California 2021:
Day 15 - Las Vegas [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Sunday, November 14, 2021: We had a big day ahead of us so we were up early and out of the hotel by 7:00 AM on our way to get McDonald's for breakfast.
We were headed southeast out of Pahrump through the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, ...
... and through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, ...
... headed to Las Vegas, baby! We could already see the gigantic hotels at the north end of the strip.
At Blue Diamond, we turned off Nevada Highway 160 to Nevada Highway 159 and passed this large Coca-Cola Classic can behind the Chevron gas station.
Nevada's Adopt-A-Highway sign is plain and simple.
We entered Red Rock Canyon, ...
... which was not only designated a scenic route, ...
... but was also a scenic byway.
The red stripe on the canyon walls is nothing compared to ...
... the huge dose of red at the northern end.
We were coming in from the northwest side of Las Vegas, so we drove by the McDonald's on South Rainbow Boulevard to get a look at their huge drink cup and French fries that make up almost the entire side of the building. 
From there, it was a quick jump over to Winchell's on Meadows Lane ...
... for a half-dozen pieces of donut heaven. We put the donuts in the back of the van for later and headed east.
It was interesting to see four different speed limit signs over the road, one for each lane. They must really be encouraging people to use the high-occupancy vehicle lane since it had the highest speed limit.
The brand new Circa hotel just opened in December 2020 and is now the tallest building in the Fremont Street area.
We were in this area to see the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Site, ...
... but unfortunately we were here on Sunday and they were closed.
We did a U-Turn on the Pioneer Trail, just like the sign said, ...
... and headed to our next stop, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which has a very distinctive fa├žade.
From there, we bopped over to South 1st Street to see the giant cathead named Snowball, ...
... past the most artsy highway on-ramp we've seen, ...
... to the second largest Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas!
Our next stop was at Area 15, where we had 10:00 AM tickets for Omega Mart. We entered the holding area outside the building which has a bunch of cool art displays, including this one, Pulse Portal by Davis McCarty, ...
... Perception by Matt Elson, which is a short building with curved mirrors that gives this fantastic display when you walk through it, ...
... a giant owl titled Omah by Alchemy Arts ...
... Mechan 9 by Tyler Fuqua, which looked like a rusted iron robot, lying on its back, ...
... this chrome statue of two figures embracing titled In Every Lifetime I Will Find You by Michael Benisty, ...
... this cool dragon head titled El Scorcho by Ivan McLean, ...
... Long Live Las Vegas by Tomas Toulec, ...
... and Mister Fusion, a street legal art car by Henry Chang.
Right at 10:00 AM, we were let into Area 15. There was a big light-up skull at the information desk, but we walked right by it.
We headed right for Omega Mart. We had been first in line outside and we were going to be first in line to enter the exhibit no matter how many interesting things there were to see along the way.
Omega Mart is set up to look like a grocery store, ...
... with products on end caps, employees, ...
... aisle displays that look normal at first glance, until you look again and really read the product labels for the aisle, ...
... and shelves perfectly organized.
The meat counter had a sign that read "Where Family Meats Freedom," ...
... and a bust made from ground beef. The products in the display case weren't quite right either, ...
... including Tattoo Chicken, which was a Manager's Special.
We were given an employee ID card when we entered, ...
... and were instructed to swipe it at the various terminals to collect information and help solve the mystery. We were employee 61914FC692EBB0017CA3248, which we were glad we didn't have to memorize.
Behind the meat counter was a passageway, ...
... to the true experience behind the fake store front. There were spooky lights and platforms and stairs and lots of stuff to see and explore.
We headed up the stairs to the second floor, thinking to work our way from the top to the bottom, and encountered our first slide. The staff member gave us booties to put over our shoes so that we wouldn't get stuck in the slide, gave us a safety briefing, and sent us down. We ended up at the stairs where we had started.
New plan: let's work our way around the room to the right. We followed the river of light in the floor, ...
... to a storage room with some sketchy chemical barrels and a sign with an alarming population decrease.
All of the rooms and exhibits had a tremendous amount of detail, ...
... including letters with snapshots of touristy things such as this vintage photo of what is surely Tommy Bartlett's Water Show circa the 1950s-60s.
There were more passageways with bizarrely shaped bottles, ...
...  unusual lights, ...
... and alien control panels. There was so much attention to detail, we couldn't even begin to speculate on how long it had taken to create this experience.
Even the signs asking you not to touch matched the theme.
There were giant bugs in the walls, ...
... kaleidoscope glass floor panels, ...
