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Holiday snaps from the Mojave and Las Vegas

Discussion in 'OT (OFF Topic) Forums' started by peppernick, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. peppernick

    peppernick Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Just to share as we had a truely awesome time :)

    Nothing beats an American holiday when it comes to value for money. With the current exchange rates, everything bar the air ticket, is half price. Last year, our summer treat was New York. Last week, we had crisping fun in the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas.

    The Mojave Desert stretches across Southern California, north east to Utah and east to Nevada. It's one of the hottest places on earth, especially the Death Valley. Temperatures can rise to 125 degrees F (52 C) in the months June - September. Rain is scarce, an inch a year but the desert is blessed by the Colorado River, which carries with it constant supply of fresh water, from it's origin in the Canadian Rockies, as the snow thaw over the spring/summer months. As such, life flourishes in it's basin, unlike other deserts.

    The Hoover Dam is strategically located along the Colorado River. Before the dam was built, flash floods when the snow melted were a major problem. In 1931 the construction of Hoover Dam (called Boulder Dam initially, renamed Hoover Dam in 1947 after the 31st President of the US, Herbert Hoover) began and by 1935, the water from the mighty Colorado River can be harnessed effectively. Still a major engineering feat of all time, let alone what it represented back in the 30's.

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    17 giant generators are driven by water channelled from Lake Mead. Together, they generate enough power to supply LA, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tuscon and other southwestern cities, towns and Indian communities in Arizona, Nevada and California.

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    The building that houses the generators. One on each side of the dam. The turbulence indicated active generators.

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    These huge structures are catchment channels for excess water if and when the dam overflowed. So far, only once did it happen, in 1984. Since then, these concrete channels have remained dry.

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    And there's no better way to see the mighty Hoover Dam as a whole than in the air. This one is my favourite pic.

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    Lake Mead behind the dam. A man made reservoir to collect water from the Colorado River. It holds 9.2 trillion gallons of water! Water rafting a popular sport on Lake Mead.

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    On a smaller scale, the mere existence of Hoover Dam allow such to happen. A flourishing golf course right smack in the middle of arid desert land. As long as there is snow on the Rockies, there will be enough water for everyone.

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    Another unique feature of the Mojave Desert is elevation. It is also known as 'the high desert' as certain areas are as much as 6000 feet above sea level. The rocks mainly consist of sandstone, which is soft and brittle, even to the wind. As such, deep canyons were formed over 600 millions years and the most famous of these is the Grand Canyon.

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    The really fun bit :D

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    Totally the work of nature, a section looks remarkably like an eagle spreading it's wings. Naturally, it's known as Eagle Point.

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    Another interesting structure for the tourists. The Skywalk. A parabolical extension with it's floor made from kevlar reinforced lexan, ie. armour proof glass. You can see right underneath you the massive drops of more than 5000 feet. Those afraid of heights were encouraged not to go on it as a sorry Japanese lady found out. She frozed, went absolutely hysterical and had to be carried out.

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    The local Indian tribe is of the Hualapai descendent. TBH, over the years of modernisation, they have become any other Americans. I did managed to taste some of their more 'traditional' food, minced deer meat, chicken, sweet water corn and taco. The macaroni cheese was adapted to suit our vegetarian friends.

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    The best part when you fly into the reservation is exploring the lowest point of the canyon. We landed 200 feet below sea level for a hiking adventure.

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    Temperature soared to 130F (55 C) when we gave up. A man lasts for 2 hours out there without water; and hence, tour trials are always along the river banks. In terms of what is edible out in the desert, only the black caterpillar and the head of a rattlesnake cannot be eaten. The rest of the living creatures, including scorpions, can be consumed in times of desperation.

    The sand lizard apparently taste pretty good (according to our helicopter pilot, who had to pass a desert survival course).

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    And if you see these flying above you, you could be dying pretty soon from dehydration.

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    Our ride back to more civilised land.

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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  2. OP
    OP
    peppernick

    peppernick Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Reknown hotelier and property mogul Steve Wynn once said, 'If there's anything better than wow!, it's aahhhhhh! .......'

    Las Vegas is all about the glitz, although since the 90's, a new type of glitz that has progressively moved the city away from it's wilder heydays where it got it's nickname, Sin City. Steve Wynn played a major role in this transformation. A new wave of luxury hotels like the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Venetian and since 2005, The Wynn brought upmarket crowds from all over the the United States and the world to Las Vegas, looking for more than 25 cent fruit machines and cheap call girls.

