Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vegas - Our Way

3.5 hours (205 miles) away, Las Vegas makes a great weekend trip from Edwards. You can drive over on a Friday evening and return on Sunday - though we advise leaving earlier rather than later on Sunday. A rush of traffic always seems to develop along I-15 late on Sundays. If you happen to get hit in this traffic jam, exit at Harvard Road and take the service road a few miles parallel to I-15.

Weekend stays in Vegas can sometimes be pricey - and if that's a burden - try the VOQ at Nellis AFB. Else, there are plenty of good buys along The Strip. To keep other costs down, take bagels and fruit for breakfast and try to get off The Strip for other meals. But don't skimp too much because Vegas restaurants are tops.

Since we've made a half dozen visits to Las Vegas, this weekend's trip hit a few lesser known highlights. Let's start with breakfast. The Maple Tree restaurant served up a good breakfast skillet (also lunch) at 6000 Spring Mountain Road. We tried the Egg and I as well (large portions - great muffins): 4533 West Sahara Avenue. Both are 10 minutes from the Strip.

Instead of neon and gambling, try some hiking. Red Rock Canyon (17 miles from downtown Las Vegas) has a 13 mile scenic drive and miles of great hiking (chilly, 4700' elevation). Make a stop at the visitor's center to pick up a trail map because the trails are not well marked. You can also get your National Parks Passport stamped. For the geology minded, you can view the Keystone Thrust Fault. Seasonal waterfalls, a sandstone quarry and plenty of 'red' rocks await you.

En route home to Edwards, we stopped to visit the Calico Early Man Site (2 mile diversion from I-15 along a dirt road). Check the link for tour hours (by donation). Our host, Chris Christensen, possessed a wealth of knowledge and shared his excitement with us. It was hard to believe that this part of California was once quite fertile and hosted early man (and his stone tools). There's not much to see and you may only stay a half hour, but it's worth the stop.

After lunch at the brand new Chipotle in Barstow (2590 High Point Parkway), we stopped at the Western America Railroad Museum. Admission is free and they have a half dozen or so locomotives and cabooses you can actually climb on & peek inside. Great for kids! Take your Chipotle to the museum and enjoy a picnic outside among the locomotives. Next door and also free, you can visit the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. They've got 3 rooms of Rt 66 memorabilia and a decent gift shop.

Remember, a trip to Las Vegas can be a great adventure even if you're not a casino type.

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