Despite how freaking freezing it was during the night, we woke up on our last day in Zion feeling quite toasty inside our sleeping bags.
Since it was our last opportunity to eat breakfast in the great outdoors, we made our last two dehydrated breakfasts! Huevos Rancheros and a Breakfast Skillet. And coffee, of course. One of the breakfast pouches didn’t zip shut, so Krista balanced it precariously inside the tent with our sleeping bags wrapped around it to keep it warm. I was nervous for the 20 minutes it took to “cook,” just imagining watery eggs dumped all over our expensive sleeping bags. But Krista’s sleeping bag cooking skills are up to snuff and there were no spills. It turns out that two breakfasts is too many for us, so we ate what we could and trashed the rest.
As we packed up our belongings, we tried to think about what to do with our extra drinking water. It turned out that we had way too much with us and whether we just didn’t stay properly hydrated for the duration of this trip or it just wasn’t necessary, I don’t know. But we wouldn’t be able to bring it back with us on the plane so I offered it to our camp neighbors (the same ones who refused our extra JetBoil fuel), but they declined (again).
After a little while, they offered us some coffee, but we had already made some so now we were the ones declining. And I’m sure the only reason they even offered it to us in the first place is because we kept trying to unload our goods on them like the good Samaritans that we are. Once we were all packed up and ready to go, I shouted “Bye guys!!” in a last attempt at forcing a friendship on the neighbors. So awkward.
The park rangers were happy to take our JetBoil fuel and gallons of drinking water, so we donated those as we exited the campsite.
Driving to Las Vegas was HOT. But while we roasted in the sun, we came up with another great idea for a film. It’s a John Mayer special. Like, who is he really? A playboy? A sensitive lover? Pick one, John! You’re confusing everyone.
And you know what else is confusing? Las Vegas. Just finding the entrance to Harrah’s Hotel and Casino was an ordeal. The GPS began to malfunction as it instructed us to “Turn left. Turn…Tur…Tur…Tur..” But we shut that robot off, and managed to find it anyway. Krista sat in the car, while I checked in at the Diamond Lounge (thanks, Aunt Joanie!) On my way back to the car, I had a nice? exchange with a hotel worker:
Hotel Worker: Excuse me, miss. Are you a walker? Me: …what? why? Hotel Worker: It’s just that you look like a walker. Me: Oh…well I did just finish a big camping/hiking trip. Hotel Worker: It’s a compliment. You have good posture. You look good. Me: Thank you…
The car was in complete disarray from a week of camping and we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of the fancy valet guys. So we planned to temporarily park in the self-parking lot so we could re-arrange our belongings and then go back and let the valet guys park the car for the sake of convenience. These casino parking garages are massive and even though we are now trail masters, we are still not parking garage masters. So after we finished re-arranging, we got lost trying to get back to the valet. Eventually we figured out how to escape the labyrinth and trundled into the hotel and up to the 19th floor to immediately take showers.
We requested razors (which I forgot in Krista’s NYC apartment) and bottles and bottles of lotion from room service. (We are so dry!) Then we decided to check out the swimming pool where we saw many strange birds. And by birds, I mean people. Some guy with a mullet, and not an ironic one I might add. A haggard old lady with red, sparkly stilettos. And more!
We figured we might as well get in the pool even though the overweight couple sitting on the edge told us it was too cold. They were right. It was too cold. But we got in anyway. Because we are on an adventure! After about 2 minutes that was enough adventure and we sat in the sun for a while until I felt like I was burning.
We went back into the hotel and got ready for dinner at Izakaya Go. It was in a strip mall, and the wait staff seated us right next to the one other couple in the place, which we thought was weird, until about 5 minutes later when the entire restaurant filled to capacity. We ordered like 6 things and asked our waiter if it would be enough. He said it would definitely be enough and we could always take the rest home. I think we surprised him when we ate every last bite of food on our plates.
