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18th November - Las Vegas

Penn and Teller
Penn and Teller

Just a quiet day today, Rayls and I got up at 7:30am and headed out to a Laundromat to do some much needied washing. Nice laundromat, only took an hour and a half and we were done. Their was a Burger King and Starbucks within 50 metres so breakfast was a breeze.

On the way back to the hotel we called into the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop which is where the show Pawn Stars is filmed.

Back at the hotel we met up with Ryan who spent the afternoon with his mates.

We went and had a look around the Bellagio shopping area. The Thanksgiving display is sensational. We had lunch at an icecream shop. Really nice roast beef roll and an ice cream.

Tonight we will meet up with the ladies who have done their own thing today and see Penn and Teller at the Rio.

Later now and the Penn and Teller show was very good. We all had front row seats but only Rayls got to do some audience participation. She had to hold a thick piece of yellow paper whilst Teller turned a piece of cloth into confetti.

After the show we all did Fremont Street Experience. It was right on midnight when we returned to the hotel, us Hartmans went off to the Miracle Mile shops for some food before hotel and bed.

Tomorrow we move in to LA.

17th November - back to Vegas

Williams really is a nice 'cowboy' style town. It lies on the route of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40, and the Southwest Chief Amtrak train route. It is also the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which takes visitors to Grand Canyon Village. There are numerous inns, motels, restaurants, gas stations and gift shops that cater to the large influx of tourists. The Christmas lighting is amazing.

We were on or way at 9:00am and stopped in the town centre for daylight photos and fuel.

Then onto I40 and back to Kingman for a pitstop.

Highway 93 back into Nevada to the Hoover Dam where we stopped for a look see. We crossed the dam, back into Arizona and an hour later where the ladies got out and walked the dam back into Nevada and an hour earlier. I watched as specks in the distance and then went to pick them up but alas could not find them so I had turn around back across the dam into Arizona and back. On the third time I found them and we all headed back towards Las Vegas. We stopped in Henderson for a Wal-Mart, a quilt shop and a Subway lunch. 

Then across to the other side of Vegas for two more quilt shops and it was around 5 before we finally arrived on the strip and our Bellagio hotel.

Ryan met us in the car park, and helped with the luggage - the ladies are on the 12th floor and us Hartmans on the 30th.

Inspired by the Lake Como town of Bellagio in Italy, the Bellagio is famed for its elegance. One of its most notable features is an 8-acre lake between the building and the Strip, which houses the Fountains of Bellagio, a large dancing water fountain synchronized to music.

Quiet night for Rayls and I - watching the fountain shows, booking our LA Hotel and other stuff. Ryan has gone off with mates.

16th November - Grand Canyon


Started the day in Henderson, with a 9:30am start on our trek to the Grand Canyon. Quick stop at a Dollar Store and a Michaels. Ryan stayed in Vegas to meet friends.

The drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon takes Highway 93 to Kingman (about half way) and then Interstate 40 to Williams. It's around 340 K's to Williams. Soon after leaving Vegas you get to the Hoover Dam which now has a bypass of sorts. The bypass bridge has high sides so you don't see the dam. We will check that out tomorrow.

We had a pit stop in Kingman and then on to Williams where we stopped for lunch by way of going to a Saveway Supermarket and buying bananas and other healthy type stuff.

From Williams it's another 50 minutes or so the Grand Canyon. We checked out a couple of locations, sadly it was overcast so we didn't get the true effect but all the same the Canyon is very impressive.

It was almost dark when we left and drove the 50 minutes back to Williams where we stayed the night.

The ladies spent some time looking at some shops, mostly Route 66 memorabilia, whilst I went and checked in and a nearby hotel, a Howard and Johnston.

Dinner was at the Pine Country Restaurant which was just OK.

We were a little confused by the time today, didn't realise the change of time when we crossed into Arizona. We lost an hour and will gain it back tomorrow.

15th November - Vegas

It was a real early start today.

3:40am alarm, start loading the van at 4:45am - the van was very well loaded and on the road just after 5am.

It was around a 20 minute drive to the airport, no traffic to speak of. Given the amount of luggage I dropped the gang, and most of the luggage, off at Terminal E. There were no carts for the baggage, thanks Southwest. Plenty of wheel chairs, over 50 of them but no carts, not a one. I have no idea how the gang managed that all even though it was just 30 metres or so to check in.

So I had the simple task of returning the shuttle van to Avis, taking my 2 bags and catching the shuttle bus back to Terminal E. Now if you know what you are doing, Philadelphia Airport is probably simple to navigate around. I'm old, tired, it's dark and cold and this place is tough to sort out. 3 years ago when I picked up son Scott from this airport I did 3 laps trying to find my way around, he was not impressed with me. Today it should have been simple, I was here 3 years ago so I had some memory of it but remember I did just say I am old. Alas it was not simple, I did another 3 laps trying to figure out how to get to Avis which was in the middle of these laps I was doing. I followed the Car Rental Return sign, made some errors and eventually ended up where I started. Somewhere there is a turn that I am not seeing. So I go around again, make the same errors but some how follow the signs and once again don't see that elusive turn and end up where I started, the third time I followed a shuttle bus, it was a Hertz but hopefully it will get me close. I followed it without making the errors and even follow it into a 'shuttle bus only' roard and somehow find Avis. Dumb airport signs. The dude checked the van in Ok, it did a bit over 1600 miles for us. Not my favourite rental vehicle but there is a ton of luggage that would just not fit in a mini van. Took ages (10 minutes) for the shuttle bus - 3 Hertz buses went past before an Avis and I loaded my bags and returned to Terminal E.

I guess what I am trying to say above is...... I am not a fan of Philadelphia Airport, it has beaten me twice now and I hope never to rent from Avis again.

Reunited with the gang at Terminal E, they had somehow managed check in but waited for me. The Security area was tough, a longish line with an extra line they opened up every now and again when the first line got too long. The consequence of this was that people that arrived 20 minutes or so after us got well ahead because they jagged the shorter line when it was opened.

We all sort of got separated at security - the six of us lined together but people in wheel chairs were given preference and were slotted between us. Us Hartmans found each other after security and as the others were ahead and not visible we assumed they had headed for the gate, good idea it is now 20 minutes to take off. No sign of them at the gate so again we sort of assumed they had boarded but no sign of them on the plane. That was a worry but they soon turned up and I type this as we fly somewhere 38,000 feet over Kansas. It's a flight of over 5 hours duration, must be headwinds up here.

Later now and we are in our hotel room.

The arrival at Vegas was tough - 6 people and 16 bags, couldn't get carts but we somehow got the luggage to the shuttle bus. When we arrived at the car rental facilty (Ryan somehow found his way on to a different bus) we found carts and that made the job easier.

Ryan had a rental from Dollar and I had one from Alamo. Mine was a Suburban which takes 5 passengers and most of the luggage pretty well - Ryan got a jeep which takes the rest of the luggage. Two cars for the luggage and Ryan is splitting with us for a couple of days. WE have both these cars till we leave LA in 9 days.

From the airport we drove the Mimi's Cafe in Henderson where we met up with our wonderful friends Amy and Steve. Pleasant lunch before the 3 ladies went to Michaels and Amy, Steve and the Hartmans spent some time at a nearby area where Steve wanted to check out and outdoor supply store.

We all met up again at 3:00pm and checked into our rooms. 

The Robinsons and Hartmans chatted and had dinner at the Firehouse Sub before Amy and Steve left for the airport. They are flying to Boston for a family Thanksgiving reunion.