Due West! First Sedona, then Vegas

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Sedona, Arizona, United States
It was a weird feeling taking a day off from Maggie & flying. The reprieve was much-needed though. We drove Papa out to get his shiny new Lincoln, ran errands, did the obligatory Dallas sightseeing (Pioneer Plaza, City Hall, JFK Memorial, Hillcrest High School ;-) and had a burger at the Burger House. Coupled with cheese fries, Johannes is beginning to appreciate why the average American is slightly larger than the average German. A dip in the pool topped off a relaxing afternoon.

Hans & Thorid came over for a belated birthday dinner, and then Tony & Bryan dropped by to say hello as well . It was great that everyone could make it over with our Dallas stay being so short. Being home is a good feeling.  

No rest for the weary and we were off the following morning. Having landed in Sedona before with my buddies Mike & Jay right after purchasing Maggie, I knew this would be an impressive airport at which to land. With an on-field restaurant it's also a tasty place to grab lunch. Surprisingly we had quite a bit of clouds approaching the airport so it wasn't the dry, arid Arizona I remember from last time. We were able to cut off the instrument approach and do a nice visual landing though. The landscape around the Sedona airport make it the most impressive I've seen to date in the US. It's sunken in some canyon lands yet is still isolated on top of its own mesa. To make things more tricky, there's a hill on final approach which plays tricks with the senses on how high you really are. The first time attempting to land there with Mike & Jay I had to go around because we were way to high for the relatively short (by Texas standards) runway . With the high altitude I'd hate to have to attempt that without a turbo. This time Johannes nailed it.

After tasty southwest fish tacos we were off to Vegas. Vegas baby, Vegas! (?) I must say Vegas doesn't hold the appeal for me that it did when I celebrated my 15th and 21st birthdays there, but it's still quite a sight. I almost look forward more to people's first reactions though than I do hitting the tables. Our approach into Vegas took us a bit over the Grand Canyon and over Mead lake, which are both so amazing to see from the air. We were vectored quite a bit around all the commercial traffic until cleared for the visual into North Las Vegas airport. Again, Johannes nailed the landing. It's fun to see how much more comfortable he's getting with Maggie as I can attest to how intimidating she can be to tame.  

Vegas is pure overload. To maximize the gaudiness on my recommendation we chose New York New York . After dumping the bags we walked the strip, amazed almost more by the people-watching than the casinos. Under the thin layer of glitz Vegas makes such a depressing impression. We agree that Vegas, along with Iqaluit, is just another portal to purgatory. Both Vegas and Iqaluit are on totally different ends of the spectrum, but if there are points furthest from the "gemütliche" Chinese Tower beer garden in München, we've found them.  

Dinner was a typical Vegas raping with a couple beers, a wrap, and a salad running an astounding $89 at the Harley Davidson cafe. It turns out a good chunk of that was for the souvenir glasses we have neither the room nor the weight allowance for anyway. At least I now have a token cheesy gift for Caroline ;-). To top off the people-watching we play Blackjack at the Excelsior. The place is a hole but the 4 girl cover band is so off-key that it makes us laugh. It seems all of the strip has gone to 6-5 blackjack, and just like the rest of the suckers we go to slaughter for a little while . I should have bought a healing crystal in Sedona.

My classic memories of Vegas are threefold: 1) on my 15th birthday my mom, Thorid, uncle Rolli and cousin Andrea we were on a road trip through the southwest. We stopped in Vegas and with two quarters and a nickel I played the slots in Caesar's Palace and walked out with over $100 in quarters. My face still hurts from that smile. 2) My 21st birthday with good buddies. Enough said. 3) Going there with Trilogy, my ex software employer back in the dotcom heyday. When handed $1000 and told you can't leave the table until you either double your money or lose it, you can't but have a good time. Ridiculous. Those three were all la-la land bubbles. This time around, having already experienced a ton on this trip and knowing that we are going to see so much more on this amazing journey, the city just didn't hold the same allure. We see the homeless, the brothel handbill distributors, and the street performers dressed as Autobots or Ironman trying to get some cash for pictures. The one that summed up Vegas most for me was a guy probably 30 years old with a sign: "20 bucks to kick me in the nuts. No cup, no joke." Jesus. 

Our routings were:
Addison (KADS) to Sedona (KSEZ) for 5h10m at 12,000: RH RV KING7.GTH V278 TXO CNX V264 SJN INW
From Sedona to North Las Vegas (KVGT) t was pretty easy: DRK PGS

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