While millions of people every year are magnetically drawn to Las Vegas by the bright lights and excitement, many of us who live here just want to escape it. One of our escapes, one of the places tourists neglect, is the Spring Mountains. Or as the locals here simply call it, Mt. Charleston. The mountain is the perfect getaway for a day, or a romantic weekend for couples. It is a place you can go to find quiet. And quiet is what we thought was in store for us when we had made our plans to spend a night at the Resort on Mt. Charleston. We were wrong. Way wrong.
On Friday in the late afternoon with the sun already slipping behind the mountains, we left for the half hour trip from northwest Las Vegas up Kyle Canyon to the resort. Although the drive is not a long one, it is one of contrasts. The valley is pure Mojave desert and the first part of the trip is through a landscape of sand and creosote bush with very little else growing. But as you make the turn onto state highway 157 and start the climb up the canyon towards the village of Mt. Charleston, the scenery changes as the elevation climbs. After only a few minutes, Joshua trees begin appearing, and they eventually give way to pinon and pine trees as we entered the Humboldt-Tiayobe National Forest. Nearly 5000 feet higher than the valley below, the change in temperature is immediately noticeable. The chill in the air and the snow on the ground let us know we had arrived.
A Cut Above, the restaurant at the Resort on Mt. Charleston, is another reason for us to stay at the resort. It is fine dining and the perfect way to start off a romantic weekend. The dining room is quiet and is on a rounded corner of the building with windows all along that are lined by the tables. With the early sunsets of winter it was dark out by the time we arrived and could not see outside at dinner. However, it did provide a beautiful view at breakfast the next day. The service was very good, the food even better, and my company was the best.
After dinner we were out front of the resort when a tour bus pulled up. When the first person off the bus said “I’m drunk” to no one in particular, we knew that the mood of the night was about to change. Later when we can back downstairs from our room to go to the bar next to the lobby, the group had already started to arrive. As we started talking to them, we found out they work together and they were in Las Vegas for a convention and the company they work for had sent them up here for a retreat. They were ready for a good time. It’s a small bar just off of the lobby that has a few machines for gambling, a pool table, a juke box, few tables, and not much room. At first when we arrived at the resort we had worried we would be the ones that were rowdy for the resort, but those worries quickly vanished when the glass of wine was spilled on the pool table. It wasn’t much longer until the pool table became a dance floor as women took turns showing their skills, then the chandelier was swinging, and later somehow someone’s belt was hanging on the Christmas tree. Who knew hanging out with tourists could be that much fun. It was like going to a company Christmas party without that awkward moment the next time at work wondering what you did in front of you co-workers in that drunken haze. All we had to do was stumble upstairs to our room knowing we would never meet any of them again.