12.19.2012, Wednesday, Las Vegas, Nevada
This is our first ever long distance trip with our 15 month old baby L. The 11-hour plane ride has not been as challenging as I feared. Dear L. has been wonderful during the journey. But everything has changed after settling in our room number 1603 at the Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas. It is now 1:47 AM and L. has been awake for 3 hours. She woke up screaming. She is just not used to the time yet, of course.
The Las Vegas view as the plane was descending was incredible. We dived into the middle of an ocean, full of light. An incalculable waste of energy. As we drove on the famous Strip, waste and other kinds of extremism have become obvious. Our hotel is not a gambling hotel and therefore I am very pleased. It has very nice suites, complimentary valet and is very comfortable to stay with a 15-month-old baby. Oh, I only wish she would sleep when she is supposed to ....The airline has forgotten our stroller in London. I don’t know how we will carry a 10 kg. baby in our arms as we go around town all day.
We spent the morning hours exploring Las Vegas. In fact, I'm surprised that this is such a small town. The airport is almost within the city. It is an artificial city, which has been created as a fantasy world to make money from tourists. For this reason, everything (from gambling to strip clubs to daily weddings)is permitted.
Like many cities in the United States, I feel a gap between buildings and people. The hotels and casinos here were inspired by major cities in Europe but they lack street life, interpersonal relationships and intimacy. Today, among the many homeless and drunks I have seen, one sight was the most touching. On the wide highways and among the great American cars, a man was riding his bike. He was carrying his dog at the back with a sign reading “He is All I Have.” It was impossible not to be touched by this scene (especially considering the waste, extremism and spiritual decadence in this town).
We had the opportunity to roam in Vegas after the dark set in, lights illuminated eye-catching buildings.
The Venetian Hotel is particularly interesting and impressive.
It is a mistake to call such places simply hotels or casinos because they each have around 30 restaurants, major shopping centers, concert and exhibition halls. Each hotel is the imitation of a city as well as almost a city in itself. The money spent in and around these places is extreme. These hotels in the middle of the desert attracts thousands of tourists every day (with no history, beauty, relying on the past). This was a brand new experience for me. But for me, the day’s most beautiful and special moment was when L. and I walked hand in hand for the first time. The most beautiful sight was L. 's smile and happiness.
Notes: The country is grieving over the shooting of school children in Newton, Connecticut. However, billboards and shops selling guns are very prominent even at the airport. It is very scary and sad to see.
12/21/2012, Friday, Grand Canyon, Arizona
(Today, according to the Mayan calendar, it will be the end of the world).
Our journey from Las Vegas to Arizona started through the desert and the nature eventually changed in a way that is reminiscent of the views of the South Aegean and Mediterranean regions in Turkey.
As we reached 6300 m high in Grand Canyon and minus 14 degrees Celcius, we saw snow covered forests. We stopped by the Hoover Dam for a break situated right on the Nevada and Arizona border.
Grand Canyon is literally a natural wonder.
It's glorious, majestic, and from place to place frightening because of the depth.
It is really worth seeing. Canyon’s different waves of color are a work of art.
This is a paradise for geologists. While driving in the Grand Canyon Park, we came across a female deer standing right in the middle of the road.
This snowy image in front of us was like a dream. There are also pumas living in the park.
12/22/2012, Saturday, Palm Springs, California
On our way to Palm Springs, we decided to drive through the back roads instead of the short cut and go through places that we are accustomed to seeing in the Wild West films. So our first stop was the Mojave Desert. The unique Joshua trees surround the desert.
These trees were given their name by Mormons who likened them to Prophet Joshua raising his hands up to pray, just like the upward branches of the trees.
Our next stop was the Kelso Sand Dunes.
It was interesting to see sandy formations in a rocky and stony desert.
We stopped by the sleepy town of Ambroy, which is very quiet, empty like a typical cowboy town. The town of 29 Palms and its surroundings made us feel like we were in Mexico. All places had Spanish names. The architecture and faces were reminiscent of Mexico.
Palm Springs is truly an oasis in the middle of the desert. Even though it is arid, Mediterranean climate can be felt with the colorful bougainvillea surrounding the town. Palm trees surrounding the roads add to the charm of this settlement. 50-60 years ago, this was the holiday destination of Hollywood stars.
Today, it is a resort town for rich pensioners . It is quite different than other towns I have seen in the U.S. so far. The boutiques, museums, architecture are very stylish and good quality. Palm Springs is a must-see stopover between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.