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Great Southwest RV drive: Part 2

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ben Dark continued his journey across the south-west of the United States in the comfort of his RV. His destination was Las Vegas in Nevada, but first there was much more to experience.

After taking in the beauty of Monument Valley, it was hard to believe there could be anything to rival it. The Grand Canyon does just that, and is one of the most stunning natural sites on the planet.

There are two schools of thought as to which is the better place to view it: from the south rim or the north rim. The north rim attracts around one tenth of the visitors to the south rim, and that has to be an absolute plus.

Whichever you choose, it's breathtaking, measuring 440km from end to end and almost 2km deep. The geology of the area is made up of 40 major sedimentary rock layers, varying in colour and ranging from about 200 million to 2 billion years old.

The present top layer is Kaibab limestone and Ben pulled into the Kaibab Camper Village for the night. It has a general store, on-site toilets, coin-operated showers, fire pits and picnic tables. The ground sits near Jacob Lake and there are lots of hiking and horseback riding trails to enjoy.

After resting up in nature's magnificent Grand Canyon it was time to head for the bright lights of Las Vegas.

The self-proclaimed entertainment capital of the world attracts more than 36 million visitors a year. To accommodate those visitors, Vegas is home to 17 of the top 20 largest hotels in the United States.

The city has 1701 licensed gambling places — even the airport and rest rooms have poker machines. It is thought the average visitor arrives with a budget of more than $500 to lose or increase, and gambles for more than three hours every day.

Casinos have no windows and no clocks, so gamblers just lose the concept of time and keep feeding their money into the machines or across the tables to croupiers. Figures show that Las Vegas' casinos rake in US$8.7 billion ($9.8 billion) every year.

Poker machines, or slot machines as they are known in the US, are the most popular way to gamble, followed by blackjack and then video poker.

When people aren't gambling they're getting married. There are around 315 weddings in Las Vegas every day!

Ben drove along the famous Strip. It's just 6km long and has 67,000 hotel rooms, many in luxurious hotels all trying to out-do one another. Free light and water shows at night entertain passers-by in the hope they will venture inside and try their luck.

Las Vegas is as much about entertainment as it is gambling and all along the Strip are enormous posters of some of the world's most popular performers. When Ben found just the right place to park the RV he checked into the Imperial Palace Casino, a 2,640-room hotel right on the Strip.

After spending a lot of time with Mother Nature, Ben was about to be treated to a night of entertainment with Human Nature.

The fantastically successful Australian quartet is starring in "Smokey Robinson Presents Australia's Human Nature — The Ultimate Celebration of Motown". The group is the first Australian musical act to have its own long-running Vegas show — and they are pinching themselves.

Australia's most successful vocal group has amassed 17 top 40 hits, five top 10 hits and 23 platinum awards. Their largest crowd was more than 4 billion people when they performed at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Their latest album, Reach Out, is a collection of Motown hits and is racing up the charts.

In a place renowned for gambling, Human Nature put a huge amount of their own money on a sure thing — themselves. They backed their own show and will no doubt have plenty of chips to cash in when their season ends in May.

Location
From Monument Valley in Utah to Las Vegas in Nevada.

Cost
El Monte RV rentals start at around $73 a day. There are more than 10,000 RV parks across America and more than 6 million kilometres of road to explore.

Kaibab Camping Village costs around $39 a night with hook-up or $20 with no hook-up. It is open from the middle of May until the middle of October.

Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature — The Ultimate Celebration of the Motown Sound is in the Imperial Palace Casino's main showroom from Saturday to Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets are around $57 and $68. The show will run until May.

V Australia has return flights to Los Angeles. One way fares start from:
Sydney, Brisbane and, Melbourne $1299
Adelaide $1599
Perth $1899

Connections to Las Vegas are available. Fares are available for a limited time, so visit their website for further details.

Prices correct at February 18, 2010.

For further information
V Australia
www.vaustralia.com.au

El Monte RV
Ph: +1 562 483 4956
www.elmonterv.com

Las Vegas KOA
500 Circus Circus Drive
Las Vegas NV 89109
United States
Ph: +1 702 733 9707
Fax: +1 702 696 1358
www.koa.com

Imperial Palace Casino
3535 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas NV 89109
United States
Ph: +1 702 731 3311
www.imperialpalace.com
www.humannaturelasvegas.com

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at www.cbp.gov/esta.

Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: The United States has nine standard time zones. Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaskan, Hawaii-Aleutian, Samoa and Chamorro. Nevada is GMT -7.

Currency: The American dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

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