As I said yesterday, today we were going to do something a little different.
We left the rig about 7:40am (man, that’s early) and drove about 50 miles south to Searchlight NV for the Showdown at Searchlight Tea Party Express Rally.
We turned off the highway into what is normally a landscape rock quarry about 8:30 and it took us about 10 minutes to get parked.
We had to walk about 1/2 mile to get back to the stage area and found a lot of people already there.
I walked up to the top of a nearby hill to get some shots.
What was really amazing is that in less than an hour, all of the open area in these pictures was filled with people.
Jan got in the mood with a Tea Party hat and a Gadsden Flag.
One other interesting thing was going that you don’t see much anymore.
But the new-fangled way: With computer-controlled planes. The planes fly in a vertical line and the computer tells each plane when to spit out a puff of smoke.
Kind of like an inkjet printer, but with smoke.
They also had a very large screen TV mounted on top of a truck. It looked better in person.
After the Governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, opened the proceedings, Sarah Palin was the first speaker.
One of the next speakers was Jerry Doyle. (Michael Garibaldi of Babylon 5 fame). A corporate jet pilot, a successful stockbroker for 10 years, and an actor, he now hosts a nationwide syndicated talk show.
One surprising thing was that, second only to Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber really wowed the crowd. He spoke for about 15 minutes with no notes, no hesitation, just talking to the crowd.
It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago he was a working plumber who was filmed asking Barack Obama a question while Obama was campaigning on his street.
The last celebrity was Victoria Jackson, of Saturday Night Live fame. Although she is best known for her ‘blonde airhead” act, she had become known for her insightful political commentary.
The speakers were interspersed with candidates looking to run under the Tea Party banner, and a number of musical performers.
We headed back to the truck about 3:15, and were on our way by 3:30. It took us about 20 minutes to make it to the highway and head back to Las Vegas.
We thought we were home free. And we were..;.for the first 24 miles. Then, about 6 miles from the turn-off to the main highway into Las Vegas, everything came to a stop.
It took us a hour and twenty minutes to go that 6 miles. I don’t think it was all due to the Tea Party, as there were a lot of 18 wheelers in the bunch. But it was a mess.
We finally got back to the rig about 5:40, and then picked up Nick and Terry about 6pm. We decided we wanted to go somewhere close, so we went back to the buffet at the Boulder Station Casino. And, as on our other visits, it was very good.
We didn’t talk as long as we usually do after dinner as Terry noticed that Jan was having trouble keeping her eyes open. So we called it a night early.
Later in the evening, I was reading reports on the internet of the size of the crowd at the Tea Party Rally,
Some were just ridiculously funny. CNN’s Fredericka Whitfield estimated that hundreds, but if not, “at least dozens of people” were in attendance. Other reports said “almost a thousand”.
On their website the night before, the Tea Party Express people said they expected 5-10 thousand.
Now look at these aerial photos and you decide. The next 3 pictures will enlarge if you left-click on them.
And this picture does not cover the entire area full of people.
We were packed in pretty tight.
This picture was taken at 1:35pm, 95 minutes after the event started, and, according to the Highway Patrol, traffic was backed up for 8 miles with people still trying to get in. If you look closely, you will see that the traffic line extends around the hill at the top of the picture and further off to the left.
Now you know why I wanted to get there at 8:30am..
As we were heading back to Las Vegas, we saw cars parked as far as 4 miles from the entrance.
The late news on the Los Angeles ABC station, who had a crew there, said there were over 20,000 people there.
I think they were a little closer than CNN.
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