It’s been several days since our last email – I guess we got a little distracted by the “stick in hand” incident. The common theme running through the last couple places we visit seems to be “extremes”.

The General Sherman Tree

For example, the Sequoia National Park we visited had extremely large trees. In fact, we were able to see General Sherman, the largest living thing on earth. Estimated to be over 2300 years old this thing creates enough wood each year through its bark and branches to make an average 60foot tall tree! Why is it called General Sherman? Apparently, it was common practice in the 1800s and early 1900s to name large trees after famous people that recently died. We saw a General Grant and an Abraham Lincoln. Heidi and I have decided to name our oak tree Ronald Reagan… and we’ve got a nut tree we could call Marlon Brando.

Death Valley

After Sequoia we went through the Sierra Nevada mountains and down into Death Valley. Wow was that place hot. Driving through with our windows down you could feel the intense heat blowing in the car. It was honestly like sitting in front of one of those fan heaters. Just thick hot air blowing on you. Not having any A/C though actually turned out to be a blessing. Throughout the valley about every 5 miles they have Emergency Radiator Water stops. We saw 10 or more cars pulled over with hoods up at those things. They just didn’t understand that you can’t run your Escalade at 90mph through 130degree heat and expect your A/C to keep you at a cozy 65degrees without any problems. We even passed a Lamborghini steaming at one of those stops – you can’t help but grin. For some odd reason there is a satisfaction in seeing a hotshot in that sort of car broken down. Kind of like passing someone on the Interstate who has been pulled over for speeding. Hey! That was me you were laughing at!

Just today I found out that when we went through Death Valley it hit record high temperatures. I think we deserve t-shirts or something – “I Drove through Death Valley with no A/C”.

Our hotel room

So after the extreme heat, we hit Las Vegas. On the 4th of July it was EXTREME INSANITY!!! But we got lucky in Vegas – unlike so many others. The hotel upgraded our room to a fancy-schmancy suite – giant hot tub and view of the Strip. As for lucky gambling… that wasn’t exactly the case. We left Vegas with $8 less in our pockets after gambling $15 in slots. You see, we don’t quite get into the whole gambling thing. Sitting at a machine dropping money into doesn’t float my boat (or pop Heidi’s corn). Half of the games we couldn’t even figure out – some of those video touch screen ones are impossible! We would sit puzzled at a machine and give up after a few quarters, only to have someone jump in our spot and grab the machines on either side and start cranking away. Like it was nothing!

And speaking of gambling addictions – our favorite character was a lady who at 8AM was sitting at a slot machine with rollers still in her hair. I guess she had just gotten out of the shower and was struck by the urge. You gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Now I have to go back a little and describe our hotel. We stayed in the Alladin Casino & Resort. I didn’t pay attention to the Resort part when I booked it but, WOW, they weren’t kidding. This was the kind of place that you could stay in for weeks without seeing the light of day. It had dozens of restaurants, a shopping mall, a spa, two theaters, and two levels of casinos AND 23 floors of hotel rooms. We got lost in the shopping mall when we arrived – we must have looked pretty dumb hauling our luggage in circles when the girl from The Gap pointed us in the right direction.

The Aladdin

I guess we were just distracted or more like confused by the decoration in this place. The inside of the mall was made to look like the outside of a Persian village. Every detail was perfect – everything up to the sky. The sky was painted to look like a real evening sky (and was very well done). But here’s the kicker – every 30minutes, the sky would darken, you would hear thunder and see flashes of lightning and the sky would rain. YES, water actually fell from the ceiling! It was insane!

Now I’d like to get up on a soapbox and tell you about the stuff going on in the streets of Las Vegas, but I believe this has gone on enough. We’ll just say it was EXTREME perversions and EXTREME crass.

Now with almost 6000 miles behind us,

William and Heidi

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