Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arizona driving tour, day seven (part two)

For our second night in Las Vegas (and the final night of our trip) we stayed downtown at the Golden Gate, the oldest hotel in Las Vegas.

It definitely has the coolest sign. The orange letters actually move back and forth.

While they have been updated, the rooms still maintain a lot of the original details--for instance, this awesome bathroom. Love the tile!

The furnishings are also pretty chic.

We took a short walk along Fremont Street in search of food. Sadly, we did not find any of that though we did see a lot of neon.

If time permitted I would have liked to have visited the Neon Boneyard, but we were not in town at noon or 2pm for a tour. They do have a few restored signs out on Fremont Street, such as this guy, originally installed in 1967 at the Hacienda Hotel, formerly located at 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South (now the site of Mandalay Bay).

We eventually gave up on finding some decent food and went with Plan B, which was to eat at the Bay City Diner, the restaurant inside our hotel. After confusing the waitress with our requests for veggie burgers with toppings ("You can't do that! The veggie burger doesn't come with cheese!"), we ended up with a halfway decent meal and a slice of carrot cake to go. By the way, those pies are not glued to the wall--it's just their reflection. The Golden Gate people are pretty clever.

Day eight of our trip was spent in various airports around the country. And so concludes the slide show. Hope I haven't bored anyone too much, but I definitely had fun exploring.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Arizona driving tour, day seven

Last week I mentioned how I regretted not stopping at Santa's Land Office on Rt. 93 (which is apparently in a town called Santa Claus, AZ--go figure).

Well, I realized that I had to pass right by it again on the way back to Las Vegas, so I made sure to stop this time.

I think the barbed wire really makes the experience.

Not sure if Santa purposely hung this stocking here in an attempt to spruce up the place, or if he accidentally got tangled up in it (we'll assume the former).

So that's what he stores in his shed. Funny, I would have thought toy making supplies.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Arizona driving tour, day six

After Bisbee we drove back up to Phoenix, gradually making our way back to Las Vegas and our plane ride home.

After a few hours of shopping and eating a surprisingly lackluster meal, we showed up at the legendary Pizzeria Bianco at 4:30. That's half an hour before they open, and there was already a pretty long line. By the time it was our turn to give our name the estimated wait time was around 3 hours. No matter, we made sure not to come hungry.

Most people wait around at the various outdoor tables, drinking wine provided by Bar Bianco nextdoor. This is how we spent most of our wait (minus the wine--we're not that sophisticated). But first we took a walk around the neighborhood.

The restaurant is about half a mile from the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball stadium. Look at how happy Dave is! If only there were a game going on. At just $5 a ticket for the upper deck seats, that would be a pretty fun way to wait for your pizza.

But you better not do spit tobacco. Can I join the No Chew Crew?

Outside the stadium there is a huge audiokinetic sculpture by George Rhoads, in which small metal balls move around a labyrinth of twists and turns. Our first introduction to his work was a much smaller one inside the lobby of the Jacob Burns Film Center, which is captivating enough. But there's so much going on, so much to look at here.

At some point the snake eats the ball and then it travels through his body.

These guys do the wave (I forget what triggers it exactly).

This guy in the middle is my favorite.

After dragging Dave away from the sculpture we walked back down to Roosevelt Row, though it was a little too late to visit any of the shops and galleries. For some reason there are all these empty lots, which kind of look like they once contained buildings that have been recently razed. Either way it gives the place a spooky bombed out look (not that this is inherently a bad thing).

And I don't know why, but palm trees always make run-down areas feel even seedier (and that's not some kind of a silly tree-related pun!). Maybe it's the contrast between the tropical paradise they're supposed to convey and their actual surroundings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arizona driving tour, day five (part four)

I was a little focused on the Crown (it really felt like ours even if just for one night) but the rest of the Shady Dell is worth some discussion too.

Here we have the Airstream, the Spartanette, the Mansion, and the Manor, with the Mule Mountains off in the distance.

Let's have a closer look.

Here's the classic Airstream in all its shiny chrome glory. I think if I came back I might like to stay in this one.

The Royal Mansion.

