wait, then run!

Sunday, January 11, 2004 – I got up today at 6:45, checked out of the EconoLodge and moved down the strip. Amazingly the MGM already had a room ready for me at 8:00 so as soon as I got there I was able to check in and drop off my suitcase and laptop bag. After quickly dropping off my things I caught the 301 (bus) back up the strip to the Las Vegas Cathedral for church at 9:30. I have to say that built in the late 60s the cathedral is not much to look at from the outside but actually has quite a nice interior. After church was over I took the 301 another few blocks to the Rivera and then caught the CES shuttle to the convention center. The plan was to meet Darci, Kevin, Vinny and Minnie just before Leo went on the air at noon outside his booth, since I got the LVCC early I was able to cruise the floors one last time and found that the number of attendees had dropped drastically and everyone with a booth was trying to give away t-shirts and everything else they didn’t want to take back with them. After picking up a few souvenirs and a little more literature from some of the booths as well as two polo style shirts with the CES logo on them from the CES store I headed back to the broadcast tower to catch the beginning of Leo’s show. I got to speak briefly with Leo before he went on the air and we both commented on how much the show had cleared out overnight. I also got a phone call from my little sister and walked her through copying some TV shows she had recorded for me to hard drive and clearing off the DVDs. For some reason my phone service in Vegas is a little bit flaky and I missed a call from Darci somewhere in there saying she had gotten more sick and wouldn’t be able to meet up with us. Shortly after Leo got on the air I met up with Vinny and Minnie for a final run through the convention center. We had a great time trying to get all the free stuff we could, each ending up with several new t-shirts, decks of cards, headphones and Vinny even got the folks at the SD pavilion to hand over a SmartDigital card! After a little over an hour we headed back to the KFI booth where we got to listen to a little more of Leo’s show and take some pictures of him in the booth. Leaving Leo we hit up a few more booths for some free stuff before the show closed and then headed over to Quark’s restaurant which is part of the “Start Trek Experience” at the Las Vegas Hilton where Minnie went above and beyond the call, buying dinner for both Vinny and myself (Thank you!) After dinner we made a quick stop at Fry’s to pick up some batteries and a charger for Minnie and headed out to her house to shoot the breeze a little more before I left town. Vinny gave me a ride back to the MGM before continuing home himself. I wanted to take a few more pictures of the strip at night before heading home and get some dessert at the Luxor. By the time I had dessert and gotten the pictures I wanted (Tropicana, Flamingo, Mirage and Treasure Island) and taken the bus back down the strip to the MGM it was nearly 2:45am. The one thing I hadn’t done in Vegas was to gamble so on my way back to my room I used all my spare change in my pocket (all 80 cents of it) to play a few slot machines. Of course I didn’t win anything but at least I did my part to help support the gaming industry in Vegas. I got to my room set my alarm for 8:30 because we had heard about four hour waits at the airport (though I don’t expect it to be that bad tomorrow) which should give me plenty of time to catch a noon plane.

Monday, January 12, 2004 – I got up this morning at 8:30 quickly took a shower and repacked all my bags so my CES goodies would fit (just barely!) I checked out of the MGM and caught a 9:30am shuttle to the airport. On the way the driver showed us a newspaper with a picture of the four hour waits on Sunday, I really do need a copy of that article! I got to the airport about 9:45 and was able to get a ticket in only 45 minutes compared to over two hours yesterday, so I thought I was doing pretty well since I still had an hour and a half to catch the plane. Once I saw the line for the security checkpoint at the “D Gates” I knew it would probably end up being pretty close but I should still be ok and much better than the people yesterday. About an hour a ten minutes later I was through security and on the tram to the gates. Getting off the tram I still thought I should have plenty of time to catch the plane so I walked quickly but did not run as many people exiting the tram were doing. Once I got to the escalator though I heard them call all sections now should be boarded on my flight so I sprinted as I haven’t done in a long time to the very last gate in the concourse (go figure.) At one point I dropped my cell phone and didn’t even notice but thankfully a helpful traveler pointed it out and I was able to quickly pick it back up before continuing on. I got to the gate and no one was still boarding and the door was still open (but barely) handed over my boarding pass and got on the plane. After taking my seat I found out that they were intentionally delaying the flight about half an hour because of the long security lines in hopes than more people would make the plane. While this is a nice thought it does have me a little concerned about catching the connection in Denver, they’re making up some of the time but it could still be a dash to the gate! As it turns out I didn’t have to run to catch the flight in Denver but I was walking pretty quickly and it was directly off of my Las Vegas flight and final boarding call for the Minneapolis flight when I got to the gate. I should be arriving home at about 6:15 central time and hopefully I’ll be able to eat shortly after getting home as I’ve had nothing at all today and I’m getting pretty hungary. All in all I would say that my trip to CES 2004 was a great experience I got to meet industry luminaries such as John C. Dvorak, Bill Machrone and of course the TechTV folks, Vinny, Minnie, Darci and Kevin. Although I don’t think I’ll be able to make this a yearly trek I would love to do it again and look forward to having that opportunity. As I continue to make my Eastward journey I realize that I have never been on a “sunset flight” such as the one I’m on now. Although I have certainly seen more beautiful sunsets over the many lakes in Minnesota none have been quite as cool as this “surround sunset” looking back to the West I can see bands of color ranging from fire red to burning orange to soft yellow and finally sky blue. As I turn my head from West to East the colors fade into a progressively darker blue and finally the black of night closing in towards the East. Flying above the cloud cover and much of the airborne particulate that creates beautiful sunsets on the ground makes this one look less grandiose but nonetheless beautiful in its own right.

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