Las Vegas and Monster Jam World Finals Trip Highlights

Travel is always so broadening, don’t you think? Nothing like expanding your world view while wearing really wrinkled clothes and running out of clean socks! I never pack enough socks.

Vegas is an interesting place to go when you neither drink nor gamble, and when you don’t like crowds. There was nothing Wade and I hated more than weaving through crowded sidewalks on our way to and from the hotel. But even with those “don’t's” we found more than enough to see and do during our getaway weekend.

The hotels were beautiful. I fell in love with the incredibly colourful mosaics at Encore, and the gondoliers, canals and storefronts at the Venetian (that blue sky is painted on and so realistic!). And don’t get Wade started on the curved three-story escalator at Caesar’s Palace!

It was fun to spend our first day in Vegas touring in a convertible. We rented a Mustang (Wade wanted a Lamborghini but we didn’t bring our firstborn child to trade for a day’s rental) and driving in Las Vegas isn’t as scary as in some cities (cough, L.A., cough!).

Not that Wade’s ever intimidated by traffic. He was just sorry our car wasn’t a V8. (Whatever that is. Environmentally friendly and running on tomato juice?)

And he didn’t even have to think twice when we arrived at the Las Vegas Speedway and saw this sign:

Apparently my husband wants to be just like this man:

click photo for source

Or at least drive like him. In this case the attraction was three laps in a race car. Three very fast laps. 

Wade tells me it was “totally worth it.” Not my cup of tea. I don’t do helmets. Or those freaky “head sock” things they wear under the helmet. Last thing I need is sock head!

I did wear my contacts for twenty hours that first day, and not being used to them, ended up with one scarlet and irritated eye for the next three days. So I fit right in with the hangover crowd.

We did more hotel touring. Wade even found a mosaic he liked:

 

Unfortunately not sized for consumption. I was so thankful for the sensible shoes I brought – even with the car we did so much walking that my hips and shins just ached – and I’m reasonably fit! I’m not surprised there were so many motorized wheelchairs in use.

Friday night was my night. We ate authentic Italian pizza and gelato, and then took in Phantom of the Opera, Las Vegas style. No photos were allowed in the theatre so I nabbed these online (click for sources).

Really I went for the sets. I had seen the movie in 2006 and wondered how on earth it could be done as a live production. And the Vegas version is amazing. I wouldn’t go again, as I realized partway through that I really only like about two of the songs (The Phantom of the Opera is heeere…inside your MIND…) but it was really cool, and I got all shivery during some more moving parts.

And I’m not so high-falutin’ as to turn up my nose at our reason for being in Vegas, the next day’s Monster Jam World Finals!

We arrived at the grounds way too early – the shuttle bus got us to the event at 2pm and the main event didn’t start until 7:00 so we had five hours to kill in a hot, dusty, windy midway hell. (I really hate fairgrounds, fairground food and fairground prices.) Fortunately we found a grassy place, spent $12 for two cups of lemonade and chilled until the parade started at five. Note: when your husband says, “Hey, I know that guy; he’s from our hometown,” don’t remind him that there are millions of bald, bearded guys with sunglasses in the world. He’s does know that guy, and they once raced each other in mud bogs.

insert gratuitous mud bog photo here

Like I said, I think there is something to be said for being a girl who can enjoy cultural events like Phantom and then turn around and scream her lungs off at Monster Jam. And even more to be said to be the girl who bought the tickets! (And I do know what a V8 engine is – I can’t really help it, being married to a licensed mechanic and all.)

One thing we learned was that when you are in another country watching Monster Jam, it’s important to root for the fellow Canadian. Neither of us had heard of Cam McQueen and “Northern Nightmare,” but we did like his maple-leaf emblazoned truck and though we were tempted to cheer for Gravedigger or Maximum Destruction (old-timers on the Monster Jam circuit and crowd favourites), it was Northern Nightmare that ended up winning the freestyle event with an amazing run. Those trucks are incredible!

This is a shot of Mohawk Warrior doing a double back flip – everyone was on their feet screaming at that point! But the screaming intensified after the main event when seven Gravedigger trucks came out for their 30th anniversary encore. 

It is pretty amazing to see a course that is usually used by two racers or one freestyle truck teeming with action as seven trucks jump and flip and spin and create chaos. This was the part where I had my hands over my ears!

And when four trucks lined up to take a run at the same container, the anticipation was enormous! All seven trucks drove until they either flipped or blew up, and it was a pretty wild couple of minutes. The driver of the Gravedigger truck on the right ended up getting injured during the flip you see here, though reports say he’s been discharged from the hospital and will be fine, it did put a note of concern on the end of the evening.

I realize I’ve gone on way longer about Monster Jam than Phantom, and I could wear you out describing the day of shopping that filled our last day in Vegas, but you’ll just have to imagine it – with either envy or foot cramps, depending on your gender.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting some entertaining anecdotes – it was just a jam-packed few days with so much to see and do! I didn’t tell you about going into a designer lingerie store and running back out again when I realized the robin’s-egg-blue negligee I was fondling was tagged at $487! Or about the gelato – well, I mentioned it but really it deserves at least a full paragraph. Or about the glittery crystal peacocks in the window of one designer store – wait, I have pictures:

There was also a white one. So beautiful, and much quieter than the real thing!

Would we go to Vegas again? Probably not. We are really more into countryside relaxation. And quiet, secluded beaches. But we would love to take in the Monster Jam World Finals again, with the kids and perhaps those friends and relatives who would help us hold up a giant sign. “Canada loves Monster Jam” seems to be taken, so we’ll have to think up something more creative! I’ll get right on that.

Here’s a few links for you – videos I found on Youtube – if you want to see some of the cool stunts we enjoyed last Saturday night:
Northern Nightmare’s champion freestyle run
El Toro Loco’s hilarious oopsie
Mohawk Warrior’s stunning double back flip
Gravedigger’s 30th anniversary encore (really hard to find decent quality video of this one)

4 Comments

  1. Jessi · March 30, 2012 Reply

    Both my boys LOVE Monster Jam – I can’t wait to show them your pics. Of course Grave Digger is the favourite – my oldest even wrote Dennis Anderson a fan letter :) Looks like an awesome trip!

  2. fairyrocks · March 30, 2012 Reply

    Glad you had a getaway. I notice you do not mention Elvis…come on I know you saw more than one of him LOL. I hear you with the carnival / midway atmosphere and money grabbing. Boy Monster trucks are like trick cars now aren’t they?

  3. Kelly @ Beyond the Big Red Barn · March 30, 2012 Reply

    This sounds like a lot of fun! I have a little boy who is in love with all things trucks and a husband who is pining to take him to Monster Jam. Looks like I have some of these things to look forward to in my future! :) (BTW, love your first comment about the V8 engine!)

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