The Airfloat, which seems like it might be one of the more luxurious stays in the Shady Dell. According to the website, it not only has its own toilet and full shower, but comes equipped with a working vintage TV and record player. They provide some Rat Pack-era records but I'll bet we'd have some of our own to listen to. Maybe we'll splurge for the third visit.

The Tiki Bus. I'm not all that into tiki stuff but this one looks pretty fun.

A jungle-view of the Airstream.

Right next to the Crown is Dot's Diner. If it were open for dinner I would have had myself a chocolate shake, but it just didn't feel right for breakfast.

According to the Shady Dell site: "Built in the 1950s by the pride of Wichita Kansas, The Valentine Manufacturing Company, this authentic diner was originally purchased by John Hart in 1957 and delivered to the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon Blvd in Los Angeles. The diner was transported by flatbed truck to the Shady Dell in November, 1996. It was run by Dot Bozeman, chief cook and bottle washer until 1999."

I woke up to the smell of Dot's breakfast wafting through the open window of our trailer. It was a lovely way to greet the morning. The food was delicious, and actually seemed to be cooked with real, fresh ingredients (for instance, the jam available was strawberry-lavender, and was scooped out of an unlabeled jar into a small metal cup for our use).

Part of the outdoor seating a few steps from Dot's. I love this metal umbrella.

Dot's at night.

In the center of the Shady Dell is this gazebo, which is probably quite nice for nighttime relaxation when the weather is right. There's something unsettling about the duck though.

I like the touches of neon around the gazebo roof. Music is playing constantly from somewhere as well, which kind of makes it feel a little surreal.

A detail that I find kind of amusing is the white picket fences placed all over the park. There also seems to be an abundance of Pepsi memorabilia in this town, which is forgivable.

Nextdoor to the Shady Dell is a cemetery, which we did not get a chance to explore. I love these crazy tall trees.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Arizona driving tour, day five (part three)

While I loved the town of Bisbee itself, our sleeping accommodations were definitely the highlight (and what brought us there in the first place): The Shady Dell, an RV park equipped with vintage airstreams and trailers.

We stayed in the 1954 Crown, which, according to the website, was "Earl and Marge’s beloved vacation home on wheels for more than 40 years." (I'd love to know more about Earl and Marge, but as of now their identity is a mystery.)

Each of the trailers comes with a small patch of astroturf and my favorite metal outdoor chairs.

I like the hexagonal tiles leading up to the door.

The faded crown logo above the window.

In addition to the astroturf, each trailer also sports a couple of pink flamingos.

The view out the window included some beautiful flowers (as well as Dot's Diner...but that's for another post.)

The view from the back (feels a little like spying).

The keys to the Crown (and the bathrooms).

Each trailer is decorated around a different theme: this one seems to be "red,"* which nicely correlates to the stripe of red on the outside. The cookie jar actually contained a package of Fig Newtons--one of the many cute little touches provided by the Shady Dell. (Do not be alarmed--I am pretty sure the cookie jar is re-stocked regularly. We ate the Fig Newtons days ago and are feeling fine.)

The seating area, where we enjoyed some ice cream later on. (Chips and salsa were also planned but dinner was a little too filling.)

The Crosley radio somehow only plays music from the 40s and 50s. The cups and saucers would have been perfect had we actually brewed up some coffee in the working percolator as planned. The wooden photo album contains messages from previous Crown-dwellers. Apparently this little trailer has seen a lot of action!

One of my favorite things in the Crown was the viewmaster, which contained reels of famous cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Other amusements provided in the Crown are a deck of cards and this puzzle that Dave is playing with right now on the cozy (but very comfortable) bed.

This is what I would have liked to have been doing that night (relaxing on the chairs outside the trailer and enjoying a book and probably a drink) but it was just a little too cold outside to do that for too long. We managed to travel to Arizona on the first overcast week in months.

*The red inventory: 2 bath towels, 2 wash cloths, 2 hand towels, 2 mugs, 4 bowls, 2 plates, 2 saucers, 2 metal cups, cherry shot glass, waste basket, cookie jar, cherry curtains, coffee and tea canisters, blanket, outdoor chairs, the base of a container of sugar packets, some kind of wall hanging I can't describe, and the piping on the seats.