LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, BY BUS November 17-23, 2013

Making offers on the Net venue to gain some climbing or hiking partners, that failed. I recovered somewhat from a virus, feeling better early Sunday morning, so I made reservations then to try to get some exercise and hit the road. Loading a day pack and a belt pack, that was all that I needed for a week trip. The forecast then was for cloudy weather at worst, but it was to change later to rain.

I had some new hardware to test out, and I had given an older device to close family to track my whereabouts and to provide remote assist if I should run into trouble. Never would I be so connected while hiking! I only brought along 100 GB of memory cards, as I didn’t expect any great, substantial photography. I’d stay knowledgeable of the news, and things on the Net, every day.

Leaving home on foot at about 6 a.m., I’d be using mass transportation on this whole trip. Bargain rates, and discount lodging was to run under maybe $300 for a round trip, and five nights in Las Vegas. I walked to the bus station about 2 miles away, had a small breakfast, and boarded on time. We took Interstate 5 southbound for an 15 hour one way to my destination. A fellow sat next to me from Stockton to chat much of the way. Running video of the sights to the right (west), I used my time to share with the world. As scenery is recorded, any interested will know how it looks, if they happened onto my website.

We came to Los Angeles, CA, by mid-afternoon. I walked over to Little Tokyo for some ramen. Enjoying the best bowl of noodles that I have had, I walked back to the bus station, and caught the transfer bus to Las Vegas. Reminded of a starship as we zoomed at high speed in the night, we headed east on Interstate 10 to then Interstate 15 north. Stops in Barstow, then Baker. Arriving then a half hour early, I debarked to head for the Fremont Street Experience, close by. A stunning welcome to this colorful city! I did video, and then sought to take a local bus to my hotel, as it was late at night.

There was a marathon running event on the Strip, so the Deuce bus had a detour on its route. I had to walk another mile more to get over to my lodging, but I was feeling good, and checked into my room on the 25th floor. I had a view east over the Strip, with an upgraded room view. Notifying my contacts of my safe arrival, I soon went to sleep.

Monday, I woke up a bit late. I got the news, and determined to walk down the Strip to adjust to the new surroundings. I had a light bagel for breakfast, then a luxury lunch, then continued with photos and video as I headed south. Making many visits to some casinos that I had usually ignored, the luxury was as good as other high end casinos. I captured sights of the holiday decor, and meandered southward, with my two light-duty cameras. Coming finally to the Bellagio Conservatory, the motif was still Fall. I rode the monorail, went through City Center, and then to the Cosmopolitan. With a three day bus pass, I rode back to my hotel, and relaxed. The connection wasn’t so fast to be able to download my own HD movies to have them start right away, but it would have to do. I ran video of some of the sunsets and sunrises. Going out for food, I had some ramen and mochi ice cream.

Tuesday, I wanted to do an urban peak. I already had climbed Lone Mountain (3,342’), but would do it again by local bus and walking on streets. Getting lots of caffeine, I took the bus to the Bonneville transfer hub, and took a bus that rode west on Cheyenne Avenue. Getting off at Grand Canyon Drive, I began my walk over to the streets going to the Lone Mountain Discovery Park. New neighborhoods, with sidewalks, and appealing homes. Residents walking dogs and jogging made for a peaceful scene. I shortly came to the park, used the restroom, and began the hike to the top. Looking for a scramble route, I decided not to cause any erosion.

Going around the small peak, I took the same route up the trail, as my first time, snapping photos and video, then came to the top in about 45 minutes from the park playground. Proceeding with my summit camera work, I used a new camera on a new device, with slow motion video settings. Impressed by the quality of the images, I would use this device exclusively for my photography, were that I wasn’t so worried about having such an expensive item in public versus my $150 pocket camera. Other hikers came up, so I gave them the summit.

Hiking down to the base of the peak, I circled counterclockwise doing a circumnav, and seeing new access. Using the restroom at Majestic Park, I began walking back to the bus stop, where I had to wait. The buses aren’t so good on times, usually late, and then they aren’t well supported. I had bought my light plastic pass to be swiped each time that I boarded, a worry for loss. The bus came by after a long wait, then I took it to a transfer point to head for Chinatown, and my ramen dinner. Another bus took me back to the Strip, where I boarded the Deuce, coming then back to my room.

Able to diet well, I slept early, so Wednesday, decided on another hike by bus. Looking into a hike at a national park by bus, they were asking too much, and looking at the local hiking clubs, figured to do my own hiking. Going to the buffet, I chowed down on more breakfast food with two plates, then took the bus to a transfer point downtown. Another bus took me eastward to begin my walk to the Mormon Temple below Frenchman Mountain, 1.5 miles from the bus stop.

Feeling good, I ventured to the end of East Bonanza Road, so took the route up to the unsigned and unofficial Pack Trail, an ancient mule route to a mine high up on the peak, made by a prospector in the early 20th Century or when. The dirt road leads to the trail, said to be an enjoyable hike. I took photos and video, and stopped to use my pee bottle at a discreet location behind some rocks, out of sight of the city. Taking the trail on up, you get vistas of the town, and I had nice light. Fearing now that this would be too easy, I took my time, doing panoramas and video. The trail gets to be narrow, and beginner hikers wouldn’t like it. It switchbacks on higher, and I stopped for views. Going up a side ridge, it traverses over to the mine, where I saw no easy route further on to the top. In the interests of safety, I declined to go on, as I had bagged the peak in 2011, and doing so involves trespassing and possible radiation exposure. Doing video, I went back to a better view, resting, and making a call to see if I got a signal up here, which I did.

