This chapter of our blog starts off with our heroes still in Modesto, living the good life, visiting with all our old friends. We had a great time during dinner at Verona’s Restaurant with our old buddies Jim and Linda Johnson, and Steve and Linda Collins. As usual, too much wine (thanks to Steve) and a high dinner bill, but what the hell, right?
Dee Dee spent more time walking old walking places (the ‘Giacomo’s Coffee Circuit’) with her buddy Dorlene. And Charlie-the-dog certainly enjoyed his time away from the RV…poor guy is used to free-roaming on our 7.5 acres at home…now he is confined a lot of the time to about 150 square feet. He is a really patient doggy. More golf with Steve and Big Al out Jack Tone Golf. Bob’s game still sucks, but it’s the camaraderie that’s important…plus winning about $12.
One of the greatest times we have had in a l-o-n-g time was a get-together with a bunch of old, (old) MJC friends on Sunday afternoon. Kim Gyuran and Anne Shanto organized and it was a hoot! It was wonderful to see Kim and Anne, as well as Jim and Linda Johnson, Todd Guy, Eileen Hibbard (Olhson), Wes and Barbie Page, Larry and Muggs Zable, John Chappell, Derek Waring, Steve and Linda Collins and Dorlene Salazar. I got so caught up in visiting with everyone that I neglected to take a single picture. Bad Bob!
We said our good-byes to our good friends Al and Linda Cover, who were gracious enough to allow to once again stay at what we fondly call ‘Big Al’s RV Park and Sheep Ranch.’ As an (important) aside, Al (whose demeanor exudes ‘calm’) has become a community activist in the fight with the (scoundrels) in City of Modesto Government, and the Chamber of Commerce, to annex an area known as Wood Colony. The proposal is to build business parks, a four-lane freeway overpass, etc. (Back in the early 1980’s, this same crap was going on under the guise of ‘re-development’, which destroyed part of the historical heart and soul of downtown Modesto. I was somewhat involved in the fight to stop this, but we lost.)
Wood Colony is a historical agricultural area that he and many other farmers have called ‘home’ for over 100 years. (Al’s family goes back 4 generations, and is not dissimilar to other families in the surrounding area.) And the proposed Wood Colony annexation has not escaped national attention. Al was interview by a New York Times reporter, and his picture was featured as part of the story. (For more on all of this, you can go to here to read the article and see Big Al’s picture.)
We had uneventful drive down the remainder of the Central Valley to Bakersfield, where we stayed at the Orange Grove RV Park. On Tuesday, we made the long drive over to Las Vegas. On the way there, we made our traditional stop at Peggy Sue’s Dinner, on Interstate 15 near Yermo, CA. Always a great time, lots of funky 1950’s stuff to see and great food. And this time, we met and talked to the REAL Peggy Sue! She is a delightful lady – so cordial and friendly. She spent 5 minutes with us and we felt very welcome. So cool!
After leaving Peggy Sue’s Diner, we made the l-o-o-o-n-g pull up The 15 to Las Vegas. At one point our fuel consumption indicator was registering under 5 MPG. By the time we rolled in, we are sucking fumes.
We had originally planned to stay at the Main Street Station RV Park, near Fremont Street, but at the last-minute changed our plans and headed for Sam’s Town, near Henderson. We figured we had seen Fremont Street enough, and the RV park is pretty tight, not to mention the 3 block walk to Fremont Street, which can be somewhat scary at night. And, a pretty crappy dog run as well. Charlie was not happy when we stayed there.
We have stayed at Sam’s Town at least 6 times in the past. The RV park is about ½ block from the casino, which is pretty nice, with lots to see and do (indoor waterfall, movie theatres, liberal slots and plenty of blackjack tables.) However, we discovered things had changed since our last visit. KOA had recently taken over management of both the transient (near the casino) and the long-term (not near the casino) parks. In the past, transient travelers (like us) could not stay in the long-term park. But, since KOA took over, they started putting transients in the long-term park…which is pretty much like a ghetto and a long walk, crossing a very busy 6-lane street (Flamingo) to get to the far side of the casino.
You guessed it…they stuck us in the ghetto. It was bad. After registering several (very vociferous) complaints with the office staff (all of whom were new and not at all well-trained), we finally got moved back into the park where we had always stayed in the past. But it took some doing, and only after we were pretty much forced to stay in the crappy park for one night. What did we learn? ASK where you are going to be when you make a reservation; NORTH = BAD, SOUTH = GOOD. On the good side, KOA has done a nice job in cleaning up the park, they are very friendly and they did not crank up the rates (yet.)
We got some good deals for breakfast and lunch in the excellent buffet, gambled (up at the slots, down at the tables, for break even.) We went to see ‘Gone Girl.’ Without giving away the ending, if you see it (which we recommend), get ready for twists and turns and a weird ending.
We headed down to Lake Mead one day to take Charlie swimming and wear him out. The poor guy has been very patient. Marshall Dylan enjoyed walk along the lake shore. As expected, the level of the lake is pretty low – further down than we have ever seen it in the years we have been going there.
Several months ago we got tickets to see ‘Rock of Ages,’ an 80’s-era musical playing at the Venetian. Thanksgiving night found us at the show. WOW! HOLY CRAP, BATMAN!! Our seats were not bad; (ahem…) 4th row center. You could almost touch the stage. And the music brought back memories (…at least what we can remember…) of the ‘80’s: Styx, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Journey, Pat Benetar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane/Starship.) High energy, incredible backup band (featuring some of the original members of Whitesnake). Great choreography. The last trip through Las Vegas we saw ‘Jersey Boys’ and were blown away. Well, ‘Rock of Ages’ topped that! This is a show that will get you totally jazzed – not to be missed if you get to Las Vegas.
Oh yeah. Almost forgot to mention our Thanksgiving dinner before the show at a restaurant called the ‘Public House,’ inside the Venetian. It was billed to feature a huge variety of beers. (The beer list was given to you on an iPad…pretty cool.) But, prices were $10-$15/glass; as a benchmark, they wanted $10 for a 12 oz. Heineken. We opted for the house wine with dinner…$54/bottle. The turkey dinners were actually pretty good, $28, and about the cheapest thing on the menu (except $20 for a hamburger.) Oh well, it’s only $$$ and you only live once, right?
We are in Las Vegas for a couple of more days (with maybe one day of golf), and then we head to one of our most favorite places, Death Valley, where we have been many, many times before. (We worked 3 months for the National Park Service as Campground Hosts, back in 2010.) There may be at least a week-long void in the blog, unless we can find Wi-Fi in Furnace Creek.
Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.