The Pengelly USA Roadtrip

10 October-17 October 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada

Before we went to Vegas we stopped over for a night in Greenriver which was a little town not too far from the world famous Arches National Park. We stopped in the town to have lunch and see where we were staying for the night. Once we had done that we got on the road and headed to the park itself.

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The entrance to the park was in a giant chasm in between two massive rock structures. The road leading up and into the park was on a precarious ledge similar to Ou Kaapse Weg, but once over the road we entered a whole different area filled with giant rock structures. The park itself spanned many miles, and you could see the different rock attractions in the distance. But what the park is known for are The Arches, where the rock has eroded in the middle to make a whole in it, be it from water erosion, sand or wind.




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Some of the images we got were absolutely amazing and we found out that people come here early in the morning and stay throughout the day all the way to sundown to get the most out of the light. There were even camp sites within the parks walls where people can camp for weeks at a time and just observe the massive arches.

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It really was a sight to see and was quite a humbling thing to experience.

We stayed the night in Greenriver before heading off to Las Vegas.

Driving through the Nevada Desert was great with really amazing views. On the way to Vegas we passed a Delorean replica: do you all know what movie this car was in?

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Our week in Las Vegas was filled with new experiences, and a whole lot of fun. You could even say that the week was too short, as we didn’t get to do everything there is to do. We arrived on  Saturday quite late in the afternoon at the Grandview at Las Vegas timeshare resort. It was made up of a number of blocks of apartments, all with very high finishes.

We had planned on our first full day in Las Vegas to go on a tour with Harlen and his wife Karen who had both stayed in our house whilst we have been away. They picked us up from our hotel at around 10 o’clock and our day adventure began. It was like having our own personal tour operator  – they were amazing!

Firstly we drove down ‘the strip’, looking at all the casinos and all the people spending their money on the casino floors, whilst Harlen and Karen gave us some history about the area and what we were seeing.

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Now when I think of Las Vegas I think of desert, dry landscape with nothing but sand but it turns out as we found out on our little private tour that the surrounding mountains were all very lush with even a couple ski slopes. We drove about 45 minutes out of Las Vegas and I thought we might have been back in the Rocky’s it was so lush and forest looking.

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We got out of the car and looked at the area known as Area 51 which could be seen from the top of the mountain we were on. Area 51 was the place where all the nuclear testing took place in the 50’s and 60’s. We also took a look at all the wildlife around the viewing point and saw our first Chipmunks!


The road that we were driving along took us through the mountains and to a lovely restaurant where we were treated to lunch by Harlen and Karen, where they served the best ribs we have ever had.

We drove back down into the city on a different route before going through the city to another national park called Red Rock Canyon. It is called Red Rock Canyon because the rocks on either side of the canyon are a very bright reddy/orange color. As you can see from the photos:IMG_5933

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It was quite a sight, and as we were there in the late afternoon the colours on the rocks looked amazing, and made for quite a good photo opportunity.


We visited the visitors centre and learnt about what animals lived in the area as well as why the rocks are red. The rocks have a red colour because of the oxidation of the iron mineral sediments within the rocks. Yeah, I am a scientist and I wrote that in my own words ;)

After we visited Red Rock Canyon we drove back towards town and stopped at  the Red Rock Casino. We walked around and looked at all the different sections as well as got treated to a nice Starbucks by Harlen.

We hopped back in the car after looking around the Casino before ending our very long adventurous day back at our hotel. What a great day!

We were exhausted when we eventually arrived home in the dark. It was a really good way to see the entire city and that way we could identify what we wanted to do whilst we were there.

The following day we spent along the Strip, starting at the Cosmopolitan and walking through all of the casinos like the Bellagio with the world famous musical fountain and seasonal decoration exhibit. Then we went to Caesar’s Palace and looked at all the expensive décor. Then we walked up the other side of the strip, past Planet Hollywood, Paris, The Flamingo Hilton etc – a total of 12km that day!

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We ended up going into the M&M’s store and the Coca-Cola store. Both with their awesome displays and products. We were able to try Coke drinks from all over the world in the Coke store and we branded our own M&M’s. What an experience!




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Vegas for children isn’t half of what it is for people over the age of 21, it is literally just a gamblers paradise. Every different casino has different slots and tables and there are hundreds of them in each casino.

Cam and I had supper that night at our new favourite restaurant, Panda Express, just off the strip, before heading back to the hotel. Mom and Dad wanted to go out for a nice romantic dinner at the casino across the road.

The next day we set out to go to the world famous Gold and Silver pawn shop. We arrived at the shop and parking wasn’t really a problem. Now if you don’t know what this shop is and what it’s famous for you haven’t watched Pawn Stars on the History Channel, and you haven’t seen how he rips people off either! The shop looked nothing like I expected it too if I am to be honest.

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Yes, that is a wedding dress – we saw many many weddings happening in Vegas while we were there!

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We took a couple photos inside and then headed off to our next stop for the day, the Neon Museum – the final resting place for all the old neon signs from the old Vegas days. It was already getting a little bit too late in the day and we weren’t going to be able to make full use of a ticket and as we also wanted to do a pinball museum so we decided not to go in.


The pinball museum was basically just a giant warehouse full of pinball machines that were all plugged in and could be used. They had 100’s of these machines all accepting quarters to play on, but some of the machines required 75 cents to play them or 50 cents, so they were by no means cheap games. We must have been there for a good hour and a bit before we ran out of quarters. It was great fun! Even Mom got hooked!

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Mom and Dad then took us to an arcade with computers that are set up and let us stay there for several hours. We had a lady come around every so often wanting to know if we wanted food or just to top up our drinks. It was heaps of fun.

The other days were spent walking down different parts of the strip, and just looking at all of the different casinos and what they offered. We did the CSI experience in the MGM Casino on one of the days. It was really interesting as we had to follow the protocols and investigate a murder case all by ourselves and then at the end we had to prosecute someone. Now in the beginning, before we even knew the case or even the story I jokingly said: ” It was the brother who done it!” And funny enough it was the brother in the end. But it was fun getting to that conclusion via all of the different sections of a CSI lab.

We went up the Highroller which is a giant wheel similar to the London Eye – this one is the largest in the world. I won’t lie, it was a little bit scary and I was a little bit nervous and I think Mom was too. Heights are not my strong point so it was a little bit daunting. The views were breathtaking from the top of the wheel.

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On the last night we watched the Cirque du Soleil show named Zarkana (thanks to Karen, Harlan, Martha and Mike who gave us 2 comp tickets!). It was really a fantastic show – the things that they did on the stage were absolutely incredible to witness. The show was possibly the best show I have seen in my life, from the costumes to the set design, I would recommend it to anyone visiting Vegas.

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This is a sand drawing that a lady does live on the stage in a matter of minutes. You cannot get the real feel about how she did it but she was truly talented.IMG_3108

Our stay in Vegas seemed to fly by so quickly and soon we were on the road again. Vegas was a great place to visit and we will be back some day!

Now we are headed towards Nice in Northern California, driving through Yosemite, but more on that in the next post…

One thought on “10 October-17 October 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada

  1. Reg and Anne

    All we can say is wow!!! what a wonderful experience you are all having, what beautiful mountains and rock formation, you have learnt so much of the history of the USA no school book could say it better, well done Mitch. The pics make us feel as if we are right there with you. Vegas is unbelievable we just cannot imagine what it is like. Harlan and Karen and friends certainly took you to the right places and gave you so much info, that is wonderful and the cherry on the top was the circus, that was fun. I think you will all need a long rest once back in 17 days. Enjoy the last leg of the long trip. we are counting the sleeps!

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