After an amazing week with Alicia’s family in San Diego we left ready and rested with our bags packed full of provisions for the long journey across the U.S. Originally we had planned to travel by car but after factoring in all the costs that came with it we chose to travel with Greyhound.
Greyhound is a bus service that covers main-land U.S. and Canada. What attracted us was the ‘30 Day Discovery Pass‘, at just $450, it gave us full unlimited access to the Greyhound’s fleet of buses as well as many other providers for a month. The benefit of the Greyhound was that we’d be seeing the ‘real’ America and its people at a fraction of the cost.
Our first stop was Las Vegas; city of sin to glitz, glamour, gambling and sorrow. We were to do a red eye and arrive a little after midnight on Thursday morning.
With the high beams up, the bus driver steered us through the winding roads into the wicked pumping heart of the Nevada desert. Enveloped by darkness, we were suddenly treated to a beacon of lights twinkling on the horizon, then as abruptly as their appearance a sand dune obstructed our view and we were once more suffocated in a blanket of black. This teasing continued over the next twenty minutes until we reached the centre of it all, Vegas.
With over 45kgs (100lbs) between us, getting onto the Vegas strip and getting rid of our baggage were priorities. Several Internet forums had suggested we’d be able to store our luggage with any hotel, just walk in and leave it with the reception, provided we tipped them a couple of bucks.
We had a hotel in mind which was in close proximity to the bus station, but upon arrival were thankful to see that the terminal had lockers. Stowing them for five hours cost a dollar per hour.
At 1:45am, with our baggage secured by lock and key we hit the strip. Well, we started walking to a 24hr bus to take us to the strip, under guidance from Greyhound’s security.
The 24hr bus was a short walk through Old Vegas, which was partly run-down and desolate. Fifteen minutes later we were on the double-decker bus to take us onto the Vegas Boulevard. The driver unwilling to give us change for a $20 bill (it was a $5 ride) was ready to cast us off the bus. Our fellow passengers being equally as uncooperative with our money woes left the driver no choice but to leave us at the next stop, within sight of the Stratosphere, the northern tip of the strip.
Two miles later, a coffee stop, passing by several drive-thru wedding chapels, strip clubs and petrol stations we were at the base of the structure. It was closed. Two hours prior, we would have probably heard blood-curdling screams as people fell from the 108th floor with Sky Jump. Now, littering the streets at the building’s foot were a couple of drunks and us tourists.
We spent the next hour walking from one end of the Las Vegas Boulevard to the other. At 3am on any Thursday morning, Vegas would be the one place to go for the sin, the glitz, the glamour, the gambling and the sorrow. At 3am on this Thursday morning, Vegas was a ghost town. The lights that still burned brightly were for the audience of moths.
So what else do you do in Vegas at this time but gamble. And we did. Roulette. Alicia bet black, I bet red. Double 0. No cheering crowd, no cocktail waitresses waiting on us, no slow motion as the ball bounced from black to red, red to black, black to red. It was over in seconds. No real excitement. Not like the movies.
After nearly four hours in Vegas, five miles walked and two overpriced Subway sandwiches, we still had the shirts on our backs.
© John Brownlie 2012