Lots of firsts 3/2-3/13 2022

Lots of firsts on this outing. First time to Las Vegas, first time to a NASCAR race, first time to Hoover Dam, first time to Arizona, first time seeing other parts of Nevada, but sadly my favorite NASCAR driver did not get first. With all those firsts I still think the trip was a winner.

Our trip started on a Wednesday as we left work a little early at 2pm from the Spokane Washington area. The drive would be a little over 1000 miles and take 17 hours with no stops. Of course, it takes longer with fuel stops, bathroom breaks and the needed stop for sleep. We would make it to a stop for the night just a little east of Boise Idaho the first night. We parked in a pullout spot at a bird sanctuary in Blacks Creek Idaho. It was about 2 miles from the interstate, so it was a bit quieter. We pulled in at about 930pm, so a 7 1/2-hour drive. That was after working almost a full shift at work. I was wiped out and very tired.

We slept for about 5 hours and got back on the road. Our route would take us to Twin Falls Idaho then south on highway 93, at Ely Nevada we did the shorter bypass onto highway 6 then 318. At the junction where we rejoin highway 93 we would make a stop at the Alien Research Center along the ET Highway. It was our first real stop besides fuel stops and bathroom breaks. One stop for a bathroom break was at a geocache location. Why not, kill two birds with one stone kind of thing.

A view just south of Jackpot Nevada
Bathroom break and geocache stop.
Bathroom break stop in northern Nevada.
At the Alien Research Center
The aliens told me stop at this place.

After our visit at the Alien Research Center, it was back on the road to the Las Vegas Speedway. That would be where we would camp until Monday morning.

We would be camped at the Gieco Lot B RV parking just outside the track. We were very excited as this was a first for us and something we have wanted to do for a long time. We pulled into our spot at 2pm. So that made it about an 11 hour drive that day. In total it took us right at 24 hours to get there with sleep and other stops. I was very excited but also very very tired. I really do not like driving that long but we only had so much time off, so no choice.

Our camp spot at the track.
A view out our camper window over to the track.

When we arrived, it was near 80F and a slight breeze. We got settled in and soon I was in my chair with a cold beer and could finally relax. We watched military aircraft fly by low above us, the Air Force base is next to the track.

Flying above us.
They do not fly at night, so noise was not an issue.

While relaxing we chatted with our neighbors. It ended up that our neighbors were also from Spokane Washington. We talked with them and other neighbors. Later that day the NASCAR haulers would be doing a parade on the Vegas strip and be pulling into the track. Our neighbors asked if we wanted to join them and walk over to the track entrance to see the haulers drive in. While it would have been neat to see, I was tired and content to sit in my chair with my beer. We slept well that night and was fully rested for the first race day that Friday.

The NASCAR truck series would be racing that evening. We started the day by checking out the fan zone before the gates opened up to the track. There was plenty to see in the fan zone.

Me in a photo op car display.
Just a bunch of slow cars on display.
Pennzoil was the sponsor for the Cup race.
Waiting in line to get through the gates.

We had seats in the upper grandstands just a little before the start finish line. I wanted seats up high so we could see the whole track. The views from our seats did not disappoint. The excitement of first seeing the track while coming out through the tunnel was amazing.

Our seat views.
Turns 3 and 4.
Turns 1 and 2.

After checking out where our seats are we made our way to the Neon Garage. We had passes for the whole weekend. The Neon Garage is where you can get close to the things going on for the race cars and the crews. There is an entertainment center with food and beverages. You could access a section of Pit Road as well. You enter from the grandstands and go down a long escalator then walk through a long tunnel before coming up on the other side.

On the long steep escalator.
The tunnel under the track.

We took a look around the Neon Garage, then went back over to the grandstand side. We went back to the fan zone to see some driver interviews and got a couple signatures as well.

Top deck of the garage area. You look down into the garages.
Cars waiting to be pushed out to the pit road.
Truex Jr, my favorite active driver.
Truex Jr car going through inspections.
Todd Bodine at the fan zone before the truck race.

We then made it back to our seats and was ready to watch the truck race. Our very first official NASCAR race to see in person.

Trucks ready to go.
The trucks getting the green flag.
Pit road action during the race.

It was a great race, very competitive and exciting. After the race we went back to our camper and relaxed and visited with neighbors before heading to bed.

Saturday morning meant a lot more going on. The Xfinity race was later in the day. The Cup cars would have a practice run and then qualify for Sunday’s race. There was a whole lot going on in the fan zone too, with driver interviews, bands playing and so on. We went from the fan zone to pit road to the neon garage to back at the fan zone. We went all over the place seeing what was going on.

