Las Vegas, Legends and Whiskey Lickers

Panorama of our companion RV's, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park

Panorama of our companion RV’s, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park.

Our last exciting chapter left us still in the depths of Death Valley National Park, known to many at ‘The Magical Place.’  Gary whipped up a great Walmart Special turkey breast in his convection microwave (it was remarkably good) and Dee Dee made smashed potatoes (originals from our garden), gravy, peas (also from our garden) and a salad.  Wahoo.  I brought the wine and the Bloody Mary’s and the screwdrivers and the string cheese.  The weather cooperated and the afternoon was delightful; we ate outdoors on a picnic table, next to a roaring fire.  Lots-o-fun.

Gary, Bob and Dee Dee - Thanksgiving dinner in Death Valley

Gary, Bob and Dee Dee – Thanksgiving dinner in Death Valley.

Ricing bikes, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park

Ricing bikes, Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park.

Our very friendly waitress at diner in Beatty, Nevada

Maria, our very friendly waitress at a diner in Beatty, Nevada.

Waiter and bus-boy at diner in Beatty

Jim, the waiter and bus-boy at a diner in Beatty, Nevada.

Cook in the diner where we had a terrific lunch, Beatty, Nevada

Miguel, the cook in the diner where we had a terrific lunch, Beatty, Nevada.

We took a day trip up to Beatty, Nevada, where we (once again) raided the Beatty Nut and Candy Company, and then had a really fine lunch at the little diner where we had eaten several times before.  I should qualify this by saying that at one time it WAS a really good Mexican restaurant, then changed hands and went all to hell, then, about 4 years ago, a new family took it over and it is now back to being beyond good – and they still serve good Mexican food.  Remarkable.  Great cook, great service.  Highly recommend; it’s located at the ‘Y’ headed south on Highway 95, just on the edge of town (sorta across from the newer RV park.)

Mr. Roadrunner, near Furnace Creek, Death Valley

Mr. Roadrunner, near Furnace Creek, Death Valley.  Friendly dude with almost no fear of humans…wonder why?

Furnace Creek Post Office, Death Valley National Park

Furnace Creek Post Office, Death Valley National Park.

Warning signs marking big-ass drop off, near Rhyolyte, Nevada (just outside of Death Valley National Park)

Warning signs marking big-ass drop off, near Rhyolyte, Nevada (just outside of Death Valley National Park.)

Old bank building, Rhyolyte, Nevada

Façade of old bank building, Rhyolyte, Nevada.

The Bob and Rudolf's brother, Beatty Nut and Candy Company, Beatty, Nevada

The Bob and Rudolf’s brother, Ned, Beatty Nut and Candy Company, Beatty, Nevada

We also stopped at Rhyolyte, a defunct mining town that was home to over 8,000 people in the early part of the 20th century.  It pretty much closed down after the 1908-1910 financial crash.  It had several banks, a Union Hall, train station, churches, assy offices, many restaurants and the requisite number of bustling brothels.  It’s also home to a very intact ‘bottle house’ that has been successfully restored after being ravaged by mindless vandals over the years.  The first time I visited it (the bottle house) was in 1969, in the middle of winter, on a road trip with 2 hippie buddies (Jim Barnaby and Jim Warren) from Ellensburg, WA to Tempe, AZ, and back in my 1964-push-button-shifting-transmission-4-door Dodge – investigating ASU as a possible graduate school (ended up going there.)  Anyhow, in 1969 one could walk right up to it and it was is fine condition; today, it’s surrounded by a very high fence.

Dee Dee getting blown away at Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park

Dee Dee getting blown away at Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley National Park. To get a sense of scale, it’s almost a mile to the other side.  One very big hole.

Road leading up to Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley

Road leading up to Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley.

Spent another day driving up to Ubehebe Crater, near the north end of Death Valley, not too far from Mesquite Springs Campground.  There were an amazing number of people there – the parking lot on the west side was totally full of cars, surprising since it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and most people had pretty much headed for home.  One reason might be that Scotty’s Castle (which is just a few miles away) was completely closed due to the October floods, so perhaps people just diverted there.

The Bob, Gary and Dee Dee, with the Giant Cow, Armagosa, Nevada

The Bob, Gary and Dee Dee, with the Giant Cow, Armagosa, Nevada.  Some people have commented that the Giant Cow was ‘photo-bombing’ the picture.  Not true.  He was asked to join us.

On Monday, November 30, after spending two delightful weeks in Death Valley, we headed up the long grade through Furnace Creek Wash – Highway 190 – and made our way to Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, after making that usual obligatory stop at the Area 51 Alien Gas Station on Highway 95.

