Vegas!

We took an extended holiday in early January and hopped a plane to Las Vegas to take in some sun, shopping and spectacle! The strip is amazing! You can spend a week just drinking in all of the over-the-top sights – dancing fountains, roller coasters, volcanoes, ferris wheels, wax museums, pinball arcades, chunks of other cities reproduced in the desert in the middle of nowhere.

I’m so inspired by the technology behind all of the spectacle – it’s given me that push to figure out the little missing bits I’ve got to work out to do some spectacles of my own.

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We stayed at the Paris! Las Vegas hotel – which was, in my opinion, a super lucky pick. The hotel was lovely, but more importantly it was situated almost right smack dab in the center of the strip, between Planet Hollywood, The Bellagio, and Bally’s, so we were in walking distance (and boy did we walk!) to just about everything. There’s a replica half-scale Eiffel tower out front, as well as an Arc de triomphe – it’s almost like being in the real Paris! πŸ˜‰ The rooms were nice and clean though, and the service was pretty good. I’d definitely consider staying again!

VegasParis

Sarsaparilla Trail, Bell’s Corners

Natasha and I took a drive out to Sarsaparilla Trail, just off Hunt Club and Moodie, in an effort to explore more of the hiking paths around our own neighbourhood. The trail itself was pretty tiny (less than a kilometer of pathways) but it felt surprisingly isolated – as soon as we were around the first bend from the parking area the sound of street traffic disappeared and an abundance of wildlife appeared out of the brush to greet us.

The highlight of the short hike is a dock that juts out into a beaver pond – the whole area is really gorgeous and there’s lots of birds and turtles and fish that aren’t shy. (I think the animals are well fed by the visitors) Bring along some bug spray – atΒ  least in the evening there’s a good number of mosquitos lurking in the bushes. (But surprisingly few by the water!)

Sarsparilla

That section of the greenbelt is practically a zoo. On our way back to the car, after spotting more chipmunks, squirrels, finches, jays, ducks, and a hare, we heard heavy scratching noises in a tree and saw rustling leaves. This guy – a porcupine the size of a dog, came sliding down the tree trunk and wandered along the trail behind us. I know the pictures won’t win any awards, but I had to work quick to get him in frame – next time I’ll bring my zoom lens and try to get some proper portraits of all the locals.

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Porcupine2

A Really Big Hole

We took an overnight trip during our vacation to hike around and through the south rim of the Grand Canyon – it was pretty incredible. I have seen canyons before (in nearby Utah) so I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but the Grand Canyon is almost unfathomably big. I told a friend that I actually had trouble seeing it all – at a certain distance I think human stereo vision starts to just flatten out. Parts of the canyon looked just like a red stripey painting in the distance.

Also – yes, that’s snow down in the canyon. Along the south face where there’s a lot of shade it gets cold enough for snow to pile up and stick around during winter. It makes trekking down into the canyon (for at least the first few hundred feet, it’s warmer down below) a bit slippery. Click it for a big picture!

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Montezuma’s Castle

I’m back to my castle-invading shenanigans, this time at Montezuma’s Castle, carved into a desert cliffside by the Sinagua people over five hundred years starting around 700AD. Typical for European explorers in the 1800s, they got both bits of the name wrong: Montezuma (The Aztec) had nothing to do with any of this, and it’s not actually a castle so much as very ingenious living arrangement for a small tribe who needed protection and shade. It’s a pretty spectacular location for an ancient apartment building – it almost looks like it ought to have been full of modernist furniture and an early American martini bar.

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