NV Day 6 - Red Rocks and State Fairs
Today was my first real day to just spend with my cousins in Vegas, because there was no high school nor any open mics to get in the way.
Our first stop was to get coffee, and because we all are all very similar, none of us could resist the hilarious logo of a place we were passing by called Grouchy John’s Coffee. The coffee was very good, though the service was probably too friendly for such a sour-pussed coffee cup mascot. I get why most people wouldn’t like it, but it would have been hilarious if their gimmick was that the service was totally pissed off the whole time. Oscar, scion of Grouchiness, may not have approved, but I was happy we made the pitstop.
Our primary destination for the day was Red Rock Canyon National Park. The park as a whole is quite large covering 197,349 acres and a lot of that area is actually shockingly green because there are several natural springs within the park which make it a very uncommonly vibrant ecosystem within the desert. Because of this though, while we driving along the access road my cousins and I were joking that it was a bit of a misleadingly named park because the rock was sort of reddish but not defining-ly so. Then we reached the actual canyon itself, and things sort of clicked:
The canyon was just stunning, and the red and white sandstone just seemed to swirl out of the earth in all sorts of funky shapes. The highest point of these rock walls reaches up to 3000 feet, but we didn’t hike up we hiked down into the red rocks. Siobhan understandably got nervous hiking down in flip flops, so she went back to the car while Shannon and I ventured on. We didn’t make it that much further as neither of us are particularly agile spelunkers, but we wanted to make it out to at least one overlook. Looking out over the rocks down into the canyon below is quite the view, though probably not one for those with a fear of heights.
While we were hiking back up, Shannon got the mischievous idea to run ahead to the car and tell Siobhan that I fallen into the canyon. Her reaction: “What? I don’t know how to drive this car!!” Good to know where I stand with her.
After hiking but before leaving the park (and letting Siobhan know I was still alive), we stopped at a little rest stop smack dab in the middle of the park which gave an amazing vantage point for seeing the entirety of the park from the canyon to the grassy plains to the tallest peak of La Madre Mountain (8,154 ft!). It really made for a magnificent panorama.
After the Red Rock Canyon, we naturally went to Red Rock Casino, because why should a national treasure be spared from commercialization. It was actually a pretty nice casino, and I won (and then promptly lost) the most I’d won on any slot machine, a whopping 20 clams. We mainly went there for the food court though because they had a Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a Delaware-based chain of shops that I have personally only seen in Vegas. My cousins were surprised I had never heard of them, and said they were a staple down here so I figured it was worth a try. They did make very tasty subs (far superior to Subway, though I’m unsure how much that’s saying), and importantly you could get really massive portions for almost no money. I got a turkey and cheese sub, with their homemade hand pulled turkey and it had a more authentic deli feel than an average chain restaurant. I washed it down with a Ben and Jerry’s AmeriCone Dream Milkshake, because it was my turn to be appalled when I learned that my cousins had never tried what is so clearly one of the best, most Stephen Colbert inspired flavors of ice cream there is.
After lunch, we drove up to Logandale to participate in that great American tradition: The County Fair. We went to the Clark County Fair, as the Nevada State Fair is all the way in Carson City, which was unfortunately just long enough a drive (Reno as well) not to fit into my trip. My friends in the midwest always talk about what incredible events fairs are for food and entertainment, but the fairs in Massachusetts that I went to in the past were always kind of lame because we just don’t have the same culture around it. I think this fair was somewhere in the middle, because it was definitely bigger and better than any I’d been to before but I don’t think it was quite as magical as I’ve heard Iowa and Minnesota state fairs are (it’s also possible that those fairs are more magical because the friends that swear by them first went there when they were kids).
The big draw of this particular fair is the rodeo, but unfortunately our timing didn’t quite work out to see the bull riding in action. We did get to see a lot of the actual bulls and horses up close in the stables, as well as other barnyard critters What we did see instead was lots of local art, vendors, good junk food, and carnival rides. Personally I had a very good homemade lemonade, and some tasty free samples at the vendor stands of different candies, pastries, and trail mixes. For rides, we all went on the sizzler, which is a ride that spins in one direction while the carts spin on their own axes. It was fun, but because it was so popular all three of us had to sit in one cart which made it a different kind of scary than it was intended to be as we could hear the damn thing creak every time it started a new rotation.
The best thing at the fair though was the people watching. My favorite thing to watch was this one little kid who held up the entire line on this giant moon jump (see left photo below) because he got scared at the top. He kept making like he was going to do it, getting scared, then making it look like he was going to walk down the stairs, but then turning around to try to do it again. It was like watching James Brown, but unlike the Godfather of Soul the kid did end up calling it quits. The little dance lasted for at least 10 full minutes though, and it was incredible. Another people watching highlight was someone on the sizzler, who was trying so hard not to look scared she just looked like she was having an existential crisis. We took turns trying to imagine what her inner monologue must be, and my cousin Shannon had the best one, in my opinion, with “I thought this was going to be my year”. I don’t want to knock the Sizzler, but it’s not the place to question your life decisions.
After the fair, we drove back to my cousins’ house. We had a big dinner with some family friends whom my mom and her brothers and sisters had grown up with, and who had also ended up in Vegas. The food was great, and the company was better, with lots of great family stories getting the dust shaken off ‘em. One classic is my aunt’s answer to why when she was a teenager she hit another car backing out of the driveway: “well that car’s not usually there”
After dinner, we all gathered around to watch John Mulaney’s SNL monologue live, because he’s one of those rare stand ups that everyone in the family can love. Not totally clean so there’s still an edge, but still touching upon universal themes with a light silly touch and a great knack for storytelling. He’s a master craftsman, and it felt like a nice old fashioned Johnny Carson type thing to all watch the same show together. Because it was basically ten minutes of stand up from a great stand up, it was probably one of the best SNL monologues I’d seen in recent years (funny how that works) but I do think my favorite part of the show was this beautifully dumb sketch Mulaney could never get on the show when he was a writer:
Favorite Random Sightings: Pink Jeep; WTPho (a wonderful stretch of a pun); The Last Great Hamburger Stand (a bold claim); Cactus Joe’s
Regional Observations: Las Vegas has drive through marijuana dispensaries which seems like a fascinating recipe for disaster.
Albums Listened To: Sleepless by Kate Rusby (folksy); Sleepwalker by the Kinks (a surprise great album from a band thought past their prime in 1977); Sleepwalkers by Brian Fallon (the opposite of a sophomore slump, as I personally think it’s better than his first solo album); The Slide Area by Ry Cooder ( a little too 80s but there’s some fun jams)
People’s Favorite Joke: none today so here’s one from the internet
A woman is breaking up with her fiance. She tells him, "I can't marry you. My feelings for you have changed."
The man says, "OK, I want my ring back."
The woman says, "I can't give it back to you. My feelings for the ring haven't changed".
Songs of the Day: