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Las Vegas APA convention, April and May, 2008

Diana's annual American Planners Association convention was in Las Vegas this year and Noel (as he has the past two years) tagged along. After all, most of it is on the Town of Windsor's dime :)

April 25 - Diana seems to have strep throat upon waking this morning. Very sore throat and glands and a low grade fever. She goes to work anyway, to finish details before being off for a week, and then an 11a visit to the doctor. Quick strep test is negative but Diana is given antibiotic anyway, due to symptoms. The benefit to this is we leave several hours sooner than planned and get to Grand Junction for the night. Yep, Motel 6 . . .

April 26 - A restless night but Diana's feeling some better. We visited with our friends Marty and Pat Brady that had moved here from Denver a few months ago. We had a nice chat and lunch. Yesterday was Pat's Bday so extra good timing for the visit. We are off to Cedar City, UT, midday, for another Motel 6.

Marty and Pat Brady (Pat is wearing the cap) outside a Mexican restaurant in Grand Junction where shared a birthday lunch with them.

April 27 - An easy, quite day . . . trying to build up Diana's strength. Got in Vegas about noon and drove the strip from end to end. Checked into the Paris hotel and registered at APA in Bally's. We connected with a man that sold us his Monday night reception party ticket for $30 (reg. $70). Party tomorrow! We wandered the strip a bit, saw Bellagio's fountain show and sat and rested at a slot machine and lost $10. Connected with Joe and rested some more . . .

Diana relaxing before our night out.

The view from out 24th floor window :(

Downtown Vegas has a nighttime show, over Fremont street, of 1.25 million lights and a 550,000 watt sound system. It's seems to be pretty cool and we showed up about 745p for a 8p showing. The street is an open air mall and has lot's of vendor doing weird things (writing your name on a piece of rice, flavored oxygen bar, . . . ) The showed started right on time and failed about 3 minutes later. There was about 10 seconds of sound and then an announce that due to technical difficulties it was cancelled. Oh, well. Back to the hotel via a stop for water and pop (and a couple of Krispy Kremes) and good nights sleep.

The Belagio water show from the walk-over bridge.

Looking down Fremont street before the light show.

The overhead lights of the Fremont Street Experience.

A man's signs trying to convince everyone of Las Vegas's amoral demise.

A band that plays on Fremont between the evening light shows.

Dice from Diana's casino . . . :)

April 28 - It was a good night and we were up by 7a and walked a few blocks to Mickey D's for a little breakfast. There are several restaurants and a French bakery in the Paris (where we are staying) but the lines are loooooonnnnggggg. Besides a quick morning walk was nice. We had a 9a bus tour of Las Vegas called "Beyond the Glitz". It was OK. We liked these at the past APA conferences and this one was fine. Saw many extra things and understand the political layout better. Did you know that "The Strip" is not in Las Vegas? It's in unincorporated Clark County. Also, saw that each of the neighborhoods had there own Casio/Resort. Interesting . . .

Out front of Paris on way to breakfast.

Diana and Noel at the Spring's Preserve stop on the bus tour.

One of the exhibits at the stop on the bus tour.

Along the children's play area at the stop.

A demo canyon at the stop.

Getting back on the bus . . .

Lunch in the room (salad fixin's we travel with) and Diana took in a couple of classes while Noel walked the Strip. Between Diana's classes with took the elevator to the top of the Paris's 1/2 scale Eiffel Tower. A bit spooky but fun and we got a different look at the Strip.

Diana and Noel waiting for the elevator up the Eiffle Tower.

From the top of the tower looking down on the balloon in front of the Paris.

Looking further south down the strip.

Looking across to the Bellagio water fountains (not operating just now)

The Paris hotel and pool.

Diana and Noel with the strip behind . . .

Tonight was the night of the Opening Reception. A so-so meal and some fun entertainment from a Cher and an Elvis impersonator. A couple of free glasses of wine and back to the room with sore feet. After all Dancing with the Stars was on :)

Cher (a GREAT imitation)

"Cher" with a couple of "volunteers".

The King . . .

Elvis has not left the building . . .

April 29 - Up early (6a local, PDT) so Diana can make an 815a Keynote Speaker - the inventor of GIS. She had a class after that and Noel walked the strip a bit. Before lunch in the room we drove to replenished supplies (pop, bananas, Cinnamon Raisin bread, candy - the essentials). We swung by the Riviera and such and took more pictures.

All that remains of the Frontier (raised earlier this year) and the sign for the new Trump Towers (opened in April 2008)

The statues that signify Vegas's most popular show - Crazy Girls.