Michael, from Red Rock RV Washers, who did a terrific job washing our RV

Michael, from Red Rock RV Washers, who did a terrific job washing our RV.  A very cool, hardworking humble guy (his one flaw was that he did not like Russell Wilson…we pressed him as to why and he said he thought he was ‘overly humble.’  Hmmmm…

Michael, from Red Rock RV Washers, pressure washing our roof

Michael, from Red Rock RV Washers, pressure washing our roof.

Gary and his Giant Margarita, Mexican restaurant in Sam's Town Casino, Las Vegas

Gary and his Giant Margarita, Mexican restaurant in Sam’s Town Casino, Las Vegas.

Jocelyn and Alex, our friendly servers at Panda Express, in Sam's Town Casino, Las Vegas

Jocelyn and Alex, our friendly servers at Panda Express, in Sam’s Town Casino, Las Vegas

So, as I type this missive, we are just wrapping up a week’s stay here at Sam’s.  We really like this place and have stayed here at least 5 times in the past (we have also stayed at Main Street Station, near Fremont Street and in North Las Vegas – both areas we now avoid like the plague.  Dangerous, dirty, crime-ridden and to be avoided.)

Frank Sinatra impersonator at 'Legends' show, Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas

Frank Sinatra impersonator at ‘Legends’ show, Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas.  We felt ripped off (see accompanying text as to why…)

Very tall man, evening show at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in Las Vegas

Very tall man, evening show at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in Las Vegas.

Adrian, dancer at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Las Vegas

Adrian, dancer at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Las Vegas.

The Bob and his new friend, Adrian, the Margaritaville Girl, at Jimmy Buffet's

The Bob and his new friend, Adrian, the Margaritaville Girl, at Jimmy Buffet’s.

Gary and show performer, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Las Vegas Strip

Gary and show performer, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Las Vegas Strip.

Mark, our super-nice bus driver, Sam's Town shuttle to The Strip

Mark, our super-nice bus driver, Sam’s Town shuttle to The Strip.

Todd, our Sam's Town shuttle driver...very experienced and a lot friendlier that he looks

Todd, our Sam’s Town shuttle driver…very experienced and a lot friendlier that he looks.

Security guard, Harrahs Casino, Las Vegas

Security guard, Harrah’s Casino, Las Vegas.

Sam’s Town: it’s been fun – cheap drinks, a multiplex theatre complex, great buffet, many good restaurants and free shuttle to both The Strip and Fremont Street.  We had one both disappointing and yet exceptional evening:  We bought tickets months ago to a show called “Legends”, at the Flamingo Hotel on The Strip , an evening  that features impersonators of performing ‘Legends.’  We had front row seats – pretty cool except the chairs were like the kind you would find at a crappy buffet restaurant.  The performances were just OK, (Michael Jackson, Madona, Taylor Swift (gag) and Frank Sinatra (yea).)  What was not cool was that they also advertised Elvis and Celine Dion – both no-shows.  We also paid for a dinner as part of the ticket…but they neglected to tell us the restaurant was closed that day – even though we called to check a few days in advance and were told it was open.  No refund was offered (we did not even bother asking we were so pissed-off.)  So, the evening semi-sucked – we have actually been to a few free cabaret shows that have been better.  Not a total loss, but a big disappointment.  (I went online and gave them a scathing review…check it out at http://legendsinconcert.com – assuming they have the guts to post it.)  One thing worth mentioning is that we have seen several other big-ticket shows over the years and have always been treated like royalty.  No more Flamingo for us.

HOWEVER, after the disappointing show, that same evening we decided to go to our most favorite place in Las Vegas, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.  WOW!  DOUBLE WOW!  It was the best time we have EVER had there – by far (and we must have been there at least 4-5 times previously.)  We had the best table in the house – really – and were right in the middle of the evening show.  AMAZING!  The performers were friendly and spent time talking with us – especially Adrian, the beautiful lady who comes down the slide and drops into the giant blender (right next to our table).  She was incredibly gracious and so humble; must have spent about 5 minutes chatting with us (as she toweled off.)  The drinks were good and quite potent.  Dinner was acceptable.

So, a crappy event was balanced with an amazing one.  See, good things can happen to good people.

Dee Dee and The Bob, at Boulder/Hoover Dam; Lake Mead and 'bath tub ring' in the back ground.

Dee Dee and The Bob, at Boulder/Hoover Dam; Lake Mead and ‘bath tub ring’ in the back ground.

Tillman Bridge, near Boulder/Hoover Dam

Tillman Bridge at sunset, near Boulder/Hoover Dam.

