17. Wyoming
Spring Break 2023: Las Vegas

Spring Break 2023: Las Vegas

Our plans to play in the Buckskin Mountains on the southern Utah/northern Arizona border fizzled when, just a few days prior to departure, its 10-day weather forecast read like a broken record: rain-rain-rain-rain-rain.

Plan B was Las Vegas and I was not very excited about it.

Red Rocks Canyon, a very well-known climbing mecca, lies just west of Vegas. It’s lovely but it is also overrun with every flavor of recreator. Look just out your window and slow down! We are approaching a huddle of spandex-clad road bikers: draped over their carbon fiber steeds and riding two abreast, they whiz along the scenic loop road handing out looks of condescension. Don’t you feel like a lazy slob, touring Red Rocks in your car rather than under your own power? If not, then that steely-eyed squint the dude in the pink singlet just threw you should bring you down a notch.

And then there’s the speed tourists. Gravel crunches under the slow-moving tires as they creep in to the Scenic Overlook parking lot; the passenger-side window lowers, a cell phone is held up and out, recording a few images of “the scenic overlook”, and they are off to stalk the next pull-out, collect the next cool image, all from the ease and comfort of their cars.

Worst, because we have to spend most of our time around them, are the annoying climbers at the crag. To our right, hogging several of the kid-friendly climbs, are the “spring break moms” with their kids: sporting shiny new gear, chatting up their hired guide, and coaxing their children to “climb wherever they feel joy” (barf). To the left we have the college girl from Berkley with her french accent on over-drive. Belaying, she croons “Allez, allez!” in a breathy, come-hither tone to the man climbing above her. Ew.

Yes, I’m embellishing a bit for the sake of this post. It’s just being around so many people puts me in that kind of a mood. To be fair, we did meet a lovely climbing family from Denver and we enjoyed several days of sunny and warm climbing at Red Rocks.

Hugo hopping on a route at Cannibal Crag. (“Allez” chic in the background).
Love the striations on the sandstone here.

Hugo posing in front of his secret cave hideout.

Sun, red rocks, and fun climbs!

Lunch at the crag.
Belaying Hugo on this nice little, very mellow, very low-angle “climb”. This area that we found was very family-friendly. Short approach and lots of moderate climbs.
Fun in the sun!

Sharing a climbing crag with so many others is not something we are used to as we typically seek out solitude and wilderness. Red Rocks had neither, but what it did have was dirt: dirt, sunny days, and warmth – three things we’ve been missing a lot of lately. So we, like seemingly everyone else in the United States, descended upon Las Vegas for Spring Break.

On the Mustang Loop at the Late Night trails.
Mountain biking amongst the big red rocks and funky Joshua trees.

Camp is somewhere down there and far back. Stephane on Dead Horse Loop.

On day two or thereabouts, we moved camp and thought we had absolutely scored with the new spot: scenic, trails out the door, and quiet – no one else around! Well, we found out that evening just WHY no one else was around. Apparently BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land in Nevada is “different” than BLM land in Wyoming, Colorado, and just about everywhere else I’ve been. As the BLM ranger standing outside our camper door in the dark with his blue police lights flashing (unnecessarily, I might add) explained to us, as we held our steaming bowls of ramen noodles, “This BLM land is “special” BLM. That means you can’t camp here.” He graciously let us stay that night since we were already set up for the evening. The next morning we headed back to our Lovell Canyon Road location.

Don’t touch!

Blue sky, a little chilly, but lots of dirt to play on, and views for days.
Nice camping spot up Lovell Canyon Road, just west of Red Rocks/Vegas. Lots of places to spread out, but a little chillier temps as we were higher up in elevation here.
It was pretty cold so we spent evenings in the camper, which was still lots of fun: Yahtzee, Cup O’ Noodles, fizzies, and brews.
We did spend a few days “in the city” of Vegas. This afternoon, after greasy pizza and creating wax Harry Potter glasses (so much better than the typical crayon/coloring menu they typically give kids), we checked out the Children’s Museum.
So this pizza place, instead of giving kiddos the typical crayons and coloring menu, hand out packets of different-colored wax sticks which you can then bend, wrap, and smoosh into various creations.
Playing with water at the Children’s Museum. This room was actually cooler than most of the others. The theme was how water can be used to transform into energy (i.e., Hoover Dam powers all of Vegas).
Checked out the Luxor, which is the big glass pyramid casino.
Posing in front of Egyptian hieroglyphics and a “Sphinx”

In front of the Excalibur, before The Tournament of Kings.

We took Hugo to see two shows: here he is at his favorite, The Tournament of Kings. Complete with an “eat with your hands” dinner and some awesome live action from King Arthur and his knights of the round table. We sat in the Spain section, so we rooted for our Knight from Spain.

Waiting for the show to begin!
The second show we saw was Circe Du Soleil’s “O”.
“O” is filled with incredible gymnastic feats, strength, balance, and athleticism. These athletes are incredible!
A few more shots from our time on the Strip. Here in the Bellagio, posing beneath incredible blown glass art.
Bellagio- flower art, koi ponds

Next, we drove to Boulder City, Nevada to check out the Bootleg Canyon trails and the Hoover Dam
The camping was not the most scenic, but it was very convenient for biking! We were able to camp on a gravel lot right next the Bootleg Canyon trails! Hugo enjoyed the jump/pump track section, and Stephane and I took turns taking laps on the more challenging trails.
At Bootleg Canyon
Cute little ‘nature trail’
Posing with our favorite, the jackrabbit.
Checking out the incredibly massive, impressive, and overwhelming Hoover Dam. Incredible!!
Very cool Art Deco style art and architecture throughout. These metal sculptures were getting a facelift at the time of our visit.
The Hoover Dam
We stopped in St. George, Utah on our drive home and spent part of the day climbing and mountain biking. Here climbing at Chuckwalla Wall – super easy approach from the parking lot.
Nice loop here: Chuckwalla > Beck Hill > Turtle Wall. Stephane was a hero, pulling Hugo up the long, steep, and rocky Beck Hill.

It was a lovely spring break even though we had to drive all the way to Vegas to find some warmth.

On a side note: I am excited to report that Hugo read aloud to us for an hour and a half, non-stop, on the drive home. Unfortunately, his choice of books were his Star Wars stories which I have read to him about 1.5 million times, BUT, the point is, he was reading, excited about reading, and proud of himself!! We do not allow TV in the car, even on a 20-hour round-trip like this. Yes, it means we have to work harder to read to Hugo, or bring activities for him to do, or interact with him more in the car. BUT, in the end, I truly believe that he is more creative, imaginative, and thoughtful because of this. It is worth putting in the effort and putting up with the complaining and pouting. 100%.

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