The golden tower of Trump

We wandered around town, mostly Circus Circus and the Venetian. Perhaps the extremes of the Vegas hotel/casino trade. Venetian is very elegant and classy. Circus Circus is getting very dirty and ratty. Saw a clown and acrobatic act. Mostly we found a squished penny machine. Oh, yes we stopped by the Hilton and found the Star Trek squished penny machine except this one is a squished quarter machine.

The clown and RingMaster at Circus Circus.

A tumbling and acrobatic act.

A gondola ride INSIDE the Venetian Hotel/Casino.

Diana and Noel with canal in the background.

Diana admiring masks in a shop in the Venitian.

A "live" statue in the Venetian.

The ceiling along the shops in the Venetian.

We did our only gambling for an hour or so and won about $50 playing a penny slot call Donuts and Cops. Up to the room to change for the show - Ooh La La - not quite the show we expected but fun enough. To the room by 9p 'cause we just gotta see who's knocked off Dancing with the Stars.

All dressed up and on our way to the show . . .

April 30 - It's laundry day! Diana to class and Noel to a Laundromat . . . (a 10 day trip that we are half-way through needs clean clothes). Join up in the room about noon and off down the strip in search of squished pennies. We find some at The Grand Canyon Experience, M&M Factory and MGM Grand's Rainforest Cafe. We walked back to the Paris (3 mile round trip) and got the car to drive south to a buffet we heard about. It's in a casino resort that also has a Bass Pro Shop with a squished penny machine. Weird. But it has a huge aquarium and the buffet was OK though it closed before we were finished. Mermaids swim in the aquarium, sometimes, but we missed the show.

Proof Noel went to the laundermat.

A huge project - City Center - going up mid-strip.

Diana and Noel in front of the City Center construction.

The lion habitat in MGM. Note lion over walkway.

Diana looking up at the lions lounging above the walkway.

The entrance to our hotel - Paris

Aquarium at the hotel/casio we went to buffet south edge of Las Vegas. Note the Bass Pro Shop logo reflection . . .

Then to find more squished penny machines . . . at the Imperial Palace we found one after a very long search and then a search for the car. Then we went back to the Paris for a good nights rest.

May 1 - It's time to say good-bye to Vegas (none too soon - fun town but stinky) and more adventures. We (with the help of a bellman and cart) get our 18 bags downstairs, our car from valet, and pigeon-hole it all back into the Camry. Hating to ever take the same way twice, at least closely spaced, we plan the southern route home. First major stop is Hoover Dam. Just a quick roadside stop to peek at it. The most interesting part is a new fly-over road this is in mid-construction.

Hoover Dam

The not yet complete flyover.

Memorial to Hoover Dam worker.

Diana and Noel in the wind . . .

The dam is just the shortest route to Grand Canyon National Park, our next stop. Unlike the heat of Vegas we've had all week, the canyon area is cold! Sunny but very windy and near mid-40's. We stop at the visitors center to get our bearings and search out a squished penny machine. No luck on that part but are told of one at a lodge gift shop in the Grand Canyon Village. Onward! We score 4 more squished ones and drive along the rim - eastward. We do jump out at several pull-outs but find the last one (as one travels east) the most interesting. It's Desert View area and a 40 foot tower, built in the style of the Anasazi, but in the 1930's, is at the canyon's edge. The four story climb gives some very interesting perspectives to the same view. The building's style gives a feeling of history and ceremony appropriate for this May Day.

Diana and Noel with a big hole behind.

Classic Grand Canyon.

Diana squishing pennies.

Diana and Noel with hole behind.

Tower . . .

Artsy look at the tower

Inside the tower and a description of the markings and structure.

From first floor window . . .

From second floor . . .

and Third floor picture.

From the top . . .

Another description of the towers history.

Out of the park, eastbound, we stop at a couple roadside stands to look at native Indian jewelry and pottery but find no bargains. Joining the highway southbound we spend a few minutes drive and a short hike in Wupatki National Monument. Still windy and cold we don't spend the time we might otherwise but find one interesting ruin to explore. We like these smaller, lesser known parks best as we can usually be completely on our own - as is the case today - to explore.

Into the park . . .

Looking to the top ruin

Looking from the top ruin to the lower ruin.

Motel 6 and pizza in the room, in Flagstaff, for the night.