To be honest, Las Vegas is not my favorite place, but I would be tempted to go back just to eat at this strip mall. It was so delicious and we ate so much that we fell into a food coma and lost all desire to explore the city. We laid on our individual Queen sized beds and chatted and reminisced about our trip until bedtime. Tammileetipslife followed me on Instagram and liked almost every single one of my #parksandtrekreation photos. Who ARE you, Tammileetipslife, you wonderful enigma?
Waking up in a large and cozy hotel bed was delightful. We showered and packed up in preparation for our flight home, including the tent (pretty perfectly on the first try, which is a feat in and of itself), then checked out of the hotel. I realized I had forgotten to tip the maid, so Krista went to get the car from the valet while I ran back in to remedy my mistake. It took longer than I expected because I had to basically check back in to get a key, go all the way to the 19th floor, leave the money and then check out again.
Apparently while Krista waited for me in the passenger seat, a brigade of maids passed by on their way in to work and when I opened to door to get in the driver’s seat, Krista was startled, thinking I was one of the maids. Once she realized it was only me, we drove to the Hard Rock Hotel to have breakfast at Culinary Dropout.
The food was delicious. The decor was very hipster-like. We sat by a fire, drank fancy Bloody Mary’s, and ate smoked salmon and biscuits and gravy. It was so lovely that we could have stayed all day (which our beautiful, 80’s retro hip-hop waitress informed us was quite alright), but we figured we should give up our table and explore at least a little bit of Las Vegas.
We went to Fremont Street (the old downtown area) and walked amongst some Las Vegas style crazies. I think I prefer the New York style crazies that I’m accustomed to. Krista wanted to go into a largely Native American souvenir shop which had nothing of interest, but we stayed in there for far too long anyway. We stopped at a grocery store to buy coconut water and a blast from my past - an Original New York Seltzer in Peach flavor.
Then we stopped to watch an 8 year old “Wonder Kid” who sang a Christina Perry song to the crowd as her parents informed us that they were engineers who were not profiting from their daughter’s tips. But a crazy, homeless man yelled death threats anyway. We took that as our cue to move on.
Trying to escape the madness, we had the bright idea to circumvent Fremont Street by going through the Golden Nugget but ended up just getting lost in there. Add casinos to the list of places we cannot successfully navigate. After that debacle, we found ourselves at the “adult jungle gym” that our waitress told us about. Lies. It was most definitely a place for kids, but with stores and restaurants surrounding it. To kill time before our red-eye flight, we just browsed some shops, made friends with a chatty jewelry store worker from North Carolina until new customers came in and she lost interest in us, then we sat in some chairs until we realized we could just go back to the Harrah’s pool and be more comfortable.
Thanks to Aunt Joanie and our casino host, Bruce, we spent the rest of the afternoon in a poolside cabana.
After we got kicked out at closing time, we went to Sushi Way to have dinner. We still had some time to kill, but decided to just head to the airport anyway and return the rental car. The signs were not well marked and if not for GPS, we would still be driving around Las Vegas. Finally we said our goodbyes to our good little car and found our departure gate.
I had a moment of panic when I thought I had left my ATM card at Sushi Way, and after speaking to the restaurant staff for several minutes, I found it in my back pocket. Shoot. I’m turning into my mom. Then we took face swap photos on Snapchat while we waited for our flight. We laughed so much and so hard until we couldn’t take it anymore, irritating our throats and surely our fellow passengers as well.
Once on the plane there was a medical emergency one row ahead of us, but thankfully for the one having the emergency (and of course for the rest of us) it wasn’t so critical that we had to make an emergency landing, though it was an active situation for the flight attendants for the duration of the flight.
But we made it back to LaGuardia safe and sound, where my mom was kind enough to pick us up and drive us home.
This trip was beyond epic, completely surpassed our expectations, and will live on as one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.
Here are some Boyz II Men lyrics to serve as a slightly ridiculous farewell to #parksandtrekreation:
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
How do I say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh Outweigh the bad. I thought we’d get to see forever But forever’s gone away It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. I don’t know where this road Is going to lead All I know is where we’ve been And what we’ve been through. If we get to see tomorrow I hope it’s worth all the wait It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And I’ll take with me the memories To be my sunshine after the rain It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And I’ll take with me the memories To be my sunshine after the rain It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.