Mo & Terry Smedley


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Mo and Kathy accompanied me on a trip to Las Vegas, where I was attending a software conference.  They'd both been trying to get me to go to Las Vegas for quite a while.   They wore me out for the week - staying out very late, when I had to get an early start each day at the conference seminars.  I was glad to get home and get a rest!

The highlight of the trip for me was the fountain at the Bellagio.  I would like to tour the hydraulics and electronic controls powering this fountain, which can send a column of water a hundred feet high in the blink of an eye.  It sounds like a gunshot when the individual nozzles fire to that height - I'm wondering if they accomplish this with very high pressure conventional pumps, or if they use positive displacement (pistons) to get the rapid fire.  There are hundreds of nozzles that are beautifully choreographed to several different songs.  We saw (and heard) displays with Celine Dion's "Love Theme from The Titanic" and Frank Sinatra's "Luck Be a Lady".   There was other stuff in Las Vegas, too, but the fountain is what sticks in my head.

We went to a magic show with Lance Burton at the Monte Carlo.  A handful of the tricks/illusions depended upon too much "equipment", but I thoroughly enjoyed the simpler illusions which appeared to be truly magic.  When there are lots of stage props around, I'm distracted by trying to find the hidden doors, wires, or optical distractions.  When it's just the magician, the "tricks" are much more impressive.  It was a fun show - just might be the only show in Las Vegas that's suitable for the whole family.

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I liked the image of the sun reflecting off the polished aluminum wingtip against the deep blue sky.  This is how I kept myself busy on the plane ride down - making faces with a bag of snack mix (which now passes for the in-flight "meal").    
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  The conference and our accommodations were at the Rio, just off the Strip.   FWIW, the Rio is home to Penn & Teller's show. Mo and Kathy enjoyed the "beach" at the Rio. Our room had an unusual feature - that's a window between the bedroom and the shower.  There's no way to close off the window.  Its purpose was obvious enough.  Look carefully - you can see Kathy peering out at Mo in this picture.
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Now we're talking - our room overlooked the UP mainline.  I saw a handful of freights working their way up the desert.  It's been years since Amtrak's plans for Los Angeles - Las Vegas passenger service were scuttled by the UP and equipment availability.  I might consider going here again if I could take the train... I've heard people refer to Las Vegas as a "Disneyland for adults".  Most of the strip Casinos have an architectural theme.  At "New York, New York", there's a replica of the Statue of Liberty that's dramatic in nighttime lighting. The MGM Grand is an enormous obelisk, with colored lighting that grabs your eye.  The CMA Music Awards were taking place here the night we arrived. We took a break from one of our looong walks.  Sue Ranger from Rayonier also attended the software conference. 
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You don't see this kind of stuff in Hoquiam very often. The Luxor is pretty impressive at night. Caesar's Palace.  The interior of Caesar's is remarkable. The fountain at the Bellagio.  Imagine Frank crooning "Luck Be a Lady" and the water jets moving in time.
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A huge meal at Caesar's before another night of exploration.  There must have been a full pound of bacon on my sandwhich (I didn't eat all of it). Mo at Fremont Street, which is downtown in an older casino area. We walked so far that Kathy had to make a quick blister repair. Kathy's resting her feet at the slot machines.
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Our waitress said the flower in my hair was very attractive. A rainbow crosses the wing of our plane as we circle over Puget Sound. I caught a glimpse of the Talgo near Edmonds - there's no mistaking its color scheme or locomotive shape. SeaTac is wet and gray - a dramatic shift from the 100 degree bake in Las Vegas.
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Weyerhaeuser has an impressive and aggressive advertising profile.  This sign greets travelers coming in from the concourse at SeaTac.