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Gunfire and photography on the Las Vegas Strip!

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by thoots, May 29, 2005.

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  1. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Oregon

    My Trip Report

    Well, I guess it's time to start grinding out the trip report! "Gunfire?" Yep -- I'll get to that in chronologic order, so hang on to your britches!

    I went through TravelAxe and Travelworm to buy my room at the Stratosphere long, long ago -- about six months before the trip. I'd be driving down from Oregon, so location didn't matter much, and the Strat seems to be the best of the "bargain" places, as opposed to what you might get at the really "old" bargain rooms.

    The plan initially was to stop after about 12 hours of driving, spend the night in some motel, then head to Vegas, getting in around noon. But, the more I thought about it, I would be "Only six hours from Vegas!!" And, I'd probably have some awful sleepless night -- why not just drive straight on through!!

    So, that's what I did -- spent a day at home sleeping in, doing little more than packing up the car, then back to bed by late afternoon. Woke up at midnight Friday night / Saturday morning, and got on the road at 1:30 AM. I made it to Vegas and was on top of the Mandalay Bay parking garage by 7:30 PM Saturday, and started taking pictures. Of course, the Strat room wasn't booked until Sunday, so I'd be spending the night "on the Strip" -- and that's what indeed I did, getting a lot of those pictures I've already shown you.

    Again, I landed at Mandalay Bay -- I figured that would be the best place to land in the middle of Saturday night. After taking a bunch of shots up on the garage, I went in, cleaned up, and hit the buffet. Not too bad -- lots of "snooty food," and I'm the "no snooty food" guy, but I managed to find some stuff like Prime Rib to fill myself up with... [​IMG]

    Oh, and did I say "Mandalay Bay on a Saturday night?" My oh my, were the beautiful people out and about! Gosh be golly, but the young ladies just don't dress like that where I come from! :D Oh, I suppose the men-folk were pretty too, but I can't say that I paid any attention to that.... ;)

    But, it was time to "hit the Strip," so it was back to the car to get all loaded up with the camera, tripod, and so on. So, out I went, and just propped up the tripod where-ever I dang well pleased. You see, I figured that "late at night" like this, perhaps the crowds would die down, and I'd be less "in the way" than I would be some other time.

    Well, it sure was crowded, though! And, what a stinkin' pig's sty, too! All of the porno newspaper stands were piled up with bottles and cans of all assortment, and the pornslapper papers were everywhere. Worse than that, a couple blocks appeared to be nothing more than a "local gang member get-together" -- these guys were standing there by the hundreds. Now, gosh, I don't know if they were "local gang mambers" -- perhaps they were "visiting gang members." Or, maybe they were all just "gang member wannabe's." But, they sure weren't "tourists" wandering around -- they pretty well took over the blocks in front of the Showcase Mall, going north to the block in front of the Polo Towers. I must say, though, that I walked right through and amongst these folks, fancy camera and tripod in hand, and not a one gave me the slightest trouble.

    But, by now I had quite a bad impression of things -- this wasn't the tourist-friendly Strip I had known from my last trip! But, I can't say that I made it up to this neighborhood last time, for what that might be worth. Whatever the case, I kept on walking, and taking pictures.

    I eventually made it down to Bellagio, where I took a number of shots "across the lake" from the walkway on the south side of the lake. Then, I started wandering back up the street towards Mandalay Bay.

    I was getting pretty tired by now -- around 2:00 AM, and remember I'd been up for more than 24 hours at this point, after driving all day, and now walking a few Strip miles. As I walked in front of Monte Carlo, I noticed a lady sitting in front of one of the fountains out front, and I thought that was an EXCELLENT idea! So, I plopped down in front of the fountain on the other side, and rested my weary bones.

    After a while, I got up and headed back to the CVS Pharmacy to get a bottled water, then it was back to the Monte Carlo fountain. Here's what that looks like, in the daytime:

    [​IMG]

    I just sat there on the brick wall, towards of the middle of the thing. So, I finished up my water, and a few minutes later, the night was broken up by, yes, GUNFIRE ON THE STRIP!! About ten shots rang out, and they were LOUD! It was kind of like the proverbial "sounded like fireworks," except these were VERY LOUD, and were very close.

    Well, perhaps you saw this article in the Review-Journal's Wednesday edition:

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2005/May-25-Wed-2005/news/26590557.html

    Yep, I was pretty much right across the street from what they called the "Walgreens" shooting. Actually, the article calls the Walgreens as "next to the Monte Carlo," but it's actually across the street. You could almost call this as "in front of Fatburger," because that's right next to the Walgreens store. And, from another perspective, this was that "gang member central" that I had walked through an hour or so earlier.