    A resort good enough to wear the signature of Las Vegas' best known hotelier, The Wynn is truely a magnificent place to stay, and be looked after.

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    My favourite area in the Wynn Resort, the pool and it's Cabana. Shaped like an elongated dumbell, the pool is 109 metres long.

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    The Cabana at one end, serving the best cocktails. Tables for Poker, Black Jack and Pai Gow. This mini casino you can wear anything you like, or not wear anything you don't like.

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    Behind the Cabana, there is another pool ...... but my camera suddenly stopped working beyond this sign :p . The gorgeous Americans, are truely spankingly gorgeous!

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    Inside The Wynn. If you love interior design, you can spend days and nights taking in the Wynn decor. It's not as 'choking' as the Pallazo (which you'll see in the pictures later) but it's opulence and good taste thrown into a very good mix.

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    Steve Wynn and Roger Penske decided to add a unique touch to hotel boutiques. Penske-Wynn Ferrari can get you any Ferrari you want, and there's always an Enzo you can buy off the shelf at any time, for a premium of course. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the showroom but let's just say they have every current Ferrari and Maserati model plus another for sale, at any one time. A fully loaded brand new F430 Spider F1 costs $220k, available on the spot, and ready to be driven away in 2 hours after purchase, with 1 week fully comp insurance thrown in.

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    Another of my favourite part. The Country Club. A par 70 18-hole golf course within the parameter of the hotel. Lovely course.

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    The view of the golf course from our hotel room.

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    Mr and Mrs Wynn are residents in their private suite in the hotel until their new home in the Southern Highlands Golf Club is completed. Mrs Wynn just returned from her morning workout.

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    Wondered if Governor Schwarzenegger was in town?

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    Next up, the food! Yes, if you love food like we do, you'll love America.

    My list of favourite restaurants from this trip.

    1) The Country Club Grill (Wynn)
    2) The Cheescake Factory (Caeser's Forum)
    3) Rosemary's (West Sahara Avenue)
    4) SW (Wynn)
    5) Picasso (Bellagio)
    6) Olive (Caesar's Palace)


    Fine dining aside, a typical meal would start like this:

    Appetizer: Cheese Nachos

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    Entree: Hotdog

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    Main course: Cheese and bacon burger

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    Dessert: Bannana cheesecake

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    More dessert: Ice cream

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    Wind down drink: Margarita

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    Calories? ....... God knows!?!?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    peppernick

    peppernick Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Las Vegas Boulevard, or more well known as The Strip, is not the same when I was there back in 1987. Several images that I associated Las Vegas with, like the neon cowboy at the New Frontier hotel (absolute trademark), is no more.

    What's left of the New Frontier ......

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    Certain structures I remember are still there, like the MGM Grand, where I watched my first ever live magic show. David Copperfield is currently showcasing there.

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    Other than that, there's a new wave of very interesting hotels and shopping malls. Built to mimic iconic buildings and locations in Europe and America. I asked myself what is the big deal, especially I've seen the real thing several times over. However, I have to take my hat off to the people who came up with such a concept. It's unique, attractive and will provide the next generation with an ingrained image of what Las Vegas is the way the neon cowboy and the MGM Grand did it for me. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if a growing American child might think the Eifel Towel, St Mark's Square, Empire State Bulding and Caesar's Forum are all in Las Vegas!


    New York, New York

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    Paris, the 'Eiffel Tower' and 'Arch of Triumph'

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    The Venetian. The Grand Canal Shops and St Mark's Square (all indoors!)

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    The Pallazzo, a hotel??

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    Caesar's Palace and the Forum Shopping Mall.

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    Audi might have taken over the engineering side of Lamborghini, but the cooks at Lamborghini Del Toro still make the best mamma rossa meatballs.

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    Now, this is one of my favourite places to be at night. I don't drink much, I don't club, I hardly gamble. The fountain light show at the Bellagio Hotel does it for me. It goes on every 15 minutes after sunset through to midnight. The coordination of the fountain to the tunes played was fantastic!


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    The week passed very quickly. It has been brilliant fun with lots of lovely memories to take home. 7 days is just about right in Vegas if you drive into the desert and go on excursions out to the canyons. On it's own, you would have seen most by day 4, unless you are determined to watch every show there is in Vegas. BTW, Le Reve at the Wynn was absolutely brilliant if you like water acrobatics.