... and even the area above the walls was lit to make the heating and air ducts look spooky.
We took a set of stairs to the employee breakroom, ...
... and opened the secret door in the lockers to ...
... a room with employee biographies, a robot receptionist, and other cool artifacts.
All of the hallways and walkways were integrated with the experience, like this hallway with lights on the walls.
The Infinitizer was in a room with lots of mirrors and huge Egyptian-like head statues.
The Luxophone was a room with fog to show off the laser lights arrayed in a semi-circle on one side of the room. If you passed your hand through the laser beam, a musical note would sound. Each laser played a different sound when you broke the beam, and you could play it like a piano.
There was a room with otherworldly objects that were similar to our world with descriptions of their behavior on them.
This room contained terminals for the interns and other employees to continue to collect information about the mystery that was to be solved. We had decided early on to skip that part and just enjoy the visual experience.
There were areas to sit and wait, which was nice. We imagine you could spend all day here if you were actually trying to solve the mystery.
This was one of the coolest rooms that we were in. The patterns on the wall changed and moved, ...
... and with a closer look at the wall, the patterns were made of individual light filaments embedded in the glass.
There were psychedelic colors ...
... that changed into other colors as we entered the room.
We pushed and pulled various doors and latches to see if there were more things hidden behind the walls.
This sign warned that we were near an active bliss-radiation site. Bliss is a known productivity deterent. In case of emergency, fold a fitted sheet.
All of the signs were creative and different.
There were plenty of things here to engage the nerd in both of us.
Most things were just really, really cool to look at.
Rooms were soothing, ...
... hallways were intriguing, ...
... and many of the interactive displays produced sound of some sort, inviting you to create your own music.
After thoroughly exploring the rest of the experience, we took another slide back to the first floor.
This one was made up to look like a wormhole. Here's Debbie preparing to slide, and Tom went down right afterward.
Finally, we took one of the passageways ...
,.. back to the storefront to explore it and its hilarious products some more.
This display for L'Omega water featured flavors such as Plain Plain, New Car, Colby Jazz, and Mashed Potato, among others.
The produce department had equally sketchy things on display.
Some of the items were actually for sale as souvenirs, so we did a little shopping.
If these personalized bleach bottles didn't actually contain bleach, we would have bought one. After all, why shouldn't we have a bottle of bleach with Debbie's name on it?
These jumbo cans of cubed peas and pierced potatoes are actually stash cans.
We would have bought every single one of these not-Campbell's soups if they were actually for sale.
We went to the checkout counter with our loot, turned in our employee ID, and headed out. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
We made our way to a new area between the Cosmopolitan Hotel and New York-New York in an area named "The Park," just off the Las Vegas strip, to check out Bliss Dance, a 55-foot tall stainless steel sculpture by Marco Cochrane.
The area has lovely sculptures and outdoor exhibits to keep people entertained as they are making their way from one casino to the next.
The road brought us out on the strip right at the giant Coca-Cola bottle marking the Coca-Cola Store, ...
... which is on the same block as M&M's World.
In June 2014, shortly after the last time we were in Las Vegas, Hershey opened a new store across from M&M's World and named it Hershey's Chocolate World.
Not to disappoint, we give you the largest replica Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas, the one at New York-New York Casino. It is half the size of the real one in New York.
Here's a fun fact: an image of this replica Lady Liberty was accidentally used for the Postal Service's 2010 Statue of Liberty Forever stamp, a mistake that cost the Postal Service a pretty penny in copyright infringement damages.
Leo, the MGM Lion statue, still stands proudly at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Boulevard.
The entrance to the Excalibur Hotel curiously enough doesn't have their hotel name anywhere on it. Lots of ads for other stuff, but not their name. Hmmm.
David Copperfield is still performing at the MGM Grand. He's been performing in Las Vegas since 1996.
We picked up lunch from Del Taco and drove to Siegfried and Roy Park to eat it there.
This sculpture, titled Dream Machine, is near the entrance to the park.
Lunch over, we proceeded to the defunct Fry's Electronics Store in Las Vegas, where their entrance was shaped like a giant slot machine. Even though the store name is covered in canvas, you can still make out the general shape of the slot machine.
From Fry's, we drove north on the strip to see ...
... the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign. Thanks, Vegas! It had been seven years since our last visit to town but we'd be back again seven months later.
Just north of the Vegas sign is the Pinball Hall of Fame, an interactive museum containing pinball machines and other arcade games from the 1950s to the present.
