Sunday, April 28, 2013

Aging Like a Tree

My father is 90 years old. I had to tell him yesterday that his sister had died a short time ago. She was 8 years older than him and helped care for him as a baby and young boy, growing up in a family of 8 children.
I have often, lately, told him of the passing of his relatives and friends, and he takes it in stride, making a small comment and then appearing as though it did not matter. It has always been his way of dealing with serious issues. But this time he was taken aback, and after some time of silence, began to reminisce. He had already lost two siblings, one to Alzheimer's and one to cancer. I think it is beginning to hit home that he could be next. He is OK with dying, but nevertheless, it is sobering to think that so many of those around you are passing away.
I was at a memorial service on Friday for a friend's mother. As I learned so much about her through the wonderful tributes that her family gave her, I thought of those ancient trees in Utah that remained standing long after life has left them. They stood crooked and gnarled, yet had a beauty in their grain and weathered knots that gave  testament to a life well lived and having served a purpose. One may not seem to be useful in the latter stages of old age, but it is the legacy, the example, and the attitude that remains that is what inspires and encourages those around them. With a sound mind, everyone can stay connected with some effort, and it is that connection that lives on in the children and grandchildren. This lady left behind a legacy of faith, prayer, hard work, determination, and perseverance. She was a vital part of her family until the last day. 
She was 103!    

Friday, April 26, 2013

Old and Worn Out

I was feeling a lot like this old pump tonight. (can you read the little sign?) I remember that style of gas pump from my childhood so I could be about as old as that thing. We found this defunct gas station in Boulder Utah and at the time I was feeling energetic and full of life. I knew that as soon as I got back home and started my work routine again, the photo would be appropriate.
And then I went to see my middle grandson's school production of 'Alice in Wonderland' last night. He was in the choir and they did a great job. The stage props and costumes were brilliant and things really started getting interesting in the second half of the performance. It was quite delightful and entertaining and by the end of the evening, I got my second wind and actually felt like I could 'pump' again. There is nothing like watching a bunch of enthusiastic kids enjoying themselves to help rejuvenate a tired old soul.  
Next production is 'The Sound of Music' coming in May. My oldest grandson is up to his thespian ways again, playing the part of the butler this time. It is a long ways away from the Tin Man in 'The Wizard of Oz'. It will be interesting to watch him change gears.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Las Vegas .... Now

It is a fascinating world of theme resort hotels and casinos.

One could spend weeks exploring both inside and outside of these architectural wonders.

The Romanesque 'Caesar's Palace' is contrasted with 'New York New York'.

One of the older establishments. This photo is for 'E' so she can verify that she flew Alaska Airlines with the 'Chippendales'. :)

Who needs to go to New York?

Or Disneyland?

The great 'Luxor' hotel where rooms start at just under $300.00.

Babylon, anyone?

There were several new hotels being constructed on the strip. I think they blow up the old ones and put up new ones on a yearly basis.

The iconic Hard Rock Café.

A touch of Europe.

Can't leave out France.



Harrah's was very ornate, whereas the modern hotels were  mostly reflective glass.

The Palm trees reminded me very much of being back in Palm Desert.

Very sleek,

and modern.

Another of the older ones.

We did not see Donald.

Treasure Island complete with a huge pirate ship at the entrance.

This is the hotel where the spectacular light, music, and fountain show can be found every night.

Hail Caesar!

And his palace. Who knows what decadent and hedonistic temptations await?  

Honesty in advertising.

Interesting architectural lines. The reflections were a bonus.

Was there just an earthquake here?


Very fancy, very clean, and very well maintained.

Las Vegas is a fantasy land. It is pure escapism. You can enter any world your heart desires. It is Disneyland on steroids.

Like any fantasy land, it is bigger than life, and also unlike life. The real world begins again outside the city limits. If we could have found a parking spot, I might still be there. :) 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Las Vegas .... Then

Las Vegas Blvd, or 'The Strip', has evolved over the years. It runs parallel to the Interstate Highway 15 which is the high speed freeway that connects Las Vegas to Salt Lake City in the north. In the early days of Vegas, when this community first became a gambling destination, it was full of small casinos and many motels. Fortunately, some of the old history has been retained and among the glitz and glamour, there are vestiges of years gone by, decked out in the style typical of the 50's and 60's. 

When coming from the south, this old 'Welcome Sign' was, and still, is the gateway to the strip.

Now the old motels are dwarfed by the monstrous resort casinos. It is difficult to say if these old establishments are still in business or if they are just left as nostalgic reminders of days gone by.

Colour TV?  Now that is really innovative.

$26 is a deal anywhere. I wonder if that includes breakfast? Maybe a bed is extra.

The old Roy Rogers sign is still there.

Nice colours!

This is the back side of the 'Welcome' sign. There is a small parking lot at the foot of this sign and there are always tourists there taking photos. Tomorrow I will show you what has replaced the 50's motels. It will show how profitable this gambling business is.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Birthday Trip Part 11

Given more time, we would have liked to do some hiking in the Escalante Staircase. There is a trail at the bottom of the canyon in the centre of the photo. This is a massive geological formation that stymied the first settlers that came through Utah. The gentle slopes of the Escalante are navigable, but running along the bottom of the entire region are those deep impassable canyons. Of course, we just breezed over the entire region on a very good highway with little to no traffic.

We came across some interesting ranch lands, but for the most part, this part of the country is mountainous and desert.

In spring, there are tender new shoots for the cattle to graze on, but come summer, the bottom lands dry up and there is nothing here but sagebrush.

We began to climb in elevation as we pointed ourselves north and west. Every few hundred feet in elevation saw new vegetation and here at more than 9000 ft. there was only Poplar (Aspen) that was being harvested. Again, it was cold, very cold.

Descending once again, the temperature rose, and the red soil was once again very evident. This rock formation would be a national park in Canada. Here it is a farmer's back yard.

Down, down, down, to the desert floor and warmer temperatures. It is welcome.

The last of the colourful hills.

And then the flat freeway, Highway 15. 240 miles to Las Vegas at speed limit of 80 mph ..... mmm, three hours to go.

Just after dark we come over the rise north of the city. A quick photo and then a stop in North Las Vegas for a good night's sleep at a Comfort Inn.
Tomorrow we cruise the 'strip', return the Caddy and catch a plane.
In hindsight, we should have done a quick cruise of the strip during the night hours. It was impressive during the day, but at night it would have been even better. We will save that experience for next time.