    Yikes!! :eek:

    Well, there's about a half-second when you kind of "look for the fireworks," but then not seeing that, you comprehend, "Someone's firing into the crowd!!", and then everyone started running for their lives!

    I headed up the Monte Carlo steps, and got behind the big facade pillars, here:

    [​IMG]

    Of course, police cars came out of the woodwork, ambulances soon followed, and a police helicopter appeared overhead. But, on the street, "normalcy" soon returned, and everyone went about their business. I headed back towards Mandalay Bay, trying to take any route "off the street" as such, like the overhead walkways, and then finally the tram from Excalibur to Monte Carlo.

    Oh, and it was only after hearing about the shooting on the TV news a couple of days later (yes, and it took them long to say something about it!), that I heard about the other shooting in the Aladdin parking garage. Sheesh!

    So, what a day, what a night! I have to say that my enthusiasm about Las Vegas got knocked down quite a few notches that night.

    But, that's enough for one message -- I'll follow up in another!
     
  2. thoots

    thoots Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Oregon
    Back for "Part 2...."

    There's much less "to write home about" for the rest of the trip. I got some "dawn shots" of Luxor and Mandalay Bay, then found a car wash, and started looking around for a breakfast buffet. Well, this being Sunday morning, most places had the proverbial "Champagne Brunch," so add another ten bucks to their usual breakfast prices. So, since I knew they'd still be cheap, I headed for the Strat's buffet. It's not really "bad" at all -- but it's quite a bit less than it should be. "French toast sticks" -- sheesh! If you can't make "real french toast," then you're not trying hard enough! But, I found sustenance enough, and then I thought I'd check to see when I might possibly be able to check into a room.

    Well, to show you how busy the Strat is, the answer to that question turned out to be "How about right now?" So, it was 8:00 AM, and I was dragging my stuff into a Stratosphere hotel room!

    I sure can't complain about that at all -- that gave me another few hours to get some sleep, before going out and about and taking more pictures.

    Over the next few days, I wound up getting up on the Stratosphere tower and the Eiffel tower, and did quite a bit of wandering around. Of course, "taking pictures all the way." I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I don't gamble. So, you won't read about any of that from me, except maybe to whine about the smoking. Crimony, it's been TWENTY YEARS here in Oregon since we banned smoking from virtualy all workplaces, bathrooms, public places, and restaurants. I am, of course, a non-smoker, and not very tolerant of the stuff, so I always get to the point where I can't hardly even open my eyes after a couple of days in Vegas. But, as I've mentioned before, I'm just always "attracted to bright lights and shiny objects," and I was here to take pictures of them. So, I pressed onward.... [​IMG]

    I wound up hitting a couple of other buffets: Mirage for breakfast, which was quite good. Bally's for dinner, between "afternoon" and "evening" trips up the Eiffel Tower. No, I don't figure the Paris buffet was the thing for Mr. No Snooty Food here. But, Bally's was very much not worth writing home about. Very ordinary, and I'd have to say that I even thought the Stratosphere dinner buffet was better. I caught the latter in between trips up the Stratosphere tower, and it was "seafood night." Well, again, expectations aren't that high, but I found plenty of non-snooty food to fill myself up just fine.

    Oh, and Ballys was just the place if you enjoy knocking elbows with the people at the next table -- Sheesh, those tables were close together! Again, I've got no need to ever go back there again. Mirage, again, was very nice -- good food, good variety, and EXCELLENT wait staff. Which reminds me about the first buffet at Mandalay Bay -- I could have used a flare gun trying to get the guy's attention there. Nothing like getting your drink AFTER you've finished your meal! But, again, Mirage was great, and, heck, you can even go get your own drinks over at the Strat. Just have to put up with those plastic "glasses," though! ;)

    I actually bugged out of Vegas a couple of days earlier than planned. I was REALLY wearing myself out, and the weather was "over 100" -- and I was coming from a couple of weeks where it hardly got up to 60 up in Oregon. Of course, I was "overdoing it" from the minute I got there, but I did get most of the "must get" photo opportunities I wanted. I had planned to hit the Wynn and get a bunch of shots there, but between sore feet, heat exhaustion, and then I started getting my usual "dry heat" bloody noses, I decided I had enough pictures, and let's just head for the cool, moist air up in Oregon.

