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Hello all! 😎

Back in late October/early November, I made a trip to across the country to parts of the American Southwest that I had not visited before. A fellow U2 fan and good friend decided to go on vacation to Los Angeles. Las Vegas and San Diego were also mentioned as part of a potential itinerary. Since I had never been to that part of the country as well, we decided to have a collective vacation.

As I thought about the trip and where we might go, San Diego seemed like a bit of an outlier - we didn't really have enough time to go there. We only had 11 days, so vacationing while employing a somewhat circular route was the most efficient way to do things. Since we were U2 fans as well, I had a better idea for a third place to go. I ran the idea by my friend, and it was welcomed enthusiastically.

So, we offer this humble illustrated travelogue 1) to honor the best vacation either one of us have ever had, 2) to give those who may want to do the same kind of trip the catalyst to go themselves, and 3) to honor the band who inspired it all. Since we were in this part of the country, our U2 adventures had a distinctive JT flavor - of course, this is only appropriate during the year where NZ/AUS/(south)eastern parts of Asia got their JT anniversary tour. "In God's Country" really would serve as a good theme song for the whole trip (thus, the title of the thread).

 

Edited by dmway
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Hello all! 😎 Back in late October/early November, I made a trip to across the country to parts of the American Southwest that I had not visited before. A fellow U2 fan and good friend decided to

Oct. 30 (pt. 2)  

Nov. 1 (cont.) The Fremont Street area of the town is now called the "Fremont Street Experience" - considering that it is very much like what the visual equivalent of Jimi Hendrix' original band

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Oct. 27-28 - our arrivals in LA

I had never been to California before. I had always wanted to go many times in my life, but I never had a proper reason to go. I also used to joke that, if I were ever to go, I would never want to leave because I would enjoy it too much (this intuition proved to be correct - I loved being in LA; more later on that, of course).

A couple of scenes from the airport; it was cool seeing the structure that is pretty much the symbol of LAX all by itself in person. Nice flight there from Philly. My friend wouldn't be in until tomorrow - a longer trip was involved in this case.

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Edited by dmway
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Oct. 30 (pt. 1) - road trip to Las Vegas

 

You may have noticed the 29th was left out of the date sequence. Well, kind readers, you don't get to know all the details of our trip. (If you are curious, we stayed in and toured around the heart of...Hollywood!😎 Fear not...Hollywood will be commented on later (we went back at the end of the trip too) - there will be text and pictures.)

Interstate 15 is the main road out of Los Angeles to go to Las Vegas - the last bit of it (between LA and Barstow, CA) actually has some of the remnants of the old, legendary "Route 66" (picture of that later in an unexpected place). The scenery, both natural and man-made, was/is spectacular. The three comments we made the most while driving were: "I feel like I'm driving on a different planet", "I feel like I'm driving on the moon", and "I feel like we're in an episode of 'Star Trek'" (which is quite apt - some of the old Star Trek episodes were shot in some of the places we drove through).

Leaving LA, we got to feel first-hand the very real power of the Santa Ana winds. They were/are impressively strong. I could feel the car move as we were driving, almost like it were alive and fighting my control. We saw at least three very large trucks turned over (and in one case, lifted up on its side and smashed onto the cement median in the middle of the road - as bad as that was, the scene revealed that, without the median, it would have been much, much worse: the truck would have ended up in the opposing lanes of traffic).

We finally got past the very windy area and, once we got past Barstow, the road became very straight (but still climbing uphill) towards a microscopic town called Baker. There was a sign that said that 600 people lived there - when I saw it, I asked rhetorically, "Where are they hiding the other 590?" If you every go there, you will see a few gas stations and a convenience store or two, and you will wonder if people actually live there. All the pumps but one didn't work - obviously, they still needed to get their shipment. Once we filled up, we continued our journey to Las Vegas.

BUT, that's when the magic of the place took over...

Once you go past Baker, the most amazing scene will unfold before you (esp. if you are a U2 fan) : more Joshua trees than you ever could have thought existed! It was like a preserve just for Joshua trees. The funny thing is that this area is NOT Joshua Tree National Park (that's further to the south - also, the original Joshua Tree was not in that park either - more later on that). We learned that, in Southern and Eastern California, Joshua trees are not at all rare.

 

 

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Edited by dmway
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11 hours ago, hestia said:

Looks like a great adventure. 

The pictures from the 31st on aren't showing up. I'll check back later.:JoshuaTree_Tour_Trees:

The posts after the 30th are merely placeholders until I have an opportunity to fill them in. They will be filled eventually, I promise!

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Oct. 31 - Las Vegas (baby! 😎) - part 1

What better way to celebrate Larry Mullen, Jr's birthday than in Las Vegas? (OK, I can't be sure he would agree with that if he were asked, but we enjoyed doing so.)

Growing up, I never quite understood the allure of Las Vegas. I didn't understand why people would travel such a long way to lose a lot of money and partake of activities that were not always wholesome (ok, the last part was probably part of the reason, especially for those who didn't love gambling). My vision of Las Vegas was of the one I saw presented in the old James Bond film "Diamonds Are Forever": a bit seedy, tawdry, more obsessed with the surface appearance of beauty than possessing actual beauty. At one time, that is probably the way Las Vegas used to be. It may be that way still behind the scenes. However, I can honestly say that, today, a person can refrain from gambling and the other pleasures (as it were) on offer there and have a truly wonderful time!

We didn't bet a single penny there and absolutely loved it! Instead of the images I used to have of the place, we saw sights of truly beautiful architecture. Sure, some of it was/is over the top. However, I now understand what Las Vegas is now - it is to adults what amusement parks are to kids: a place to let your hair down and have fun, even if that fun only comes from walking around and seeing the sights. Let me give you a sample below; pay particular attention to the middle picture showing The Mirage - what is on the banner at the top features in a future post:

 

 

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Edited by dmway
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Nov. 1 - Las Vegas - part 2

Now, this was one of our most significant days - we did a LOT! The day consisted of three different parts.

