About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Vic and Jenn in Vegas

Sonny and I had taken a great tour of the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopter Tours earlier this year and while heading out of their building our pilot mentioned that the night Vegas tour was "very cool." So we decided we would take that tour when the opportunity presented itself and we did when Vic and Jenn came to town... we had seen some shows, enjoyed some great restaurants and explored some of the fantastic natural areas around Vegas and it was nice to get this evening overhead view of the city and how far it stretches.

I tried to take some good shots in during the ride but I've discovered one of my digital camera's weaknesses... it doesn't take great night shots without sitting on a tripod or other unmoving object... holding the camera still for the exposure time required at it's fastest ISO (400) is impossible. I have better luck with my 35mm film camera and 800 or 1000 speed film. So here is an example or two of my attempt to be steady...

Only one example... could have you suffering through more than that...

Our final day was spent walking around the strip, checking out the Casinos that Vic and Jenn had yet to be exposed too... including Mandalay Bay, Luxor, New York, New York and the MGM. After our walking tour which you don't want to do in July or August I took them to the airport for their trip back to NY... It was a great time and I hope they can come out again soon...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Vic and Jenn in Las Vegas

I have been around, across and over the Hoover Dam on foot, in car and in helicopter and through all of those visits have yet to take the Dam tour... well I must have been secretly saving it up for Vic and Jenn's trip.

It was interesting and gave me an even better understanding of the scale of building involved.

It must have been really hard work... I mean look at this statue in the museum... even he has a scowl on his face.

The Valley of Fire... like Vic I am super busy and overwhelmed by the volume of writing that this entry could entail... Vic finished his... mine will be much shorter... for the full scope turn to Vic's blog (link on the tool bar to the left).

Jenn and Sonny relaxing in the sun in the Valley of Fire... okay no more "in the Valley of Fire" I feel like Chris Farley Jenn and Sonny relaxing "down by the River."

Sonny and I having a laugh in the Valley of Fire,

I like this pic in the Valley of Fire.

Sonny Basking in the Valley of Fire

Ted acting like a mountain lion in the Valley of Fire... grrrrrrrrhhhhoooowwwlll!

Leaving the Valley of Fire... whew...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Vic and Jenn come to Town

Vic and Jenn arrived at the Las Vegas Airport in the evening ready to explore Las Vegas... well not really, it was midnight after all.

It was great having them in town and this was Victor's first visit to Fabulous Las Vegas... of course by writing this entry I am breaking the "What Happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

It was a short drive back to the house as we got reacquainted after not seeing each other in person for some time and I was glad they arrived in the evening because the mountains around my house would be somewhat hidden by the darkness and the morning rise would offer up a majestic mountain view from our front porch. What better way to really start a vacation than rising to a great view and a fresh cup of Beach House Coffee!

Of course we didn't get up that early because the one nightcap Victor and I decided to have after Jenn went to bed ended up cleaning out the rest of the JW Black and a beer or two and some port... we had some catching up to do... so we saw the sun at 11:00am... it's vacation!

The view and the coffee was great and much needed. Our plan was to go to Red Rock for some hiking and sight seeing. The picture above is one I took after we entered the park and parked near the recently refurbished Visitors Center/Museum. I can't say that I like the new museum "improvements" much over what they originally had to display the history, geology and biology of Red Rock Canyon.

The real improvement was that after two years of visiting Red Rock the Desert Tortoises were finally out and I saw not only one but four!

After a short scenic drive we came to the hiking parking area near the Calico Tank Trail. For those that don't know, a "tank" is an area that traps rain water and snow melt. This particular trail was listed as moderate and starts in a currently dry creek bed...

Climbs to soft sand covered sandstone...

Then to solid sandstone...

Then further on to Calico Tank and finally to...

A fantastic view of the Las Vegas Valley just above the tank.

A great start to vacation!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lisa's Robotics Competition

My 14 year old has been working overtime to complete the Palo Verde robot for the Aim High 2006 First Robotics Competition Las Vegas Regional. Right after the convention... in fact that Saturday following was the finals. Basically, this year the competition required each highschool to build a robot that could maneuver in all directions and shoot a foam basketball through a hoop. Part of the competition would require the robot to follow preprogrammed instructions to either defend or take shots and the second part would put the robot under the control of a student driver and shooter. Lisa's role, mostly because of her outgoing personality and drive to execute was that of team manager... somewhat like Summer Hathaway in the movie School of Rock.

It was amazing to see the schools from around the country (Clearwater, FL to Waialua, HI) competing with surprisingly large entourages. Not quite the crowd that highschool football games get but not bad.

The competition required three schools to join up as a team opposing another three schools. Each match started with robots following a preprogrammed set of actions followed by a set time of one team on offense and one on defense... then they switch, and then there is a free for all.

There were 3 ways to score points... one was shoot balls through the high goal for 3 points per shot, two was push balls into the low goals for one point each and lastly before the free-for-all ended was to park your robot on your goal ramp for I recall 25 points.

Some of the robots were incredible... talk about going above the call of duty... one had a tracking electric eye that would line up it's shooter, which was very accurate, exactly on target to slaughter other teams shooting better than MJ.

Palo was to discover that while their robot was strong at defense (no robot was going to win a push battle here) it's center of gravity was too high, making it vulnerable to high speed ram defense and its own torque.

Next time they have decided that more test time would be built into the project plan... Gant Charts whoopeeee! In the end I and Sonny were very proud of Lisa and her teams efforts and are cheering them on to make some modifications for the final competition in Atlanta.