About an hour away from Las Vegas hides a ghost town right by the “city” of Nelson. “City” because Nelson consists in like 10 houses and.. that’s it. When we were just 1 mile away from the ghost town, the gas warning went on. And we were literally in the middle of nowhere.. We reached the ghost town and hoped we would be able to make it back to civilization with what little we had left.
We got to the ghost town a little late in the afternoon as we had a few errands to run earlier. Being almost winter and the fact that the city is located in a hole surrounded by hills, it was quite dark. This obviously put Steph in a very good mood – ahem.
This town is supposed to be frozen in time in 1861 and basically consists in a really nice and well organized dump of cars and every single object from the past you could possibly find. There is mainly transportation but also cool tools, broken instruments, signs and other random findings that we couldn’t even figure out. This place was used to shoot a couple of films, music videos and photos in general. Well that would explain the crashed plane! This one was actually used in “3000 miles to Graceland”, a Kevin Costner movie. The interior of the main store, the only one actually in use, showcases thousands of objects, many random skulls and taxidermy – is there such a thing as rabbits with horns?
We took a walk around the coolest finds of the area, from trailers, to metal pieces, to outdoor patios with broken fridges to an old piano sitting among the cactuses. Another great location for a little fashion-like shoot!
Then it was time to drive back… We anxiously took the road with our almost empty gas tank – luckily most of the road back towards Las Vegas was downhill and we managed to get back to the city’s closest gas station with no breakdown. At least it was a good lesson for the rest of the trip: check your gas before taking the road in the desert!
Arriving in Las Vegas after spending the entire day in the desert of Death Valley is quite the contrast. You reach a hill and all of sudden a million lights appear in the horizon – especially at night! Obviously, campgrounds of Las Vegas would only accept actual RV’s, not our home made van house. So we found a very cheap hostel north of Las Vegas Boulevard called Sin City – how fitting. Being night time, we had to jump into fancier clothes and head to the casino! We walked to the Stratosphere, the closest casino. After watching tourists jumping from the top of the tower in a harness, Steph decided it wasn’t appealing enough for him: “it’s too slow! I want to bungee jump!” So we went for a walk around the casino but we were not convinced by the atmosphere and the interior decor.
We walked to the Circus Circus to find a fun setting to spend our very first gambling money! We started at the electronic Black Jack to actually learn how to play. $1 bids and a virtual dealer lady on a big screen- what will it be in 50 years? Being in front of a computer wasn’t ideal so we joined a roulette table! Now this game is pure luck, but it’s quite fun when there is a good crowd. We spent $100 in total, the amount we had authorized ourselves for the night. Once we had lost everything, the people around the table being lots of fun, we added another $20 and ended up winning $100 back! Not bad for some good times in the casino for 3 hours and free drinks – and STRONG ones for that matter (they sure know how to keep people gambling.)
The following day, we woke up with waffles for breakfast at the hostel, a great place to meet people from around the world on their own little adventure and chat about travel experiences. In the afternoon, we drove to a ghost town – which we will talk about in the next post. As soon as night fell, we were back in Las Vegas to visit the more famous part of the Strip, where the Ocean’s Eleven famous casinos are situated. We parked at the Bellagio to watch the renowned fountain light show in front of the hotel. Splashes of water dancing in synchrony to Elton John’s “My Song” is definitely must-see! We then visited the inside of the Bellagio, the Caesar Palace, the Paris, the New York New York, etc. It wasn’t exactly the same vibe as the night before. In the Bellagio’s of the world it’s fancy outfit, fancy gambling. Bids are made with $100 chips as opposed to the night before’s ridiculous $1 chips.
Being a Friday night, we got to experience the craziness of the street, the rushing of limos around us and girls wearing “bachelorette party” outfits. We explored the many floors of the M&M’s store and ended up designing our own “U.S. by us” blue, red and white M&M’s.
We knew we had to finish the night beautifully and we decided to do so with the one and only New York New York roller coaster. Well it was indeed f***ing insane!!! One of the coolest we’ve done with steep accelerations and squeaky noises that will freak you out. All of that outside with flashes of lights from the casinos and stores of the street.
After waving our goodbyes to California and selling our surfboards (no Steph didn’t cry) we took the road towards Nevada. This is where the endless roads in the middle of nowhere officially began – and it was quite a change after getting so used to California. After a quick sleep on a rest area by the highway in the desert, we drove to Death Valley!
Now this is where you want to make sure you have enough gas because we probably crossed 1 car every 50miles/80km. We took the scenic road of Badwater, feeling the heat increase by the minute as we got closer to the desert. After passing by a cute little fox and lots of driving in an incredible Mad Max like setting, we reached the desert of Death Valley at Badwater basin. This location is all the more impressive when you realize it is the lowest elevation point in North America: 86m/282ft below sea level. Totally inspired by the location and the imposing scenery, we walked in the middle of the white and dry soil for a little photoshoot! Absolutely ideal to show off our brand new rounded sunglasses! Don’t you think?
We then took a quick walk in Golden Canyon under an indescribable heat, which then led us to a well deserved stop at the visitor centre of Furnace Creek. A quick tour around the museum, a good lunch and a bit of chilling outside and we were back on the road towards Las Vegas. On our way, we stopped at the Twenty Mule Team Canyon to observe the pudding like dunes spread out in front of us. We then continued on the endless and incredibly scenic roads under a colourful sunset. Now that’s my kind of road: large, empty, straight and with incredible views – one of the few where Steph isn’t too scared to let me drive.