As we drove from the airport back to Alphas house the temperature gauge in the car showed 94 degrees. Oh you’re so lucky with the weather, we are told. Last week we had some really hot days! Welcome to the desert. The sky was perfectly clear but off in the horizon we could see the result of the dust in the air making the sky glow a nice orange colour. The airport is right next to the Vegas strip. Not the place you would think to build an airport but there it is, dividing the city and giving the perfect view for the millions of tourists that come to Vegas every year as they land. Most don’t get more than a few miles from the airport for the entire time they are here. It’s not the first time we have been here, and won’t be the last. We love to visit Alpha and Lawrence. This visit was to be more special than others as Lennoxx, their son turned 13 while we were in town so we got to share in the celebrations. The flight in was more than 25 hours and when we arrived we were running on adrenaline only. It kept us going for a while but we had to have a rest mid-day before we went out for a concert and dinner at the ‘local’ casino.
Alpha has a beautiful house in Henderson, a sprawling suburb (city) to the east of the Vegas strip. Las Vegas has had hard times and good. It’s hard to know how it’s doing now but near everywhere we looked we could see new construction. That isn’t saying the places are selling though but often construction is an indicator of the economy. Just like Perth, Vegas has plenty of land for building, unlike Perth, Vegas has no public transport to speak of, no light rail and we didn’t see to many busses on the roads. The full time population of Las Vegas is only 580,000, from the 2015 figures. The same year, 42,000,000 people visited Vegas… wow. That’s a lot of food, water and power and services to provide. The roads are up to the usual USA standards and have been built for growth. The entire time we have been here we have not seen any major congestion or hold ups. We’ve been very lucky to have the use of Alphas Chevy SUV during our stay. It’s not the first time I have driven a left hand drive car but the first few minutes are always a little scary. Christine is great with this process and will give directions to me starting with ’keeping to the right, we need to turn left here…keeping right, looking left’ Thankfully they are not big on roundabouts here and the roads are wide and well-marked and often have a divider in the middle.
We spent a few days getting used to the new time zone. We were waking up at 2 and 3 in the morning (local time) feeling hungry and wanting to sleep really bad in the middle of the day. We resisted having afternoon naps to try to speed up this process, but the big reminder of the new time zones is feeding times. We woke up at 3am on our second night feeling very hungry and couldn’t get back to sleep without having something to eat. Christine sent me down stars to get a midnight snack so without making too much noise, I sneaked to the fridge. Hmmm, not too much on offer. I ended up with a couple of sandwiches and some jerky which we happily had back in bed and went straight back to sleep. A nice snack! A few days later when Christine was making dinner for the family, she discovered the jerky we had was actually dog food, all be it gourmet dog food, but dog food non the less. We both agreed that it was still pretty good though and a first for us both.
Other than dog food, the food here is amazing! I have counted 5 rather large supermarket chains here in Vegas. Not sure if they are national or just in Nevada but it’s a far cry from the 2 brands they have in New Zealand. This means competition and with that comes low prices and good quality. We have been able to buy all sorts of fresh fruit and veggies, but the thing that’s stands out is the price of meat. We bought some chicken, 3 large breasts (organic what’s more) for under $5US. I was looking at scotch fillet, around half a kg for around $5 as well. Eating out is very cheap too. We have eaten at Panda Express a couple of times, it’s a Chinese food chain that has much the same sort of Chinese food as we see in NZ. We can get a large meal full of veggies for $7 each. A far cry from Australia where we completely blew our budget due to the cost of food. We were often spending $50 AUD on a café lunch of 2 burgers and a soft drink each and although nice we felt like we were being ripped off somewhat. Here a larger, nicer lunch will not even be $25US. In fact we had a buffet dinner at a top quality casino on the strip for under $50USD and we could have sat and eaten all night if we had wanted…
I guess that brings me to the cost of other things, hiking gear! We looked at a lot of gear in New Zealand and Australia and although tempted, we held off until we got here. We’re glad we did! I replaced my hiking boots for $110USD with exactly the same boots I bought in New Zealand for $260NZD. We bought a new tent for $560USD. The tent is not even offered in New Zealand but would be around $900NZD if it was. (Its $780AUD.) I could go on. I know New Zealand and Australia are some distance away but freight only adds a small amount to the price. Is it GST and other taxes? Who knows. The annoying thing is we can no longer buy a lot of these things on line. We get blocked to protest the local distributors in NZ. So we went to the local REI store and spent heaps of money on lots of cheap things and we are now good for another 15 years of hiking…
Next stop is New York. Well, we are staying in New Jersey and to be more confusing a place called West New York in New Jersey. We are on a ‘red eye’ flight. First to Chicago then another ‘red eye to New York. 2 red eyes.... We are keeping up our tradition of not doing things by half’s.
Thanks heaps to Alpha and Lawrence for the use of your house and car. You are amazing hosts and one day we hope to repay your hospitality somewhere nice!
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!