Photo Essay: The Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas

After so many trips to Vegas, I finally made it to The Neon Boneyard. At this special place in the outer edges of old Vegas, visitors pay their respects to the glorious signs of Vegas Past. 

The following images were taken with the new Lumia 1520. 

The Neon Boneyard

The Neon Boneyard is only part of the Neon Museum, a non-profit organization founded in 1996. The group's mission is to collect and preserve iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, and cultural enrichment. Tour guides volunteer their time, sharing stories and caring for these old beauties. Our tour guide, Dottie, lovingly retold so many behind-the-scenes stories that were just as interesting as the signs themselves. Since I wouldn't be doing them any justice, I'll only be retelling a few tidbits and sharing these images. You're just going to have to get out to Vegas to hear the stories from Dottie yourself. 

Driving up to the entrance of the museum, you'll see a sign made from familiar remnants of other signs. Can you guess where each piece is from?

The Neon Boneyard.jpg

The first signs of light in Vegas were aglow in 1905 at the Golden Nugget. See the nugget in the middle? Yeah... looks like a different kind of "nugget."

Original Golden Nugget Sign 1905.jpg
El Portal at The Neon Boneyard.jpg
Sahara at The Neon Boneyard.jpg
The Algiers at The Neon Boneyard.jpg
Fantasia at The Neon Boneyard.jpg
Stardust at The Neon Boneyard.jpg

I'll end this photo essay with my favorite.

The letters from the original Moulin Rouge sign were jumbled around to spell something else. Standing on the far side of the giant letters, it's really hard to make out the words they created. But then you start walking past it, and just like that, you see that you're "in love." Apparently, this is a popular spot for couples to have their wedding pictures taken.

Moulin Rouge in Love at The Neon Boneyard.jpg

Needless to say, I was in love with this tour. I'm dying to return to not only take more pictures of signs I missed, but at a different time of day to see how the signs I did capture will look under different light.

If you're ever in Vegas, do yourself a favor and make a reservation to visit.

Getting Lost and Found

Back when I was a LOT younger, I used to ride my mountain bike everywhere. It was a Diamond Back that I bought after saving up a week's worth of tips. I used to make mad cash as a hot 20-something waitress. Those were the days...

When I moved into working in sales in hotels, I didn't have a functioning car. That job, although more respectable according to my parents, didn't pay as well as serving drinks. I took a bus for a while, but then OCTD decided to knock out half of the buses on the busiest line in Orange County, so rather than squeeze myself between the masses, I began riding my bike to work. It was a mostly picturesque seven miles each way, going along the Newport Coast and then through beautiful Back Bay. The ride was a great way to decompress after work.

Between rides to work, I would ride the coast on Saturday mornings. Newport, Laguna, Dana Point... the more I rode, the stronger I got, and the healthier I felt, mentally and physically. It was great feeling the wind and the sun on my skin. Whatever was happening in my life, good or bad, I always had a ride to look forward to.

Fast forward to my forties.

I still have the same Diamond Back and I still love it just as much. Unfortunately, I don't take it out nearly enough. In fact, until this morning, I hadn't taken my mountain bike out for about two years. So when I planned a ride with my husband for this morning, I checked out the local trails that would ease me back into riding. I found a trail that was perfect for getting back into shape, with just enough texture to the trail to make it fun.

Bikes on the Trail

When we got to the parking lot, we weren't really sure which trail head to enter. My husband, being a man and not one to ask for directions, lead us down a narrow trail and quickly landed on his ass. I'm not really sure how I was able to turn my bike back around, but I was soon back out of that trail and pulling out my Nokia Lumia 822 to look up the notes on Yelp to find the right trailhead.

Apparently, we were on the wrong side of the lake.

Once we crossed a bridge and got to the other side of the lake, we knew to take the trail to the left, and where we'd find some turns, rocky terrain, areas where there were some deep ruts from recent rains, and a stream that we were going to enjoy checking out. After about an hour, we had to turn back to go back and pick up the kids. We had just enough time to drive around to the way other side of the lake.

