Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

The Road from SMOFCon, Day 3: Grants NM to Las Vegas NV

It's taken me all day to find the time to process the photos from yesterday's drive, which was Grants to Las Vegas. Google Maps says this should be 500 miles. I'm going to have to go back and check the odometer reading, because the figures in our travel log do not make any sense to me. I think we must have written down a wrong number somewhere.

Mine Train

Before getting back on the freeway to push to Las Vegas, we went to the New Mexico Mining Museum. Lisa has wanted us to go here, but all of our past trips through Grants have been on Sunday when the museum is closed. We redid our travel schedule so that we could go see it today. The museum includes a simulated uranium mine, including this set of mine train cars.

Drill Bear Drill

travelswithkuma tried his hand at running the air-operated drill.

Little Bear With Big Bear

Later, he met with the friendly Mr. Bear in the Grants Chamber of Commerce, in whose building the museum is located.

As always, click through the photos to see more.

A former mine employee was present to answer questions. He showed us a fossilized dinosaur bone he found and brought up during the mining days. The bone was easily visible in the rock, and the center of the bone where the marrow would have been had turned to iron pyrite. He also showed us the mine safety awards presented on his watch, with justifiable pride.

We only got to spend about 90 minutes at the Mining Museum, which wasn't enough; I would have preferred at least another hour in order to read more of the displays, but we had to get moving. We made a point of telling the Chamber of Commerce people there that we specifically rearranged our plans to spend the night in Grants because we wanted to visit this museum. This is the sort of thing they should know whenever anyone questions funding these things.

More Mesas

If hundreds of miles of massive colorful mesas do not interest you, Interstate 40 across New Mexico and Arizona is not going to be your thing.

Mesas Galore

However, if you find these vistas fascinating, as I do, you'll have an interesting drive. The weather was excellent, clear and not too hot or too cold, and Lisa drove the entire day, giving me a chance to watch and photograph things.

BNSF Traffic Jam

Inasmuch as the BNSF ex-Santa Fe main line parallels much of I-40, there were numerous chances to see trains. Somewhat unusually for BNSF, many of the trains were not moving. This auto-rack train was just starting up. We saw a lot of stopped trains. From some of the signs, there may have been some maintenance work going on that reduced the normally highly-fluid double-track mainline here.

Osprey in Flight

Near Gallup, Lisa spotted an unusual aircraft: a V-22 Osprey, doing what looked like touch-and-go landings. We got this shot of it in the process of making transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

As we passed Gallup, we were back on our original itinerary, but only a bit over an hour behind schedule, as we started out early from the hotel this morning. We tried to minimize our stops, and we steadily made up more time, but by the time we got to Flagstaff, we really needed a break from driving.

Flagstaff Train Station

After a stop at Arby's in Flagstaff, we drove over to downtown Flagstaff (located along former US-66) to find the post office and mail a postcard to my sister. (We've had a terrible time finding a gift for her. She can't eat a lot of the stuff we might have brought her, and a miniature cactus didn't seem like a good idea. However, I could at least send her a postcard from Route 66 telling her that we were thinking of her.) This brought us by the Flagstaff train station, which is very pretty. (As it happens, this morning just before we went into the museum, Amtrak's Southwest Chief came blasting through on its way to Chicago, but it caught me off guard and I did not get a picture of it.)

Southwest 25

Near the station is Southwest Lumber Mills locomotive #25 in cosmetically preserved condition.

The next morning, I was to discover when balancing my Quicken account that I somehow managed to buy our lunch at Arby's without paying for it. I feel bad about it, but I'm not going to drive back to Flagstaff. I hope the clerk wasn't punished for the mistake, as she was very nice and friendly, and I'm pretty sure that we accidentally confused her with our banter as we made our order.

Passing Williams, we realized that we should have stopped for fuel at the Pilot at MP 185, and that we probably didn't have enough to make it to Kingman, based on our fuel consumption on the previous two tanks of gas. We therefore stopped at Seligman, which is not the best place, price-wise, and bought five gallons to get us to Kingman. There we refueled and, if the numbers are to be believed, we could have made Albuquerque to Kingman on a single 27-gallon tank of fuel, although it would have been close.

Turning onto Future Interstate 11, Lisa drove us in to Las Vegas while I navigated us to the Palazzo. We checked in without incident, and they helpfully gave us a mini-fridge to store my supplies. However, inasmuch as this is a very upscale hotel, they won't let you use their carts to move things into the hotel the way we prefer. (With the Holiday Inn Expresses and even the Sheraton, we pretty much had this down to a science by this point on the trip.) Lisa does not like having bell staff handle her stuff, so it took four trips between the parking garage and our room to move stuff in. The security guard at the elevator lobby asked if we were moving in for a month.

Palazzo Room

Here's the room, as seen from the entry corridor. As with the Venetian in which we stayed under similar circumstances coming back from LSC3, the room is a vast split-level arrangement with a living-dining-work area two steps down from the sleeping area.

Palazzo Room

Here's what it looks like standing behind the work desk near the window.

Palazzo Bathroom

There's a huge marble bathroom with separate bath and shower and two sinks. (This later proved useful; Lisa needed to wash out some clothes and could leave them soak in one sink while we still had use of the other.)

The Strip from the Palazzo

The room has power blinds. ("Let me show you my evil plan, Mr. Bond.") Here's the view of the Strip from our 36th-floor room.

We had asked the front-desk clerk if there was wired internet, and she said no, but that just goes to show that nowadays everyone thinks "wi-fi" is same thing as "internet" and that increasingly nobody actually knows how anything works at all. Not only was there a wired connection, it was amazingly fast: nearly 100 MBPS both upload and download speed. For comparison, the wi-fi is merely 2.6 MBPS download and 0.67 upload, which is actually worse than our DSL connection at home. With this much speed behind me, I'm going to make an effort to upload at least some of the Fannish Inquisition videos from here rather than waiting until I get home, although the real limiting factor is converting the MXF files. (Since time is not really of the essence, we might as well upload the high-quality files, but they require video processing; we can't just upload them directly as we did with the lower-resolution MP4 files created by the proxy card for the WSFS Business Meeting earlier this year.)

Palazzo Living Room

Kuma Bear looks lost in the huge dual sofa, one of which is a fold-out bed if needed to extend the room's capacity.

Not really being up to the level of opulence of most of the hotel's restaurants, we walked down to the food court that is part of the complex and bought some decent seafood fast food (lobster mac & cheese and lobster & chips) and took it back to the room. We then went back downstairs to the Walgreen's at street level and got a small stock of groceries for the room.

I'm glad we booked this trip, but to be honest, if I'd had to pay for this room rather than use the free-night and point offers on my IHG account, I'd be saying I wasn't getting value for money. While the room is absurdly luxurious, it misses things that I take for granted at the much-lower-level Holiday Inn Express like a microwave oven and an in-room coffee/tea service. Of course, the hotel doesn't really want you to stay in the room; they want you to go downstairs and gamble, or maybe show in their high-end stores. In our case, we are going to try and confound them by actually using the room, which in the first night's case meant falling into bed with the luxury of not setting the alarm for the next morning.
Tags: hotels, kuma bear, lisa, travel
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