaurants, nightclubs and shops galore. Before we knew it, after indulging ourselves with everything that this sin city had to offer, the week was over and it was time to pack and leave once again.

Driving away from Vegas, I realised how wild that place really is and how I owe it for so many good times and memories. I found it quite funny how just a few weeks ago I was in our van parked for days on end, looking out to fields of wild flowers and how freedom and peace was all that filled my time. Then suddenly Coachella and Vegas came on the cards and everything got a little crazy.

But then I wondered to myself how the heck I had managed to do exactly what I had set out to do during my travels; to gain the perfect balance between wild and free.