by Pa Rock
It was a beautiful day for the drive from Luke AFB to Las Vegas. I anticipated that the jaunt would take four hours, but it was closer to six. The big hangup was Hoover Dam! Damn! Damn! Highway 93 North goes right over the dam - an old two-lane roadway that had tourist traffic snarled for about ten miles, or one hour. But, we were traveling so slowly that I was able to get some great pictures from the car! I think that I may stop there and look around on my return trip Sunday.
Things that I learned on the road today include the fact that the roadside cacti between Phoenix and Wickenberg are much healthier, and of a wider variety, than those between Phoenix and Flagstaff. The Giant Saguaro, in particular, are awesome. I learned that the small theatre on the main drag of Wickenberg, AZ, aptly called "The Saguaro," is currently playing Slumdog Millionaire, indicating that Wickenberg may not be as "small town" as it lets on. And I now know what a Joshua Tree is, and even got out of my car at one point and walked among several of them.
Las Vegas has changed a great deal since I was last here fifteen years ago. Gail and I are staying at the Tropicana, one of the older hotels on the strip. Tonight we went out with her son, Reed, who lives here, and had a nice meal and saw some of the sights. We caught the volcano erupting at the Mirage, went into the Venetia and watched as the gondoliers languidly transported tourists up and down the Grand Canal, and capped the evening off with a breath-taking view of all of Las Vegas from the top of the Mandalay Bay Resort.
Las Vegas is much quieter than the last time I was here. We heard that tourism is off as much as 40 percent. Many of the slot machines looked forlorn.