Mesquite is another Casino town. Casino’s are the main employer, and the biggest source of income. All the hotels and coffee shops seem to be connected to the casinos.
I went for breakfast, and obviously the restaurant was part of a casino. Walking into the casino at 9 in the morning to see people plugging away on slot machines, drinking and smoking indoors (which feels grim these days). I didn’t stay long. Standing outside with my coffee I got into a weird conversation with a drunk guy who who had obviously been there all night and liked the look of my bike, and then went on to moan about his family who had come to visit. He was nice drunk, but his brother came over too, and he was a mean drunk.
As I was pulling out of the Casino parking lot, a young couple on a dirt bike pulled in, both without helmets on. I suddenly remembered that Arizona doesn’t have a helmet law. I’ve never ridden without one, so just for the experience I took mine off and and set off down the road. The wind in my hair, the noise of the engine… the sound of police sirens.
The officer was pleasant enough about it. But he wanted to know what the hell I was doing riding without a helmet. He was kind enough to point out that while Arizona may not have a helmet Law, Mesquite is in Nevada, and they most certainly do.
I apologised profusely, cursed the rednecks on the dirt bike under my breath, put my helmet back on and rode away somewhat shamefaced, but fortunately without a ticket.
From Mesquite I headed west again essentially along the north bank of the Colorado river, towards Vegas. It was desert country again, the light is really unique here, even under cloudy skies, the sand must reflect the light and so everything has this bright, pearlescent quality. I couldn’t see the river though, so I turned south, through the very dramatic sounding, and equally dramatic looking ‘Valley of Fire’ state park, named for its bright red sandstone and its sometimes searing temperatures. If would quite have liked some searing temperatures, but failing that, I got amazing twisty roads, stunning views and all together wonderful riding.
I was planning to see the Hoover Dam, but I needed some food, and so I popped into Vegas. Obviously you can’t pop into Vegas – it is huge, and a bit distracting. I had been there years ago and had a really interesting experience chatting to ordinary people who made a living in this quite surreal town. I park up and go for a stroll up the Vegas Strip, which if anyone is concerned, is the name of the road, rather than a description of what goes on there. It is such a weird contrast to all the wilderness around it, having driven through hundreds of miles of desert to get there, and then to see people strolling around like they are in Blackpool and having prepackaged fun and hijinks.
I needed to stock up on decent quality road snacks, being a bit sick of food bought in Gas Stations so I headed to the Wholefoods near the airport, and bought dried fruit and Cashews and Clif bars.
And then, feeling the effects of my crazy day yesterday, and also needing to do more camping, I set off to find a campsite, and spotted a great looking one up in Red Rock Canyon. It was fabulous, a real desert camping experience, and I pitched up and chilled out for the afternoon, and got an early night.