Late afternoon light, Boulder/Hoover Dam

Late afternoon light, Boulder/Hoover Dam.

Four Korean tourists, from LA, we met at Bould/Hoover Dam. Talk about FRIENDLY!

Four Korean tourists, from LA, we met at Boulder/Hoover Dam. Talk about FRIENDLY!  I offered to take their picture with their camera, and then I said ‘My turn.’  They were so honored that I was interested in them.  What a nice group.

Friendly Harley trike guy, Boulder/Hoover dam; he must have had at least $75,000 tied up in the custom-built Road King conversion. Magnificent machine

Joe, the Friendly Harley trike guy, Boulder/Hoover dam; he must have had at least $75,000 tied up in the custom-built Road King conversion. Magnificent machine.  He told me he lives in Henderson, NV, and rides out to the dam 2-3 times a week.  He was very quiet and unassuming.  Very nice man – he was at least 75 years old.

Garty and our waitress, TC, restaurant in Boulder City, Nevada

Garty and our waitress, TC, at a restaurant in Boulder City, Nevada.  She was somewhat skeptical of my picture-taking motives at first, but once she saw my charming personality, quickly succumbed.

Restroom door, in back of restaurant, Boulder City, Nevada

Restroom door, in back of restaurant, Boulder City, Nevada.

We did a few other things while in the Las Vegas area: drove down to Lake Mead to take Charlie swimming, had lunch in Boulder City at a place we have enjoyed several times previously, drove across Boulder Dam, met some interesting people, found a new and very cool RV park (amazing and right on the lake.)

Dee Dee, The Bob, 'Photo Bomber's', Gary and Debbie, Harrah's, Las Vegas

Dee Dee, The Bob, ‘Photo Bomber’s’, Gary and Debbie, Harrah’s, Las Vegas.

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, Nevada

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, Nevada.  We never, ever tire of this funny, funky, delightful place.  There is one of everything here.

The Bob with Fremont Street characters, Las Vegas

The Bob with Fremont Street Gunslingers, Las Vegas.

"My Girls', Fremont Steet, Las Vegas. I had my picture taken with them a couple of years ago. Cuties!

“My Girls’, Fremont Steet, Las Vegas. I had my picture taken with them a couple of years ago. Cuties!  (And this one was free…)

Dee Dee at one of our most favorite bars in Las Vegas, on Fremont Street. Very potent pours.

Dee Dee at one of our most favorite bars in Las Vegas, on Fremont Street. Very potent pours.

Last drink of the day, boarding the bus near Fremont Street for Sam's Town

Last drink of the day, boarding the bus near Fremont Street for Sam’s Town.  Too much tequila.

We spent a fun evening at Fremont Street, a place we never tire of visiting.  Stopped at the Whiskey Licker Bar – a favorite of ours – and got the usual super-cheep, super-strength drinks.  We tried to get on the new ZIP line that runs the 6-block length of Fremont, but the wait was over 5 hours, so (regretfully) we had to pass.  Next time we will either try to get our tickets on-line or buy them sooner.  If you are interested, as of this date they are $40 for the 90 second – or so – ride, but worth it (at least in our opinion).

You will note that in this edition of the blog there are lots of pictures of interesting people we had the pleasure of meeting during this leg of the trip.  All of the shots were done with my iPhone; all I did was say to them, “Can I take your picture?”  I was never turned town.  Some asked “Why me?” My explanation was always “Souvenir of our trip; I like your looks.”  All were flattered and very gracious.

Anyhow, enough words for now.  Gotta go as the 2-for-1 Happy Hour is starting at The Waterfall in Sam’s…can’t be late – it only lasts for 2 hours with no limit on drinks!

On The Road Again (Well, Almost…)

 

Two really honest, friendly, guys mooching for bucks, French Quarter

Two really honest, friendly, guys mooching for bucks in the French Quarter, New Orleans, LA.  We contributed to their noble cause. (February/2015)

Well, Dee Dee and I (and Charlie and Marshall Dylan) have pretty much got the RV packed up and we are ready to head on down the road again for our next adventure.  We are departing on Sunday, November 1; our eventual goal for this trip will, once again, be New Orleans, LA.  But with lots of stops along the way, which include Blackfoot (ID), Death Valley, Las Vegas, Dead Horse Ranch (AZ), Apache Junction (AZ), Benson (AZ), all the way across Texas to Louisiana and finally to The Big Easy.  Most of the way we will be travelling with our long-time friends Gary and Debbie (and their African Gray parrot, Pepper).  Should be a hoot.

So, keep your eye out for our hopefully regular blog postings (depending on WiFi connections), with lots of pictures, as usual.