Hubs and I love taking drives and getting lost, but I don't quite love it so much when we have to be somewhere on time. Still, I was enjoying being beyond the boundaries of our regular day, so I didn't resist. Eventually, we came up on a small cantina that we recognized. We had been to it on a poker run once about ten years ago, so we sort of knew where we were.

Hernandez Hideaway

We figured we had just enough time to go in to split a machaca plate before heading back out to pick up The Boy. Since we were going to need to be efficient with our time to get to my son on time, I pulled out my Nokia Lumia 822 to find the quickest way home. I opened up my favorite driving app, Nokia Drive... only to find that we were outside of cell coverage.

Okay, for real... that almost NEVER happens!

We rarely venture out to any places that don't have coverage. So after my initial irrational panic, I thought maybe we could ask the waitress how to get back fastest. But before she even came back, I remembered that I could pull up my downloaded maps from Nokia Maps. We were able to pull that up just to refresh our memories as to where we were and to plan our route for the quickest drive back. That route took us past an old reservoir that I'd been wanting to ride around, so I pulled up Nokia Lens to see information on the different trails. Hubs and I made a plan to return later in the week, weather permitting.

After all the getting lost in the back roads of San Diego, we eventually got back to the real world just in time to get The Boy. I thought about how different life is now. There's so much more to deal with in life, but thankfully, there are lots of ways to simplify it in order to get back to the things that we put to the side when life gets too busy.

