A fortune lost
we were going to take our chance with the traffic bound for Las Vegas. After
breakfast we left the hotel and drove north along Vermont Avenue, but for once
our faithful Rand McNally Raod Map let us down, as it guided us into Griffith Park,
with no way to get out, but turning back, so we did. After some time we managed
to get to I-5, which we followed to California 134. Unfortunately we made a
wrong turn somewhere and ended up going in the wrong direction on the freeway,
but with a few more detours, we finally reached I-15, and went in direction of
Las Vegas. Going through Los Angeles and suburbs we had been in heavy traffick,
but when we got to the interstate it eased up. All this had taken quite a while,
so when we reached Victorville it was already time for lunch, which was a snack
at a gas station. Around 20 miles before Barstow traffice started to slow down,
and we drove slower and slower until we finally came to a halt 15 miles south of
Barstow. Here we waited for the next 90 minutes without moving an inch.
The traffic jam was because of
an acciddent some ten miles further ahead, and when that was cleared, we could
continue to Barstow. After Barstown we left the interstate to visit Calico Ghost
Town, together with a bunch of other tourists.
The town is a former mining town that was founded in 1881 when silver was
in the area. In 1887 there were around 500 silver mines in the area and
the town had 1,200 inhabitants, a china town and a "red light district." The
area was one of the richest in California, although it was the middle of the
Mojave Desert. When no more silver were to be mined, and other minerals,
primarily borax, ran low as well, the town was almost abandoned. Today there are only
9 permanent residents in the "town". In the mining period, silver for about $ 86 million
borax for $ 45 million were mined in the area. The largest
silver mines was Silver King, Odessa, Waterloo, Garfield, Oriental, Bismarck and
Maggie. Maggie Silvermine is open to visitors. These and other rich silver mines
pierced the mountains around the city in their search for silver, and today
there are more
than 30 miles of galleries in the mountains.
We walked around and
looked at the buildings, but avoided most of the souvenir shops! Dorte was so impressed by
Hank's Hotel, that a picture of it is still hanging in the living room at home. Before we left town again, we took a trip with a small converted
mine train, which now takes tourists around the area. Among other things we
were shown the entrance to the Silver King Mine, which still has silver in it
for an estimated value of $ 6 million. Unfortunately it will cost about $ 10 million to
mine it, so until the price of silver goes up, it's just waiting.
From the town we continued on the Interstate 15 into the Mojave desert heading
for Las Vegas. At this time we experienced the highest temperature of the whole
in the shade. We later learned that in the sun the temperature would be running
close to 140 and that the asphalt in the roads can get up to 195. At this temperature you can actually fry an egg on the hood of your car or on the road.
We didn't try though, but continued to Las Vegas only interrupted by a short
biological break, when we passed the Nevada border.
Around 5 pm, we reached out hotel, the Las Vegas Hilton on Paradise Road. And then
our problems albeit of the amusing kind began. As we entered the parking lot, we saw a sign, or rather two signs. The one
pointed to Valet Parking and the second was to Self Parking. We thought we would be able to
park our car ourselves, so we continued to Self Parking, and also found an empty
space, only a little away from the entrance to the hotel. We left our luggage in
the car and walked to the hotel to check-in. Inside the entrance was a hall
with shops on both sides, but no reception desk, so we walked down the corridor that
led from this hall. Again there was shops and restaurants, and we started talking about
where the reception was. This conversation was overheard by some other Danes who
were going in the opposite direction, and they asked us if we had problems.
Dorte told them, that we were looking for "our hotel". They however
understood it literally, and
asked which hotel we were staying at, and when we replied that we would stay at
the Hilton, they assured us that this really was the Hilton. We then had to
explain that it was actually the hotel lobby we were looking for. Then they
explained that the easiest way would be to leave again, get our car and drive to Valet Parking.
We did as told, and had no problem locating the lobby, after the valet had
driven away in our car!
We got a room on the 14th floor with a fine view over the city. In the room we relaxed
for an hour or two, bathed and dressed and went then down
to locate one of 14 restaurants on the premises, where we could have dinner. We
decided on a Mexican restaurant. Before dinner we ordered a couple of
margaritas, and that we got. They were so big, that it was all we drank during
the whole meal. When we were done eating, we went outside the hotel and took the
monorail to the MGM Grand Terminal. At MGM we walked around in this vast hotel where they also kept lions
at the time. From MGM we walked along The Strip back to our hotel. The temperature
was still above 85 at 9.30 pm, and our shoes were not exactly meant for walking,
so our feet
gradually became a little sore. But we enjoyed the many casinos and the
many people. It was Saturday and Independence
Day Weekend, so there were a lot.
We walked for a little more
than two hours
and we were somewhat tired and hot when we got back to the Hilton. We agreed on
tgrying our luck in the casino, but as none of us are big gamblers we decided on
spending only $ 50 each. This amount lastet for about 50 minutes, then we we were bankrupt. We took a drink at
the bar, and brought it to our room, an experience richer - and $ 100 poorer -
The big surprise in Las Vegas was actually the evening temperature, that was
much higher, than I had expected in the desert.
- Return to Surprise Trip -