Monday, November 26, 2007

Dinosaurs Alive!

Dinosaurs Alive - 3D!
We ducked, screamed and threw our hands up in the air, trying to avoid being swallowed by the dinosaur which snapped at prey heading straight for us!

At the top level of Luxor's pyramid, the entrance to the IMAX theatre lured us with promises of extreme experiences. Climbing even higher via steps and a long, winding ramp, it felt like entry to a Disneyland ride!  
The theatre's 7-story screen and 30,000 watts of sound from 6 sets of speakers created a realistic world from long ago, into which we were drawn. Wearing 3D glasses, and facing the screen quite closely from several steep rows of seats - almost vertically aligned - the effect was complete, and we knew when a bar came up and locked us in our seats it was too late to run! A disembodied voice warned us not to try and move from our seat, but if anyone felt giddy or wanted to leave at any time, they should just raise their hand...

That was fun!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Still within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, we visited the Spring Mountain Ranch beneath the Wilson Range. At 3,800 ft, the area is much cooler than Las Vegas. Water for this once luxurious retreat and working ranch is sourced from some of the many springs in these mountains. This was also the area of the Paiute Indians.

Earlier, before being shown through the ranch, our guide had primed us to ask to see "the secret room". In the bedroom, what looked to be just another wardrobe door opened into a hallway. One step up while ducking your head, and following the hall led to a whole suite of luxurious living quarters.

Past owners of the ranch included Chester Lauck of the comedy team "Lum & Abner," German actress Vera Krupp, and famous billionaire aviator, Howard Hughes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Red Rock Canyon

Calico Hills (
La Madre Mountains in background)

Calico Hills (fossilized sand dunes) — Turtle Head Peak

Mt Wilson cliffs (3,000 ft)

Joshua Trees

September 7

We included Las Vegas in our itinerary so we could take a trip out to the nearby Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the Mojave Desert. With my new digital camera, I was keen to photograph the area's
unique geological features and colourful cliff faces of red, cream and gray layers of sandstone and limestone.

As part of a very small group tour, our guide was a senior local who interspersed geology lessons with local history, legends and stories of the desert and Las Vegas, which enhanced our half-day experience. At around 100°F outside, three or four bottles of spring water on ice (for each person), were very welcome after photo stops and walks. Later, packed lunch boxes which included the best filled ham or turkey sandwiches I've ever eaten, were handed out.

Next stop: the Spring Mountain Ranch.