Flashback to late 2019, an old bowling friend who has since moved to the St. Louis area asks if my brother, my dad, and I would like to bowl in the USBC National tournament in June 2020. We all accept, but the problem is, that shit all hit the fan shortly before. We postpone to 2021, but instead of being in Reno like it was in 2020, it’s in Las Vegas (as was already scheduled). I haven’t been to Las Vegas since 2004, and I wasn’t old enough to do any of the fun stuff. It was kind of a convoluted mess with tickets. I was on one. My parents were on another using one of my Delta Platinum Amex’s companion tickets, and my brother was on a separate ticket all his own, since he could only come out for the weekend of bowling. Turns out, having two kids will do that to you.
My trip was Tuesday July 6 through Monday July 12. I stayed the night at my parent’s house the night before with it being an early departure the next day.
The cat was not amused that we were leaving.
We got the airport at 5:30 figuring on huge crowds. It wasn’t really too bad, though.
My Priority Pass got us all in to the lounge at concourse F. Top-notch quality? No, but hey, free is free. It would be much better if they ever put the buffet line back in commission.
We didn’t have far to walk after since our flight was leaving from gate E12.
Sitting outside was N827MH. If covid has done one good thing, it has made for some good domestic widebody opportunities. I haven’t flown a 767-400 since 2006. It’s been a little while.
Delta Air Lines Flight 460
Depart ATL - 8:20am (was actually 8:19)
Arrive LAS - 9:27am (was actually 9:27)
The 767-400 demonstrator. Very cool history with this one.
I was seated in seat 34G. Despite this being the first row of peasant coach, I think this seat has more legroom. I’m 6’3” and had plenty of room.
Couldn’t quite make out the tail numbers on any of these. They could have been going anywhere.
The queue for runway 8R was about 10 deep, not too bad.https://youtu.be/vuCFqiTcbe8
I always remember the 767-400 taking off kind of in a floaty way. Today was no different.
We were in clouds and haze for a very long time.
The new navigation software was very cool. It wasn’t functioning on the A220 I flew last month.
Is there a better way to start the day?
Catching up on some reboots.
And more clouds.
Finally, I was able to see some landscape.
I think this was an American 737 whizzing by, but I won’t swear to it.
Southern end of the Grand Canyon.
Beautiful views coming down.
Some spoiler love.
Touching the outskirts of Vegas.https://youtu.be/zvWfzuueLX4
Landing on runway 26L.
In to gate D34. I remember next to nothing about this airport, because not only was it 2004, it was also dark.
One last look at the beast who was about to turn back to Atlanta.
I can confirm that the name is hilarious, but The D was not the most exciting casino in Vegas. More on that area later.
Nice little welcome. We had a ton of baggage to collect. We all had suitcases, and my dad and I had bowling balls too. To my surprise, our luggage was there waiting for us despite our quick exit from the aircraft.
We were staying at South Point where the bowling was, and they had a shuttle, but they didn’t make it easy to get there, so we took a Lyft, which also wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but we made it. It was a bit early, so neither of our rooms were ready yet, so we did some exploring and got lunch in the meantime.
This burger and fries was (were?) a basic start, but I’ll tell you, I ate damn good on this trip. There are plenty more photos of food to come
After lunch we decided to check out the two bowling centers on property see what was happening. This was the bowling plaza where the team event took place. This is also where professional tournaments and really big events happen. Normally the whole thing would be here, but you know…bat viruses or lab viruses or something. There was nothing happening at this moment, but there was plenty more later.
This was the regular bowling center where singles and doubles were happening. There was some action, and we didn’t get any practice on this event’s oil pattern, so it was nice to be able to watch others and learn something. Our rooms were ready right on schedule, so once we got our stuff unloaded we headed out for a little exploring.
Starting with the Pinball Hall of Fame. I didn’t know what to expect from it, but it was very cool.
It was rows and rows of pinball machines very old and very new for play, and some other retro games mixed in as well. Worth a visit if you enjoy that sort of thing.
This place is right by the airport, and I saw this aircraft parked on the ramp. I searched the tail number, and it’s registered to the Indianapolis Colts. Never did figure out why it was there.
Because when you’re here you may as well do the touristy thing, right?
To get out of the heat, we worked our way through Mandalay Bay and the train to Excalibur, and ended up at New York New York for dinner.
We ended up at Tom’s Urban, and it was delicious
This dessert…oh man, was it good, but oh buddy it was rich, half brownie batter half cookie dough covered in toasted marshmallows. I haven’t had something that sweet in a long time, but screw it. We’re on vacation.
And out the window
Not to brag, but these girls definitely wanted to talk to me and nobody else. Hell of a phone number too. After dinner we were going to try to visit M&M World, but it had a very long line to get in. That wasn’t worth it to any of us, so we grabbed a Lyft to the airport rental car facility, because our next couple of excursions required it.
