Road Trip to the Laser Tag Convention

After months of preparation for our first Trade Show, we made the final plans for the road trip.  The plan had three parts: getting everything into the truck and driving to Las Vegas, setting up and running the booth, tearing down and stopping at National Parks on the way home.

Jon and Cally front of AEI

Road Trip to the Laser Tag Convention

Amusement Expo International 2024

We often refer to the Trade Show as “The Laser Tag Convention”, since that is more pertinent to our company.  However, the Laser Tag Convention was only a part of the larger Amusement Expo International.

It included vendors for everything you would need for a bowling alley, Family Entertainment Center (FEC), laser tag arena, and more!  The participants that we were interested in were building arenas, current owners, or people with mobile entertainment companies.

Packing the Truck

We took my Ford F-150, which turned out to be barely big enough to pack everything we needed for two weeks and the trade show!  The truck bed was filled with everything to build our booth and the extended cab was filled with luggage and supplies to the ceiling with the back seats folded up!  In addition to clothes and traveling supplies, we also brought winter survival kits since we were going through the mountains, and plenty of food and drinks for the drive.

Road Trip to Las Vegas

We wanted to get to Vegas quickly, but still limit the driving to about 6 hours per day.  That allowed us to stop in Dickinson (western North Dakota), Casper, Wyoming (where it starts to get mountainous), and Provo, Utah (just south of Salt Lake City).  

At each stop we moved everything into the room, then pulled out the wands for testing and at least twice, loaded new code and did more testing!  

The final day enroute got us into Las Vegas in the early afternoon.

Booth Setup with Jon and Cally

Setting Up and Running our First Booth at a Trade Show

It was too early to check into the hotel, so we went to the convention center and got lucky with a parking spot with the shortest walk to the main entrance.

Since we weren’t using union labor to haul our equipment or set up the booth, we were happy about the short walk.  Still, it took us four trips to bring everything up to our booth location on the second floor of the South Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  

Thanks to our practice run, we were able to set up the booth in less than an hour once everything was in place!  We took a couple of pictures, walked around and talked to other vendors, then finally headed to the hotel for a much-deserved rest!

Booth Setup AEI

Road Trip Home with 3 Planned Stops

The Trade Show details will be in the next blog, but everything went well at the show and we had a few great meals in Vegas before tearing down the booth and getting on the long road home.  

We were lucky to have my Uncle and Aunt helping us at the booth and with teardown, so we were able to break it all down and get everything to the truck in less time than the setup took!

Whenever we have a long road trip for Wizard Tag, we try to see some sights on the way, which you might have seen in some of the earlier blogs, or other pictures on the website.  Between North Dakota and Southern Nevada, there are a lot of things to see. This time we picked:

  1. The Valley of Fire, just north of Las Vegas
    1. Great place to hike and scramble on red boulders
    2. Wind picked up to 45 miles per hour!  Due to sandblasting, we decided to skip that stop.
  2. Zion National Park in southern Utah has a lot of great hikes!
    1. We chose a moderate hike to the Emerald Pools.
    2. Path splits at middle pool going to upper and lower.  Upper was worth it. 
    3. At the top there was graupel, which is small soft hail!
    4. We decided to return and got back to the truck just as a rainstorm hit with temps at about 40 degrees! 
  3. Routt National Forest near Steamboat Springs in northern Colorado
    1. Chose a difficult half-mile hike to Fish Creek Falls
    2. Snow was 4-5 feet deep, but we could walk on a hard-packed trail on top!
    3. Serenity, snow and a beautiful, half-frozen waterfall!
From there we drove through some midwest plains until we got to Rapid City and the Black Hills of South Dakota.  After that it was a zig-zag route through the Dakotas, which contain very few diagonal roads!

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Have you ever worked in a Trade Show?
  2. If you have been to National Parks or Forests, which was your favorite?
  3. Do you know any “must-see” stops in the Midwest for our next road trip?

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