    So, I just bugged right out of there, and wound up driving straight home. I guess I can handle about three days in Vegas, and then I pretty much need to get the heck out of town. So, that's what I'll plan to do in the future, should I ever go back.

    Yeah, ultimately, "I got my fill" of the place pretty fast. Gosh, the Strip is just bedlam, even without gunfire. Maybe it's the same way in all big cities, but why do all of the taxi drivers have to ABSOLUTELY FLOOR IT every time they go anywhere? I was virtually petrified to drive anywhere, because these guys are driving around like banshees. I remember sitting there waiting for the light to change to turn onto Las Vegas Blvd. so I could get to the Stratosphere, and no less than EIGHT taxicabs flew across our lane after our light had turned green! Then, I recall catching a bit of the TV news one evening, where they did a big story about stolen cars and "chop shops" -- and how people are just doing it in their garages and back yards these days. Las Vegas has the fourth-highest stolen car rate in the country, and -- get this -- after the story ran, ALL THREE of the on-air folks (male and female anchors, plus the weatherman) related how their cars had been stolen recently. So, again, all of this helped pile onto the "let's just get the heck out of here" feeling that was building within me.

    So, I got my pictures, and I appreciate all of the fine words I've received from everyone about them. And, yes, I did have fun while I was in Vegas -- again, this is stuff we just don't see "back home in Oregon." But, in the end, I do get my fill of the place pretty quickly. Let me just end this with a mention of how much I liked the Mirage -- Hunter is right-on. The Mirage is really very cool -- just great atmosphere. If I ever get back to Vegas as anything other than a low-roller, that'll be the place I'd be heading for!
     
  3. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    Thanks for a great trip report. I must admit, if I didn’t drink and gamble, I would not go to Vegas either. [​IMG]
     
  4. Jimbucc

    Jimbucc VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    This is why this board is so cool. A non gambler, non drinker, non smoker from Oregon goes to Vegas and bestows upon us the best pictures I have ever seen.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and allowing our eyes to gaze upon your talent with a camera.
     
  5. MissAmanda

    MissAmanda Tourist

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Wow.. I was in Vegas that weekend too. I actually wanted to go to the Nelly concert, but my boyfriend refused to go. I guess that's a good thing!

    I'm so with you on the smoking thing. I'm a non-smoker also so the smoke really gets to me. Even my boyfriend (who was a smoker for about 8 years but quit a few years ago) is bothered by it. Ontario is pretty much all no smoking except for outdoors so I'm just not used to it.

    Amazing pictures! You have a real talent.

    [ May 29, 2005, 06:06 PM: Message edited by: MissAmanda ]
     
  6. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Nice trip report. Seems you experienced the possible pitfalls of Las Vegas, first hand. Generally, the strip isn't filled with gang bangers or gunfire, but when you get crowds riled up, unfortunately, these things happen.

    At least, despite all the ugliness of the city you experienced, you were able to capture some of the best shots of Las Vegas that I've ever seen.

    For the record, Vegas really isn't all that bad, but it's certainly not for everyone. For me, I love it, but I'm a big city girl.
     
  7. boxcars

    boxcars High-Roller

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location:
    North Dakota
    Great trip report! It's nice having a different type of trip to read about.

    Just goes to show you...

    You don't have to drink, gamble, and lose all control to have fun in Vegas. [​IMG]

    Oh by the way... EXCELLENT photos!

    [ May 30, 2005, 02:42 PM: Message edited by: boxcars ]
     
  8. Dutchguy

    Dutchguy Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Kansas City
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    70
    Great trip report, and postcard quality pictures!I was also in town that weekend and never heard about the commotion on the Strip. The day after we came back to K.C. is when LasVegas Police discovered a K.C. 'rapper' shot to death. I work in the Crime Scene Unit here in K.C. and have processed a few shooting that are most likely related to the 'rapper' homicide in the LasVegas. Bad blood between K.C. and Bay Area rappers. (You live by the gun, you die by the gun.) Oh well, a few sporadic incidents of gunplay will not keep me away from my favorite city. Planning for the next trip has already begun.
     
  9. sarmcl

    sarmcl Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    N Ridgeville, OH
    Awesome trip report and the best pictures I have seen! I am sharing them with friends. Great work!

    Barra
     
  10. Thekiller

    Thekiller Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    OKC
    Great pics and trip report Thoots!

    I think the reason for you going home early was that you worked to hard. The hard work did pay off in some nice pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

    Thoots,
    When I try to take pictures after a few rounds at happy hour they always come out like this. What am I doing wrong?

    [​IMG]
     
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