Brightline West is ready to start breaking ground this week, according to The Washington Post. The southwest endpoint will be in Rancho Cucamonga, where it will connect to Metrolink. (Which is definitely better than Victorville, which I’d seen suggested a few years ago.) Connecting to the existing lines here will make it simpler to build than trying to connect all the way to Los Angeles proper. (gift link)

Electric trains will depart every 45 minutes from a Las Vegas station south of the city’s storied Strip and a Southern California station in Rancho Cucamonga, a Los Angeles suburb about 40 miles east of downtown.

Traveling at up to 186 mph — faster than any other train in the United States — Brightline West trains will make the 218-mile trip in about 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Cross-posted from Metafilter

I’ve been posting old photos to Flickr lately, including some shots from a couple of trips to Las Vegas.

Like this shot of the Flying Saucer Mall — excuse me, the Fashion Show Mall. (I got the initials right!)

Seriously, doesn’t that view just say, “The visitors have landed?”

Maybe they’ll want some Alien Fresh Jerky.

It seems as though every year, around the time of hotel registration for Comic-Con International, people start clamoring for the con to move from San Diego to Las Vegas. More hotel rooms! A bigger convention center! Gambling! Strippers!

It makes me want to headdesk.

Now, I don’t hate Vegas. I’m not ZOMG in love with it, but I’ve been there more than once and I don’t think it should be removed from the face of the earth. What I believe about Vegas is that it is a law and a destination unto itself, and that everyone should be able to choose whether they go based on the merits of the place, not on the merits of what else might be going on there that isn’t a usual part of the location. Please keep this in mind as I present my list of Reasons Not to Move CCI to Las Vegas:

1. Weather. San Diego may be incredibly hot some years, but it’s coastal. There are breezes a lot of the time, and it’s often quite bearable. Vegas is inland desert and is 99% guaranteed to be nasty hot in July/August. Part of the crazy fun of CCI is seeing costumes on the street, which would become darn near impossible for a lot of people given the temperature.

2. Distance. I’m not talking about the distance for people to get there (though I will in a bit), but the distance between things. It can take over half an hour to get from the front door of one hotel to the front door of the next one over. In San Diego, it’s pretty easy to leave the convention center, go find food that’s not jacked up in price for an inferior product, and come back. In Vegas, unless you take the monorail, that’s a pipe dream, especially given that the convention center is off the Strip and not really near a lot of hotels. Keep reading for more. Continue reading

While they may tell you that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they’re not entirely correct: some of it escapes onto the internet!

So here’s the lighter side of our recent trip to Las Vegas.

Sign: Really Living FurnitureLet’s start with the drive out. Somewhere between the Cajon Pass and Victorville, we saw a warehouse with this banner. We had to wonder what “really living” furniture was. Trees grown into the shape of chairs, perhaps? A topiary table? We didn’t get the camera out in time to snap a picture, but we caught it on the drive back.

Henry’s Moving (Truck)Then there was the moving truck. Somewhere around Barstow we got caught behind this veeerrrryyyy sssslllooooowwwwwlllly moving truck, with the company name and phone number spray-painted on the back. We joked that it was “Henry’s Moving… slowly.” (About 45 MPH on a 65 or 75 MPH highway.) What was really odd was that, two hours out, we’d run into a car from our own area code. Once we could get out of the lane, we passed them and left them way behind. Perhaps 45-60 minutes later, we made a stop in Baker. Bathroom break, new drinks, top off the gas tank, and stop at Alien Fresh Jerky. We pulled onto the freeway…. and there was Henry’s Moving.

Speaking of Alien Fresh Jerky, perhaps they get their supplies from the flying saucer perched above Las Vegas’ Fashion Show Mall.

Saucer above the Fashion Show Mall

Continue reading