The Smell of Pollution

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While walking along a pleasant country lane just now, a car drove past me. The driver was smoking, and for the next minute or so I could smell her cigarette. It occurred to me that, at least in terms of unpleasant odors, a cigarette pollutes more than an internal combustion engine.

Summer in Grand Rapids

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Sitting on the glider, talking with my mom. Shopping with my mom. Looking at old slides with family. Swimming, canoeing, boating, BBQing, and getting sunburned at my sister’s cabin with as many children parents siblings in-laws cousins nephews and nieces as possible. Eagles! Seeing the old familiar places. Wondering how many old but not familiar faces I’m seeing and not recognizing.

It’s good to be home.

(And, in a little over a week, it will be good to be home again.)

Grand Rapids

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Slept in until 10am. Sat on the deck chatting for quite a while. Town with Mom: car wash, computer shop (arranged projector for tomorrow), tourist info for pontoon rental, Target to look at a new TV for Mom, then McDonalds and home with David’s lunch. Back out to Paul Bunyan TV, K-Mart, and Target where we bought a 32″ Samsung TV and a new suitcase for us. Quick bit of grocery shopping at Cub (and a stop at Mom’s bank) then home to set up the TV. Had pizza delivered, then looked at another hundred slides, then Mom went to bed and Helen, Matthew, and I went out for a little walk (and a Blizzard from DQ).

Minneapolis to Grand Rapids

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Had a nice lie in. John fried us eggs and hash browns for breakfast. Went for short spin on their Chinese electric bicycle. Loaded the van, and off to Midway Books for some Mad magazines for David. Up hwy 65, lunch at Cambridge, saw a deer north of Mora, took a break at McGregor, and River Road in to Grand Rapids. Mom looks just the same, so good to be home. Unloaded, and then KFC for dinner, followed by a drive around town. Now back at Mom’s and chatting and doing bills and jobs. Eventually got the slide projector out. Break for ice cream from McDonalds, then more slides until after midnight.

Las Vegas to Minneapolis

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Not quite such an early start today. Packed and carried the bags down to the hotel lobby, checked out (and got $25 off the bill after reporting a few of the issues we had with the room; still won’t be coming back). The doorman summoned a minivan taxi for us, and we were rapidly delivered to the airport. Went through the self-checkin process ($85 for 5 checked bags!!!) and the bag collection process – the whole thing being more confusing and no quicker than the old-fashioned way. Muffin from Starbucks, then security and waiting by the gate. The flight was uneventful (and un-lunch-ful), and we got to the gate in Minneapolis right on time. John, Andrew, Ana’s friend Eric, and our bags were waiting for us at the baggage claim. Drove to John’s, unloaded, then went out into the alley for a National Neighborhood Night Out potluck dinner, followed by a tour of a house that’s being extended and renovated in a very environmentally fiendly way (geothermal heating, rainwater collection, etc.). Back to John’s and sat around talking and looking at slides until midnight.

Las Vegas

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Slept until 10am. Walking to the strip at 1130 (Ana’s still asleep) – we may take a taxi back. Went into the first air conditioned building – the Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile shopping center. Watched a rainstom, then had breakfast at Ben and Jerry’s. Waiting for a laser show. Next door, to Paris and up the Eiffel Tower. Burger King in O’Shea’s casino. Grand Canal shops at the Venetian. (Apparently there’s only one bookstore in Vegas, and I can’t afford anything in it. But they do have JRR Tolkein’s copy of The Book of the Dead.) Starbucks. Now heading back on the other side of the strip. Bellagio fountains. Walked back to the Hard Rock Cafe (quite a bit cooler now) and met Ana for dinner. Hotel to book airport shuttle (they recommend a taxi instead) and back to room for an hour or so. Out in a cab to the strip with Ana. Walked a ways, checked out the Venetian shops, watched the 11pm Mirage volcano eruption and the 11:30 Treasure Island Siren show. Taxi back to the hotel and collapse.

Leaving Arizona: Hoover Dam to Las Vegas

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Hotel breakfast again, tried the waffles but not as nice as Comfort Inn’s. First stop Kingman, just for a break. Hoover Dam (111F in the shaded car park) – walked over and back (just the visitors center was $8). Milo’s Cellar in historic Boulder City for lunch. In to Las Vegas. Found the Hard Rock Hotel easily enough, but when we went to check in the rooms weren’t ready (at 4pm – too early they said). Starbucks and sat around for an hour, then went back to check – another hour they said. Went out in the van and drove along the strip, then found a Target for Ana to buy a sundress for the pool. While there the hotel called to say the room was ready. Rooms are nice, but… this is the most expensive hotel of our trip and it doesn’t include simple things like coffee in the room or wireless internet access. Oh they’re available of course, but at a cost (I don’t know how much because guest services doesn’t answer the phone). The room’s not really all that clean, either: rubbish behind the bathroom door and blue goo on one of the taps. I don’t think my priorities are the same as the hotel’s. Room service for dinner – very nice, actually. When we’d finished, Helen and I took the van to the airport and a taxi back; Ana went out on her own.

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River

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Breakfast a little after 7:30. Left the hotel a little before 8:30, got to the airport at 9:20 – an hour early. Drove into Tusayan and found Jennifer’s Coffee and Bakery. Wandered around the gift shop for a while then back to the heliport. Checked in, watched the safety video, and now we’re just waiting our turn. […]  Well, that was fantastic. 25 minutes wasn’t enough time to take in the small part of the canyon that we saw, but then 25 hours probably wouldn’t have been enough either. Back to Jennifer’s for a generous lunch, then in to the park. Parked and took the shuttle to the rim. Walked to the first overlook (though the path along the rim was closed), bus onwards to Hopi Point, and again to Mohave point, and then back to the village. Bus to the Market for cold drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. Back to the van and took the Desert View road; stopped at a couple viewpoints (much less crowded). At the second, David and I scrambled down a ways. Back to the van and off to Desert View. Checked out the shop, had some ice cream, and took photos of the sunset. Drove to Flagstaff for 9:20pm dinner at McDonalds.  (202 miles)

Route 66: Barstow, California to Williams, Arizona

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Breakfast at Starbucks, drove to Harvey House (railroad hotel and station, now museums). Got there too early, so went for gas and cash. Back to the Route 66 museum, filled with fascinating memorabilia of the road and its times. Left Barstow on I40 east to Ludlow then followed the old 66. Stopped for photos of Amboy Crater (a 200 foot volcanic cone), and of the road itself at the Kelso turnoff. Rejoined the I40 east of Essex, carried on to Needles where we had lunch at Dennys (1:30pm, 113F). Stopped at the first rest area in Arizona in hopes of getting a map, but no.  Stopped at Kingman, Arizona for a map and cold drinks. Next stop was Williams, filled up with gas then checked in at the Fairfield. Went for a swim and soak in the hot tub with Helen. Dinner in Williams at Pancho McGillicuddy’s Mexican Cantina, sitting outside and listening to Calvin Kristofferson.  Now back at the hotel and writing this and doing photos. (331 miles)

memorabilia