Beautiful night in Las Vegas.
The next day we had planned to go to Death Valley. That would require a very early wakeup so that we didn’t fry, and we thought Wednesday to be the best time since we’d still be on Eastern Time.
And so we did head in to vast nothingness shortly before 5am.
These were from the entry point. There was so much cool stuff to see, and nothing like what I see in Georgia at all. I paid to get the car in, but based on our experience, we could have just as easily not paid anything and cruised right through.
These were from Zabriske Point (I think I spelled that right). Great way to start things off.
The whole reason for the idea of this trip was Badwater Basin, so this photo op was a gimme.
Vast nothingness from sea level.
Cool monument there too.
And then back in the car going downhill. Don’t ask if the car was in motion or not when I took this photo.
Our lonely car as we hiked up some hill near Artist’s Palette.
And our very
lonely car from the top.
So many colors.
Nice detour through there. In hindsight, probably should have gone through on the way back because of the direction of the road, but that’s ok.
As far as I know, the only time I’ve ever been below sea level was visiting New Orleans, but obviously never this low. I think that’s the first extreme point of any sort I’ve ever visited.
Not exactly the world’s most hospitable environment with the salt and giant furnace ball in the sky.
It was rather hot, but I have to say, I much prefer that dry heat and its eye-popping thermometer numbers over the muggy and soupy air down south. The only real drawback I noticed was that dehydration tended to sneak up on me pretty quickly since I wasn’t drenched in sweat like I would be at home.
There was a tiny bit of wildlife happening here. So strange to see water in this area.
All in all a very fun visit. It seemed like it was super late, but it was barely 10am. By the time we got back to Vegas, it would be lunch time, so we went for that.
We found a place called Fat Choy. It’s a little hole in the wall. You’d never know it was there unless you went in to this tiny and dumpy local casino by an auto parts store. It was very good. In my case, it was bacon wrapped chili cheese dogs
Since we were already halfway there form our hotel, I wanted to see Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so we drove up there.
Nellis was doing some kind of exercise at this point, so these guys were flying over almost constantly. No complaints from me.
To my surprise, we were allowed in the infield. We were told that we could drive where we wanted as long as we didn’t go through any closed gates. Well that was easy enough.
Not the same without Nascar in town, but fun to look around.
There was a driving school doing stuff on the infield road course, so we weren’t totally alone.
It was very, very hot at this point in the afternoon, and all the walking at Death Valley had definitely worn us out, so we went back to South Point to chill for a bit.
A little later we went to scout out team event, and saw PBA pro Anthony Neuer bowling. He’s a lefty, and so am I, so there actually was a little bit I could take from watching him.
We chose the Asian restaurant at South Point for dinner, and these ribs were very, very good (seems to be a recurring theme on this trip).
And of course you gotta gamble a little bit (side note: Kyle Busch as an eyelash away from winning me some money
Being tired and still on east coast time led to an early retirement.
Thursday was Hoover Dam.
Stopped at Pink Box donuts on the way. Not only was this cupcake hilarious, they had some damn good donuts.
Overlook close to the dam. Good start.
If you’re a stoner who walks their corgi to the gun range while you have the munchies, Hoover Dam isn’t for you.
*Insert facepalm emoji here*
Georgia’s contribution to the dam construction.
These were from down inside. Very cool.
My acrophobia started to kick in once we got outside
This was only the initial look after the museum. There would be plenty more crossing and bits on the outside.
Scale models of construction and today.
It was getting a bit toasty.
So we started the trek across.
From the Arizona side.
Arizona time wasn’t different today, because Arizona is smart and doesn’t screw with their clocks during the year.
Lake Mead. Man, you can really tell how down it is.
The rather unceremonious border between Nevada and Arizona.
This was from the old building. It’s a very well built model of almost the entire southwest.
I thought this was funny.
We went to lunch at a place in Henderson called Biscuits and Bourbon. Again, very good good. Funny enough, they bragged about being the only ones anywhere near to use White Lily flour shipped to them direct from Georgia. I wasn’t aware it was a regional thing. I’ve seen it all my life here and never knew that.
We chilled at the hotel the rest of the afternoon to get out of the heat. I went to watch some singles and doubles bowling and text chat with my brother about some of it.
PBA pro Marshall Kent was in the house watching.
And another famous name was actually bowling. Watch him throw shots, it was definitely him.
It’s a long story, but I had to swap rental cars at the end of this day.
UPS 767-300 taking off for Louisville that I could see while changing cars.
Friday morning started with a bowling practice session with our two teams on the trip at the Orleans. It was on the team event oil pattern, so there was plenty to learn (although based on my scores the following day, you’d never know it).
