Thanksgiving this year is sadly far away from family and friends. We are instead at a fancy hotel outside of Las Vegas (points racked up from three years of bi-coastal work travel gave us two nights and a Thanksgiving feast). We miss home especially on this holiday but, after four days of camping with no water or electric hookups, we are thrilled to be here and are taking advantage of every amenity this place has to offer: a shower, bathtub, big screen TVs, wifi, and piles of fluffy, white hotel pillows. It is probably safe to say we are the only ones here who are otherwise living in an RV, which we’ve parked in four spaces in the back of the lot (no valet service for us, understandably). Walking in with our backpacks, pillows and unwashed selves, we were probably a sight to see!
The Thanksgiving buffet was even more extravagant than we expected. G takes fancy very seriously, so she requested a special hairstyle and then a champagne flute for her apple juice. Elian hates fancy but was won over by endless meat and three separate dessert tables. We each ate our weight in food.
As nice as this hotel respite is, the days leading up to Thanksgiving were better. We drove from Arizona to Nevada via the Hoover Dam, stopping to eat lunch, change back from Mountain to Pacific time, and marvel at the size of this massive concrete structure. Built during the Great Depression as a way to generate hydro-electric power to Arizona, California and Nevada, it was originally called the Boulder Dam (Hoover name apparently controversial) and attracted laborers from all over. Many stayed and settled in what is now Boulder City, NV.
The Dam also created Lake Mead, one of the largest man-made lakes and our destination for a few nights of camping. The lake is at its lowest level in recorded history but still impressive and a great place to camp, although we noted the irony of being in the shadow of a hydroelectric dam without water or power.
We managed a day and a half of school and spent many hours looking for a place to get our hot water heater checked out (no luck; every place was booked), but otherwise just relaxed in nature. We took bike rides and long walks, looking for but not finding desert tortoises or big horn sheep, and watched the sun set and a full moon rise from behind the mountains. And then we traded in the natural wonders for the unnatural wonders, first for a day on the Las Vegas strip and then for a slice of the hotel life.
The kids oohed and aahed at the lights and glitz of the strip. Suddenly rule-abiding and morally outraged, Elian was upset by all of the gambling and wouldn’t even walk past the tables and slot machines. But he and G both loved eating pizza on the “streets” of New York New York and visiting the birds in the Flamingo’s gardens.
We also enjoyed some great people watching; there are some serious characters walking around!
Now, the day after Thanksgiving, we are hungover from eating too much, binging on cartoons and National Geographic’s Saints and Strangers, and tossing and turning in unfamiliar beds. Being in a hotel makes the Woodebago feel like home, which it will be again tomorrow when we continue our journey west. By Dec 1 we will hang our hats in San Diego, first at San Elijo State Beach and then at Silver Strand State Beach.
I just love reading your blogs and am so proud to watch you and your family take this wondrous journey. Your writing makes me feel like I am “there” with you and I have shared your stories with many of my friends.. especially young parents! We look forward to watching your adventures unfold throught these next months, and love knowing that as you approach your 10th/11th month of travel, you will light here in SC for a few days! We’ll send pictures as you get closer so you’ll know what to expect. In the meantime, we wish all of you continuous wonders each and every day!