During the first part, we continued our "Magical Mystery Tour" of Las Vegas, this time by the natural light of the sun. LV is no less impressive by daylight than it is at night. Did you know that LV is actually a good place to just do some shopping? Yes, seriously, it is! We found a Ross (Dress-For-Less) that had just recently opened (a place that also provided inexpensive parking) and, within minutes, both of us found jackets that both of us really wanted for prices that really couldn't have been bettered elsewhere - these jackets will feature in some shots below. We even found a mall that has what looks like a flying saucer as its symbol. (Proof below, w/ one of the participant of the trip in the foreground.)

The second part brings us to the first U2-related portion of the trip. U2 fans will know that the video of ISHFWILF was filmed in Las Vegas in a portion of the town in and around Fremont Street. We toured that area and, boy, has it undergone a facelift! We were still able to find shots from the video and other scenes reminiscent of the overload of lights that you can see in the video (and on any night in LV, really).

The third part was a bit of destiny. If one were to look at all of the photos we took in LV, there was one repeated "photobomb" in a lot of them. We noticed the sign on The Mirage (which I already discussed above) as we were first driving into the city. Throughout Halloween and during the day on Nov. 1st, it kept appearing in our photos. We decided that we had to see the show - and it had to be that night because we were leaving the next day. First, a prominent picture of the event from Halloween; further pictures a few posts down.

 

 

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Edited by dmway
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Nov. 1 (cont.)

The Fremont Street area of the town is now called the "Fremont Street Experience" - considering that it is very much like what the visual equivalent of Jimi Hendrix' original band might be, I would have to say that it is a very appropriately-named area.

When you enter the area, it has a vaulted ceiling (I think this would more accurately be called a "barrel vault") which is illuminated with quite amazing graphics - pictures can't do them complete justice, but they will have to suffice here. There were street performers here that were breathtakingly good. There are also people who dress as celebrities and walk around the street - you might think that these would simply be leftovers from last night's Halloween, but people do this all the time. I was able to join in the fun a bit in this regard with my "Fly" outfit. I was quite happy to get quite a few knowing looks and pleasant laughs of surprise with the word "Bono" thrown in - my $0.02 contribution to the evening's merriment. There are some extra shots of the casinos that also feature briefly in the ISHFWILF video.

But, enough of this - let's give you some pictures to imagine the scene (w/ a word of regret - due to what we think is a glitch in iOS, some pictures, when reduced, are being rotated by 90 degrees completely at random when attempts are made to post them here. This is leading to many shots I would prefer to include (e.g., the famous neon cowboy, with an additional shot of your humble narrator in full Fly regalia - that jacket I found at Ross completed the look) being left out for now - when that problem rectifies itself, more shots will be added. My deepest apologies.) :

 

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Edited by dmway
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Nov. 1 (cont. again)

The Beatles/Cirque du Soleil show “Love”. I heard about it when it first came out, but I never would have thought I would see it. I never saw myself ever being in Las Vegas; thus, seeing it would be impossible because it is exclusive to The Mirage casino in LV. Well, let me tell you something about the show: “Love” is so good that it is worth going to LV just to see it - yes, seriously. If I were ever to go to LV again, I would stay long enough to see it at least twice, possibly three more times. It’s just that stellar a show.

Now, how the hand of destiny was involved in our seeing the show. We knew that tonight was our last night in Vegas - we had two things to do ideally before leaving: see Fremont Street (for the reasons set out above) and/or see “Love”, preferably both. If forced to choose, Fremont Street prevails over “Love” (we love The Beatles too, but we’re U2 fans, first and foremost).

Those who have been reading regularly on the site may know that I wrote a Mother’s Day thread back in 2017. Back then, it was the first one after my Mom passed from leukemia in October 2016. I wrote the thread then as a tribute to her - she loved Bono and, believe it or not, we ended up, as if by fate, seeing the Pittsburgh “Vertigo” show together. In any case, since her passing, I have felt her presence in my life on a few occasions, with some feeling like she had exerted her will from beyond to bring things about in a good way for me. I felt her presence that night, and, in my humble estimation, she assisted us in going to Fremont Street and see “Love” (can you already guess that she adored The Beatles as well?).

We missed the 7 pm show to go to Fremont Street. That left only the 9:30 pm show. At 9:05, we were still in our hotel room and hadn’t settled on going yet. Finally, we decided to try to make it. We drove to the casino next door (Treasure Island - I had remembered seeing that they had free parking there when we had shopped at Ross earlier in the day) and hoped we could walk over to The Mirage in time to see the show. Unbeknownst to us (but very gratefully received), Treasure Island has a tram that runs regularly to The Mirage. We waited no more than a minute for a tram to arrive. We were inside The Mirage by 9:20, but now where do we go? We choose a direction, but it turns out to be the wrong way. I get a very strong intuitive impression to turn around. We turn around and eventually find the theater where “Love” is being performed. (Did you know that The Mirage built their theater specifically to host the “Love” show? They did.) We are behind only one person at 9:26. They finish their purchase, we race up to make ours (asking for their least expensive tickets), we get the tickets, walk speedily to the ticket-taker, and proceed swiftly to our seats just in time for the show to begin. If we didn’t have some kind of intervention on our side, we wouldn’t have made it - there were so many reasons not to make it on time.

Oh, and what a show! There isn’t a bad seat in the place. The seating is in the round, and it affords you sights such as these below. Of course, outstanding music accompanies the jaw-dropping gymnastics of Cirque du Soleil.

 

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Edited by dmway
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