My next destination, or so I had thought, was the Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. The approximately 560 miles could be covered in about six hours or so depending on how many stops I would make. The problem is that I was late to leave the Grand Canyon and I wouldn’t arrive at the Joshua Tree National Park before six o’clock, lowering my chances to get a camping site that late in the day.
I had been on the road for about a couple of hours when I got a phone call from my husband who asked me where I was. As I told him that I was close to the Arizona-Nevada border, he suggested that maybe I should take a detour and go visit our friend Bob in Vegas. It seemed to be a great idea since I wasn’t going to arrive at the Joshua Tree National Park at a convenient hour. I asked him to contact Bob right away as I was quickly approaching the exit to Las Vegas, Nevada and a decision had to be made within the next twenty-five miles. Our friend lives in New Hampshire and has business both in that state and Nevada, often commuting between both states. By the time I reached the exit to Las Vegas I had not heard from either my husband or Bob; I decided to take the exit and head to Las Vegas regardless. I reckoned that if he wasn’t in town or able to host me I would take a hotel for the night. I was just about twenty miles from Las Vegas when I got two text messages: the first one from my husband asking me if I had seen the note from Bob and the second one from Bob to both of us letting us know that he had just landed in Vegas. However, he was letting us know that he had “snapped” his back and was on pain killers and “no good for anything”. My chaperone for the evening was “out of service”.
Although I had had no intentions to stop in Vegas during my road trip and had no other reason to go there other than visiting Bob, I was then too far out of my way and it was too late now to turn around. I made a reservation at the MGM Hotel and a few minutes later I checked in to the hotel. It was my break from the road and camping. I am not a gambler and in years past I had been to Las Vegas too many times for conferences and got tired from it. In my opinion Las Vegas is not a place to go by yourself, so this was going to be my downtime, relaxing and letting my body rest from the recent days of hiking.
After walking around that evening I realized how exhausted I was, so I decided that it was time to get back to my hotel room and go to sleep. The following morning I woke up feeling very sore and made the decision to stay an extra night in town. I just did not feel like getting back on the road that day. I found out that the hotel was sold out so I had to look for another place to stay that night. Good news! As I looked for a hotel I found out that I had accrued enough points through my Expedia card and I could have a room as a reward night in a few hotels; I chose the Mandalay Bay.
Having worked in hospitality for many years, I must admit that the Mandalay Bay wowed me from the moment I walked into the lobby. The check-in was flawless and I even got an upgrade! From the decor of the room and cleanliness to the view and the size of the bathroom, all made me a happy customer. The bed was so comfortable that I just did not want to go anywhere else.
I had an early check-in and had plenty of time to check the amenities offered at the hotel. Going to the gym was simply out of the question. With more than seventy miles hiked in the past ten days, sitting by the Beach Mandalay Bay pools seemed like an attractive option. I had read about the “adults only” pool and that’s where I was headed to, but when I asked which direction to go I was told that the adults only pool is not open everyday. To my disappointment it was going to be open the next day after my check-out time. I settled for a spot on the man made beach with its artificial waves. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating. It was growing increasingly windy and the sun was a bit shy with the temperature barely in the low seventies. However, it was the loud, screaming children who got me out of the beach. I don’t think I had seen that many children in one place since I left kindergarten. That was a surprise to me as I had never thought of Las Vegas as a children’s retreat!
Back in my room it was time to wander around and find a place to eat. An Irish Pub in the hotel’s complex got my attention. It was dark and cozy! After having an amazing burger and a Guinness, knowing that I would not do anything else that evening, I stopped at the casino in the hotel and played in one of the slot machines just to kill some time. While waiting for the elevator going back to my room I reached for my phone to check the time and realized that I had left it at the machine where I had been playing. Turning around I realized how large the room was. I had no idea about which machine or section I had been sitting at. I asked one of the staff who look like undercover security people and she said that it would be really hard to figure it out and asked me to go talk a security person who was nearby. I showed him the cash out receipt that I had printed from the machine which helped him locate the section where I had been playing. As we were walking to the zone the machine was located he received information that someone had just turned in a cellphone to the security desk. It had been found! Thrilled with my phone back in my hands I headed to my room trying to not get into any more trouble. Opening the screens on the phone I came across something rather bizarre: the person who found it took a faceless selfie. Did she try to leave me a hint telling me that she had gone through my pictures?! I am just grateful for her having turned it to the security desk regardless of her reasons to leave me a selfie. I was starting to miss camping and sleeping in my tent; it was time to leave Las Vegas!