Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Project Deep Freeze – A Tale of Two Cities

The mission was to look at a couple “facilities,” one in Henderson NV and the other in Denver as part of a larger portfolio of “facilities” that shall be nameless in the interest of client confidentiality. Let’s just say it’s one company buying another company and we’re all out doing the environmental due diligence of a portfolio of “facilities” around the world, most located in the U.S. I drew the Henderson and Denver facilities.

I had a 6 am flight Monday morning to LAS. SeaTac was refreshingly quiet. I felt relaxed and unhurried running the TSA gauntlet. I had plenty of time to grab a breakfast burrito at Qdoba and then chased that down with a grande non from Starbucks. The Horizon C-gates were a virtual ghost town at this time of the morning.

The Alaska flight was completely full, mostly Vegas bound tourists. I sat next to a young couple, the young woman giving me plenty of elbow room. The snack was a bag of horrid tasting cinnamon-flavored pretzels that not even coffee could help.

The approach into LAS took us right over the southern shoulder of snow-clad Mount Charleston and Red Rock Canyon. We made a tight left turn over Henderson for a smooth landing to the west.

Alaska Airlines is the apparent stepchild airline at LAS. While Southwest enjoys a whole row of conveniently located gates in the B and C terminals, Alaska has a single gate at the far reaches of the new D terminal. This futuristic D terminal has a control tower that looks just like Bender, the alcoholic chain-smoking robot on Futurama.

You board a tram to get from the D terminal to the main terminal. The tram starts out underground, then emerges into the sunlight before docking at the main terminal like a sand worm rising from the surface of Dune.

The terminal is filled with ranks of slot machines tended by change girls, mostly Asian. Faux desert rock and palm trees give it an oasis feel except for the glaring signs hawking the latest Vegas shows and stars. My one checked bag finally showed up on the carousel and I was off to get my car.

LAS has an off-site rental car center. To get there you catch a common shuttle bus. I have Budget FastBreak, which means I bypass the counter and go straight out to the cars. The keys and agreement are already in the car. I’m off to the races in a Chevy Cobalt.

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