MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis Has Left The Building

Two weekends, and two Elvis sightings.  HAH!

My first weekend of the year getaway took me to Vegas, and it is not a Vegas trip without a sidewalk performance or 2 of Elvis.  You can't get away from them... well them, and Sponge Bob, a bad Mickey and friends, Michael Jackson and just about every incarnation of the surprise statue you can think of.  I still don't understand how people still are shocked by that one...

This trip to Vegas was to warm up from the the frigid cold of the East coast weather... what better way to do that than to get out in the desert.  About 45 minutes outside of Vegas is the first Nevada state park, Valley of Fire.  I took a tour - Pick Jeep Tours - that picked you up, dropped you off, and provided a guide (works for someone alone without a car).  Nothing can fully describe the jaw dropping moment when you crest a hill, having left the Strip behind, and see the striking red rocks against the dry browns of the surrounding desert.  It was so striking the the entire tour group became silent and just stared.

And the park - its story was just as striking.  Slated to be buried underneath Lake Mead when Hoover Dam was proposed, locals rallied and stuck a deal with the Department of the Interior to save the Valley if it was named for conservation.  The State moved forward with the deal and designated the area part of the first named state park areas.  According to park propaganda, it is one of the most visited state parks today.  Honestly, I could see why.  Within an hour of the largest city in Nevada, it offers beautiful scenery, picnic spots, hiking trails... glad I went in the winter; it has to be excrucitingly hot in the summer.

The best compliment to a day hiking in sand and bouldering is a day at the spa... I think I found a great combination... Vegas did its job - I got warm.  I saw some shows (Terry Fador was awesome) and I went home relaxed, well relaxed minus the horrible plane trip home.

Then this weekend, I headed South to Florida.  It was supposed to be warm, but is wasn't.  Warmer than home, but not the not Southern Florida warm.  Still, I was not out there for adventures this time - it was my mother's surprise birthday party.  At that party Elvis rocked out...yep, my brother hired a Elvis impersonator to get the party off right.  Too funny to watch your aunts dancing around a man with long sideburns, a white jump suit and shades.

Got lucky and struck art while I was down there... in a trip to City Place in West Palm Beach, mom and I stumbled on an arts festival.  We spent hours combing through the booths looking at local artists wishing we could buy lots.  Fell in love with a few, namely the artwork of Jim Lewk with his fun and whimsical sculptures of a Frenchman in various poses, Ancizar Marin's hanging sculptures for a bit of fun scaling  your wall,  the jewelry with unique stones and feathers, vivid colors in the metal work of Lenny Marucci, the flower photography on glass by Kirk Ellison, the flower inlayed in windows and doors (and the fun furniture) of The Perfect View, and the wooden kitchen utensils by Richard McCollum.  I love art festivals; they provide great local flavor, a chance to check in with various styles and just have fun outside.  The problem with art shows is that I find so much that I love... I need to hit the lottery!

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