The Mighty Six. Day 1: Las Vegas.

I think we may be out of practice. There seemed to be a lot to do before we left. Andrew has set his alarm for 0730. Luckily, he woke up in the night and it occurred to him that this was after the taxi was due and accordingly updated the time for 0600. After showers, packing the hand luggage and emptying the fridge, we were ready to go. The taxi had arrived early, so no problem there.

Traffic was good, so we were soon at the airport.

We didn’t have to wait to long to drop the suitcases off, although the luggage belt was not operating and so people and suitcases were starting to back up. We were lucky not to have arrived later. We left our cases in the (hopefully) capable hands of a Virgin employee to be loaded onto the belt when it worked and headed off to a very busy security. I had to unpack everything. Nevertheless, we were through all of this process little more than an hour after leaving home.

We made our way to Frankie & Benny’s for breakfast.

We took a walk and found an empty gate to sit at and look out the window at the rain and planes, but we weren’t there very long before they announced the gate, some 25 minutes early. We discovered why when we set off – it was a long way to our departure gate. Once there, however, there was some confusion around boarding. They started with upper class, as normal, and then after a long gap moved straight to economy. We thought maybe we had not heard the call so we boarded, but I think they were just doing things differently. Anyway, we sat down and got comfortable. This was just as well as we were on the tarmac for quite a while. Eventually the captain announced that one of the luggage handlers had been injured, seriously, inside our plane. We had to wait for paramedics to treat them and make them secure enough to remove. Poor person.

Despite this, we took off at 1140 and the captain was forecasting only a 10 hour flight time, so it was likely we would still land on schedule. We left the wet weather of Manchester and climbed above the clouds to the sunshine and soon saw a few Scottish lochs. I had deliberately chosen seats on the right hand side of the plane. Often the flight skirts the southern edge of Greenland and if you’re going to get a view you need to be on the right. Plus the other side just gets the dazzling sun making it hard to have the window blinds open. Our flight seemed to go a little bit further north than usual as today, after a couple of hours, we got to see Iceland. The mountains appeared very tall, even from 38,000 feet up. We spotted Reykjavik too.

An hour later (less time than it took Andrew to drive the M6 from the Lake District a couple of weeks ago) and we were over Greenland, with its ice bergs, canyons, glaciers and mountains. The afternoon light really highlighted the landscape, although it was hard to photograph well through the layers of airplane window.

After that, it all got a bit cloudy. Canada came and went, unseen, while we ploughed through our second movie. Lunch had been served an hour or so after take off, and a hot pasty appeared 4 hours later, just as I was getting peckish.

There was a brief glimpse of fields then snow covered mountains in northern Montana. Then more cloud until just north of Salt Lake City.

From there we were treated to views of the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island (last year’s holiday), deserts, farmland, the Virgin River and Valley of Fire state park (which we hope to visit tomorrow) before reaching Lake Mead and Las Vegas.

We landed just before 1325 (20 minutes ahead of schedule despite our delayed departure) and tracked to the new (to us, but we haven’t been here for three years) international terminal. It was a long walk from the plane to the customs hall, but we didn’t have to much of a wait to get allowed in to the country, and our bags were among the first out so we were soon headed to the shuttle bus stop. A bus appeared like magic almost straight away to take us to the car rental centre, where we were able to go straight to the garage because I had done the online check in. We chose a Nissan again, like last year’s, although Andrew did have a browse of the Chevy Suburban first.

Andrew drove us to the hotel which was only a 10 minute drive away. I’m using loyalty programme points for our stay here, and they upgraded us to a suite as a thank you for being a gold member (a result courtesy of all those trips to Norwich!). After relaxing for a short while we crossed the car park and went to Scooter’s sports bar for some food, then after buying some beer headed back to our room in the fading sunlight for showers and a very early night.

Total number of photos taken: 119

Total steps: 10,488

Distance traveled: 4,826 miles (approximately)

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