Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
Well, it didn’t let up – was still snowing when I got up at 6:30am, so I went back to bed for a couple of hours.
We eventually got up, had some breakfast, got packed, spent 20 minutes clearing ice and snow off the car so we could get into it, and then loaded our stuff up and hit the road. There was still lots of snow and ice on the roads, but the snow ploughs had helped a bit, so it was okay to drive out – although it was quite slow at first. The roads cleared up a bit as we dropped down to slightly lower altitudes, and by the time we got to the interstate, we were able to travel at the speed limit.
We headed along the SR-64 until it met up with the I-40, and then headed west from Williams, through Seligman, and on to Kingman, where we stopped for lunch. At Kingman, we took a slight detour to head to the Route 66 museum, celebrating the history (and restoration) of the famous Route 66 road from Chicago to Los Angeles. Was quite interesting seeing how this road came about and how it came to be famous.
Continuing on from Kingman, we headed north west up to the Hoover Dam, which we had to drive across to get to the other side of the Colorado River and in to Nevada. We stopped at the dam and walked across it to take in the spectacular sights. Given it was built in the early 1930’s, it certainly is a marvel of engineering achievement. Nice art-deco feel to things too !
From Hoover Dam, it was a fairly short drive through Boulder City and on to Las Vegas, where we headed straight for our hotel, the Westin Casurina, which was just off the strip, on Flamingo Road. After parking, checking in, and getting out settled in to our room, we went out for a walk, it was dark by this time, so we got to see the bright neon lights of the Las Vegas strip.
I was in Las Vegas this time last year, so it’s all a little “ho hum” to me, but it’s the first time for Leanne, so it was worth doing.
My trip to Las Vegas is mostly for work – I’m attending our IBM annual conference here, along with nearly 20,000 other IBMers (and several hundred specially invited business partners). Because of some bureaucratic problems with the way rooms were organised, I was not able to secure a room for myself at the hotel I was assigned (not even if I was willing to pay for half the room) – I have been assigned a shared room at the MGM Grand hotel. As a result, we were forced to book a room in another hotel that we could stay in while here – a cost I wasn’t originally anticipating, but one we decided we were going to have to put up with in order to make this trip happen. After much searching, I managed to find relatively decent rates at the New York New York hotel across the road from the MGM Grand, which was quite convenient, since I will be able to just walk across the road to get to breakfast and the buses to the convention center.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to get a room at NYNY for tonight (I think the cheapest room I could get anywhere was well over US$300 for the night) … but I did have enough Starwood points for a reward room at the Westin for tonight, and then we will stay at NYNY from tomorrow until the end of the week.
Because of the way the room bookings for the conference were managed, I’m also going to have to check in to the MGM Grand – just to keep the system happy. Work is paying for that room (in fact, it was already paid for a couple of years back when IBM made the deal with the hotels to host us for the conference) – so it made little difference either way.
We walked along the strip to the MGM Grand, and I went and checked in to my room, left a note for my room mate (telling him I wouldn’t be bothering him all week – lucky him !!), then we went and found some dinner (have I mentioned yet how much I hate American cheese ???).
While walking back to the Westin, we ran in to an old colleague I used to do a lot of travel with who has now moved to New York (the city, not the hotel) and had a nice chat to him while walking back along the strip. One of the best parts about these conferences is catching up with people from other countries we only get to see once a year (although generally spend quite a bit of time during the year corresponding with them by email).
Eventually headed back to the room, and sat up watching the new Battlestar Galactica series on TV before hitting the sack in the wonderful Westin “Heavenly Bed” – quite a long day really, and we were exhausted.