Sunday, June 5, 2011

Las Vegas & Blue Diamond

As we had rolled in to Vegas pretty early, Valerie was keen to get some more cowboy boots (by the end of the trip, the car will be filled with shoe-boxes). I had previously thought the western-wear shops in Calgary were stupidly large, but this particular Boot Barn was on another level. There were at least twenty aisles of cowboy boots, as well as those shelves lining the walls. Valerie found a pair she liked, while I contented myself with a pair of boot-cut Wranglers – I may decide I have enough money just before leaving Canada to get a pair of outrageous boots, but they would have to be made in Alberta.
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Boots, as far as the camera can see

Red Rock Canyon has a good reputation for riding just outside of Las Vegas (good hiking too apparently). I hit some trails outside of the very small town of Blue Diamond yesterday morning. Blue Diamond was originally a company town for the gypsum plant just down the road – fortunately for it, it was far enough away that it didn’t get demolished during expansion of the plant (unlike poor Exshaw). I got a map from the local bike store (there are probably less than five stores in total in town, so good to see one is a bike store) & a recommendation for the best two hour loop. Leaving Valerie to amuse herself (which she did quite easily), I was quickly up to the saddle on a fine day for riding (sunny, nice breeze). Paying ten dollars for a map was OK, but no one had thought to mark any of the intersections – so the three-way ones close together got more confusing than they should have been. I ended up doing an extra half-hour loop with a nice techy climb & interesting descent then traverse back to the saddle. I still managed to get most of the loop I was given in & back to the car in ninety minutes. I must have missed the best part, as over the twenty kilometres it, for the most part, wasn’t all that interesting – spent a lot of time just riding straight, easy gravel paths. Nice ride all up, but perhaps I’d be more charitable if I didn’t spend so long looking at a map trying to work out where the many intersections led.
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The yuccas were scratchy, but at least I didn't fall in any cacti.

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Gorgeous day for a ride in the desert.
Back in Vegas, it was a short walk back from the hotel after dropping the car off to get the injectors cleaned out. This turned out to be the highlight of this Vegas visit – sad, I know. A quick search online showed that one of the closest auto shops was just over the railway lines. It turned out that they specialized in exotic, mostly Italian, cars. The mechanics were great to chat too (an old guy, Cal, & a Kiwi from Dunedin with the best/strongest Kiwi accent I’ve heard in months) & it was nice to have a look at all the cars they had in the shop. My dust-covered old Outback looked a bit out of place surrounded by Ferraris, Maseratis, Alfas, Bentleys & so on in various states of repair. It was a pleasant respite from all the tackiness on the Strip.
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Some guy brought his Camaro in, after getting the Dino back from a full engine rebuild that day.

More of the afternoon was spent checking out one of the Outlet malls, which always turns out more costly than it should. Thankfully, the temperatures during this visit were a good ten degrees Celsius lower than my last visit – 30ºC/86ºF is so much more pleasant than 45ºC/115ºF. I quickly tired of the shopping & hearing too many Australian accents (strong-dollar has made them almost as numerous in Vegas as Mormons are further north!), so we headed back to the hotel for a while before heading out to check out the Strip during the evening.

Each time I’m Vegas I feel I’m doing the place a great disservice by not going out & spending a lot of money on food, drink, shows or just throwing it away down a slot machine. If I was with a group so inclined (I must have friends like that somewhere), I might just do so – but this time I was quite happy to wander slowly along as Valerie discovered it all for herself. After all, there are so many weird & wonderful things to see - & that’s before you start people watching.

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