Las Vegas – October 2022 – Random Sights

A stopover in Las Vegas….

A 14 floor tall mural on the side of the Plaza. It is difficult to tell from this angle but the Plaza was used as the model for Biff’s Hotel in Back to the Future II.

Private Cabanas at the Golden Nugget.

The Giant praying mantis outside the Container Park art colony.

Vegas Vic without working Neon.

Need a lit up liquor store at 6 AM – no problem.

Giant showgirls on the Strip.

The Circus Circus has been along the Strip since 1968.

How to combine a band that broke up 53 years ago along with a circus in a casino in the middle of the desert surrounded by palm trees. True Las Vegas

New York in the desert

And on to Egypt – which actually is in a desert.

Our final stop is Mandalay Bay and their Griffins.

Park City, Utah – September 2022 – Olympic Medals and Pins

The museum at Park City also has a collection of medals pins, starting with a bronze and silver example from those 2002 games.

Over the years all participants in the Olympics received a medal, regardless of their finish. The museum at Park City has a great collection of those for the various winter Olympic venues.

Another tradition at the Olympics is the trading of pins from your respective country with your competitors from around the world.

Salt Lake City – September 2022 – Random Views

Some random views of an evening in downtown Salt Lake City.

Trolley Square was once a trolley barn for the original streetcars of the city. For 50 years it has been a trendy shopping district (and somewhere with a patio restaurant open for lunch!). The water tower is a highlight of the skyline.

Another in a long line of stupid arena names in the pursuit of a few more dollars – the Vivint Arena. The streetcars however, are a great (re)addition to the city.

While we are going on strange names – the Utah Jazz. The franchise was founded in New Orleans in 1974, playing just 5 seasons there before relocating to Salt Lake City, but keeping the Jazz name, apparently because they switched cities so close to the start of the season they never had time to get new uniforms and advertising completed.

A few murals…

Our hotel for the night had a nice view of downtown for both sunset…

And sunrise….

Provo, Utah – September 2022 – Signs, Signs Everywhere There’s Signs

Like most cities Provo, Utah has a sign ordnance dictating the size and placements of advertising signs. Fortunately the Lakeside Storage Facility is either not in the city of Provo, or has an exemption as they have an amazing collection of petroliana (items relating to the gasoline industry).

We happened upon this place just after they opened their office for the day. The young lady in the office said that we could walk around all we like!

But it is not just signs they have….

There are multiple small airplanes on top of the storage units.

Most of the signs date from the 1940s through the 1970s, in various states of condition.

A few old cars and trucks are included in the collection.

They have another area across the road with more signs, but it was under construction and off limits. Still – who can resist Elvis and Marilyn on a flatbed truck outside the gate.

The Lakeside Storage and Sign Museum on the west side of Provo, Utah is one of those funky places that is a must for me!

Gray Mountain, Arizona – September 2022 – Painted Desert Project

Dr Chip Thomas is a native of North Carolina who went to Diné (Navajo) Nation decades ago as a fulfillment of a National Health Services Corps scholarship he had received. He arrived in this area in 1987.

Decades later he began to paint large scale murals on abandoned buildings throughout the area. Early on he painted what he believed to be an abandoned roadside stand, only to find it was still used and the new art attracted more business. These stands are crucial to the economic survival of the community.

The mural in Gray Mountain is on an old motel that had been owned by a group known as the Whiting Brothers, who had a chain of motels all along route 66 and elsewhere in the west.

The art is a tribute to the Diné Nation and their struggles and heritage, and was completed by Dr Thomas as well as Diné artists.

El Paso – September 2022 – Historic Missions

The El Paso area is home to 3 historic missions. All of the missions were founded in an effort to convert the native population.

We started with the Presidio Chapel of San Elizaro. The original building was constructed in 1789 as a fort (hence the name Presidio).

The buildings were destroyed in a flood in 1829, and thereafter the use of the fort was rendered unnecessary with Mexico’s independence from Spain. In 1882 the existing chapel was constructed.

In addition to the chapel there are other period buildings in the area.

Socorro Mission is about 5 miles up the road to El Paso. The mission here dates from the late 1600s, which again was destroyed by floods in the 1800s. The current building was completed in 1843, with a major reconstruction occurring in 1995.

During the reconstruction the original ceiling was repurposed and included in the remodel.

The sconces include artistic interpretations of the church itself.

Our final stop is at the oldest of the 3 missions, Yselta. Dating from 1660, this building too is a replacement for one that was destroyed in floods.

Artistic elements in the interior include tributes to the native population that the mission has served.

El Paso – September 2022 – Artistic Morning

With the 3 day Labor Day weekend coming up it was time to get out of town. At first the thought was to make the 6+ hour drive to San Diego, but they were in a heat wave with forecasted highs hotter than Tucson! So we went east to El Paso.

Saturday morning was the perfect time to walk around and check out the downtown neighborhood.

San Jacinto Plaza has always been the heart of El Paso. Starting in the 1950s there was a pond in the plaza that someone had let live alligators loose in. A series of alligators resided there until the 1960s, when it was decided they would be relocated to the El Paso Zoo to keep them safe from morons who abused them.

Today the alligator legacy is remembered with a sculpture.

The El Paso Art Museum, Convention Center, and baseball stadium are all located next to each other. The architecture and public art make for a picturesque setting.

The nearby Union Station train depot is home to a Saturday morning art and farmers market. While small, it had a nice mix of arts and crafts, and local food specialties like salsa.

It was time for a brief stop back at the historic Paseo Del Norte Hotel before setting out to see the rest of the city….

Sonoita, Arizona – August 2022 – From Ranching to Renaissance

After our visit to the Empire Ranch house, we continued to wander the dusty roads to check out the sights. Imagine our surprise when we came across a group of Renaissance Cosplay people.

This event was not one of the more structured Renaissance Festivals that tour the country, rather this is a group of people who like to get dressed up and spend the weekend living in the renaissance period.

After checking with some people near the entrance they assured me we were more than welcome, and that they would be thrilled to have photos taken of them. Say no more!

Maricopa, Arizona – August 2022 – Honey I Shrunk The Car

Driving through the Arizona desert we were headed for a unique place. Once we arrived the initial thought was ‘this is just a collection of rusted cars’. Cool, but not what I was expecting.

After wandering the ‘collection’ we approached a garage.

Inside we met Ernie Adams and two of his sons.

Since the mid 1960s Ernie has been making scaled down versions of fully functional automobiles. Dubbed ‘Dwarf Cars’, Ernie now has a collection of these in his shop in the desert about an hour south of Phoenix.

Today his sons work with him on this quirky, but very cool, collection. The irony of photography is unless you have a person (or some other object) nearby for scale you can’t really tell they are shrunk down versions. Fortunately there were some people milling about, including Ernie’s wife.

A big shout out to Ernie and his sons for welcoming us into their garage and showing us around!