Lunch was at Boulevard Bar and Grill across the street from South Point. You probably already know what I’m gonna say about it.
We attempted an afternoon trip to Fremont Street. Y’all, this place was ghetto with a capital G. Don’t go there, or even get close. Save your time and money. We were hoping to go to the Neon Museum too, but we decided it was too close to the area to attempt. We just wanted out of there.
At least it was a pretty day…or not.
A friend and former teammate who has since moved to Tennessee was bowling singles and doubles tonight, so our whole team met up and watched him bowl.
My brother was flying in late tonight, so I grabbed some cookies and waited for him. Sweet Jesus, it was still hot even at 11:00pm.
Saturday morning started with our crew of 10 bowling team event at 8am.
I bowled like shit in team event. I didn’t throw the ball all that bad, but I just never found a consistent line to the pocket. Being the only lefty on the pair also left me unable to open anything up.
My brother stayed in my room, so nothing crazy happened there. Later Saturday afternoon we ventured out.
We hit up Circus Circus thinking we may be able to get some cheap rides, but it was anything but. We looked around, but ultimately didn’t ride anything. Damn, Circus Circus also has turned in to a dump. I wouldn’t ever want to go there again either.
Next for us was the Stratosphere. I’ve done some of the rides up top, but I never got to do the viewing area, so we all did together. Really good views.
There were also nice views of landing aircraft for 19R.
We also watched some nuts jump off the building.
The outdoor observation deck was a bit toasty.
And some more mentally ill individuals. These are a no from me, dawg.
Dinner was at South Point’s steakhouse
. So we retired for the evening after that. Sunday we didn’t bowl until 5pm, so we had the early part of the day to do stuff this time.
My brother and I went to watch more singles and doubles, and found PBA pro Anthony Simonsen bowling.
We went to the Atomic Testing Museum with the whole family.
Very interesting museum. Price was a little steep for my liking, but still cool.
I don’t remember where we ate lunch, but these garlic fries were heaven.
We checked in for our final bowling shift, which was ultimately delayed.
I won’t dox anyone but myself in these photos.
Finally had some good games in singles and doubles.
Singles set. Just ignore the first game. By the time I made an adjustment at the end of the first game (actually, it was the 4th game after the double set, but whatever), I had dug a rather deep hole. I was able to ride that line until the end of the evening. It was after 9pm when we finished, so we stayed at South Point for dinner, and our flight home was very early Monday morning.
Monday morning the airport was slamming and jamming. Luggage check and TSA lines were nuts. We made it through very close to boarding time, which ultimately wasn’t really the boarding time, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Operating today’s flight was N839MH, which came in from JFK the night before. We were delayed boarding because apparently the aircraft was very hot, which I wouldn’t doubt. Boarding was a pain in the ass at best. Jesus, it was ametuer hour. Sometimes I just want to scream, “OK, WHO’S GETTING ON AND WHO IS JUST IN THE WAY?” That would probably cause a fight, so I better not. People don’t seem to realize that everyone is going to get there at the same time.
Delta Air Lines Flight 870
Depart LAS - 6:00am (was actually 6:35)
Arrive ATL - 1:00pm (was actually 1:19)
I had seat 48A. N873DN next to us was going to SLC.
We ended up having a maintenance delay of some sort. Not sure what, but it wasn’t too long.
I had ok views of aircraft taking off.
Finally we pushed for runway 8L to go home.
Didn’t realize the Astrojet livery was still a thing.https://youtu.be/Xh2D22RC5W0
Takeoff from runway 8L. Nice views.
Sam Boyd Stadium. Didn’t realize it was this far out of town.
And in to clouds.
My humble home. Actually, my brother had gotten up to use the restroom, so I stretched myself.
Finally out of clouds.
I don’t know what airport this is. I think it’s in Oklahoma, but don’t hold me to that.
And more clouds.
American Eagle CRJ blowing by. The flight was very quiet. I mostly surfed the internet and watched a couple shows.
Korean Air 787 as we got close to Atlanta.
We were about to fire up a thunderstorm.
Airbus A319 landing parallel to us.https://youtu.be/HvEd8wkuEfs
Landing on runway 26R.
We pulled in to gate E7. N839MH was going to SLC next. As you can see, it had started to rain.
We all went to baggage claim and on to Preflight Parking since we all had our cars there, and eventually our separate ways.
What a fun trip. Bowling in the tournament was very cool. I’ll definitely be doing this again. Nice to catch another domestic widebody flight. I’ve logged more flights in June/July 2021 than I did in all of 2020. Gotta make up for lost time. I don’t have anything else booked at the moment, but I’d be surprised if that didn’t change once I get back to work the upcoming school year.
Thanks for reading