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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default Las Vegas or Bust! 2015

    It was 9:20 am on a cloudy, misty Sunday morning in San Diego County. And....we were off, heading north on the 15 toward Las Vegas! The purpose for the trip was a professional conference for teachers of young children, in Las Vegas, but hubby decided he should go, too, so we could both have some fun when I was not in workshops and seminars.

    The drive up, which is about 5-6 hours from our home to Sin City, was pretty uneventful. That's the way we like it!!!! However, the comment that we always make for folks traveling between San Diego/Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, still applies. Sunday traffic was pretty awful, especially between Barstow and LV. It got better when we were going up Halloran Pass and the 2nd pass (Mountain Spring?), because there was a 3rd lane for truckers and other slow-bees, and once we crossed State Line into Nevada, where they thoughtfully added a third lane.

    The rest area between Barstow and Baker was closed for construction. That put a lot of pressure on the rest area near Halloran Summit, with folks parking on the dirt, two cars in a trucker's parking place, etc. When we got out at that rest area, we noticed that there was heavy weather ahead!

    IMG_1880 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    As we drove, we never got into downpours, but we could sure tell where there had been, because road shoulders were very wet, and we even saw this puddle which was almost a lake:

    IMG_1886 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Driving into Las Vegas wasn't too hard. Once off the freeway on Flamingo Road, it was "every man for himself". We sat through lights more than one cycle. Finally, 5-1/2 hours, and a little over 300 miles, we were into our hotel.

    The conference is being held at The Venetian, and hubby and I made the decision to pamper ourselves a little and go ahead and stay at the conference venue. (Often times, when I go to conferences, I stay elsewhere.) The "Luxury Suite" in this all-suites hotel, is a beautiful room. Ours has a King bed, a "sunken living area", 3 TV's (one in the bedroom area, one in the living room, and a small one in the bathroom (!), a closet, a HUGE bathroom (2 of ours at home put together) that includes a vanity. We did have to ask for a small refrigerator for our own stuff -- having heard about fruit costing $3 for a banana (yep, it's true), I decided I'd just bring my own. It's a "medical refrigerator" for my special diet, because the one in the room is stuffed with bar supplies and woe-to-you if you move something just a little to accommodate the apples or juices that you brought from home. Yes, I'm still a teacher-on-a-budget, despite Vegas prices.

    IMG_1900 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We spent the evening walking around the hotel and the Grand Canal shoppes, checking out the pools in the place (4, I think), and getting an Italian dinner.

    The view from our table, at dinner:
    IMG_1901 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Hubby's view from the table, which happens to be in St Mark's Square, I believe:
    IMG_1903 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Sometime, we are going to do this:
    IMG_1907 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr



    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,052

    Default Halloran Pass and Mountain Pass

    Nice photos.

    Just a couple of corrections of place names -- so other roadtrippers can use this post.

    The grade north of Baker, California is known as the "Baker Grade" a very long steep pull for cars and trucks. The mid-point of this grade is known as Halloran Springs and the top is, in fact, the Halloran Pass. But the rest stop is known as Valley Wells Safety Rest area and is just south of the Cima Road off-ramp.

    After crossing Cima Road, the road heads up again and crosses at Mountain Pass where that large rare earth metals mine is.

    The puddle you referenced as actually the water on the Ivanpah Dry lake bed -- it frequently has water on it this time of year.

    Enjoy your time in Las Vegas -- Sorry we can't be there to meet you!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,505

    Default

    Thanks for the clarification, Mark. All of my maps and books are out in the car. We let them park our car for us, and don't expect to see it again until we go off on our sightseeing, later this week. They don't even tell you where it is - if you want your car, you have to request that they bring it to you, even if all you want to do is rescue something like your map. So I was doing the names of places from memory.

    DAY 2 - LAS VEGAS

    I was up early in the morning. So was my husband. I probably had way too much to eat for dinner the night before, and had a bit of an upset stomach. We made coffee in the room. (I should clarify that The Venetian was a bit put out with us for bringing our own coffeepot and makings. The valet that brought in our baggage wasn't even supposed to touch it, saying that management said it was a fire hazard. We told him we wouldn't rat on him. Hah. I'm going to guess that it's not a bit of a fire hazard. They just want $4-5 for a 20 oz cup of coffee, twice that if you call for room service. As I said, we're still on a budget. We did put the coffeepot and makings away before housekeeping came in, so we wouldn't push it with other staff.)

    After coffee, I had to take off and head for my conference. Most of you probably aren't interested in the conference, but if you happen to be interested, PM me and I will give you particulars. While I was busy attending seminars, my husband enjoyed being out in the hot Las Vegas sun at poolside. His job was also deciding where we'd meet for lunch and dinner.

