Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Las Vegas

When we returned from Maui, we had a four day layover in Las Vegas. We spent one day walking the strip and viewing some of the outdoor attractions, meandering through the casinos to check out the decor, and attending a Cirque De Soleil performance.

We decided that New York New York had the best exterior, reproducing the NY skyline and waterfront with recognizable features. Inside, they also have realistically reproduced a walk through neighborhood streets filled with a tempting array of restaurants, ranging from hot dog stands, stand up bars, Irish pubs, to posh reservations required affairs. Fun to just wander along the faux streets and smell all the goodies.

The dancing fountains outside the Bellagio Casino were an amazing technological accomplishment, where every half hour, rows of metal spouts rise out of the water and move plumes of liquid back and fourth, up and down, in tandem with music broadcast outside.

Treasure Island has a Pirate extravaganza with lots of fireworks, a sinking ship, along with what we decided was a tacky girlie show, that packs in a sidewalk crowd which takes 30 minutes to disperse.

The Mirage volcano is a better take, even if it is over in less than five minutes. The production is all done with recorded sounds of the jungle and thunderous eruption noise, along with cleaver lighting that turns the fountain into real looking lava flowing down the mountain and into the lagoon. Guess you really have to see them all, just for the experience.

Downtown is another unique attraction. Since the action is contained in a much smaller space than the strip, it seems to generate more energy. The Freemont Experience is a trip in itself. The three block overhead, computer generated, light and sound show was different each time we caught it. I think it runs every 30 minutes and who knows how many variations there are. I should have asked someone. The entire street is similar to a carnival, with performances, street artists, and casinos all vying for your attention. We watched an artist produce life like paintings using only spray cans of paint and torn newspaper to create works ranging from forest waterfalls, to complete solar systems.

There are currently five Cirque Du Soleil productions on the Strip; Mystere, The Beatles, O, Zumanity, and KA. After reading the various descriptions of each show, we decided to see KA, which has a story line that is supposed to illustrate (and I quote their brochure), "the duality of KA-the fire that has the power to unite or separate and the energy to destroy or illuminate". To me it was an extravaganza for the eyes and the mind. As in all the Cirque Du Soleil performances, the costumes, music and athletic performances are beyond description. It is definitely a "have to see it to believe it" kind of event.

This production included a mobile stage, that not only went up and down, but rotated into a vertical position to represent a cliff on which the performers "climbed", flew is a better description, up, down, and off the edge. This was my first live Cirque Du Soleil. I have seen some on TV but now I can't wait to see another live performance.

On the last day in this make believe world we rented a car and drove back up to the Valley of Fire State Park. On the way we spotted a Native American Pow Wow so we stopped to have a look. This gathering was the Southern Paiute tribe. Dancing competitions were just beginning when we arrived so we ended up staying for several hours, taking pictures and admiring each of the hand made costumes that were unique in style and decoration.

There were four drumming circles, each having 8 to 10 members, that alternately provided the rhythm for each dance. We finally had to pull ourselves away because the day was waining and we were not yet to our intended destination. We really enjoy these unexpected experiences, they usually turn out to be the most interesting.

The backs of the members of one of the drumming circles

The shawl dance.
A woman told me they call it Indian aerobics

More Valley of Fire, 40 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada


Black sand in Hawaii, now red sand in Nevada

Uplifting. Look at the defined lines of color - amazing

Canyon hiking trail

Our return flight to Maine on November 6 was uneventful but we were surprised when we got off the plane to feel the fresh chilled air. It felt wonderful to take a deep deep breath and to see our family there. James and Shellie picked us up at the airport and we stayed overnight with them in Gray.

The next day we went down to Jed's house, in Limerick, to celebrate Jacob's 7th Birthday. He and Lola are quite the hams when you get out the camera. More reasons for being glad to be home in Maine.

We also spent Thanksgiving at Jed's house but the camera was accidentally left at home. Sorry, no pictures of turkey carving or pie eating. We did have a warm and fuzzy day and we were all thankful to be together.

With that holiday and three of the four family birthdays behind us, Marlin has begun the floor tile in the kitchen and I have begun putting up Christmas decorations. Life moves on. I'll keep posting holiday and family events through December. We leave and return to the traveling life on January 15. We will pick up our camper in Las Vegas and head for sunny California for a couple of months. Stay tuned.

Jacob - 7, Lola - almost 4. She wears Jacob's birthday cake well!

The Birthday Pirate

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