My Overnight Trip to Las Vegas Had Lots of Ups and Downs

I’m talkin’ about ROLLER COASTERS! The night before the big Scale the Strat race, my friend Tavi and I met Tavi’s friend Sarah for dinner, then we headed over to New York, New York to ride The Roller Coaster.


It used to be called Manhattan Express, but now it’s The Roller Coaster. It’s 203 feet high, hits 67 mph, and goes upside down twice, all while circling the New York, New York perimeter.


Roller coasters are a big deal for me, and a recurring topic on this blog. My very first post was about riding roller coasters for the first time in 10 years, because my excessive weight had prohibited me. A few years back, I planned a whole trip to the midwest so I could visit Cedar Point, my favorite park. It was where, during college, I was booted off a coaster for being too fat. And going back there, so many years later, and riding all those rides with no problem whatsoever – well, it was an incredible feeling.

There are four theme parks with roller coasters within an hour’s drive from me, but I still consider riding them to be a special treat. And it’s been a while since I’ve been on a good one (I’m excluding The Mummy at Universal Studios, where I’ve gone to exercise, from the list, because it’s just OK). This weekend, I got my fill.

The Roller Coaster at New York, New York is fun. It’s jerky, but it’s cool to see the Las Vegas strip flying by, and it’s even cooler at night – we rode it at 10pm or so. Here’s a POV video from YouTube that puts you in the front seat:

Tavi and I drove back to LA the next day, after the race, and hit a major traffic jam near the Nevada/California border. It took us 45 minutes to go 6 miles. In the middle of the jam was the tiny town of Primm, right on the border, where there’s 3 casino hotels, an outlet mall, and not much else. One of those hotels, Buffalo Bill’s, has a roller coaster, though, and it’s a big one.


That’s Desperado. It’s 209 feet tall, but the first drop is 225 feet (because it goes underground, through a tunnel!). Its speed exceeds 80mph. It was the tallest roller coaster on the planet when it opened in 1994.

You can ride once for $13, or buy an unlimited day pass for $22. Tavi and I did the latter, and proceeded to ride it five times in a row. They made us exit the train each time, but we went back around and got back on the same train. (There was no line at all.) We almost had a train to ourselves once…


…but then a few more people joined before the train left the station.

The station was indoors, and when we started up the lift hill, we exited into the bright, bright sun.


Don’t worry – our eyes adjusted in time for the 225′ drop! Here’s a POV video of Desperado:

Riding a coaster five times in 30 minutes was a great way to kill time waiting for traffic to ease up. They also have a log flume right there, so we rode that once. It was OK. The best part was that the second half of it went right through the main casino. We got a little wet, so we went on Desperado one last time to dry off.

We made one final stop in Primm before getting back on the highway, at Whiskey Pete’s, another one of the hotel/casinos, which has on display the actual car that Bonnie and Clyde died in. As you might imagine, it’s riddled with bullets.


It’s an interesting, salacious piece of history, but it’s horribly displayed. Horrible light, and surrounded by highly reflective glass (that photo is severely lightened and sharpened so you can see what it is).

After that, it was back on the road, where it was (relatively) smooth sailing the rest of the 270 miles.

Like I did in Denver, I photographed everything I ate on this road trip, and I made smart choices the whole time. I tweeted all the pictures yesterday, and you can see them if you scroll through my feed here. Tavi and I swung by my favorite off-strip hole-in-the-wall diner, Omelet House, before leaving, where we got seated at the Mayor’s table. So I tried to look official.


Or maybe I’m trying to look badass. Given Las Vegas’s long history with the mob, it’s certainly applicable!

Keep it up, David!


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