With our car problems behind us we embarked on the longest car journey I have ever taken in my life. It didn’t make sense to go to LA then Vegas, before back to LA for the flight home. So we plunged for the 10 hour trip to save time in the long run. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought. We chatted, listened to tunes and I read my new Amazon Kindle (much easier for me than a heavy book). The video shows the vast amounts of desert and then the fantastic bright lights as you hit the Vegas strip.
We had managed to book the Vegas rooms before leaving the UK too. We went for the MGM Grand on the strip. With so many rooms, 2 theatres, casinos, shops, swimming pool and many restaurants, ‘grand’ doesn’t begin to describe it. We hit our first disability related hitch on arrival. The valet parking wasn’t totally geared up for side ramps, but we sorted them out. Then the showers in the ‘accessible’ room had steps. I learnt some valuable tips from Srin on this trip. I have always had such a positive attitude, but sometimes to my detriment. I have never complained about anything, but realised sometimes it is a principal thing when you are treated incorrectly, especially due to disability. As Srin had lugged his shower chair all the way there, a roll in shower made sense. So we went to reception and explained. They were great. They placed Srin in the fully accessible room and due to a shortage, Tina and I were bumped into the ‘Celebrity Spa’ room. Most luxurious! Ironically it also had a roll in shower. Due to lack of head support, I used 2 MGM grand plastic bags over a pillow, innovation in disability hey… Then the transformer that allows UK wheelchair chargers to work in the USA broke down. Srins wouldn’t work, but before we headed to spend $200 on a new one, we managed to use mine. This meant doubling up on charging, but we made it work. The A-Team of disability collaboration J
Having settled in, we just wandered around the hotel and marvelled. It is honestly something I have never seen in my life. So many lights, machines, noises and atmospheric touches, all arranged to encourage gambling and money making. Cynical I know, but it is true and spectacularly clever how it is carried out. Having slept well after the journey we used the following day to explore the strip and hotels. With so many sights within one road, that one day wasn’t enough, but we ticked off the main places. We used the very accessible monorail, due to the freezing temperatures. We were unlucky with the weather in San Fran and Vegas, apparently we brought the UK climate with us. Highlights of the day were the sight from the top of the Stratosphere hotel, Hugh doing a Base Jump from the bloody building (twice), seeing the Gondolas at the Venetian (Venice replicated inside a hotel) and enjoying a good drink with the guys.
Our second (and last day) in Vegas we crammed a lot in. We took the car out to Arizona, so we actually hit 3 states in a week. This was to see the Hoover dam and Lake Meade. I gave a little spiel on the video about how it was man-made to tame the Colorado river in the early 20th century. The view was spectacular. Then we made it back to our hotel to watch Cirque du Soleil. I lost myself for this hour and a half. A magnificent show of mystery, dance, acrobatics and escapism. So cool! We then used the last few hours for a couple more drinks and some GAMBLING. To be honest I am not a big gambler nor rich to squander my $$$ but “what happens in Vegas…”. Srin hit the roulette table, we all tried the slot machines and I did some Texas hold ‘em Poker. Having won my first hand I got a little cocky and then lost it again in a blink. Think I will stick to Poker with a £10 in each, winner takes all. Less financial risk this way 😉
With the bags packed and ready to head to LA, there was one final drama in Vegas. The MGM grand is known for famous boxing matches. Hugh is also a keen boxing fan. Having gone off for a wind down drink after helping Srin to bed. He returned 4 hours later a little sheepish. Srin had been worried about the time he was gone and the story transpired that a random drunk guy ended up taking a swing at Hugh. He grazed his face but Hugh dived away. In an act of self defence Hugh planted a swing of his own on the guy too. Security swooped and asked Hugh to explain the events in front of CCTV footage in a quiet room, hence the delayed return to Srin. Pretty crazy stuff but all is well that ends well. Tina did a good share of the driving to let Hugh recover from the trauma and we headed to my ‘West-side’ pilgrimage the following morning. Pictures of Vegas and the rest of the trip are on http://www.flickr.com/photos/martyn_sibley/sets/72157625513550662/
With warmer climates and the promise of stardom, tune back in next time for Los Angeles, my meeting with Jack Black and a cold/snowy return home!