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Friday, April 15, 2016

How We Ended Up in Las Vegas

As we mentioned on our Who We Are page, we ended up living in Las Vegas by total accident.

Here's the story.

Back in the Spring of 2012, Clarinda was finishing her Master's of Arts in Teaching, and Jeff was in his final semester of undergrad. It was time to ask the big question of What's Next?

Our answer was to go for a long-ass road trip covering much of the country, circling the Gulf of Mexico, and finally ending up in Belize. We were going to travel through the U.S. & Central America - volunteering on random local projects; working with organic farms; dumpster-diving; and interacting with local communities. We were going to document the whole experience via written journals, photography, and videography.

Here's what the planned route looked like.

Road trip from Minnesota to Belize with stops in the Pacific Northwest; Las Vegas; the Grand Canyon; The Mammoth Cave National Park; Alabama; Weeki Wachee, FL; Teothuacan, Mexico; and Cancun.

Our hope was to become scuba instructors / guides in Belize and make a life there. We didn't know when we'd be seeing family again, so our first couple stops were to visit Jeff's family in the Pacific Northwest.

Months before hatching this plan, Clarinda had made plans for a reunion with a few college friends. That's why Vegas ended up on the map. Clarinda stayed with her friends in a condo on the Strip; Jeff stayed in a pet friendly hotel a couple miles away. After saying good-bye to her friends after a few fun-filled days on the Strip, we stayed a few more days where Jeff had been staying.

When the time came to say good-bye to Vegas, we decided we needed to visit the Hoover Dam - since we were so close!

It was Clarinda's hair-brained idea to bike the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail.

Biking the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail

In July.
In the desert.
In triple degree heat.

Biking the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail in July

Maybe not our best idea ever.

The trail is about 3.7 miles from the trailhead to the Hoover Dam Parking Garage, so it's not a real long trail. And, it's pretty easy as far as trails are concerned - well groomed, wide, relatively flat.

The views of Lake Mead were amazing!

The Historic Railroad Hiking Trail includes amazing views of Lake Mead

And it was very fun to see the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

Walking across the Hoover Dam

View of the Hoover Dam from the parking garage

Unfortunately, we weren't used to the high heat or the higher elevation - compared to Minnesota, where we'd been living previously - so the nearly 8 miles (round trip) kind of killed us.

Side Note: If you visit this trail now, there are big signs that warn against doing this from Jun-Sep due to the dangers of hiking in the heat. These signs were not there in 2012.

Windblown hair and sunburned skin but still good for a selfie at the Hoover Dam

By the time we got back to the trailhead, we were completely wiped out! We broke out the camp gear and rested at our van for a few hours, contemplating the rest of our journey. The a/c in the van had gone out, and we would be driving through the South during the highest heat of the summer.

And, it was only going to get hotter.

After much discussion, we decided to go ahead and try to, at least, make it to St. George that night - and make a decision in the morning.

The Nevada DOT had other ideas. 

On our way back through Vegas towards St. George, there was a highway sign along the way.
Well, we didn't know any alternate routes, so we took it as sign that we should just return to the hotel we'd checked out of that morning.

Two days later, we signed a lease on an apartment and have been loving Vegas ever since.

Just last weekend, we went out to this trail again. The weather was much more tolerable in April than in July. This time we walked the trail instead of biking it. We didn't go all the way to the dam, but found an offshoot trail instead. You can watch our video on YouTube of the hike - and a little reflection of when we biked it in 2012.

Jeff and Clarinda

Have you ever completely changed your travel/life plans on a whim?

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  1. Wow! Can't believe it's been 4 years! Glad you are still loving Vegas. =).

    1. It's crazy, right? We can hardly believe it's been that long either.


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