We wasted no time leaving Zion Nation Park and speeding through the desert of Utah into Nevada to get to Las Vegas. We arrived around mid afternoon. The check-in line at the Bellagio hotel took forever and the line wasn’t even that long. I felt like I was at the DMV. The customer service was no better but after we grabbed our room keys, we were on our way.
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The Bellagio is the hotels of hotels and Vegas’s grand jewel. It’s one of the most famous places to be on the strip. Inside is huge and one could easily get lost…like, within one hour. I don’t know what it is but maybe its the fresh oxygen pumped in the air, but I was lost in no time. Casinos, restaurants and shopping everywhere.
After a quick walk around we decided to go back to the room and get changed for the pool party. There wasn’t really a party going on today but every day in Vegas is a party. One of the reasons I chose the Bellagio is because of the massive wave pool. It’s one of the biggest and best pools in Vegas.
The Wave Pool
The wave pool was refreshing after being in the car a few hours and hiking Angels Landing earlier in the day. The drinks were not very cold and not strong either. Not to mention, they took about 25min from the time we ordered to reach our beach chairs. Complete waste of money in my opinion. Maybe we were there on an off day or the service was just lacking?
But, that didnt’ stop us from soaking up the sun and enjoying some relaxation. We both ended up dozing off for a little cat nap before wiping the drool from our faces. The last few watered-down sips of our drinks were warm from the Vegas sun now but it was time for us to get washed up.
We headed back to the room and got ready for the night. Having our sights set on something good to eat had us strolling down the strip. The “strip” in Vegas is the 4.2 mile stretch on South Las Vegas Boulevard that consists of lavish hotels, upscale restaurants, dance clubs and plenty of shopping. You can also find other things like music venues, comedy clubs or various cirque du soleil acts.
Mandalay Bay Fountain
Amanda had never been to Vegas before and we had a very short stay. One thing we had to do was see the Mandalay Bay Fountain. The fountain lights up at night and plays along to a soundtrack. The choreography is always entertaining and something everybody needs to see, It’s short and sweet and usually lasts about 5-7min or so.
We wandered up and down the strip for some time, grabbing some rather strong drinks here and there as we went. The rest of the night was spent glamouring at all the different casinos, bars and hotels we could walk-through. Both of us are not huge gamblers so this isn’t a story about disappointment and heartbreak. Sorry, not sorry! I’d rather spend my hard earned money on more travels, instead of risking it at the casinos.
The next morning we found ourselves still tired from the last three days of hiking. But, Amanda had a surprise for me. A few weeks back, it was my birthday and she said she had something planned. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas right? I was getting excited…
Vegas Rally is your chance to get behind the wheel of a real rally car and toss some dirt on a Nevada Desert road accompanied by a rally driver!
– Ray Piloto
Words cannot express my feelings when I found out I was going to drive my first race-ready Subaru rally car! I’ve been talking about doing this for years and my dreams finally came true. The smile I had on my face was from ear to ear. Oh man, Oh man!
We arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and were patiently waiting for the instructor and rally driver Ray Piloto to get there. The gig consisted of a quick ten minute instructional breakdown in the “classroom” and then we were immediately prepped with a helmet and safety course to get driving as quickly as possible.
Subaru WRX Rally Race Car
I hopped in the Colin McRea inspired Subaru WRX and got comfortable at the wheel.
Ray showed me a course preview as he instructed me on what to do, what to look out for and how to drive as fast as my skill-set allowed. The course was a 1-mile off-road rally race track that consisted of seven turns and multiple crests, corners, and jumps. Yes, jumps! You read that right. My goal was to take all four wheels off the ground by the time my five laps were completed.
I turned the key of the classic Subaru boxer engine and let the car warm up for a few minutes. We double checked our helmet intercom system and I let off the clutch to begin rolling forward. We took the first lap at a slow pace to get the feel of the car that I had never driven before. I have a Subaru WRX back home but this was a bit different as my car was a street car and this was a race car.
As turn one came and gone, we were half way through lap one and Ray could feel my confidence building. I remember his last words “hit it!” and everything else beyond that was a blur. I was trying so hard to concentrate on what I was doing and racing but I couldn’t help fight back smiles and “woohoo’s!” as I was going sideways around the turns.
By lap three I was gaining more confidence with every jump. I had the course memorized by now and I was working more on technique, car control and getting air. But, something happened as we noticed the temperature gauge was rising. We pulled off the track and low and behold, antifreeze was leaking from underneath. The temperate outside was in the low 80’s. I must have been pushing the car too hard, which is normally a good thing, but I wasn’t finished with all five laps and now we were broken down.
Not to worry though as Ray kept calm. We both jumped out of the car and began to push the WRX out of the race line. The dirt track made this quite the challenge and we were no match for the loose gravel. Ray ran to the clubhouse and grabbed the keys for the other Subaru. As I watched him start it up from afar and he drove over, we used one car to push the other out of harms way. No sweat.
I continued my session after quickly getting acquainted with the new car. I had one and a half laps of getting sideways and jumping left to go. This car had a similar powerplant but some steering and traction differences. Luckily I adapted quickly as I had my goals set high. I couldn’t have asked for a better person and instructor to show me the ropes and have a wild time with.
After my five laps were completed, albeit in two different cars, I was so thrilled. I did end up getting all four wheels off the dirt and completing some decent lap times. What an experience, what a ride, what a day.
Bye Bye Vegas
I left Vegas Rally still shaking with adrenaline flowing through my veins. All I could think was that I wanted to race rally cars for the rest of my life. All day, every day. It’s most likely not in the near future, but somebody I hope to own and drive a rally car of my own.
We arrived back in Vegas a couple hours before I departure flight back to Chicago. Call us classic tourists but I had to absolutely get our photo in front of the sign.