The sign on the front of the building isn't exactly subtle. It initially opened in 2009, and moved to this new, larger space in July 2021. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, and any profits are donated to charity. What a great place! Let's go inside, shall we?
This warehouse-sized space has rows and rows of pinball machines, arcade games, ...
... and other coin-operated games. After Tom got a load of quarters, Debbie's first stop was right next door: a Metal Typer machine where you select a letter, pull a lever to imprint that letter on a metal disk, and continue until you've run out of space.
Awww. Isn't that sweet?
Next to the Metal Typer was a Zoltar machine, which was apparently everywhere on this trip.
Debbie fed quarters in, started him up, and received a fortune.
One of the two Disneyland Toy Factory mold machines was out of order, ...
... but the other one still worked.
We fed our coins into the slot, started it up, and waited patiently for the figure to be ejected.
They are old machines, and remember, they are kept working by volunteers. We tried three times to get a figure that looked like the one in the window, but none of them worked completely.
 One of Debbie's favorite pinball machines, Road Show by Williams, was unfortunately not working.
But another favorite, Cirqus Voltaire by Bally, was working.
We were excited to see Monopoly by Stern, which was a machine that we used to own. We were also slightly delighted to see that the display had the same problem ours did, and that it was missing balls. It was a very frustrating machine to own, and it doesn't seem to be doing any better here.
They had another machine that we used to have, an original Star Trek by Data East, but unfortunately, it wasn't turned on. We don't know if it was not working, or if it was just getting a rest, but we were sad that we didn't get to play it.
Moving along to one of our all time favorites and another one that we previously owned, Starship Troopers by Sega was still incredibly fun to play.
They had an entire row devoted to old electro-mechanical pins from the early pinball days.
There were lots of space-themed machines like Strato Flight and Space Mission, ...
... Apollo, ...
... and Space Shuttle, and Tom played most of them.
Tom also found nearly every Star Wars-related game in the building and played them too.
Joust was a favorite of Tom's when he was a kid in a bowling league, and he played several rounds on this machine, benefitting now from a better understanding of physics and game programming.
Debbie played this claw machine until she got the duck she wanted. It's nice to play when you know all of the money spent is going to charity.
We found the last of the machines that we had previously owned, Apollo 13 by Sega. Everything on this one worked, unlike the one we owned which had a few broken parts that Tom could not repair. It was awesome to play the 13-ball multiball again, and to hear Kevin Bacon shout "It's not my fault!" when you lost a ball.
It was in fantastic shape, like almost every game in here, and we played until we couldn't play anymore.
Leaving the Pinball Hall of Fame, we passed this pink elephant statue outside of the Diamond Inn.
We passed the brand new Allegient Stadium, just across I-15 from the Mandalay Bay, which is the home for the newly relocated Las Vegas Raiders as well as the UNLV Rebels.
We drove all the way to the north end of the strip to the Neon Museum, ...
... arriving in time for our 2:00 PM timed tickets. We waited in line outside for the museum to open, ...
... checking out the huge light-up shoe on the sign outside.
Right at 2:00 PM, we made our way inside, showed our electronic tickets, and headed back outside into the yard. We immediately encountered an Elvis Presley star on the walk.
But we're not here for stars on the ground, we're here to see some vintage signs!
Being on a tour during the day, none of the neon was on, but we were still in awe at the sheer number of signs that they had.
Many were from businesses we had never heard of, like this Lost Vegas sign, ...
... but some were iconic, like this Hard Rock Cafe sign that just happened to recreate the scene from Con Air, with a plane going overhead seeming to crash into it.
This sign from The Frontier was from a hotel that operated from 1942 until 2007 and was the location for Elvis Presley's first Las Vegas performance in 1956.
The Sahara operated from 1952 to 2011, and was where the Beatles stayed when they played Las Vegas in 1964.
The Stardust opened in 1958 and at the time was the world's largest hotel with more than 1,000 rooms across six buildings.
Signs were piled in front of signs, showing just how many that the museum had acquired.
This Chief Hotel Court sign was one of many that were turned on, ...
... along with this Nevada Motel sign.
Part of the Algiers Hotel sign still worked. The evening tours must be fabulous to see all of the working signs lit up.
We laughed at this sign for the Yucca Motel, having just been in Joshua Tree National Park and having seen the plant that the top of the sign is mimicking.
The signs were very well presented, ...
... and showed a huge diversity in style, including this City Center Motel sign that has a cityscape on its top.
The Fitzgeralds Hotel and Casino sign isn't neon, but is lit with a ton of single bulbs, the vast majority of which were still working. This sign was over the hotel on Fremont Street until 2011 when it was remodeled and rebranded.
