Actually, our hotel (which was being repainted as Don discovered outside his window this morning) technically is in North Las Vegas. That's a ways from the Strip, but we did drive down it this morning on our way to a place that encapsulates the town's history and so much more. And it does it all in a huge, rambling structure that began as a single ranch home, thanks to that man above, Dr. Lonnie Hammargren.
Lonnie is a neurosurgeon, musician and former lieutenant governor of Nevada. He's also an amateur archaeo-astronomer, and a guy who can't resist yard sales. Of course, the things he's acquired are sometimes quite large-- old casino signage, pieces of atomic and aerospace history, movie sets, vintage cars. He's built a pyramid on the roof that helps him chart the stars, he's working on a Stonehenge up there too, and, oh did I mention there's an iron lung inside a sarcophagus in the basement in which he plans to be buried?
Lonnie's chums include American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, Vegas musicians and magicians, as well as high-profile politicians like Harry Reed, who he met when he was being sued some years ago. He's also pretty popular at a nearby casino where he plays accordion most Sundays with the aptly named Dumkoffs.
For hours and hours we walked and listened, looked and learned. We sat on Johnny Weismuller's old couch, heard Liberace's piano, talked about Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Hughes... it was a day to remember, and best of all, no brains needed surgery.
No music in the Van since we really didn't drive too far, but Don does report he's over the $2.00 mark in found money for the trip so far. America rejoices!
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