Sunday, 16 March 2008

Round the World Five - Day 11 (Sun, 16 Mar)

Itinerary: Sunday 16th March Wynn. GBM-4 (Monument Valley Day Trip) - $15 fuel surcharge payable at check in Reservation Confirmation #: R-449318 Flight Departure Time: 5:40am Hotel: Wynn Pick up Time & Location: 4:10 a.m. at the Tour & Travel Bus Area Shuttle Operator: Grand Canyon/Scenic Airlines.

Lord knows why I vounteered for such an early start! All these casino/hotel pick-up areas are in the open. Fine for a warm-weather climate but, this morning, it was cold and had been raining in the night. Although the pick-up was about right time, I was already rather cold and miserable. But the day continued downhill from that point, apart from a pleasant interlude in Boulder City. We drove to a different company terminal at the airport, joining other rather weary passengers, to be told that weather conditions might result in cancellation of our trip. We hung around feeling rather dejected for some time until the trip was finally cancelled. Then there was a flurry of activity as refunds were issued or reservations made for later dates. My only possibility would have been Monday, for which improved weather is forecast, but there was no space available.

This is the end of the winter season so this sort of sudden cold snap is by no means unprecedented but it has come as a surprise to locals. I was brought back to the Wynn in a different personnel carrier - it had started to rain again - and decided to have breakfast in one of the many cafes. The air tour company had suggested ringing again about a possible Monday trip, so I made a final enquiry but without success. I'd enquired previously about two 'Pink Jeep' tours for Monday (because I was supposed to be at Monument Valley on Sunday) but there was no space available. So, finally, I checked again with 'Pink Jeep', with no success. By this time, the rain had stopped again, but it remained cold.

Although the hotel had no knowledge of the Nevada Southern Railway at Boulder City, I'd quickly tracked their details on the web and had managed to speak to one of their mechanical engineers, Paul. So I took a taxi out to the site and met the usual friendly bunch of (mainly) volunteers who made me very welcome. 1938-built General Motors EMD diesel electric locomotive number 1000 was already ready with its train and I joined Bob and Ardel in the cab for the first trip. The consist is four miscellaneous passenger cars, a generator car and a caboose. After four miles, the train stops adjacent to Railway Pass casino/hotel and the locomotive then propels the train back to Boulder City. I made the second round trip in the caboose with Chuck and Jeff and then Paul showed me around the well-appointed workshops. After talking with Carl about the history of the railway and its future plans to work into Las Vegas, I returned to the Wynn. My thanks to everybody at the railway for a pleasant interlude. I'll put more technical details in a separate post.