Wednesday, August 24 - This day was basically reserved for driving from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The main thrust of the trip was now over, although there were still some things to see (if we were lucky enough). The hotel in Phoenix was spacious, and the swimming pool was very nice, and provided a lot of fun in the morning. The one problem with the hotel was the lack of any real breakfast, as it only offered coffee and some juice, as well as some small snacks. That was about it. Still, we felt good as we pulled out of the parking lot in the morning, and then went to get gas and made last ditch efforts to find the surprisingly elusive Sonora dogs. Never found them, which still kind of annoys me a bit, when I think about it. Nonetheless, it was time to go, and so we drove through yet another desert, stopping on occasion to take more pictures, mostly of the wonderful Saguaro cactus trees, as well as some Joshua trees, when we climbed in altitude as we approached the Nevada border. We made a stop in Kingman, Arizona, where I half-heartedly checked some Mexican restaurants for the Sonora dogs, with no more success than before. The town really does not have all that much to offer, other than a bunch of restaurants and gas stations to serve as a kind of break between long drives from other destinations. We continued the drive, and eventually reached the Nevada border, as I tried to race a little to get to the Hoover Dam before it closed. Was not sure when it closed, but wanted to get there as early as possible, to make sure that we got a chance to see it. Fortunately, we made it, and we were both glad that we did! It was extremely hot there, although at least it was starting to be evening, and thus, the sun was not as piercing. Of course, we took the obligatory photos, and the really cool thing about the timing of our visit, albeit completely accidental, was that we got to see the Hoover Dam during both daylight and evening, as it started to get dark fairly quickly. It is an impressive feat of engineering, to be sure. One thing that I also noticed was that the lettering and artwork invoked the 1920's, pre-Great Depression style, which of course makes sense, given that was the time frame that this Hoover Dam was built. What was surprising to me was just how barren it all looked, as there was hardly a blade of grass to be seen there. Just mountains and brown everywhere you looked, except for the water and the man-made structures, of course. One cool thing that I snapped a quick picture of was a sign warning of mountain goats. We walked across, and as we were walking back, just as we reached the Arizona side where we had parked, there was an announcement that started repeating frequently, informing everyone that the dam was about to close, and no pedestrians would be allowed atop the dam any longer. Snapped a few more pictures, and then we headed back to the car and started our drive to Las Vegas, for our final night fully out west. It was closer than expected, as we saw the city lights fairly soon after leaving the Hoover Dam. Still, Las Vegas is deceptively small looking, and so it took quite a bit longer to actually reach the city. We headed straight for the downtown, to "Las Vegas Paris," because it seemed like a good idea to get some pictures by the Eiffel Tower, which is half the actual size of the real one in Paris. They also had a miniature Arc de Triomphe, as well as some buildings done in the style of the Opera of Paris, as well as the Louvre. It was okay, but felt a bit cheap, compared to the real thing. Across the street was the Bellagio, with the famous Dancing Fountains. This my son absolutely loved, and we watched them for quite some time. It was nighttime by then, which is when they seem to be especially spectacular. I was struck by how much they actually reminded me of fireworks, and how loud the water fountains could be. After a while, it was time to call it a night, although we did stop to watch an Elvis impersonator along the way. I had noticed him before, and there was something strange about the way that he looked. Maybe he had put some wax on his face or something, because he actually did not look real. Also, he would hold perfectly still (almost impossibly still) and would sing without moving his lips, appearing like some kind of a statue or something, so that passersby would think nothing of it. Then, he would approach them, usually startling them. Naturally, he was particularly fond of startling women, and a few of them really got scared for a moment (one actually screamed!). This also, we both enjoyed, and my son was reluctant to leave.