The Lido sign was colorful even without lights.
The Moulin Rouge opened in 1955 and played a role in ending segregation in Las Vegas. The sign was designed by Betty Willis, the same woman who designed the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and was partially restored in 2020.
Some of the signs were for hotels that were still operating, like the Tropicana, which has been going since 1961 in the same location.
The last sign we saw was this sign for Dot's Flowers and Corsages near the exit of the museum.
We left the neon museum, headed for the Fremont Street area. There were lots of vintage hotel signs like this one for Lucky Motel, ...
... and this one for the long-gone Ambassador Hotel. Check out the neon: Llamas stay for free!
Look at the size of the eggs at the Golden Goose!
Fergusons Downtown Motel had a figure climbing the yellow part of the sign, ...
... as did the Travelers Motel. There were also climbing figures on the lightposts of a nearby parking lot, likely added as part of the Downtown Project, a multi-million effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas.
There were three motels in a row that had this message: DTLV (Downtown Las Vegas)
TONY. This is a fond reference to Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos and the organizer behind the Downtown Project. Unfortunately, Hsieh died in 2020 from injuries sustained in a house fire.
We entered the Fremont East District, ...
... and passed Container Park, which was throwing a huge party that included many people much cooler and hipper than we were.
We could see the entrance to the Fremont Street Experience, a covered street that stretches for five blocks at the western end of Fremont Street.
As we exited the area, we saw this monkey sculpture climbing a building. His skelton and face are neon, but only the face was lit when we drove by.
Check out the giant lizard on the side of this building! He's shooting blood out of his eye. Ewwwww.
We admired this restored Society Cleaners sign with the top hat and cane as we got on the interstate, saying goodbye once again to the city that never sleeps.
We arrived in Boulder City just after 3:00 PM and passed Chilly Jilly'z Bakery and Cafe. Despite the excellent name, we didn't stop for dinner and we left too early the next morning to stop there for breakfast. Maybe next time.
We were headed to the Nevada Southern Railway and Railroad Museum in Boulder City, ...
... to see Nevada's Merci Train. It was in the open-air pavillion, and was visible from the parking lot. We only got this one quick shot of this side because we thought the museum closed at 3:00 PM and it was a few minutes after. In reality, the museum closed at 3:30 PM, so we could have spent more time here.
There was this interesting line of pedal-powered train cars out front that were connected to a locomotive. As we left, the locomotive was dragging them all away, furthering our believe that the museum had just closed.
When we left, we passed the Fisher Space Pen company, which is apparently in Boulder City. Who knew?!
Our next stop was Hemenway Park, near Boulder Dam and Lake Mead.
The park is up in the hills overlooking Lake Mead, and is famous for its wildlife visitors.
Bighorn sheep come there nearly every day to eat the grass in the park. They were on the lawn, munching away on the grass, as the rest of the park continued its business. There were lots of people playing, picnicking, etc., with the bighorn sheep a few dozen yards away.
Here's a close-up of part of the herd.
We made our way through the downtown area and passed this statue of Alabam, the Toilet Paper Hero of the Hoover Dam. This statue was created in 2007 by local artist Steven Liguoiri to immortalize one of the workers on the nearby Boulder Dam. He was responsible for cleaning the outhouses for the project, and for restocking the toilet paper.
The downtown area was full of outdoor cafes and restaurants.
This statue, Romance by Jeannine Young, was donated in memory of a local man by his widow, and stood outside our hotel for the evening, ...
... the Boulder Dam Hotel.
The hotel had a huge lobby with lots of places to have informal meetings. We had booked a king suite, ...
... but were stunned when we got to our room and discovered that it was a one bedroom apartment, with a living room, ...
... a full kitchen including a stove, dishwasher, and a full-sized refrigerator with freezer.
The separate bedroom had a king-sized bed and closet, ...
... and, of course, a bathroom and shower. It was the largest accommodations we stayed in on the entire trip.
There was a collage of famous people who had stayed here, including Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Will Rogers, and Howard Hughes.
There were good views to the southeast, showing some of the shops within easy walking distance of the hotel, ...
... and to the north showing the outside seating area directly next to the hotel.
We were able to see a good view of the sunset from the west-facing windows.
Tom made freeze-dried beef stroganoff for dinner, which was delicious as always.
The marquee of the Boulder Theatre lit up shortly after sundown with some gorgeous neon. The trees were also wrapped with lights, ...
... which looked fabulous after dark.

Day 16 >

California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home] [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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