We interrupt your regularly scheduled vacation…

to bring you a short side trip you can really write home about.

So what if you do undertake a big destination vacation?  First of all, lucky you!  But perhaps you’re looking for a really unique experience?  A good story to tell once you’re back home?  Ah, then a tiny trip-within-a-trip is something to explore.

For instance, I recently went to Las Vegas with my Dad (he loves the West, and so we flew in from opposite directions and met there).  Whenever someone tells me they’ve visited Vegas, I think I know how that story goes – lots of drinking, gambling, and the requisite “crazy” story.  Well, on my Vegas trip, I went horseback riding with cowboys in the desert.  Probably sounds like some kind of ordeal, right? Lots of planning, equipment, riding skills, extra travel, etc. 

Nope.  None of that.  I called Cowboy Trail Rides from my Vegas hotel the day before and made a reservation.  We both showed up the next day in street clothes.  Took a short, straight-shot drive 20 minutes out of Vegas (into incredibly beautiful country).  Were plopped on horses and away we went.  We didn’t even need to bring water bottles on the ride – one cowboy waved his hands in a “pshaw” way when we asked about this. 

For 2 hours, our gentle horses carried us up a rocky, sometimes steep trail past pretty little flowers and cacti.   One of the cowboys explained that these cacti might be dug up for big money if this land was not federally protected.  My horse veered off the trail to munch some tasty plants, and I got a gentle “get her back on, honey.” 

The cowboys stopped at the top, and we took in the surrounding mountains.   It was quiet, and the sky was cloudless and blue.   I petted my horse’s mane gingerly as we hung out for a bit.   “Do you ever get tired of looking at all this?” Dad asked the younger cowboy.  “Nope” was all he said.

Red Rock Canyon and Dad, (c) 2010 J. Eby

Red Rock Canyon and Dad, 2010

The thing is, most people don’t realize how beautiful it is outside of Vegas.  Look out the plane window next time you fly over.  If you see a ring of rusty mountains, that’s Red Rock Canyon.  It’s such a short drive outside of Vegas.  Not only can you take horseback riding trips of varying lengths (we did the 2 hour ride), you can also take a scenic 15-mile loop drive through Red Rock Canyon.  You can also get out of your car and go on a short walk or a longer dayhike – we choose to do all of these things.  (Definitely prepare for desert hiking if you’ll be doing a longer day trip – carrying the right amount of water is vital).

Each evening when we returned to Vegas, I wondered what my housekeeper thought of my room.  She was probably used to seeing sparkly dresses and heels skewn about hotel room floors, not dusty boots and trail mix.  

With pretty minimal effort, we took the tired old Vegas experience and turned it into a special trip my Dad says he’ll “always remember.”

Red Rock Canyon, Dad and me (c) 2010 J. Eby

Dad and me around Red Rock Canyon, 2010

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