Monday, February 06, 2006

Las Vegas, NV

We started our month long trip to Arizona and adjoining states with a rather uneventful flight from Toronto to Las Vegas. That is say, except for the annoying people who in the seats ahead of us had the sound on their DVD player turned up full blast making it next to impossible for the rest of us to think. Not that that comes naturally in the first place. Now, when WestJet says they've got inflight entertainment, be skeptical, be very sketical. They may mean the cabin crew perhaps, because the proudly advertized onboard Bell ExpressVu satellite link was sadly missing, forcing me to miss Friday night's edition of I Love Lucy, making me very cranky indeed. Anyway, after I got over that, getting of the plane, getting our luggage and car, and checking in all went smoothly, so that by 11:30 Friday night we were walking on the strip, looking for a place to gamble, errr, make that a bite to eat.

Las Vegas must be North America's most decadent city, Vancouver of course excepted. It seemed seedier this time as compared to last, with alcohol consumption going on everywhere in public places, a new Hooter's hotel that just opened up and the streets littered with little cards advertising 'escort' services. Nonetheless, we managed to find a Wendy's and had a burger, because we were starving.
Then we made our way up to Ceasar's Place, went into the casino, where we stood, once again, dumbfounded by all those idiot people, gambling their money away. We walked back to our Motel 6, talking a short cut through the MGM Grand, where Elvis once performed. (I managed to mention Motel 6 and MGM Grand all in one sentence). At 2:30 in the morning the card playing tables were still packed, by conservative estimate there must have been 1000 people still there goin' at it. Another thing to be amazed at is the complete and utter waist of fuel everywhere, passenger cars seems to have disappeared, the only version still in use is the limo. However, it too is in danger of becoming extinct, to be replaced by the truck limo or Hummer in limo version. Didn't Mr.ush just say the other day that "We must end our dependency on foreign oil?". Well, I can tell you that that is not going to happen in my lifetime, and I ain't planning on dying just yet.

The next morning we awoke to hazy sunshine, and decided to walk off the last remnants of the Wendy burger by taking in the sights in the early morning light. Never having Luxor up close, we took it in, architecturally, they sure did a nice job. What a waste!

That's when we had enough and wanted to hit the road. We loaded up the car, drove off and promptly got lost, stumbled into a grocery store, stocked up on supplies, found our way back and headed south on Nevada State Road 95 to cross into California, onto Needles, where we crossed the Colorado River into Arizona. Then we ran into Darrell from Alaska, who was kind enough to sell us a huge bag of grapefuits for $2.00 and then threw in some delicious oranges to boot. After a nice chat, we drove off, trying to find the ghost town of Oatman. Of course, we promptly managed to make an enormous detour, but ultimately we did end up in Oatman. Some excited tourist told us when we got there, You'd better visit the Oatman Hotel, that's where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon. That's nice, but whose Clark Gable? Anyway, the ice cream was good, the taste of it blended peculiarly though nicely with the smell of fresh burro dung, which is spread throughout all of main street, which is, by the way the only street in town. As a side note, Main Street is Route 66, of Route 66 fame. After leaving Oatman, we meandered over to Lake Havasu City, via Route 66 and SR 95. Having arrived at Lake Havasu, we needed to be real quick to get the obligatory shot of London Bridge at sunset. Getting lost does not help, as the sun does not wait for anyone to settle (To some this may be a surprise). Anyway, we did find it, and the result of the shot is here somewhere on this page. For those of you not in the know, London Bridge was originally built in 1831 and spanned the Thames River in London England. Much to their dismay, the British found in the 1950's that it was sinking into the riverbed. So this enterprising American bought it and brought it over, stone by stone, to Lake Havasu City and rebuild it here across an artificial channel.

As an experiment, and as mentioned in my lead off blog, I'll try to log this entire trip using GPS and my custom made application. Day 1 actually went fine, though the logistics of getting everything setup are somewhat cumbersome. The application is still a little rough around the edges, but hopefully, if I have time, it'll practically run itself :) The computer rides on the floor in the back seat, and as you drive you can every one in a while hear the artificial voice murmur some coordinate or speed, which is basically my clue that Visual FoxPro hasn't bombed. Not that it would ever do that in the first place. Today, it wrote 30,000 records in the main table, but that roughly only occupies about as much space as 1 digital photograph in RAW format with my Canon 20d. Below are the results of the screens for the day, the first one showing our route (including unwanted detours), the second our speed versus time.

In the speed graph, you can clearly see that we've got cruise control. The dips are stop signs, stop lights and pee breaks.

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