    Viva Las Vegas! I can see why :) Hope you enjoyed the pics and write up.

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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  4. Mark300SL

    Mark300SL 1962-2010. Gone, but not forgotten.

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    Agreed about the Bellagio - its an awesome spectacle

    you missed Smith and Wollensky steak house - so bookmark that one for next time :)

    We stayed at the Wynn last summer and I can only echo any remarks made about the place - we cant wait to go back.
    We did a lot of the same trips, you might be interested in this pic ;)
    http://media.hondacrx.co.uk/mark/USA/panoramas/Canyon_pano_resize_framed.jpg


    Agreed - we stayed 6 nights and then moved on to Death valley, Mono Lake, Yosemite and then drove the PCH from San Francisco to LA - there are quite a few of my pictures in the "snaps" thread



    Thanks for the reminders - it does look like you spent a very similar time in Vegas.

    We are already planning a return :)
     
  5. mw_C32

    mw_C32 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Peppernick ---- Truly stunning. :cool:

    Thank you for posting these pictures and write up.

    Mark.
     
  6. 230K

    230K Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Thanks Peppernick. Amazing

    230K
     
  7. OP
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    peppernick

    peppernick Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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  8. Mark300SL

    Mark300SL 1962-2010. Gone, but not forgotten.

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    No Sh*t Sherlock :D

    I have had that printed 4' wide and the original is over 20k pixles wide!

    It looks like you defiantely followed the same tourist trap places we did :p
    We were on the 60th floor of the Wynn - nice complimentary upgrade as I wanted a room with a view - but a bugger when you were trying to go down in the lifts and stopping every 4/5 floors.

    I do have a picture of the strip taken at night from our room somewhere.


    I need to go back now !
     
  9. robert.saunders

    robert.saunders Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Fantastic pics, truly warming write-up, thanks for taking such time to share.

    America hasn't looked so good :D
     
  10. c955

    c955 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Great pics - on a mildly geeky note :rolleyes:, were you using the same camera for all the pics and if so, what was it?
     
  11. Mudster

    Mudster Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Vegas is the only place I've ever visited that was exactly as I expected it to be.
    A thoroughly enjoyable place, probably more enjoyable for those who don't gamble.

    I booked the helicopter around the Grand Canyon and Hoover dam, unfortunately we'd booked that tour for the 12th of September 2001.......the previous days events in New York grounded all air traffic and changed quite a lot of our remaining holiday.

    I am a gambler, well, I'm a poker player actually and as such I spent far too much time sat in air conditioned card rooms and nowhere near enough walking around and taking in the sights.
     
  12. OP
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    peppernick

    peppernick Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Just realised the clue was right there in the pic :D


    Yep, same camera. My trusty 4 year old Sony Cybershot F828. I've stopped carrying my DSLR around with me on trips other than specific photoshoot outings, in the odd instance that I might look too geeky :p
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  13. lil.smartie

    lil.smartie Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    We both love Vegas so much we set up a 2nd home just a couple of blocks from the strip and our US business is reg'd there too.
    I'm now feeling 2nd homesick and so so want to go back now!! (we are due to be back there next month for 4 weeks) The real life Vegas is great too once you get away from the crowds of tourists too, shopping centre on Maryland or the Galleria on Sunset on the outskirts of Henderson are great for shopping trips, Huge Dicks sporting goods at Galleria and loads of food places. The premium outlet mall north Vegas is good too for some bargains! The new Town Square development south of the strip has a bit 'english town centre' about it and it's getting there with store openings etc but avoid the California Pizza Kitchen there, very unimpressed!

    Kate
     
  14. vijilants

    vijilants Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Another point about Vegas - it is the only place Ive been so far where I have seen soo many fantastic looking women in one place.

    Some seriously large people out there though !!!

    Great shopping out there aswell !
     
  15. gaz_l

    gaz_l Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Great photos peppernick, thanks for sharing them. We've been to Vegas a couple of times (last visit was last September, we finished up there after an 1800 mile drive down from Seattle) and it's definitely a place we'll visit again.

    We did the helicopter tour of the Canyon on our first visit 5 years ago - a totally awesome experience and one I'd recommend to anyone. Photos (no criticism intended) just don't do it justice.

    Cheers,

    Gaz
     

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