Ty Gibbs being interviewed while on the simulator.
Pit stall for Truex Jr during practice and qualifying.
Cars lined up for qualifying.
Driver intro for the Xfinity drivers.
Joanne and I with our headsets listening on the scanners of different teams. Interviews going on behind us.

We watched almost the whole race; it was a good one. We wanted to be in victory lane for whoever the winner would be, so we left before the end and made our way to the Neon Garage and victory lane. Once there, we watched the race on a big screen tv. We also looked around at a couple of the Cup cars in the garage. My favorite driver, Truex and Greg Biffle. Greg retired but is racing a few races this year with a new team. He was my favorite driver before retiring. We then went back to the victory lane. The winner was Ty Gibbs and soon enough he was driving his car into the victor’s spot.

Greg Biffle’s car.
Truex Jr car.
Ty driving his winning car into victory lane.
The winner.
Coach Gibbs.

After the race the track put on a party for all RVers staying at the track. They had a great band playing, other great show acts and prizes handed out. They also gave everyone 2 drink and food tickets. Free beer…you bet. All of that was at the Neon Garage.

The band playing.
Acts going on.
Performers at the party.
Joanne with Pit Boss.

Kyle Busch wrecked his car during practice and the crew was working hard to get the backup car ready. We watched them put some of the wrap on the car. The crew worked all night long, long after we left the party area. It was neat watching them do what they do though.

Some of the crew hard at work anyway.

What a fun day and night it was. It was a cold day though. Very windy as well. The part that made us laugh…the race had a “snow delay”. Not a rain delay…yes, a snow delay…in Vegas. We came all the way from Eastern Washington to see it snow at the race in Las Vegas. While it was only snowflakes, and it didn’t stick…it still snowed. The race was delayed 41 minutes until they got the track dried off. Oh well, it was still fun, and it just added to our memories.

We went back to camp and did not hang outside for very long, it was cold. A good night’s sleep in our warm camper made us ready for the next day.

We were ready, it was Sunday morning, and it was the Cup race. The big boy’s day was today.

Views from our camper, standing on top of the camper.
More views…and my shadow.
Another view of all the RVs.

We made our way into the track and went to the Neon Garage first. I wanted to see if we could catch any of the drivers. We did in fact catch one driver, Greg Biffle. We waited at the window and watched them work on the car. We were there for about 30 minutes. Greg eventually came over and opened up the little door where we handed him my hat to sign. We exchanged a few words and he looked at my wife to see if she had anything to sign but she did not. Other people saw Greg come to the opened little door and rushed over to get an autograph. He quickly closed the door. He knew we were the only ones waiting a while to see him. Too bad suckers…you have to put in the time and effort.

I won! Okay maybe not.
Greg Biffle checking his car out.

We had tickets for the driver introduction and pre-race concert. That meant we got to go onto the track. We got to the track and signed our names on the “A” of Vegas. We then had a front row viewing of the band Midland who was the pre-race concert. They were great.

On the track!
Our seats are under the “Y” in the grandstands.
Our signatures.
Looking at turn 4.
Concert time.

We then watched the driver introductions then got back to our seats.

Flyover after the anthem.
Pit road action.

The race was a good one. Just like the previous 2 races that weekend. Truex Jr was doing really good and had a chance to win until a late caution happened. Pit strategy changed everything, and he finished in 8th place. Bummer but a good race still. At the finish of the race, we went back to the camper and relaxed and had some beverages. It was a very nice day out and we sat and talked with neighbors around our little propane campfire for a few hours. What a great race weekend. Sad it was over but what fun times it was. We want to go to more races and some point…we will.

The next day we left the track in the morning and made the drive to Hoover Dam. It is a short drive from Las Vegas. I was eager to see it in person. You do get stopped for a search before crossing over the dam to the parking area when in an RV. It was a quick check for us, just had to open the door for them to peek inside.

Parked on the Arizona side of the dam.
Low water level.
Views of the dam.
Neat sculpture.

The dam is impressive. Something to be seen in person to really grasp the size. We did not do the tour as there was still restrictions for the virus going on, federal restrictions. Maybe another time.

Next up for us was to drive to a condo where we would stay for the next 3 nights. We would park our camper and make the condo our home for the next few days. The condo is next to the airport and a little behind the MGM. What a nice place it was. I somehow forgot to get pictures of the inside.

Our lonely camper parked for a few days at the condo.

