What do you do after racing up the stairs in the tallest structure in Las Vegas? YOU CLIMB SOME MORE!
My Scale the Strat experience was phenomenal (read my recap here), but Las Vegas is home to a plethora of tall buildings, most of them hotels. And you didn’t hear this from me, but gaining access to hotel stairwells is pretty easy.
So, a few hours after the race, I headed out with my friends Maria and Michael for some urban exploration. There was one particular hotel stairwell that I wanted to check out: Luxor.
Luxor is the hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip that’s Egyptian themed, with a 30-story glass pyramid. The pyramid is filled with hotel rooms, and the center is an enormous atrium, which means the stairwells can’t go straight up. They need to follow the angle of the pyramid wall. The result is one of coolest, most unique stairwells I’ve ever seen.
Check out the short video I posted on Instagram of me climbing the Luxor stairs.
Gaining access to stairwells is fairly easy in many hotels. Take the elevator up a couple floors, to a floor that’s all hotel rooms, and follow the exit signs to the stairwell. (It’s easier to find stairwells on hotel room floors than it is on the floors with public spaces.) Look to make sure emergency alarms won’t sound if you open the door (and there will be signs if that’s the case), and then climb away!
We climbed all 30 stories in Luxor, and we loved being in a different, interesting stairwell.
While I had been to Luxor before, I had never been in the stairwell before. Nor had I seen the atrium from above, and it’s impressive. That building is a feat of architecture and engineering!
Can you spy me and Michael in this picture? (Hint: look for the high-five!)
The elevators at Luxor (which we took back down) are also unique – they’re called ‘inclinators,’ because they also glide up and down at an angle. A selfie from a Luxor elevator lobby. Uh… I mean inclinator lobby:
From there we headed next door to Mandalay Bay. Mandalay Bay requires a key card to press the buttons on the elevator, but we got in an elevator with another gentleman, and just got off on his floor (the 12th), and started our climb from there.
We went from floor 12 to floor 43 in Mandalay Bay. I wish the hallway on floor 43 had a window, but we were out of luck there. So we made due and took a photo in the mirror.
There’s a second hotel on the Mandalay Bay property, the Delano, so for our third climb, we found that stairwell. It, too, has 43 stories, but we were able to enter the stairwell on the 2nd floor, resulting in a longer climb.
We came across, in the Delano, a spot where an employee liked to hang out on their breaks: It was equipped with a Rubik’s cube (solved!), a magazine, a towel so their pants didn’t get dirty, and plenty of evidence that they’re a cigarette smoker.
There’s a restaurant at the top of the Delano, and this stairwell ended in the employees-only areas, so after reaching the top, we walked down a few stories and exited into a public hallway. Not before getting a cool Delano stairwell shot, though!
I got a kick out of this bench in the Delano lobby.
All told, we spent 2 hours and 15 minutes exploring those hotels and stairwells. We weren’t moving the entire time – lots of pauses for chit-chat and photo opps – but we did climb 122 stories, and probably walked a couple miles (because those properties are huge). Both Maria and Michael are new friends – I met Maria at a Chicago race last fall, and met Michael earlier that day – and it was great hanging out with them. Lots of laughs!
All told, I spent 24 hours in Las Vegas on this trip. I arrived at around 4pm the day before the race, and stretched out in my hotel room for a little while, which felt great after the four-hour drive. I stayed at the Lucky Dragon, a smaller hotel a few blocks from the Stratosphere, and they gave me a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe room, which was very spacious.
That night I met up with a big group of stair climbing friends for dinner at McCall’s, a steakhouse in the Stratosphere hotel. I had a very fun time catching up with folks that had come from all over, and we had a private room in the back, which was very nice.
I ordered their wedge salad, with added shrimp, and it was good. (Hard to mess up a wedge salad, though.)
I wasn’t planning on gambling on this trip, but I couldn’t resist the “Jurassic World” slot machine, because, you know, DINOSAURS! And it was in 3-D! I lost $10 but was entertained.
I stopped by a convenience store on the walk back to Lucky Dragon and picked up some snacks, since I was still a little hungry: almonds and jerky. I made it back to my hotel room around 9pm, and just relaxed there, since I my alarms were set for 6:15am the next morning.
After the race and our afternoon stair adventure, I got back on the road to Los Angeles, and realized, as I headed out of town, that I was ravenous. I had eaten that day, but not enough, given all the exercise, and none of it was a legitimate meal: four or five bananas, an apple, a bunch of baby carrots, the remainder of the jerky and almonds.
A big chunk of the drive between Vegas and LA is through vast, empty desert – and there’s a couple 30-40 mile stretches where there’s no exits, no gas stations, no restaurants. I decided to stop for dinner in Baker, a teensy desert town that’s home to the world’s tallest thermometer. (I’m not kidding – I’ve even blogged about it before!)
I had passed eight or ten billboards for a Baker restaurant called the Mad Greek Cafe, and I was craving a gyro. Mad Greek Cafe did not disappoint!
I ordered stuffed grape leaves, and a gyro, with a side salad instead of rice or fries. I wolfed down the food. It was spectacular.
And the art was…
I drank a Diet Mountain Dew with dinner (for the first time in years), mostly for the caffeine, and that helped me get through the final 2.5 hours of driving after Baker.
All told, it was a fun, active, healthy trip to Las Vegas!
Keep it up, David!