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... 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! 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: 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!! 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: 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!