Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kelso Dunes

I get to lots of neat places on my own and am always wishing I could share them with the family (and blogging about them is a poor substitute). I came down here during this same tournament two years ago (Kelso Dunes) and this year I got to come back with both M & D. It was a perfect high desert day. We all made it to the top and hung out for a while before deciding we needed to head back to the airport and to the drizzly northwest.


D was playing Blitz until after 2am (M and I had gone to bed hours before), but was still willing to be woken early. And M was willing to head off on a 200 mile road trip into the desert even though we had be back to the airport by 5. Of course, I'm always willing to get up early and risk missing planes for the chance to visit new places or old haunts.

There's not much left to Kelso - there was never very much - but the Mojave Preserve folks have done a nice job with the train station.

Valley of Fire

Sunday morning we made sure D got breakfast and off to his morning round and then we drove out of town to explore the desert.

I had a bit of a goal in mind - I wanted to find some beaches, even if that required some imagination. So we swung by Lake Las Vegas, and Boulder Beach and Overton Beach on Lake Mead, where M patiently waited while I took pictures (Gravel Beach).

We drove back through the Valley of Fire, us and hundreds of afternoon visitors from the city. From the number of stretch limos we figured the trip up here must be part of the standard Vegas wedding package.

Las Vegas Boulevard

I'm sure that even Vegas's biggest promoters in it's early days would have had trouble foreseeing the intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard in 2008.


Once D's round got underway M and I headed off on the monorail for the Stratosphere. It's not as tall as the CN Tower, but this one has rides on top. M probably would have been willing to try them, but I pleaded old age, poor back, vertigo, and bad hair. I told her she could go on her own, but in the end we settled for the elevator and the observation deck.

What a spectacular day! Big, dry desert valley spreading 20 miles between snow covered mountains - filled with a million and a half people. Still doesn't make any sense. You can't see all the For Sale signs from up here.

Las Vegas

M&D flew in from SFO earlier in the afternoon, so by the time I arrived from Seattle that evening D was finishing his first round (he won).

It would be hard to tell the economy was in crisis from the activity on the Strip, though I can't imagine that the folks paying for all those construction cranes across the street at MGM's new CityCenter complex aren't a little nervous.

The city remains appalling, but the mountain desert that surrounds it is still inspiring.