“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom”
State 22: Nevada - December 7, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in North Las Vegas having had a restful night sleep. Today we drive 16 miles Southeast to the Clark County Museum in Henderson, NV to view the memorial for the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting; the deadliest mass shooting in US history. On the night of October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival from the 32nd floor suite of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Between 10:05 and 10:15pm, Paddock fired over 1,100 rounds into the crowd of 22,000 leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. He was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his motive remains unknown. In the aftermath of the tragedy, people held candlelight vigils, lined up for blocks to donate blood, raised $3 million on a gofundme page, and even the Las Vegas strip dimmed their lights for 10 minutes to honor the fallen. 2000 miles away in Chicago, IL, a retired carpenter named Greg Zanis heard about the Las Vegas Shooting on TV, and went out to his workshop to begin building.
In 1996, Zanis found the body of his father-in-law who was killed by gun violence, and built a wooden cross to honor his memory. Ever since, he has been constructing and personally delivering wooden crosses to honor the victims of gun violence across the America. Over the past 20 years, Zanis has constructed over 20,000 crosses to show the severity of gun violence in our country. He made crosses for the victims of Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, Columbine High School shooting, the Colorado movie theater shooting, and hundreds of crosses have been erected for gun violence victims in his home city of Chicago. Zanis’s crosses are publicly displayed with the name and picture of each person killed to show the severity of gun violence in a way statistics cannot. Each cross Zanis constructs features the name, picture and the details of the life lost. The 58 crosses surrounded the world famous “Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas” sign as a testament to the victims. On November 12, 2017, the crosses were moved to the Clark County Museum, Nevada, and will be on display until December 17, 2017 until a permanent memorial is constructed. It was at the Clark County Museum where the Cross Country Couple caught up to the 58 memorial crosses.
We all read the headlines, saw the news reports, and heard the tragic stories of this senseless act of violence, which claimed the lives of the innocent. However, standing face to face with 58 crosses, with names and pictures of each person killed, viewing the memento's left behind by fellow mourners, and reading the inscriptions placed into perspective the magnitude of the loss. Steve Berger, a father of three from Minnesota; Sandy Casey, a special education teacher from California; Rocio Rocha Guillen, who recently gave birth to a baby boy; John Phippen, a father of six from California; and Angela Gomez, a young woman who had just graduated high school where among a few of those whom were senselessly murdered! After leaving our written condolences, having a moment of silence, shedding a few tears, and saying a prayer, we departed to continue our cross country journey! Please see the pictures below.
After leaving the Clark County Museum, we were going to drive 316 miles North through rural Nevada to the visit the national park depicted on the reverse of the Nevada State Quarter; Great Basin National Park. As crazy is this is going sound in a desert state, Great Basin National Park was closed due to snow! Despite the sunny 70 degree temperatures currently in Las Vegas, the entrance to Great Basin is located in the higher elevations, and becomes impassable in the winter. I know very little about this park, and I was extremely disappointed to not be able to visit. We were also sad to be missing out on exploring rural Nevada, and we now needed to reroute our path into our next state. 85% of the population of Nevada lives in the greater Las Vegas, and the greater Reno area. 80% of Nevada is BML land owned by the federal government, and a large portion of which was a nuclear test site for over 50 years! Although we did not log long hours of driving in the state, we did visit the two most populated regions where we would likely live if our new home ends up being Nevada. To really get to know Nevada, venture off Las Vegas strip, and you will discover some very nice towns and communities! Our favorite parts of the state were Carson City, in Northern Nevada, and Henderson, in the Southern part of the state.
Since our trip to Great Basin National Park was canceled, we had some free time on our hands, and decided to go to the local library in North Las Vegas to catch up on a few blog posts. The library was mobbed, and all we could find was a small table barely big enough for the two of us. Nate and I sat opposite each other at a tiny table in the center of the library. For the next few hours, Nate diligently typed the next adventures to share with our readers, as I plotted the path through our next state; Utah. I had my laptop opened up in front of me, and was writing in my notebook on top of the keyboard. All of the sudden, the security guard comes up to me, and says very sternly, “Maam, you can’t be looking at that in a library!”. I paused for a moment thinking to myself, “Why can’t I look at a map of Utah?”. I gave him my best WTF look, and he gestured towards my computer screen. I looked up at my laptop, and a scream escaped my lips! OMG, there was porn on my computer!!! My 17" screen displayed 3 topless women on the beach! After a moment of shock, I threw my notebook off my laptop, and closed the window! I apologized profusely, and I must have been 3 shades of red! Nate who is sitting opposite of me is wondering what the hell happened, and what I could have possibly had up on my screen that embarrassed me so much. I tried to whisper “porn” to him so he could understand why I was so flushed, but he couldn’t hear me. “What?”, he said. “PORN”, I repeated, to which Nate responded, “WHAT?” “P O R N!!!!!!!” I screamed. At this point the security guard comes back to me and says, “I know you weren’t really looking at that maam. It’s ok”. I was absolutely mortified!!! I told the security guard my notebook was on top of my computers keyboard, and I probably hit something by mistake. While I am sitting there wondering how long I had porn on my screen and how many people saw it, Nate was laughing hysterically, and stated it was the funniest thing he had ever seen in his entire life! This was clearly not my best moment on our Cross Country Trip, but as the old saying goes, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”. Right?