    We ate lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe inside the Venetian, near the casino. Great sandwiches. My husband's plate had TWO Monte Cristo's and a salad. Mine had a huge Reuben sandwich (which was great) and a salad. Yum.

    After I was done with my 2 afternoon seminars, I snared three great deals on shirts in the Exhibit Hall. (Professional Tip: I have found, when attending those kinds of conventions and conferences, to browse the Exhibit Hall or Vendor area on the FIRST day of the conference. You can usually snag some deals. I've done different types of conventions and this has been true every time.)

    Hubby and I went out to the poolside, but after sitting there for about a half hour, we noticed the weather building up again. The lifeguards had to chase everyone out of the pools, and then out of the pool area when thunder rolled and lightning was seen in the sky.

    IMG_0585 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We decided to do dinner differently this time. We headed for the food court. Hubby went to Lobster ME, and I went to Johnny Rockets. We both picked up food to go, brought it back to the room, and had dinner there. Quieter, a LOT less than expensive than yesterday, though hubby didn't think much of his lobster roll he did like the soup he got.



    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,505

    Default Day 3: Out of the Hotel, Onto the Strip!

    Once again, my day (8 am to 4:15 pm) was spent in sessions for a conference I am attending in Las Vegas. It's a fabulous conference: 8 sessions so far, and none of them have been duds. Some are better than others. I have to admit, one of my (now retired) fellow teachers took a look at the session schedule and pointed out some fantastic presenters, before I registered for this in March.

    As soon as I was done, I dropped my gear in the room and we headed out to walk The Las Vegas Strip from The Venetian to the Monte Carlo. Bear in mind, it was about 104F outside. We walked, we stopped briefly for me to take pictures, we walked again. We needed to get down to the Monte Carlo to pick up our previously purchased tickets to see the Blue Man Group. The small print on the ticket voucher said we had to pick them up no later than one hour before show time, so that meant we had to pick them up by 6 pm.

    It is not too difficult for pedestrians to get around Las Vegas Strip. There are wide sidewalks, and most of the major streets (including Las Vegas Blvd) have pedestrian overpasses to use. Many of those (but not all) have escalators to save your feet and knees going up and down. There is good signage, you just have to remember if you are heading north or south. We walked south on the east side of Las Vegas Blvd. until we got to the overpasses at Flamingo Blvd., then we crossed and headed south on the west side, because the Monte Carlo was on that side. Also to note is that it was a long walk, well over a mile, from our hotel down to the Monte Carlo, then we had to repeat later.

    After picking up our tickets, we had a meal at Brand Steakhouse inside the Monte Carlo. We were pressed for time. My meal was very good, but hubby's "ravioli" was done in an unusual way, almost Asian, and he did not enjoy it very much. It's a shame, because it was not cheap.

    Blue Man Group?! Phenomenal -- a lovely blend of humor, percussion music (pitched and unpitched), audience participation, special effects, and just plain FUN.

    On the way back, we caught the fountains show in front of the Bellagio, and found a Walgreens. Hubby grabbed a big bottle of his favorite soda to bring back to the room and enjoy on ice while I'm gone, and we both got Icees. It was still 94 in Paradise, at 9:30 at night!

    Pictures will be posted later, as I am writing this before the morning sessions and I have to run!


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default Day 3 Photos!

    Before leaving the Venetian on our walk down Las Vegas Blvd., we stopped to take this picture of the lobby ceiling. Beautiful!

    IMG_1918 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    A half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower. There's a restaurant up there and you can take the elevator to the top.

    IMG_1922 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Caesar's Palace in the daylight:

    IMG_1923 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Looking at the replica of the Arch in France:

    IMG_1925 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Blue Man Group - a 1-1/2 hour show full of laughs, great percussion, and men in blue faces that don't talk.

    IMG_1941 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    One of the Blue Men, out in the lobby doing a photo/autograph shoot. All 3 were out there, but none of them talked!

    IMG_1947 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
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    Default

    More pictures! By the time we left the Monte Carlo to head back to the Venetian, it had gotten dark and the temperature had gone down about 10 degrees. It was 94. Still hot. So these photos will be Las Vegas After Dark:

    IMG_1950 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The fountain show at the Bellagio. There are no colored lights on the water. Just water. Recycled water.

    IMG_1953 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    The children next to us with their parents, kept saying "Ooh!" and "Oh!", when the big tall fountains would shoot up. They, too, were from Southern California and were up there as part of a dance competition.

    IMG_1955 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    In this pic, you get a good idea of the escalators and stairs leading up to the overpasses at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo. You also can see Caesar's Palace, pictured in the daytime in the post above this one.

