Sunday, March 25, 2018

Civilization meets nature on our first day of camper vanning

We picked up our Escape Campervan after finding our way out of the gargantuan and gaudy Circus Circus hotel in Las Vegas.

Skipping ahead, after a day of travel, I can definitely confirm that this is a better way to travel with little kids than in our own car. We’re all spread out and the kids are a lot further away from the parents!

Ok, so back to the morning. We talked to several fellow Campervan travelers at the pick-up place. They all raved about their trips and gave us great tips and tricks. And, possibly helped by being among the first customers of the day, we were able to score at least half of the groceries we had planned to buy in the communal “stuff” area, including extra propane tanks, a cooler, Little Debbies snacks, hot dogs and buns, and moisturizer (it is seriously dry out here compared to D.C.).

For breakfast, we met our buddy Rachel Korenblat and her daughter Emma on the burgeoning, gentrifying Fremont Street area north of the Strip. Public US was an absolutely scrumptious way to take in our last meal in “civilization.”

Fremont is a really nice example of Vegas’s strength at placemaking. This area was nothing more than seedy hotels and nudie joints before a recent influx of development (and funding from interesting sources such as Zappos) towards deluxe kids playgrounds and book and record stores. Best of all, it’s dotted with art installations from Burning Man.

There is also the famed AAA-supported autonomous shuttle, which I’ve written about at Mobility Lab, and bikeshare.

And now the adventure began, as Just outside of Vegas, the interstate opens to wide expanses of mountains and rocks. The drive is already beautiful and the van hums along. One recommendation made by fellow van travelers (who also gave us a bottle of wine) was to stop at the Valley of Fire State Park about an hour out. It was not a letdown, with ancient petroglyphs and (rock drawings) and petrified wood as part of the attractions.

One of the day’s highlights was to see a big-horn sheep on the side of the road and also a pack of about 25 mountain goats.

We ate at a Del Taco and bought groceries at Albertsons, which put us arriving very late to the campground with at least one grumpy kid, Zoey. Here’s to smiles in the morning after Rachel wakes up in the tent by the river (we scored a great campsite) and the rest of us in the van.


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