We found what was going to be a familiar friend in St George - the Howard Johnson (HoJo to those who are familiar with him) Wyndham motel. It's a chain of reasonably priced motels which are perfect for a comfortable overnight stop. People have been asking if we are camping as well as riding. The temptation to spend a night or two under the stars is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that we are travelling 'rough'. Sleeping 'rough' would require carrying tent and camping equipment and frankly, we are carrying enough as it is and let's face it, the idea of a hot shower, meal and a bed with clean sheets after a day in the saddle is somewhat an easier and more tempting option. We have another 4 weeks of riding to do so we are looking after ourselves.
The town of St George is clean and friendly but it wasn't a place we needed to spend more than a night in. We stocked up with a good supply of water - the temperatures are rising - and loaded up ready to hit Vegas.
The plan was to get to Vegas riding on as little interstate highway as possible and without going the entirely no interstate route of 5 hours of desert roads.
We do about 30 miles of interstate 15 from St George to Littlefield and then a little introduction to desert terrain on highway 170 through to Mesquite and Bunkerville. As we pass through Littlefield and stop in Mesquite for a short break the milage passes the 1000 mile barrier and Andrew asks me if there is something else I have noticed on the way. We have left the state of Utah and are now in the state of Arizona. In crossing the state boundary, we have also crossed a time zone and have gone back in time by one hour!
We hop back on the interstate 15 for another 30 miles (not too bad as the road is pretty clear in this part of the state) and then we join up with highway 169 which will take us through the desert, Logandale, past Lake Mead and up to the 'back door' of Vegas. This will take us into the state of Nevada.
Riding the desert roads is what we considered 'living the dream'. Roads which are pretty much spare of traffic; fresh, warm air; being able to see far into the distance; not having to wear bulky protective clothing and the vaguest chance of encountering Wile 'E' Coyote and Roadrunner - meep meep! No complaints from us about the heat. In fact, bring it on!
Essentials for riding in the desert are: plentiful amounts of water, sunscreen, fruit and a couple of pickled cucumbers. We made sure we had lots of stops, albeit without anywhere to shelter from the heat, but being British, we are sadly lacking in vitamin D so this was a good chance to indulge and absorb.
Seeing Vegas appear across the horizon was something. Vegas is a major landmark for us. The ride through the desert was an unexpected pleasure, and although we were glad to see Vegas looming closer, we would be even more glad to see the back of it after two nights there.
We booked the tackiest looking hotel on the block. The selling point of the hotel for me was the ice rink in the hotel building and the tackiness of it all didn't disappoint. The rest of Vegas is basically underwhelming, more vast than can ever be imagined, and a sad and desperate hole of solitude, iniquity and squandering. Great if you are into gambling, otherwise, forget it.
We visited Boulder City and the Hoover Dam in searing temperatures of 43 degrees Celcius/110 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot hot and hot! An amazing feat of human construction - many construction workers lost their lives - no doubt to the ill effects of the heat. It was originally opened in 1936 as the Boulder Dam, and then changed to the Hoover Dam (after president Herbert Clark Hoover) in 1947. The art deco design touches still look almost as fresh as they did back in the 1930's.
We head back to the Fiesta Casino Hotel after an Ethiopian meal and make use of the ice rink to cool down. The skating was fun. Mostly people falling over - us included, but a refreshing and happier way to say farewell to Vegas.
We could have gone to the strip to sit in front of the Bellagio Fountains or to marvel at the spectacle of lights and swanky hotels and casinos, but neither of our hearts were in it. Riding through the streets of Vegas isn't fun and definitely not worth the time and effort to see a load of neon. We called it a night and a weekend and vowed to get up early in the morning to get the hell outa there. Viva Las Vegas! Hasta la vista Vegas!
Andrew "AJ" Jackson of Eurorider Training.
AJ's Check List
*Motorcycles x 2
*All weather clothing/boots - windproof, rainproof as well as cool and warm layers.
*Panniers for carrying extra loads.
* Friction straps and bungees - multiple & spares.
* Chain oil and lube
* Acquired jump leads
* Puncture repair - fix a flat in a can
* Lots of monies
* A ball of string
* Rucksack for daytime carrying capacity
* Flexible attitude to life and journey
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