    IMG_1961 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    An oldie but a goodie, with two entertainers on the marquee that I've grown up with:

    IMG_1962 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Back at the Venetian, we entered through the Grand Canal Shoppes and took a photo of the ceiling again.

    IMG_1963 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
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    Default Day 4: Last Day of Conference

    Day 4 started out in a hurry. I seemed to be running late all morning, which is very unusual for me. However, getting to my conference was quick and easy, just lots of walking. (I can tell you that it's 1/3 mile from our hotel room to our conference venue in the Venetian Meeting Rooms/Sands Expo area.) Almost at the end of my conference, I won a prize -- a CD of one of my favorite musicians for kids -- because of something that I was able to figure out. He asked who invented a particular dance of the 60s, there were some guesses, then he gave us a couple of other hints during the song he was teaching us. Somehow, I managed to find the right answer, and the presenter gave me one of his CD's!

    In the meantime, hubby had one of his slow days. He had spent the first full day at the pool, the second day getting to know some of the bars in the hotel, but on this third conference day, he spent most of it in the room, reading.

    At the end of the day, we took ourselves out to dinner for a real treat for our anniversary. This one was even more of a splurge than last year's in Gettysburg (where we celebrated early). We went to Delmonico's Steakhouse, one of the Emeril restaurants here in LV and located right in the Venetian. It is VERY pricey, call it $$$$. Hubby said his steak was tender, and so was mine. But my husband does a mean steak on our grill, too, and so far we haven't found a restaurant that can beat him for steak. Does that mean Delmonico's wasn't good? No, not that at all. It was excellent! Just pricey. The restaurant asks, when you make a reservation, if you are celebrating something. At the end of our meal, they brought us some banana sorbet, to share. It was good but neither of us really wanted dessert at that point.

    No pictures for Day 4, because the only pics I took were of ideas presented at my workshops. Now, on to seeing more of what the Las Vegas area has to offer!


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-09-2015 at 07:57 AM. Reason: fixed poor grammar

  8. Default

    Really enjoying your live report and the pictures!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,505

    Default Day 5: Off Strip At Last

    After 3 days of conference, it felt pretty good to be able to get off The Strip and see something more "natural". My husband and I prefer nature to big cities, that's for sure. There's a lot of glitz and glamour around Las Vegas, but there are a few places away from all that.

    So we headed north on the 15, stopping at a place 20 miles north of town for breakfast. The food was much less expensive up there and there was enough of it -- Iron Skillet at the Petro Travel Center at the Las Vegas Speedway.

    We arrived at Valley of Fire State Park a little later than I'd hoped when I'd planned this, but we decided not to be in a rush. When we first got there and saw this, we thought, "Okay???? We've been looking at desert scrub for the past 30 miles????"

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 001 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Then we drove into the Beehive area. We were immediately reminded of one section of Zion, though not nearly to the scale of Zion.

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 004 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    This one definitely reminded me of a Beehive!

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 006 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    At Atlatl Rock, the State of Nevada thoughtfully provided an observation tower to be able to see the Valley *and* see the petroglyphs that are on the rock.

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 013 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 015 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We knew it was the wrong time of the year to be in the place when we realized it was 105F outside, and there was a movie filming site down a trail. First you went up the trail on a sandy trail, then the trail turned into rock (sandstone) and it went down, down, down. We decided it wasn't worth all that down, just to see it, and then have to climb back up when it was so hot. The trailhead signage had warned not to do this trail when it was extremely hot. We were trying to carry cups of water, too, as we had accidentally left the fanny pack and water bottles at home in San Diego.

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 025 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    After that, we headed back to the room, enjoyed the pool and went out on The Strip for the last time.


    Donna

  10. Default White Dome Trail

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post

    Las Vegas 2015 Valley of Fire 025 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr

    We knew it was the wrong time of the year to be in the place when we realized it was 105F outside, and there was a movie filming site down a trail. First you went up the trail on a sandy trail, then the trail turned into rock (sandstone) and it went down, down, down. We decided it wasn't worth all that down, just to see it, and then have to climb back up when it was so hot. The trailhead signage had warned not to do this trail when it was extremely hot. We were trying to carry cups of water, too, as we had accidentally left the fanny pack and water bottles at home in San Diego.


    Donna
    That looks like the White Dome Trail. We did this trail in May and there really isn’t much to the movie set. The little slot canyon a little farther on the loop is pretty neat, there is a small arch you can get right up to and the geology is pretty interesting. This is a loop hike and they have you going down the steep part and the return is much more gradual so it’s not bad but nothing you want to do when it’s that hot!

    The sign telling about the movie set

    IMG_0101 by Utahtea, on Flickr

    One of the few walls of the movie set that are still there.

    IMG_0103 by Utahtea, on Flickr

    Utahtea

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