The next few days were filled with great food, great shows, great sights and miles upon miles of walking. We had an absolutely great time. We are not into gambling but did donate 20 bucks each to the cause. My first time on the strip did not disappoint. It was how I thought it would be, exciting and impressive.

New York New York
MGM lion
Lunch and beers.
Inside the Miracle Mile.
The Flamingo.
The big ole wheel.
We went up the Strat.
Inside looking out on the Strat.
Views up top outside.
Boat drinks at Margaritaville.
Really neat fountain.
Amazing sushi and views at Sushi Roku.
Night skyline.
In the Venetian.
We loved the inside out appearances.
The volcano show.
Amazing burgers at Gordon Ramsay Burgers.
We loved the fountain show.
Las Vegas sign on the strip.
Treasure Island display.
Waiting to go in and see Carrot Top.

We had so much fun in Las Vegas. Thursday morning, we left the condo and drove a few miles west of the strip to have breakfast with friends we have met through geocaching. It was a nice visit over good food.

It was then time to start making our way home. We would have a little bit more time to get home thankfully…those long driving days suck. Our first stop for the night was at a Nevada state park, Cathedral Gorge. It was a cool area, a bad lands type of area. We took a site with power and for non-residents it cost $30.00 a night. Not bad was my thought. While it was pretty…it was pretty…no… really damn cold. After being in 77F degree weather we found ourselves in 32F weather with wind chills at 20F and a low that night at 19F. Brrr. But we still did hike around a bit to explore this neat section of land.

It looks sunny but it was cold.
Really nice camp sites.
An old well made by the CCC.
Walking up the gorge.
Climbing up to a viewpoint.
Really neat views.
In the slots section.
Looking way up.
That was about as far as I went back into the slots.
Fading sunlight.

After a nights rest we made our way to Twin Falls Idaho for a night. We stayed at Oregon Trails campground. Full hookups for about $40.00. Nice folks and a great place to stay while exploring the area. After we checked in we went to look at the Snake river and the Shoshone Falls. Sadly the falls were a trickle. After reading some information it sounds like May is a better time to see the big water flows. After seeing some beauty we stopped in at a brewery and had lunch and beers. The beer was good as well as the food. We went to Milner’s Gate Brewery. I recommend it. We then went back to the campground for a nights rest.

Geocache stop on the way to Twin Falls.
Nevada highway looking at the mountains.
Very cool bridge over the Snake River.
So pretty.
The falls…sort of.
Our site at the campground.
I would stay here again if given the chance.

Our next day’s drive would be to McCall Idaho and stay there for a night. We would take highway 55 out of Boise Idaho to McCall, a section of highway we have not been on. The road is good except for a short section where it is rough and narrow. Road construction was going on to improve that part. We made a stop at Horse shoe Bend for a geocache.

History sign.
Parked at the little park at the history sign.
Driving alongside the Payette River.
More river views.
Getting into the snow zones.
Plenty of snow still.

We pulled into the RV park where we would stay, McCall RV Resort. A very nice RV park. Rates were good in the off season during our stay, I think around $48.00 is what we paid. Full hookups, free showers a hot tub and pool and sauna. We checked in got parked and caught a free shuttle into town to go to a brewery for lunch and beers. I know, shocking right? Even better about this place, another brewery next to the resort. Oh, the bad luck.

Our spot for the night.
While there is snow, it was still a nice day out.
Another view of our spot.
At the McCall Brewery.
The deer loving the spent grains from the brewery.
A few beer tasting at Broken Horn Brewing Company.

We then walked back to our site and got some swimming clothes to enjoy the hot tub and pool.

The indoor pool area.

After a soak we went back to the camper and relaxed outside next to the little propane campfire. The deer around this place are not very afraid. They come very close to you in fact.

Getting setup to sit outside by the fire.
We are being spied on.
I am not sharing my beer with you, sorry.
Deer everywhere.

We slept very well and woke up to snow. I must have read the wrong forecast or else I would have put the chairs away. Oh well.

Fresh snow.

Once daylight came around, we packed up our things and made the last leg of our journey home. There were still nice views along our way. This drive we have been on many times, but we never get tired of seeing it.

Near Riggins Idaho.

What a really amazing trip we were able to take. As usual, a few more days would not have hurt. As you see, we took full advantage of the time we had. So may firsts on this trip. We can only think about what else there is to see in the areas we were at. We know there are many more things to see and do. In fact, we have plans to go back to Las Vegas in October. This time we would have a little extra time to explore northern Nevada as well. For now, it is back to work so we can go play some more. The only reason to work…so we can go do things like this. Time is short, there are things to see and do.