It's ironic how much I use technology to enjoy unplugging for a while. :)

~~~

Images captured with my Verizon Nokia Lumia 822.

New Window on My Digital World: Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 Windows Phone

Before I tell you why I love the Nokia Lumia 822 Windows Phone from Verizon (including the big ass screen, the ease of use, and the Carl Zeiss 8MP AF camera with 2x LED flash and HD video, and Verizon's super speedy 4G LTE) I'm going to flat out admit that, after a few days of being in the glow of the new shiny thing, I was less than thrilled with my new Nokia Lumia Windows Phone. I believe the word I used was "Meh."

It wasn't that the phone wasn't great. It's just that I had lost some perspective. I wasn't really concerned about quality, so much as I was really missing a few of my favorite apps. I found myself jonesing for my old favorites, but since I passed my iPhone on to my daughter, I couldn't easily fall back on using it and not sticking to the Windows phone for 30 days, as I had agreed to.

There was definitely an emotional attachment to apps that needed to be dealt with.

Missing Pieces

Pandora

I'm not a stick-to-the-playlist kinda gal. The reason I like Pandora is that I like the randomness of radio. With Pandora, I can pick a favorite artist, and through the magic and awesomeness of their Music Genome Project (in which each song is analyzed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst), I get to hear other artists that I enjoy, as well as artists that I would have never heard of on my local radio station. Pandora is my daily music go to.

So finding out that there was no Windows app really hurt. But after a bit of searching, I found an app called RadioNet. They call themselves the "unofficial Pandora client for Windows Phone."  Although they warn that Pandora makes changes often to their API that might break the app, I haven't had any issues. They also promise to fix issues as quickly as possible, so from where I'm sitting, sounds like they're keeping that promise.

Instagram

Although this is now in my "whatever" pile, when I first turned on my Windows Phone and found out there was no Instagram, I panicked. I like the community and the ability to push my pretty pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, and Tumblr in one easy step. But then the whole kerfuffle about using-our-images-in-ads thing happened. I understood they weren't going to sell our blurry pictures. I just didn't like the way they went about things. Like Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist said, "It felt like a big F*** You." Once the dust settle, I was left thinking about what I share on line. I decided that it was time to pull back and Instagram was going to be my first step. While I still miss it, I'm now getting back to real photography. So I picked up my Canon again and BOOM! Happy. :)

Don't Worry... Other Apps are There

As with the initial growth of Droid phones, developers are slow to create or maintain apps for the Windows Phone (including my bank), but the most of the popular apps are there. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, YouTube, Skype, Google... all there.

Okay... back to the Nokia Lumia 822 Windows Phone for Verizon.

Live Tiles

From the minute I unboxed and turned the phone on, I was in love with the Live Tiles feature. I'll explain if you haven't already seen them in action. The Windows platform allows you to adjust the size of your tiles according to what is most important to you. There are three sizes, the largest going across the screen, then a square half the size, then a tinier square that is still visible but definitely tucked away. You can add more tiles to your home screen by pinning them. You can also pin web pages to your home screen. A picture of the page appears as the icon. That has been a handy feature for me when needing to recall information with one tap.

A couple of cool tiles that I customized are "Group" tiles, created under "People." I selected a few friends from San Diego for one tile and some of my Verizon Ambassador buddies for another tile. On my home screen, I can see their sunshiny faces all together, like a visual list. When I click on the group tile, I go to a screen that shows me a their individual profiles and latest status updates. From there, I can respond to either their Facebook or Twitter status. I can also send a group message to everyone via email or text. It's a great way to stay connected to people that I care about, and made easier for me in Live Tile form as I am definitely a visual person.

Nokia Music

The Nokia Mix Radio functionality is provided by Nokia by real people and not machines. There is a team at Nokia that creates the unique Mix Radio playlists from approximately 17 million songs. There are featured mixes, top chart mixes, exercise mixes, mood-based mixes, celebrity mixes, and more. Nokia reports there are over 150 playlists available. You can even enter in your favorite artists and have Nokia Music develop custom mixes, similar to Pandora. Nokia Music shows your recent mixes and lets you quickly access them later. Mixes can also be pinned to your Start screen for easy access and these Live Tiles actually do show album art and status of the mix.

Another major benefit of the Nokia Music service and Mix Radio is the ability to download music for listening to without a connection. Nokia Music supports offline download of music for a period of time from three to four hours of playback, which is great for flights. You can also purchase and store music on your Windows Phone through the Nokia Store.

Nokia Drive

First off, Nokia Drive has turn-by-turn navigation and full offline support. HOLLA!! You can personalize Nokia Drive with your favorite destinations and still be able to access that information even in areas with poor data connectivity. If you might be heading to a low connectivity area, just download maps ahead of time (with Wi-Fi) and access them later without worrying about loss of signal.

Quick Note: If you're like me and typically drive a few miles over the speed limit, you might want to turn the Speed Limit alerts off. ;)

Nokia City Lens

Okay, this one is really cool. It's an augmented reality app that instantly reveals all everything that's around you.

So if you're in the middle of a city that you are unfamiliar with and want to know what all is around you, just open Nokia City Lens, choose "nearby" under the explore menu, and using your phones camera feature, you can point in any direction to find out about transportation, shopping, local sights, hotels, famous points of interest, and fun attractions nearby. Or if you're just hungry, you can click on "food" and the screen will filter out the rest and just give you all the local eateries surrounding you. By tapping on a location on screen, you will get the location address and directions.

Carl Zeiss 8MP Camera

I wasn't thrilled about the camera at first... until I realized I could adjust it like a REAL camera. I was pleasantly surprised with the ability to adjust the camera to capture images near, far, daylight, night time, high speed, etc., just like a real camera. LOVE!!!

Yep. I like it. A lot.

The above features, as well as the ability to pin groups to my home screens, and of course, the afore mentioned features including the big ass screen, the ease of use, and the Carl Zeiss 8MP AF camera with 2x LED flash and HD video have all contributed to my decision to stick with the Nokia Lumia 822.

At just about the 30 day mark, I finally felt like this was my phone and decided not to go back to an iPhone. I really enjoy all the cool features and, of course, the lightning speed of Verizon 4G LTE. All in all, I am very happy with my new Verizon Nokia Lumia 822 Windows Phone. Check out this video to see if it might be right for you, too.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Verizon Nokia Lumia Windows Phone from Verizon to review and keep in exchange for my honest opinion about the phone and service.