We put it off for as long as we could, but it could be avoided no longer! It was time to visit the Las Vegas Strip! Nate and I have both visited the strip previously, and didn’t really find it that enjoyable. Since we don’t gamble, are vegetarians, and rarely drink, there really isn't much for us to do. In addition, everyone is extremely phony and tries to sell you something everywhere you go! (Time shares, show tickets, hookers, etc.) Everything on the strip is fake! A fake Eiffel tower! A fake Statue of Liberty! A fake gondola ride! A fake erupting volcano! I would much rather one day see; the real Eifel tower in Paris! The real Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island! Take a real gondola ride in Venice, Italy! A real erupting volcano in Hawaii! (well, from a distance)
The strip is something everyone should experience once in their life. Since we both already had, we wished we could have skipped it on our cross country trip. Unfortunately, our "Historic Location" was located on the Las Vegas Strip. After departing the library, we drove 8 miles Southwest to Treasure Island, to see the current reigning longest running show in Las Vegas “Cirque du Soleil Mystère”. Cirque du Soleil Mystere’ is a theatrical show merging circus skills, variety of expressive dance, elaborate sets, opera, live music, acrobatics, trapeze artistry and street theater style comedy. Mystere’ is in it's permanent residence at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, and a special stage was constructed specifically for the show! The first performance occurred on December 25, 1993, and to date have performed over 11,000 shows! Mystere was the first Cirque du Soleil on the strip, and based on its success, 5 additional Cirque du Soleil shows have launched in Las Vegas: O, Zumanity, Ka’, Love, and Michael Jackson: One.
Neither Nate nor I had seen a Cirque du Soleil show before, but have always wanted to. I have been reading the review for the show for months, and have heard nothing but amazing things. At $80 per ticket, the price was a higher than we typically would have spent. However, this was a budgeted pre-planned expense. We have both been looking forward to this show for the better part of 2 years, and today would finally be the day! I am not going to go into a blow by blow, because I don’t want to ruin it for those who may want to see it in the future. The performers were talented and their acts were extremely impressive. The live music was unexpected and suspenseful! The costumes were quite elaborate and dramatic! There was continuous action from all sides of the stage including from above and below! The only point of critique is the show lacked a unifying theme, which made it seem like a variety show consisting of separate acts. Overall, Cirque du Soleil Mystere’, was an entertaining show, and a fun way to spend a night in Vegas! While I tried my best to get pictures of the performance, most did not come out well due to the erratic lighting. See the pictures below.
After the show we were both hungry, and walked around exploring the strip in search of a restaurant with vegetarian offerings! We searched online! We called on the phone! We walked through 15 casinos! We visited the restaurants of some of the most famous chefs in the world: Masaharu Morimoto, Emeril Lagassi, Wolfgang Puck, Buddy Valastro, Bobby Flay, and not one single menu had vegetarian options! We thought we had finally discovered a winner when we happened upon a burger joint advertising 56 different types of burgers! They even claimed to have been voted the best burger in Nevada! Great! I would kill for a delicious, moist, crispy, seasoned veggie burger right now! NO SUCH LUCK! Although they had the creativity to concoct 56 different types of burgers, no one had the forethought to come up with a damn veggie burger!!!
By the time we went full circle back to where we started at Treasure Island Hotel, we were both extremely frustrated and extremely ravenous! Then, I a saw a glimmer of hope in the far off distance! Across the road 2 blocks away, I spotted an illuminated sign for White Castle! Back when I was a carnivore, I used to love White Castle cheeseburgers sliders, but once I became a vegetarian they were banished from my diet! I hadn’t had a White Castle burger, or any fast food, in over a decade! I was so very hungry and with no vegetarian options available, I was on the verge of giving into temptation! In a “Hail Mary”, I googled the White Castle menu, and was shocked to find they just added veggie burger sliders to their menu! Lori and I walked across to White Castle, ordered 10 veggie burger sliders, and they were delicious! The manager even offered to cook them on a separate grill for us! We felt like giving her a hug! After 3 hours of wandering all over the strip, finally we found a place we could eat! Las Vegas has some of the best restaurants in the entire world, and here we found ourselves eating fast food! Lori and I found this both sad, and quite comical! Apparently, in the “Fabulous Las Vegas” You can have whatever you want; except for a vegetarian meal!
Please see the additional pictures below of our visit to the Las Vegas Strip!
In Nevada, the bars and liquor stores are open 24/7. Nevada, is the only state with legalized prostitution. Nevada, was the first state to legalize gambling in 1931, and the first state to legalize online gambling in 2013. Nevada has the most lax marriage laws, and the most lax divorce laws in the entire US. Nevada has a reputation as a sinful state. A state where when others say no; Nevada says yes!
Although I personally choose NOT partake in the aforementioned activities, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have the right to do so. Our freedoms are slowly being eroded away in this country, and the constitution guarantees all Americans life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So, if your personal pursuit of happiness includes: drinking until you have cirrhosis of the liver, gambling yourself into bankruptcy, catching the clap from a call girl, and getting married and divorced in the very same day, then you should absolutely have the right to do so! Providing your actions don’t infringe upon the rights of others, I believe government has no right to tell law abiding tax paying adults how to live their lives! Nevada was the most free state I visited thus far on my cross country trip, and I found the experience quite refreshing!
With our feet sore and our bellies finally full, Lori and I headed to a North Las Vegas Walmart to spend the night.