Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekend in Mesquite

The High Plains Drifters reached Mesquite, Nevada, in the early afternoon when thermometers read 106-degrees and the odometer told us we have traveled just over 1,000 miles.  We'd had two and a half days in the car on our road trip through the western United States.  It was hot in this Great Basin area of eastern Nevada, but that's what we had been seeking when we set out.

We'd left our home in Washington State's Puget Sound because our continuing cloudy, rainy, not-yet-reaching-75-degree weather had driven us to seek sun. We were en route to Las Vegas and chose to spend the weekend in this small town 85 miles away because it looked charming and weekend hotel rates were far better than Vegas' rates.   

So here we were in Mesquite, settled in at the town's Casablanca Resort with its palm-tree shaded lush pool area (home of Saturday afternoon limbo contests), 18-hole golf course (one of 9 in town) and European-style spa.  We'd nabbed a room on Expedia for $65 a night.  Meals in its Purple Fez cafe were some of the best food we've eaten and our dinner prices hovered at $16 - $19 for two.

Exploring beyond our plush resort, we found that Mesquite sadly reflects the economic downturn in our country. One of the four sprawling casino resorts that anchor the entrances to this city from I-15 was shuttered and scheduled for demolition according to the local newspaper.  Empty store fronts dotted the many strip malls that lined Mesquite Avenue, the town's main drag.  Homes -- beautiful, recently built, gated-community, overlooking lush golf courses -- are on the market at reduced prices; foreclosures and 'bank-owned' properties fill real estate listings.

The locals we chatted with seemed interested in knowing where we were from, what had brought us to town and offered suggestions of nearby places we needed to visit including St. George, Utah only 30-minutes away from Mesquite on I-15. The drive there, they said, was through beautiful canyon country, a teaser I guess for nearby Zion National Park.  But the heat had slowed our pace, we put that on our 'next time' list and headed back to the pool.

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