Travels in the American Southwest

General Observations from Trip 2000

Golden Nugget is still the Crown Jewel of the Downtown Area.

Stefano's Italian Restaurant (at the GN) does wonders with veal. The Veal Scaloppini Limone was probably the best I've ever had. And whether you're dining alone or in a group, the service is impeccable.

Plaza penny slots are a lot of fun...Six machines located in the northern section of the first floor. Truly a fun way to waste some time!

Binion's Horseshoe now limits bets on the table games (not that this has any practical effect on me!).

Binion's dealers at the craps tables are probably the best in the world. Quick and accurate payoffs for even the most obscure wagers. The brown $.25 chips are now red (seems that the brown chips were just getting too expensive so a color change was mandated).

The Horseshoe's $1,000,000 display is gone but a number of wall displays with intricately designed handguns and rifles owned by Jack Binion are now seen. A massive safe, most recently owned by the late Ted Binion, is also on display. A sign indicates that the historic safe (once owned by Tex Rickard late owner of the Northern bar in Goldfield during the first decade of the 20th century) was discovered empty and the contents are assumed to have been stolen shortly after Ted's death.

The Downtown area seems to have gotten "seedier" over the past couple of years with a noticeably larger population of down-on-their-luck folks sitting in front of the Golden Nugget and on the benches nursing beers. (I define D-O-T-L folks as those who look like me after I've spent a week out of town exploring the desert wilds of Nevada.)

Famous neon from Las Vegas' past is displayed on the east end of Fremont Street. If you're planning on photographing the displays either very late at night of very early before sunrise, expect to be hit up for change by panhandlers.

The Shade Tree, a refuge for women and children, is expected to take possession of their new building in the next couple of months. When I checked out the construction progress, I saw roofers hammering and concrete mixing trucks pouring their loads. I was told the dedication will be held next month.

When will I learn that I should pack half as many clothes and twice as much money when visiting Sin City?

Outside Las Vegas:

Rural Nevada is NOTHING like Las Vegas! A general mistrust of government and a wary eye cast upon strangers seems to be the rule. But on the more remote roads like SR722 and SR 376, passing motorists will still raise a couple of fingers from their steering wheel in greeting as you pass at speeds not permitted on the east coast. And if you're pulled off the side of the road, passing cars will slow and stop...Just to make sure you aren't having car trouble.

I can't believe people travel miles and miles (the final 25+ miles on a dirt and gravel road) to see signs which prohibit photography and tresspassing. (Yep, I did Area 51. At least the Joshua Trees were pretty!)

Lots of hot springs in the middle of the state. Great places to soak out the dirt and stiffness when out exploring!

Though there are thousands of ghost towns in Nevada, many have been completely erased by time and Mother Nature. No trace of them exist except in old books and on old maps.

Since wood for constructing buildings was scarce, entire towns would be dismantled when the local mines ran dry and the wood was used to build other towns which formed around more promising strikes.

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