If you have been reading my website at endlessroaming.com you would know I have been blogging and photographing about my 8-month road trip around the world in 2019. This is it, Roaming has come to an end for 2019, these are the highlights traveling through Nevada to Las Vegas and then back home to Sydney.
After a day of long distance driving and spending some time in Yosemite National Park, this was it my final leg of the road trip headed for Las Vegas. I headed out of Mammoth Lakes early in the morning towards the ghost town of Goldfield. There was some incredible scenery on the way, Mammoth Lakes itself and an extensive landscape surrounded by mountains in all directions. As the sun came up a few hours later, I found myself in the seemingly like ghost town of Benton. There weren’t many people about and I pulled up alongside the “Benton Hot Springs” General store, which looked like they had boarded it up a long time ago. In the park next door were parked rusted out vehicles from the 1920-30’s a few of them riddled with bullets from what I assume were machine guns. I continued my drive through a few more abandoned towns, and eventually reached my destination about four hours later.
Goldfield is a former booming mining town that was mostly destroyed in an enormous fire in 1923. There were boarded up old buildings, and also a few stores open on the high street. Goldfield is undergoing a rejuvenation of sort, there are plenty of old car wrecks and abandoned houses about the town but also roadworks and renovations of the towns larger buildings. I checked out a few of the stores, which sold all kinds of relics from times past. There weren’t many people about however and mostly it still kind of feels like a ghost town. It’s a surreal place. This was more so the case when I headed out of town and was directed to the “International Car Forrest”. A collection of cars and buses that were buried in the ground with graffiti and other art works sprayed all over them. There is something unique about being alone in the middle of the desert standing amongst these old wrecks, it was amazing.
After a few hours futher I was in the famous Death Valley National Park. Id decided to visit the Area 51 Alien Centre which was also nearby as Id visited it in 2012 and it’s a “Once in a lifetime opportunity” but not twice, instead electing to do some extensive driving through Death Valley. My first stop was Rhyolite, a true ghost town with no inhabitants, just a few buildings including a house made of glass, the railway station which is boarded up (no rail) and abandoned box cars. Even more curious is some artwork that has been placed there recently, statues mostly and all different kind of peculiar. There were a few tourists however like Goldfield I felt the isolation.
I headed towards the visitor Centre at Stove Pipe Wells. My entry point was the northern side of the valley and I had a fantastic view of the rocky desert below. The further down into the park I headed the warmer it started getting. I pulled into the visitor centre and immediately started sweating; the heat was insane, 50C plus or more which is hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of your car. The heat was insane as it is a valley, the entire area is surrounded by mountain rocks, there is no water so all the heat just falls on the valley floor, hey its Death Valley, not Lovely Valley. I purchased a litre of water and drove along to a canyon for some hiking, 10 minutes later, gave up on that and drove to the Southern exit towards Las Vegas. iOn my left was a viewing area so I pulled over briefly like a lot of other tourists and took a few photos. The the valley was rich in desert colour, mostly red, yellow and white, then it was time to pump up the airco and continue to Vegas.
Now there is a lot written about Las Vegas, so figure Id add my 2c. I love it. This was my 6th visit and is always the place I like to begin or end a Global Roam though the USA before heading back home. I love the chaos, the cheap hotels, cheap food, booze, people and if you know where to look other attractions that make the place strange and unique. It’s an iconic tourist destination and in many ways very tacky, I love tacky as reflected in my ever increasing collection of road signs, graphic t-shirts and other unique items stuffed in my suitcase Id been collecting during this road trip. Id booked a few casinos for my 6-night stay, the first two nights on Fremont Street where the casinos are a lot cheaper, then move up to the Strip during the week when accommodation prices drop.
After checking in at the casino I had a swim in the pool, and then headed into the Fremont Street Experience. This is an open walkway with all kinds of carnival attractions, casinos, liquor, crass shopping and people in assorted states of drunkenness walking about seemingly lost. There is an overreaching arch roof displaying all kinds of lights and animation with music blaring all day and all night. Its frankly bizarre and truly unique, I downed a few beers and then walked down further away from the noise to the South Las Vegas bar area. I met a few Las Vegas locals who took me on a pub crawl of the less touristy venues, watched a band, drank plenty of liquor and found myself in my hotel room sometime the next day (thankfully), sheepish and disorientated. Hangovers are what Las Vegas is about so a must is a reasonable room, television and decent pool area for recovery. After a big fat American breakfast and a swim, I went to do some exploring.
I still had my rental car for a few days before handing it in so thought I’d take advantage and have a drive around the city during the day. Las Vegas during the day is not pretty, it’s actually ugly, lots of traffic, low-rise buildings (except the Strip) and with the Nevada heat coming down on you. I first did some antiquing which ended up in this amazing store, almost like a supermarket full of all kinds of pieces, cowboy gear, pinball machines, furniture, clothes, guns, the list goes on. I was almost out of room in my suitcase so decided on purchase a few antique zippo lighters. The staff were attired in almost regal like dress and caked in makeup, they were very helpful and “loved” my accent calling me honey. After that I headed to the Vegas sign museum, a collection of former famous Vegas casino signs from places that had been levelled a long time ago. It was all very impressive, though the ticket price was costly. It was then time to hand in my car at the rental agency and move to the strip for the rest of my stay. No more tourism, just drinking, talking and eating.
My last four nights were a bit of a blur, a buddy of mine flew in from Los Angeles and we attended the Memorial Day Dance Party featuring an internationally acclaimed DJ. Once upon a time I enjoyed this kind of scene though now days I’m in my mid-40s so felt a little out of place… I had an incredible time; the music was superb, drinks were flowing, people dancing in the pool and everyone scantily clad, I kept my t-shirt on as I’m not as I used to be. After five hours of drinking, dancing and talking I headed back to the casino, passed out, woke up, showered, met my mate and continued the night till I couldn’t continue.
After a night of recovering from the Memorial Day party (what is Memorial Day anyway?) it was more pool time to time, retail therapy and walking about the amazing Las Vegas Strip, by day horrendous, by night amazing. There is just so much to see and do, whether it’s take in live shows, hit up a nightclub, eat yourself into a food coma or take selfies in front of amazing casino fronts. I played some video card poker, but mostly I am not a gambler and don’t have the concentration span to watch live shows. I walked about and had a chat with random people, easy to do as everyone in Vegas seems on holiday and all are very friendly. It’s a welcome place and there are a lot of distractions to keep you engaged, but after 6 nights it was time to face reality and head home, jobless and homeless, the downside of the Endless Roam,
So that’s it, the end of my Roaming for 2019. Ill bide my time and keep publishing blogs as I have a lot of content from past trips to catch up on, also photos to post from around the world. I’ve adjusted to life back home in Sydney, a brief jaunt working with Sydney Ferries and now back in Information Technology Industry which will make it simpler to save for the next trip hopefully 2021. I hope to have a book out about this adventure later this year, and I’d like to thank all those that have followed me since starting this blog. It’s been a great journey starting in Borneo then to Thailand, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Italy, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco and the USA and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Hope you enjoyed the read and will have a few blogs coming up soon and never know maybe I’ll meet you on a Roam, take care.