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.

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Night in Vegas.... Again!!!

Three Times might not be a charm at the tables (or maybe it is - who knows, I don't bet)... but for Vegas and I this year, it works.  Used Vegas as a launching point for my quick trip through the some of the most famous national parks of the southwest.  In all my times in Vegas, I have never used it as a launching point to the big ones, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion.    My very first trip to Vegas, I got out of town to see Hoover Dam, and this past January's trip took me to the Valley of Fire.  I never left Nevada.  I never took advantage of the proximity to these sights.  I do not usually attribute trips to Vegas was loads of hiking.  This trip was different - I was going for the parks, not for the glitz and glamour.  But before I could hit the trail, my friend and I had one day/night in Vegas.

I arrived in Vegas right around noon in a mood that told me that I needed to avoid shopping at all costs.  The advertisements in the airport let me know that the Bellagio Art Museum had a new exhibit, so I knew where i needed to go.  Named "A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney", this very small showing showcased different movements and types of artistic expression that illustrate concepts of landscapes.  Two of the most exciting pieces in the exhibit were an ocean front seascape from Roy Lichtenstein (known as the comic style paintings - dot colored) and contemporary country side by David Hockney (known for vibrant color and a bit of pop flare).  Yes, they had Monet, as I would expect at an exhibit of Landscapes - honestly, how could you not... he is like the granddaddy of landscape paintings.  Interesting though that this exhibit focused on many forms of art - paint, sketch, video, sculpture, photo, and they included the obvious of Monet for painting and failed to include the obvious choice for photography - Ansel Adams. (even though they had an Adams showing a few years ago, his exclusion has no excuse).  Instead, for photography, we were shown a series of 6 photos of a human form's outline in the surf, in various states of destruction by the water.  These photos would haunt me a week later in Chicago where I found an entire wall of them (and could not remember, right then, where I had seen them before).

The exhibit was small, and did not keep me occupied long enough... luckily when I left the casino palace, the famous Water show began.  As luck would have it, I picked a perfect spot to watch and be treated to a rainbow at the same time.  I stand by the assertion that this is the best free entertainment in the city.  It is an art show in and of itself.  LOVE IT!

I grabbed lunch at Pinks! (the famous hot dog stand of LA)... I never tried one, and when I am in LA, I never go.  Not wanting anything too huge, a dog was the way to go.  From there, I headed to the shops of Miracle Mile to get out of the heat and look around. I stopped by a great silver gallery and found some cute bracelets for my nieces and a great slider pendant for my self.  This place always has sales.  If every time I go to Vegas, it is advertised as 50% off, is it really a sale?  Probably not, but the prices, with that discount, are quite decent, so I ignore the hoopla of the sale and just look for the good stuff.  Further into the Shopes, my favorite marine artist, Wyland, has a gallery, and I always love going in to pick out my pieces I want after I hit the lottery (a girl can dream, right?)

That evening, walked around the newer addition to the Strip - Crystals, and more specifically, the galleries that encompassed the art walk.  Here, the famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly had space to just plain show off.  YOu may know his stuff from just about anywhere you see utterly cool/funky glass sculpture.  Yes, he is the guy that did the ceiling in the Bellagio (again more free awesome stuff there - people must lose a lot of money there!); he is also viewable in museums all over the country.  Just this year, I spotted a piece in the Oklahoma Museum of Art; I have other sightings home in NJ, Florida, New York, Texas... he is not hard to recognize.  

Here is a hint to impressing someone - if it is big, complex, colorful and seemingly impossible to make out of glass, it is Chihuly.  He tends to blend only a few colors, but they are vivid.  He creates something, but makes it interesting - a column, a flower garden, a vase.  And if you break it, you are broke.  The gallery was gorgeous, and in case you won a bit at the casino, there were small pieces for around $5000.

Just a bit of high society and culture before we headed into the desert and started our trip... that way we could keep it balanced!  A little art, a little culture, a lot of nature... the makings of a good trip!

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