In about an hour, I was back down to the city streets, and walking back to the bus stop. There is no good op for rest breaks, food, or drink about here, so on taking the bus ride, the driver had to make some pit stop, so I emptied my bottle into a restroom facility, never polluting by water or air, in the definitions of the old hiking club. Because by them, I am not using my car, they felt that accordingly, when they rode with me when I was driving, they shouldn’t have to pay, since they weren’t causing any pollution or using fuel, much. While my weight plus packs causes about 200 pounds of additional load for the bus, the amount of additional emissions is so small, and that the bus is required to go anyway, by hiking club logic, it is comparable to just breathing, as far as CO2.

Getting back to Fremont Street, I went to a Starbucks to use my card, gained by a Greenergy donation, for two refreshers, then water, and a fruit tart. I ran a selfie, what they now term what I do, as I sat at a table. I put the styrofoam container with food into my pack, to be consumed back in my room for dinner. I had video from front seats on the buses, to be posted on my website later.

Thursday, the forecast was now for rain. So, it was museum day. After a luxury breakfast, I rode the bus to transfer to the Springs Preserve, to tour the visitor center, then to head to the adjacent Nevada State Museum. Photos to be taken, then buying rocks and even tiny gold nuggets for souvenirs. Raining pretty good on going back to the bus stop, this was said to be the heaviest rain all year to this point. I started to regret not having more outerwear. I had to blow my nose a lot, with extra tissue and napkins, but used litter containers to dispose of them, never scattering trash like some in the old hiking club. Las Vegas is civic minded, with anti-graffiti policies, and signs opposing sex trafficking. If not for the three or so months of high heat, I wouldn’t mind buying a home here.

Back to Fremont Street, I headed for the Mob Museum. They O.K.’ed my medium-sized day backpack and camera, saying to take as many pictures as I pleased. I paid the entrance fee, and took the elevator to the third floor to begin the tour. I took so many photos of the exhibits, with some selfie photo ops. I didn’t read all of the words, instead recording them for future reference. It is a fascinating museum, with even relevant history, with the current 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. It is supposed that it was mob-related. I bought a T shirt, and then went back to Fremont Street for more photos. Taking the bus back to my hotel/casino, I’d be heading home, tomorrow.

To sleep early, I woke up at about 1 a.m., to ride the Deuce southward to do video at night, and to get cash from an ATM without the high casino fees. I had a taco once back to my casino, and lay in bed for awhile. With several cans of diet soda, I got myself awake, again, and enjoyed the connection by the $11 daily resort fee, then checked out. Highly satisfactory. I lounged at the nearby fast food eatery, sipping my cola, then got a two hour bus pass for avoiding a walk in the constant rain. The luxury casino made for lunch, then I got aboard the bus to take me down the Strip to the RTC South Strip Terminal, where I waited for my intercity bus.

The bus was on time, and then I ran more video in the rain as we took Interstate 15 southbound towards Los Angeles. We stopped in Riverside, then took Interstate 10 into town. On my arrival to Union Station, I had to load money onto my TAP card, then use a restroom. Disoriented, I wasn’t able to navigate quickly enough to the Silver Line bus stop, so then had a smoothie and waited. To the pick-up point, a bus passed on by, even though I was standing there waiting. The next bus came by, and shortly, we were zooming east on the El Monte Busway to the familiar terminal, where I had a long wait, again. The 194 bus let me off in front of my motel, so I was secure, once again.

Friday, I was up by about 4 a.m. Checking out, I had spent only five hours here. I waited at the bus stop, with another drink and selfie, then got over back to Union Station, where I walked to a restaurant to have breakfast. Using restrooms well for the long ride home, the intercity bus ride was efficiently run, and we were off on time. A stop in Burbank picked up a few people, then it was north on Interstate 5. Running video to pass the time, ride Wi-Fi connections were never very good or enabled at all, for most of this trip.

After a break stop at Kettleman City Exit, the bus stopped in Westly. There was a mechanical failure. We had a three hour delay, whereby I consumed some fast food burgers. Finally, a rescue bus came by, and we boarded then for Oakland, then San Francisco. I was the only passenger to transfer to Sacramento, and we were too late to make my connection, so they agreed to let me ride aboard the rescue bus which had to be taken back anyway to Elk Grove. With more video at night, I dozed off at intervals, and the kind driver let me off to get some exercise walking a short distance home, myself to allow him quick access back onto the freeway. The bus company e-mailed to let us know that we’d be getting a refund for the $24 that I paid for the Los Angeles to San Francisco ride. Home then an hour later than I had figured, I got to my downloads of my camera work.

Hiking then 11 miles with 2,300 feet of gain on my peak hikes, I had walked a few miles along the Strip and elsewhere. Riding then the 400 miles to Los Angeles and then the 266 to Vegas, the total round trip ride was then about 1,332 miles. I paid then 95 for the intercity bus travel, with under 230 for all lodging. Spending $393 cash, I charged up some $42 for also gold, silver, and copper vials as souvenirs and support for the State Museum store, so then about $760 total for everything. That includes $40 meals, with generous tips, and my $40 win at a Blackjack table. I captured 3,045 images and movie clips.

With so much free time, I had noted that the round trip air from San Francisco to Vegas was some $150 the week before my trip, probably due to the incident at an airport that may have scared away travelers. Checking lately, it was back to about under 300 one way, from SMF to LAS, bookings not made ahead of time. I have heard of items being confiscated on airport security checkpoints, so I have some fears there. I’d like to do a test run of flying sometime, to see how that goes. Excellent travel deals do come up, and I may enjoy becoming a frequent flyer. However, aviation is said to be responsible for 3% of global carbon emissions, and while the industry claims to the equivalent of some 40 mpg per passenger as far as fuel consumption, this all depends on your view.