Michael and I flew to Las Vegas, June 7, and returned, June 13, 2007. We spent the first two nights at the Sahara at the north end of the Strip. The third and fourth nights we were in the Red Feather Lodge at the Grand Canyon. We stayed at New York-New York the last two nights. We flew Southwest Airlines. I bought tickets at the airport using my check card. We concentrated on the new side of Vegas. We rode the monorail which links the Strip from the Sahara to the MGM Grand. Themed hotels are the thing.
We landed at McCarran Airport and took the shuttle to the Sahara. The city of lights came to life on our first night. We enjoyed the view from the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. The Tower is a 1/2 replica. Vegas sprawled into the desert. Population has grown to 1.8 million.
Las Vegas has changed since I was there in 1993. There are mega-hotels: New York-New York, Bellagio, Venetian, Mandalay Bay and Luxor. They exist for the purpose of making money for the people who own and operate them. We spent conservatively and aimed for an experience consistent with our needs.
We knew why we were here and what we would do. We bought a digital camera, and Michael got 140 pictures. We walked through the hotels. The Bellagio fountains put on a spectacular show while Elvis sang Viva Las Vegas. The Bellagio is Michael's favorite. He called it a "5 star high roller." We saw Bob Dole in the casino.
Our second day began with Michael having his picture taken with a showgirl. He glowed! We visited the antique car collection at the Imperial Palace. I posed behind a 1955 Cadillac Elmerado.
People were everywhere. We kept moving. We ate well while keeping the cost down. When we were tired, we rested. We walked to Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip and watched the Yankees play the Diamondbacks. Mandalay Bay was home to Mamma Mia!, and I told Michael we would see the movie.
They had started the Luxor when I was there in 93. I kept thinking, "It looks like a pyramid." Then someone said it was. The beam from the top can be seen 250 miles away. The Sphinx and the obelisk are out front. An obelisk is a four-sided stone needle with a pyramid top.
We rented a car and drove to the Grand Canyon, stopping at Hoover Dam on the way. A bypass was being built. The dam provides electricity for California, Arizona and Nevada.
Michael drove. We took 93 south to Kingman, Arizona, and went east on Interstate 40 to Williams. We drove north on 64. It is a 4 or 5 hour drive. We had reservations at the Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan, near the park entrance.
I spotted it! The Grand Canyon! The most awesome spectacle on the planet! We pulled over for a picture. We stopped at a number of overlooks along the south rim.
We attended the star party at Yavapai Point. We looked at Jupiter and Saturn through telescopes. I pointed out the Big Dipper and North Star for Michael. The Grand Canyon Star Party takes place each June.
We drove to the Desert View Watchtower at the eastern end of the south rim. We climbed it. From Desert View Michael and I saw the Colorado River at the bottom of the Canyon.
We saw hikers rehearsing at Bright Angel Trail for a descent the next morning. Michael said that when he comes again, he will go to the bottom. The Canyon is 277 miles long. It took the Colorado River 7 million years to carve it. The rocks at the bottom are two billion years old.
The Colorado flows from the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains through the Canyon. It dumps into the Gulf of California.
We were at the Canyon two nights. Michael thought one night would have been enough. I insisted it is not every day that two guys from Nashville see the Grand Canyon. There is a sameness about the red buttes and mesas which makes it hard to focus.
Canyons are in the west. Valleys are in the east.
Back in Vegas, we checked into New York-New York on the 25th floor.
New York New York is a replica of the New York skyline. There are the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and the Bar at Times Square.
I soaked in the tub each morning and wore my straw hat to keep the sun off my head. I had the bag Charlotte bought me when I went to Sweden. Michael took a suitcase. We watched TV in our room before going to sleep.
Michael sat by the pool while I visited the Atomic Testing Museum. We checked out the Palms because it had a Playboy club. We ate at the Outback. I had "shrimp on the barbie."
We went to Fremont Street downtown and got pictures of Vegas Vic and Sassy Sally.
We saw Jubilee! our last night in town. I saved it for the finale. Jubilee! was started by Donn Arden.
We went to Red Rock Canyon the morning before we left. Red Rock is a National Conservation Area protected by the Bureau of Land Management. It is a 13-mile loop out Charleston Boulevard. The red sandstone formations make an interesting drive. Michael saw Joshua trees for the first time.
We made our way back to McCarran and flew to Nashville. It was a direct flight. Karen met us.
My goal was to introduce Michael to one of our most exciting cities and to give him an experience in the west. I try to bolster his confidence and his ability to get around. I told him the city is a magnet and that he will no doubt return.