The Durango Nephews

 take their Fabulous Uncle to Fabulous

Las Vegas

Uncle Durango was moving to Texas. Moving from the Mild Temperature Mild Weather Zone of the Pacific Northwest to the Wild Temperature Wild Weather Zone of Texas. The oldest nephews of Durango, Jason and Joey, cousins of the other Durango Nephews, Christopher and Jeremy, decided that their Favorite Uncle needed a Dose of Heat to prepare him for the Hell that is Texas. So, they decided to take him to Las Vegas. In the middle of August. During a record breaking heat wave. 

Arriving from Seattle, where the temperature was in the 60s, on touchdown at McCarran Airport we were greeted with a blast of Vegas heat which first hit as we walked the gangway to the terminal. The first thermometer to come into view said 114. We quickly found a shuttle bus to take us to the Alamo car rental place. Got the car after a long wait. Would not rent a car from Alamo again. We were hungry and wanted to get to our hotel, Excalibur. Jason and Joey wanted to see if their delicate northwest heat sensitivities could tolerate the Oven-like Heat. So, we drove out to Hoover Dam as the sun began to set and cast shadows on the canyon walls. After driving to Arizona and then walking across the dam back to Nevada we headed back to Vegas. But got sidetracked by a turnoff to Lake Mead. Got to a park, walked to the lake, touched the water. Had never felt such warm lake water. It seemed to be the same temperature as the air. Well over 100. Such a swimming opportunity could not be passed. So we went for a  swim in super warm Lake Mead. We were liking the heat. A lot. If this was what Texas was going to be like, it bode well for Texas...


The next morning we drove down to Treasure Island for breakfast. Came back to Excalibur. Jason and Joey wanted some extended pool time. I bought a paper and went to the pool to read in the shade.

The next morning we drove down to Treasure Island for breakfast. Came back to Excalibur. Jason and Joey wanted some extended pool time. I bought a paper and went to the pool to read in the shade.



There are misters near the Excalibur pool, shaded for hot weather babies, like Uncle Durango. Jason and Joey lay out in the sun on lounge chairs, seeing who could last the longest without having to run into the water. It was not a pleasant spectacle to witness as they lay there broiling.  


The front page of the Vegas paper had an article about the record breaking heat wave. It said that that day there was a chance Death Valley could break its all time record of 130 something.  Jason and Joey were asked if they would like to drive out to Death Valley. It was agreed this sounded like a good idea. When would we have a chance to be that hot again?


Badwater. In Death Valley. The lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. 282 feet below sea level. There is a weather station here which is where it is likely the temperature record would be broken if it were to break. This picture was taken about 2 in the afternoon, a few hours before the hottest part of the day. It was 127F. We were unable to last for more than a few minutes out in it. The valley floor was heated far above 127. It is like walking on fire.

Joey appears to be tip toeing across the super hot salt crystals. Badwater being the location of the lowest point in Death Valley, what little rain falls, drains to this point. Jason is digging into the salt and finding water. If you look above Joey to the top of the photo and a bit to the right you can see a small white dot. This is a sign which says "Sea Level". 



See Joey Point. At Zabriskie Point. It was a bit of a hike from the parking lot to get to the Zabriskie Point overlook. At almost 130F degrees this hike was a bit overheating. It is not now remembered why Joey is wearing a baseball hat in this heat, or why it appears he is wearing gloves.

After Zabriskie Point it was time to head back to Vegas for our evening buffet. We went to Monte Carlo. It was good.

The first choice of a place to take their uncle was New York City, of course. But that wasn't feasible. Way too much time in a plane to fly clear across the country. So, New York New York in Vegas sufficed sufficiently. Although Uncle Durango would have been  perfectly happy not being subjected to New York New York's jarring Coney Island Roller Coaster ride.

Here we see Jason leading the way to New York in order to ride the Roller Coaster. You can see the Coaster's track in both these photos, looping to the left of the Statue of Liberty in front of the New York skyline. Jason sat behind Joey and his uncle who were in the front position. An available for purchase souvenir photo is snapped mid scream, which is what you see to the right. 

The Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower is the tallest free standing observation tower in the United States. 1,149 feet. The tower is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It's more than twice as tall as the Space Needle in Seattle. At least 3 times taller than the faux Eiffel Tower which is just down the Strip a bit, and even taller than the original Eiffel Tower in the original Paris.

Visitors are transported from ground level to the observation deck in less than 30 seconds in double decker elevators traveling at speeds of 1,800 feet per minute. That is how the tourist brochures describe it. We would discover it to be one of the bumpiest, wildest elevator rides we have ever experienced. And that was just the ride up. The ride down was even more adventurous. And if the elevator ride isn't thrill enough, the truly desperate for a thrill can find even more excitement over 100 stories above the ground on the Big Shot ride and the High Roller roller coaster on the roof of the Stratosphere Tower.

Uncle Durango had agreed to go on the thrill rides. Tickets were bought at ground level. We rode the ultra-bumpy elevator ride to the top. As we got off the elevator, alarms were ringing, a voice came on the loudspeaker to announce that, due to a security concern, the Stratosphere Tower was closed, the elevators were shut down. We had taken the last elevator to the top. All electricity was cut off. People were left stranded on the 'thrill' rides. The temperature quickly began to rise. It was well over 100 outside. The alarms kept going off.  After awhile Uncle Durango insisted their money be refunded. It was. Then an insurrection was mounted which led to the bar being opened and free drinks being administered to the stranded thirsty heat parched tower victims. As the time passed no explanation was given as to what was happening. We were told we were in no danger. Except for being stranded over a thousand feet in the sky with the interior temperature of this Jetsonesque malfunctioning tower steadily raising. 

Finally, after over two hours, the elevators were again functioning, the screeching alarm silenced. There were at least 200 victims waiting in line to be evacuated. We got onboard the elevator, still not knowing what the problem had been, wondering if the bumpy elevator was safe. We arrived at ground level and were greeted by an apologetic manager. He was told we were starving. He then wrote us out some passes to the Stratosphere Buffet, and if memory serves, we got our money refunded once more, sort of our own double coupon policy.



Here we see Uncle Durango and Joey after the trauma of being trapped in the overheated Stratosphere Tower, enjoying a complimentary buffet. As we ate, the nephews observed a person at a nearby table win some money at Keno. The next thing I knew I was signaling for Keno runners to take Jason and Joey's bets. They soon lost whatever money we gained from refunds and free buffets. But that didn't discourage them. They insisted on coming back to the Stratosphere Tower of Malfunction the next morning for breakfast so they could lose some more money. Joey also played some video poker. He did not appear to be 21. Uncle Durango loses track of his nephew's birthdays and how old they are, which became apparent later that evening at the Hard Rock Casino...

After our Strato-Trauma we decided to stay up late, it being our last night in Vegas. After dark we went downtown to experience Fremont Street, the original pre-strip classic area of Vegas, now covered by a multi-block space frame, closed to traffic and erupting regularly in spectacular light shows overhead. The temperature was 112 as midnight approached downtown. We watched the shows and wandered around the casinos. Then drove back to the strip to try to see the Treasure Island pirate battle. But high winds had closed it. 

So we went to the Caesar's Forum Mall. According to the opinion of some the most spectacular mall in the world. Jason wanted to go shopping alone, so Joey and I took off and watched a show in the main part of Caesar's and drank a libation. Then we decided to go to the Hard Rock Casino, leaving Jason to fend for himself. The Hard Rock Casino was packed. We shoved our way around, found a place to sit, were asked if we wanted a drink, Joey looked at me, I shrugged and said 'beer'.  About 3 in the morning we drove out into the desert, stopped to look at the stars in the sky and the bright lights of Vegas, then headed back to Excalibur to sleep for awhile before a Keno breakfast at Stratosphere and one last dip in the Excalibur pool before our return to Seattle.

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