Mike and Diane Wilson -
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Las Vegas, September 2013

After we had three fantastic holidays in Canada (Vancouver and Chilliwack), our Canadian friends suggested we meet them in Phoenix, Arizona, during one of their visits to the city on business. We couldn't agree quickly enough! It was decided we would fly into Las Vegas, stay there a couple of nights, drive on to Laughlin - a casino town on the Colorado - for a day before driving on to Phoenix. After a week in Phoenix, we'd go back to Laughlin for five days. Then there'd be two more days in Las Vegas before we flew home. It was fantastic experience.
This is a street view in Las Vegas. On the left are the turrets of the Excalibur hotel. In front of the New York New York hotel and casino is the half-size Statue of Liberty. The hotel looks as if it has been brought straight from New York and planted in the middle of Vegas. On the right is the MGM complex, where we saw the Mob Experience, where we interacted with players in a scenario of the Roaring Twenties.

 

On The Strip at night. The tower is a copy of the one in St Mark's Square, Venice. In the Venetia Hotel, gondoliers sing and steer their gondolas along the canals of Venice. You don't need much imagination to be there.

This is the Barringer Crater in Nevada. A meteor crashed here about 50,000 years ago, with an impact so huge that the meteor was vaporised. Scientists reckon it weighed 300,000 tons. The crater is about a mile across from one wall to the other. It is extremely impressive!

After the visit to the Crater, we drove on to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately we arrived there around 6pm - sunset was 6.14pm. We managed to see a little of the canyon from the first vantage point we found. Luckily my Canon camera was able to nearly see in the dark. I'd love to go there again during the day.

 

We visited Butterfly Wonderland one morning. It was everything I expected, dozens of gorgeous gaudy butterflies fluttering everywhere. Close-up photos were easy to take.

After three hours or so driving from Phoenix, we arrived in Tombstone, Arizona. With memories of the film Wyatt Earp in our minds, we walked along East Allen Street to find the OK Corral. We watched a playful gunfight, but it wasn't the gunfight we'd come to see. However, I loved my visit to the offices of the Epitaph. There I bought a newspaper which gave the account of the legendary gunfight, and others about the life and times of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. There was printing equipment everywhere and I was in my element. I'd love to have been in the print shop the day of the gunfight! What a story!

This is London Bridge. It spans the Colorado in a place called Lake Havasu City. An engineer who built engines for boats brought his factory to the shores of the lake and wondered what he could do to bring visitors to the lake and buy his boats. So he had a really mad idea - he bought London Bridge! The immediate environment where the bridge and the river meet is very pleasant and the bridge does attract thousands of visitors every year.

Another trip out from Phoenix saw us at the Titan Missile Museum. Here we learned about the Cold War between the Sixties and the Eighties when the US and the USSR stared each other out with dozens of their deadly missiles in their silos way out in unpopulated deserts.

This P-51 Mustang is on display at the Commemorative Air Force airfield at Mesa, Arizona, near Phoenix. I was hoping to see the B-17 Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey, but she was elsewhere on show. There were some great exhibits and I rejoice that these old aircraft have been preserved.

The building on the right is the River Palms Casino and Hotel, where we stayed when in Laughlin, Nevada. One side of the river is Nevada, the other is in Arizona. We enjoyed our stay in Laughlin, and fed quite a few dollars into the voracious jaws of the one-armed bandits. A water taxi plies up and down the river between all the hotels, and we enjoyed a two-hour jet-boat ride to Lake Havasu to see London Bridge.

 

This is a regular scene outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Every night, the crowd quietens and turns to the lake in front of the hotel. The music swells and suddenly there are spurts of water the width of the lake. The water sways to and fro, leaps skyward and dances. In one performance, it's the Beatles, in another it's a classical piece. It's stunning. And it's free!
During the day this area seems to be just a small outcrop of rock with small waterfalls dropping down its face. But at eight o'clock the water stops, and frogs begin to croak, before falling silent. The crowd, too, becomes silent. Then there's a spouting upward of red. You haven't seen red water so it must be flame. In a few moments the whole rocky area is covered in flames. The heat is intense. Where the Bellagio does it's stuff with water, the Mirage does it with flame. This is an amazing sight, taking place just a few feet from hundreds of watches. This is also a free performance.
Can't wait to see all this again!