The drive to Las Vegas was going to be an exciting leg of the journey. Not only was it going to be a full day through the Great State of Nevada, this was going to be nostalgic drive down the 95. I have passed, stopped, and stayed in many of the
cities towns along the way at some point of my life, and it was going to be nice to see them again. Fun fact, the only speeding ticket I've received in my life (knock on wood) was in Tonopah, where I learned the hard lesson of a small town speed trap.
The trip took place on a beautiful day which nicely complimented the beautiful landscapes. There isn't much to write about trvelling between Reno and Las Vegas because the route lacks many stops or towns. Below are some pictures, captions, and a few digressions of the trip. I placed markers on the route map above correlating to the pictures. One can also zoom in on a Google map here.
I had a steak dinner here once while attending a Democratic Central Committee Meeting. An interesting feature of the town is the Hawthorn Army Depot, which serves as an ammunition storage for the military. The depot has been a major storage facility for military ammunition since 1930 and was originally called the Naval Ammunition Depot. The original name is a little odd given the lack of any major bodies of water, well except the great Walker Lake. Watch out terrorist! What is interesting about the location is the endless landscape of bunkers spread out over the desert. One can see the pattern, even from Google earth.
Miller's rest stop was interesting. One, I didn't know Nevada had rest stops and after checking out the history sign posted I discovered Miller's (yes, the apostrophe is in the right spot) was a town that started as a water stop for the steam engine trains. After the initial settlement, the city did well mining cyanide for a bit. At some point the trains went a different route and the town became a ghost town. This area certainly served as a great spot to grab some great Nevada landscape shots including the this panorama. Pretty good.
Tonopah. The city half way between Reno and Las Vegas and the seat of Nye County.
I finally arrived to Las Vegas. I stayed on the 95 until I reached the downtown exit for my hotel, the El Cortez. I was exited to stay downtown with the revitalization taking place. I wanted to see first hand how the area is improving. I have to give the recent development a mixed review and I think it's largely because Las Vegas hasn't changed the way it develops, even if the model is a known failed model (see my own post regarding this same idea in downtown Henderson). For the positive all the development has clearly led to a better street life for Fremont Street and I think this will be the case for the long run (yay!). The bars are half way decent and it's actually pleasant to walk up and down Fremont east of Las Vegas Boulevard (something I would not feel comfortable doing 10+ years ago).
On the negative side I have three complaints about the new stuff. One is Slotzilla. Besides being one of the worst named attractions in the world, the zip line thing blocks the end of Fremont Street and encloses the street in a similar way to Neonopolis, which was a clear failure for not addressing the streets much. Similarly, container park is just another copy of Neonopolis. I said it. I know we all wanted the container park to be great, but it's almost exactly the same as Neonopolis with a fiery Mantis welcoming guests. Why can't Las Vegas build real urban spaces with storefronts that face the street? Container park has the unfortunate situation of being on a critical puzzle piece for the future development of Fremont Street. The third critique is the general bar culture. When I left Las Vegas for Ohio State two bars popped up, The Griffin and Beauty Bar which finally began to feel like a place for the locals and didn't care so much about the scene. Since my departure it seems like the new bars don't quite have the normal bar feel, with club music, admission, and lines. Oh and as a side note, a bar built around video games should never turn into a club. Never.
The stay included a brief tour of visits to family and friends. I missed a few with the limited schedule. It was nice catching up with my god mother, Kathy, who started and runs a great program to help troubled youth. She's created bootcamp for high school kids where the model is nurturing instead of punishing and abandonment. I made some world famous tacos for Penny, Gayda, and Bob (I used to mow Penny's lawn when I was a teenager). I was offered and executive tour of Rose. Rabbit. Lie from Michelle, who works as a light master (I'm unsure of her real title) for the show. She pretty much pushes buttons on a board like Data on the Starship Enterprise that is connected to 300 lights. Pretty cool stuff.. sure beats legal forms for the building department.
I also spent quite a bit of time with good ol' friend from the old Dekker / Perich / Sabatini days, Brent and Suzanne. We all share passion for divey bars, stiff drink, and cheap Mexican food. I spent the night of Tommy and Lindsey's wedding at their house, which was planned (something unusual for stays at the the Ledera house). We were going to drive up to the wedding reception and cab it back to the house, which panned out to be a mistake. Although we were at a fancy Casino, no cabs were there waiting to take us home, which apparently is a normal practice. The valet dispatched a cab for us that never came and we ended up getting a ride from the valet driver after his shift ended, which was likely better than a cab ride (unless it was cash cab...)
Another cool moment was catching up with Hartley, from the old Dekker / Perich / Sabatini Days. Hartley was the established Architect who had the wisdom young architects seek.
The overall time I spent in Las Vegas was shorter than usual and limited with the festivities going on. I didn't even manage to get one photo, oddly. I had a great time and will likely return soon enough (it's great living closer to the homeland). Now that the formal wedding part of the trip was wrapped up, I set out on the road for more adventure. California, here I come.