Voyage to Vegas

06/24/03

 
Got up at an ungodly 4:30am. Dropped Nick off at his Aunt Cherie's. Spent two hours getting through security checks at Sea-Tac Airport, including having to take off our shoes (thank you, shoe bomber). Left Seattle on Alaska Airlines bound for Las Vegas. When we arrived, Leslie discovered a note in her bag saying that her luggage was picked to be randomly searched. Welcome to the United Police States of America. The note referred us to a web site, www.TSATravelTips.us, for packing tips. No mention whether those tips would prevent random searches, or just make life more amusing for luggage inspectors.

Arrived at Las Vegas airport and took a shuttle to our hotel. Checked into the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, room 1351.Nice view of the other tower and the North Las Vegas Strip. Had lunch at the Carnival World Buffet. (I was so hungry I consumed two pieces of pizza while filling another plate.)
Took free shuttle to Harrah's on the Strip. Strolled through the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Was impressed by the three-story tall Trojan horse at FAO Schwartz.(I think the Las Vegas store closed 2002 and re-opened 2004, after the company was sold.) Leslie pushed buttons on the life-size Darth Vader statue to make him talk.

Walked to The Mirage. In the lobby, saw the white tiger defecate in his pen. Tried to see Sigfried & Roy's Secret Garden, but it had closed at 5pm. Took a tram to Treasure Island and saw the Pirate show - a great, rollicking British Navy vs. buccaneers show that has since been replaced by the far inferior (but sexier) Sirens of TI. Had dinner at the Terrace Cafe there, where they tried to seat us in the non-smoking section. Went back to the Rio and caught the last Masquerade Show in the Sky. Spent $5 on Video Poker machines. This turned out to be the only gambling I did all weekend.

 

 

06/25/03

 
Took a cab to the Las Vegas Hilton. (Accidentally asked the cabbie for the Paramount - he thought we wanted him to drive us all the way to California.) When we got there, they were just opening the Promenade shops. We shopped for an hour and then had a drink at the SpaceQuest Casino bar. Finally, they opened the Star Trek Experience. Well, the shops were supposed to be part of the experience, of course, but they finally opened the museum and ride. We went on the ride (very fun, but a little interactive for Leslie) and then had lunch at Quark's Bar. Leslie had Tranya, and we split Mama Quark's Flatbread and a Photon Torpedo. We were visted by one of the live-action characters, the Klingon Cmdr. ChuroQ. I rode the ride a second time. I also got a picture taken of me on their Enterprise bridge set.

Took a cab back to Harrah's to attend a presentation on time-share condos (shudder). Well, everyone at Fairfield was very nice. We said "no" and bagged free tickets to the Las Vegas show The Scintas and free tickets to the Carnival World Buffet. We would have preferred to see Penn & Teller, but the tickets were upwards of $100 - each. Now that's bulls*t..
Returned to the Rio and swam in the pools. Saw The Scintas show, then bought dinner at Toscano's Deli (not there any more) and ate in our room.

 

06/26/03

 

Played some video games: Tetris and Hydro Thunder on the in-room Nintendo 64 system. Met Leslie's friends Chris Kindred and Sarah (Elizabeth Bear) Kindred. They drove us to the Luxor, where we bought presents for our son Nick.

Stopped at Big B's CDs & Records where we bought a DVD of Ladyhawke for $7.99. Got some drinks at the local 7-11 and went to Chris & Sarah's house, where we met their two large dogs. One is named Paladin, a mastiff that weighs 250 pounds!

Grabbed some water and headed out to Hoover Dam. More post-9/11 security - police were stopping everyone without a local license plate, it seemed. This was before construction had started on the Hoover Dam Bypass-Colorado River Bridge. It was very hot, but we enjoyed the views and the art deco statuary. The dam and Lake Mead were impressive, but a long drought (coupled with increased demand from California) meant that the level of the lake was at least 30 feet below normal. If you look at the photo at right, you can see what looks like a white line ringing the lake (above the dam). This is land that has not been above water for at least 20 years.

Afterward we drove northwest along state route 167, also known as Northshore Road, through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Along the way, we saw an amazing site: a motorboat was resting on the swell of a dune, looking for all the world like it was trying to crest the hill. There were a handful of people regarding the scene helplessly, and a truck with an empty trailer a few yards down the road. The boat had obviously leapt off the trailer, and ended upright, in a very amusing pose. Kindred & I thought it was one of the funniest things we'd ever seen. Leslie & Sarah decided it must be a guy thing.

Stopped at Rogers Spring, a natural hot spring in the Mojave Desert. These springs used to be vital to travellers as sources of water. Nowadays, there are warnings all over them because the water is infested by microorganisms called spirochetes (spirochete bacteria) that can cause brain damage or death. Chris remembers swimming in this spring as a child, which may explain some things...
Reached the Valley of Fire. Very impressive rock formations of wind-carved sandstone, and some Native American petroglyphs dating back 4,000 years. You'd really have to be a professional photographer to capture the eerie beauty of this place. Fortunately, a Google Image Search. results in dozens of stunning photographs. Captain Kirk's final scene in Star Trek: Generations was filmed here. Paramount Pictures donated the scaffolding featured in the movie, and it was used to build part of the steps leading up to the petroglyph viewing area..

BBQ at Chris & Sarah's. Steve Brust decided not to come, but we had a fun time with their other friends. We watched a very funny video spoof, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, starring Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor, and with cameos by popular British actors like Hugh Grant and some cast members from Absolutely Fabulous.

   

 

06/27/03

 
Took the free shuttle to Harrah's again. Walked down the strip, visiting the Paris and stopping for drinks at the Harley Davidson Cafe. We needed the pit stop as it was 102 degrees farenheit at noon! Made our way to the New York New York, where we rode the Manhattan Express Roller Coaster.

Walked across the street to the Excalibur. Purchased some gifts for Cherie and Tom. Tried to take a trolley back up the strip. The first one was broken down. (This should have given us the clue.) The one we got on took 40 minutes to travel half a mile! Finally got to Harrah's and rode the free shuttle back to the Rio. Had our free lunch at the buffet while worrying if we were going to make our flight..
Had had enough of shuttles, thank you, so took a cab straight to McCarran International Airport. In accordance with Murphy's Law, the airport wasn't busy at all, security went much faster, and the flight was delayed. So we waited at the gate for an hour. Were very happy to get home, though we have many happy memories of Nevada!


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