Travels in the American Southwest

Prologue, Glitches, and Las Vegas


It was to be unlike any trip I'd ever made to Las Vegas. For this sojourn, Most Significant Other (MSO) would be joining me for my traipsing around Nevada and California between stays in Las Vegas. I knew our enjoyment of the trip would have a direct correlation with our comfort on the trip, so an upgrade of transportation/accomodation was a good idea.
(Correction: CmdrMark's enjoyment of the trip would have a direct correlation with MSO's comfort on the trip! -- Webmaster)
Good bye to my usual Alamo minivan rental with air mattress in the back; Hello 27 foot RV with queen sized mattress, commode, shower, stove, oven and microwave! Ah, roughing it. (And MSO was very, very happy! -- Webmaster (also known as MSO)

Last minute Glitches

Up early doing last minute bag check before heading off to the airport on a warm August morning. Decided to grab the local paper at the corner honor box. Walked by my car only to notice that the back window had been smashed, the car's contents rifled through and a toll transponder stolen. Geez, two hours before takeoff and I've got this kind of situation to deal with. Taped where the window used to be and called the transponder provider. "No, I don't want a new transponder, I just want to cancel the stolen one." "No, I'm very happy with your service, really. I just don't want another unit now. I'll get one in a couple of weeks."

Made it to the airport where MSO awaited me and in short order were airborne.

A fairly uneventful flight despite being picked for a "random search". A smiling gate attendant said, "Would you volunteer for a random search." I keyed in on the word "volunteer" and attempted to decline only to realize that it wasn't really a question! A quick look in my carry-on bag convinced security that I was the wrong passenger to waste time on. Lots of paperwork for my upcoming three weeks in Nevada as well as the mandatory change of clothes should the airline lose track of my checked luggage. I, however, went through a rigorous check which seemed just shy of a strip search. Had the metal-detecting wand waved all over me, even the bottom of my feet after removing my shoes. I jovially unbuckled my belt so the wand could confirm that I didn't have anything suspicious in my belly button.

Las Vegas

A mid-afternoon arrival at McCarran, quick car pick up at Enterprise and before we knew it, we were at the crown jewel of the Downtown - The Golden Nugget, our home for the next three days.

We were assigned a room in the south tower (1601) with a great view of the east. I love to catch the sunrise as it peeks over the mountains. During our three day stay we toured Fremont Street, I throwing some dice at Binion's, the Plaza and Fremont. Confirmed the changes at the Horseshoe, particularly the dealers blatantly pushing the craps players into "making a bet for the boys". Just another change in the place since Jack's daughter Becky started running the place.

Since it had been a full day for me, I decided to take a snooze while MSO went exploring more of Fremont Street. I had to stifle the urge to get Mr. Baseball Bat when I later heard of her experience. Simply, as a single woman walking alone, she became a magnet for the "Heeeeeey baby, whacha doin?" attention. Eating a slice of pizza alone at the outdoor cafe was impossible. My heartfelt gratitude to the two couples who upon seeing her plight invited her to join them. I've never felt unease as I've walked Fremont East in the wee hours of the morning and have posted so in previous trip reports. After hearing of MSO's experience, I will not be so quick to suggest doing so to others in the future.

Since the next two weeks would involve some 2,000 miles of traveling, we'd intermittently gather supplies. Five foot lengths of rebar, mountain bikes as well as plates, cups and utensils. Steel Engineers, Inc. provided the rebar, a thrift shop the bikes and those ubiquitous $1.00 stores the rest. Picked up my 277 lbs. of survival equipment and supplies I'd sent out via UPS. And since you can't have a camp out without a campfire and you need wood for a campfire, we headed out to a vacant lot I'd remembered from last year. This lot off Lamb Road was ripe with discarded wood pallets, at least it was then. Now it was a cleared lot with a big sign saying it was the future home of some company. Downcast, we headed back downtown when we spied the Sun Valley Trailer Park...Or what was left of it. It seems the park was sold and being cleared with piles of lumber scattered around. Pulled in and asked the foreman if we could help ourselves. He smiled as he said with a wink, "Only if you take it all." We stocked up on enough to last us for the next two weeks.

We enjoyed a couple of dinners at the Golden Nugget's buffet. Nothing spectacular but good and filling. Grabbed a bite at the Plaza's diner, again, not memorable but certainly filling.

No doubt that the high point of this short three day stay was the Blue Man Group. We caught the Thursday night show and I honestly had tears running down my face from laughter during the show. I won't spoil the show for anyone but must tell you how they warm up the audience. An electric message board flashes messages to actual people in the audience. The board had Nancy (last name withheld here) stand up and say hello. Nancy complies. The audience responds with a rousing "Hello Nancy". Then the board goes on to say that Nancy has a headache and would we all wish her well. We all did. Then the board starts again. "Let's all say hello to Mark Commander" (ok, it's not really Commander but you get the gist!). Being in the 12th row, I rise and turn toward the audience with a theatrical salute announcing, "Hello Audience". The greeting was returned. The message board then announced that my credit card payment hadn't been received and I instantly feared that MSO and I might be forcibly removed from our choice seats. I breathed a sigh of relief as the message continued "This is a courtesy reminder" and the audience laughed in approval. Blue Man Group has a great way of warming up the audience. Earplugs are available for those with sensitive ears which didn't include either MSO or me. Oh yeah, don't arrive late. (chuckle)

We cabbed it back downtown, dragged ourselves to our room and crashed knowing that before we knew it, it would be Friday morning and time to pick up the 27 foot RV. Our "Out of Las Vegas" vacation was about to begin.

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