May 2 - Sedona, this morning's adventure, is exactly that. The drive from Flagstaff to Sedona is less than 30 miles but takes over and hour. Beautiful red rock cliffs about the tree lined, winding Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona is a typical tourist town, divided into to areas, and planned to fit into the color and style of the surrounding rock. McDonald's, for example, wasn't allowed to have "golden arches". Here the arches are turquoise.

The "Turquoise" arches of MickeyD's-Sedona

We have two or three hiking locations in mind and have an adventure in just finding them. Cathedral Rock can be hiked from several sides and the first side we had sketchy instructions to didn't pan out. We then continue south of town and find Bell Rock. This mile (one-way) trail is great. Little breeze, several painters along the trail, a scramble up the cliff side to a known vortex, and cool, gorgeous weather. We had to shed our long pants and bought some T-shirts to cool down for the next hike.

Bell Rock

On the trail to Bell Rock

Diana examines the twistier trees nearer the vortex.

About 100 feet up Bell Rock - the apex of the vortex.

A painter and his setup painting Bell Rock.

We drove to the other side of Cathedral Rock, this time with more success, and walked another gorgeous trail, this time along the creek to the site of another vortex. Many kairns here stacked by happy travelers or by the Harmonic Convergence? :)

Historic water wheel in park at trailhead to Cathedral Rock

Oak Creek around Cathedral Rock

Diana and Noel with creek behind.

Kairns galore

Vortex markers?

No, not super glued

We can't leave Sedona without squished pennies! We find three downtown machines and a delightful "homemade" ice cream shop.

Only Diana isn't made of bronze. Outside a squished penny shop downtown.

Then back the windy and beautiful drive north to join I-40 to Canyon De Chelley National Monument. That turns out to be a longer trip than expected and we veer off at Ganado and continue to Gallup for the night. The next time we try Canyon De Chelley we'll arrange to do it on horseback.

May 3 - We rise not too early but early enough for a full day. After gassing up and checking maps we are underway to El Morro Nat'l Monument. Just an hour or so south of Gallup is, perhaps, the widest variety of sandstone rock carving. This monument begins over 1100 years ago with Anasazi petroglyphs and include Spanish inscription dated before the landing of the Mayflower and carved names and descriptions into the passage of the first white men in the mid-1800's. Amazing and very interesting.

Along road into El Morro National Monument

Reason for El Morro? The water hole at the base . . .

Famous script carving

Some of the early spanish carvings

Carving with bird nests above

Diana and Noel in front of El Morro

The only poem carved into El Morro

One of dozens of marks for documenting the carvings.

The last significant carving by the first white man to carve into El Morro. Wrote a book that outlined the carvings found in the mid 1800's.

Next is passage through El Malpais National Monument and a visit to the Ice Caves. The Ice Caves and Banderas Volcano is a private, commercial enterprise with El Malpais that demonstrates a huge caldera and lava features such as tubes and spatters. The same $9 includes admission to both areas. The walk to the top of the caldera is about one, rather steep, mile and we didn't go all the way. Noel had been there before and knows that the top looks like the sides. Trying to conserve time we returned to the gift shop and on to the Ice Cave. It's a 400 yard walk, through a very interesting lava field, and then a very rickety and steep set of stairs to the frozen lake. One descends about 100 feet to a cave with the lake at the bottom that never is warmer than 31*F. You can feel the temperature change with each step down. Very cool :)

Gift shop and entrance to the Ice Caves

Diana in front of lava rocks

Lava "Splatter" Cone

700 year old Douglas Fir; Lumberjacks didn't want to travel over the lava to cut it down.

Diana and Noel at bottom of the stairs with ice pond behind.

Twelve foot thick ice in cave

We head up to I-40 next and into Albuquerque. Lunch downtown at a very nice place, the Daily Grind on Central.  It's squished penny time! We head into Old Town and find three machines and make 9 "stretched" pennies. Next to the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Gardens - OOO! - it's OutOfOrder :( We try to go to Petroglyph National Monument, on the edge of Albuquerque, but it closes at 5p and we would have too little time to hike the trail and see anything of significance.

Diana on the patio as we are served

Now it's north to Santa Fe and a search for more penny squishing machines. We find the two shops that are supposed to have them but both have closed for the day :( We did see, reportedly, the oldest house in the United States. Color us skeptical . . . Anyway, we head to Raton for the night, staying at, as you might guess by now, a Motel 6.

Mission where the gift shop (closed) is supposed to have a penny machine.

May 4 - Home we went, stopping in Loveland to take Harry to dinner, and collapsing, eventually, in Evans. A great time was had by all.