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Prinzipalmarkt Münster during Hansemahl 2010 by JanTo.

See you in Las Vegas

Some personal information about the conference in Las Vegas. I have been there more than twenty times (on business, I don't gamble), and have even stayed in the Tropicana (pre-renovation). I wonder if they still number the floors 1-12 then 24 and up, to make the upper floors seem higher, and of course to avoid unlucky 13?

I just booked my hotel room. Easy to do on-line, just be aware that their calendars show Monday as the first day of the week, not Sunday.

The IVRPA has secured a really great rate - $65 for a basic room is amazing. Some California state parks charge as much as $55 for camping! My wife is booking for a conference in San Francisco a few weeks later, and the discounted rooms at the Hilton there are three or four times as much. I went for a "Deluxe Plus" room for $80, more space and a table, better if I want to get some work done or eat in.

That said, based on my Nevada hotel experience, I expect that they will add a "resort fee" of at least $20 per day, and maybe charge for internet, unless the IVRPA negotiated a waiver for this (as we did in Tucson).

This is an older hotel, recently renovated, near the south end of the Strip. It is convenient from the airport, and there are trolley and monorail stops nearby. It is, by Vegas standards, rather small with 1800 rooms (the MGM Grand next door has 6800), but still be prepared for long walks between the various buildings.

The Tropicana is not very glamorous (for the Strip), and the restaurants shut down at 9pm. But if you want the full glittery Vegas experience just cross the street. This intersection, Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, is said to be the busiest in the country, and has pedestrian overpasses on all four sides, connecting the Tropicana, MGM Grand, Excalibur, and New York New York. South along the Strip are Luxor and Mandalay Bay, north to everything else. The old Casino Center is miles away.

Despite what you may have heard, walking in Las Vegas can be quite pleasant - especially after dark. It is safe and there will be people around all night. It will be a good way to get some exercise after being at the conference all day. I recommend everyone take an evening hike along the Strip, in and out of a few of the more spectacular casino-hotels, have dinner and a few drinks. I have never been hassled by security for taking panos inside or outside, even with a tripod, but state law prohibits photography in the gambling areas. As a courtesy I always have a word with security or the front desk before shooting.

Those of you coming from abroad should be aware that the conference begins on the Memorial Day weekend, regarded as the beginning of the summer season. So if you plan on flying to SFO or LAX and taking a scenic drive to Las Vegas, be sure to get reservations, everything will get booked solid for Friday and Saturday. Making your grand tour after the conference might be a better idea.

For photographic possibilities, the Strip and Casino Center (the old downtown on Fremont Street), especially at night, are amazing. Half day trips can be made west to Red Rock Canyon, east to Valley of Fire, southeast to Hoover Dam and the new bridge. You would need an over-night for the Grand Canyon, or three days and two nights (at least) to do justice to Zion and Bryce, and a week to do the "Grand Circle" of national parks. Between Las Vegas and the California cities there are Death Valley and Owens Valley, or Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, or the wide open spaces of central Nevada and cross the Sierra at Lake Tahoe.