If you would like to have each exciting chapter of our blog delivered directly to your email box, just follow these simple steps:

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Our first installment should hit in early November.  Wahoo!

 

Death Valley

Our new best friends, wish us the best as we leave Las Vegas (look carefully to the right and you will see Dee Dee waving back)

Our new best friends, wishing us the best as we leave Las Vegas (look carefully to the right and you will see Dee Dee waving back…)

So, after 5 days in Sin City, we were really ready to be ‘Leaving Las Vegas.’  We parted friends with the KOA People at Sam’s Town, even though this stay was a mild hassel.  The drive to Furnace Creek in Death Valley was an easy one, with very little traffic.  Better yet, by the time we arrived, the Thanksgiving Crazies had left and the park was quiet and almost empty.  A great time to be here: post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas.

We experienced the same heavy rains as many other southwest US areas.  Some roads here were closed due to washouts (Twenty Mule Team Canyon and Titus Canyon), and there was a lot of water flowing across asphalt roadways, flowing down washes and alluvial fans.

I played golf a couple of times at the Furnace Creek Golf Couse, a nice track in good condition with lightning-fast greens; the 2nd time I had the entire course to myself for the first 15 holes.  Dee Dee took several long bike rides and got to know the area around Furnace Creek a lot better.  This was a somewhat off-year for coyotes;  I only saw 2, on the golf course, and Dee Dee did not see any.  Charlie-The-Dog spent a fair amount of time smelling them.  Dylan-the-Cat was kept on-lease; no coyote bait for him.

We rented a jeep one (very rainy) day and explored Hole in the Wall road, Echo Canyon Road to the Inyo Mine, Chloride City and Titus Canyon (our 2nd trip through).  All of the roads required 4WD high-clearance vehicles.  The road to Chloride City got pretty technical.  Lots of big rocks and steep, slippery turns, due to exposed bedrock and the fact it was raining.  That drive was white-knuckle all the way.  (Ted and Mary Ellen, you would have loved it; I would have jumped out, only I was driving.)  We were probably the last vehicle through Titus Canyon.  It was raining hard and the road on both sides of the pass was starting to wash out.  And, we never saw another person.  The parking lot at the end was empty.  This was one of the very best days we have had in our 40+ years and many visits to Death Valley…lots of excitement and we saw new stuff.

Last night (Thursday, December 4th) Dee Dee was outside and saw huge flames and lots of smoke coming from the historic Furnace Creek Inn.  It looked like the whole place was on fire.  This morning (Friday) we drove up there and found that it was the laundry building across the highway that had burned.  Totally gutted and still smoldering; no damage at all to the Inn.  The entire Valley was filled with haze-induce smoke from the fire, that must have taken most of the night to extinguish.  When we got there, about 9:30 AM, it was still smoldering and they were still doing ‘spot-squirts’ on hot areas.  The Park Service had closed Highway 90 in front of the structure and was routing traffic through the Inn’s parking lot.

Of course we had to visit the local saloon and have a beer (or 2) every day.  Our theory is that beer is good for your health, at least in our book. We rode our bikes the mile up and back, so that balances off the beer (and some days French fries and blue cheese dressing dip.)

Tonite we are having dinner with our good friend, Shellye Poster, who was our NPS Ranger Supervisor when we were Campground Hosts at Stove Pipe Wells in 2010.  Shellye has also published a wonderful book, “The Photographer’s Guide to Death Valley.”

OK…enough words…here are some images (and captions) for our latest installment.  (Our next stops will be Bullhead City, AZ, the Grand Canyon, Prescott (where we are visiting our friends Gary and Debbie), and then Apache Junction (where we will meet up with long-time friend, Neil, who I met in graduate school at ASU, in the early 1970’s.)

(Sherry, this post is dedicated to you…not many words, lots of pictures, just the way you like it…)

Storm clouds over the Funeral Range

Storm clouds over the Funeral Range

Creosote bushes, Echo Canyon Road

Creosote bushes, Echo Canyon Road

Dee Dee and Charlie at the Inyo Mine

Dee Dee and Charlie, Echo Canyon Road, at the Inyo Mine

Old mining equipment at the abandoned Inyo Mine, Echo Canyon Road

Old mining equipment at the abandoned Inyo Mine, Echo Canyon Road

Table at the Inyo Mine where travelers put stuff they found (rather than stealing it)

Table at the Inyo Mine where travelers put stuff they found (rather than stealing it)

Creosote bushes

Creosote bushes

The Bush and The Bob, Echo Canyon Road

The Barrel Cactus and The Bob, Echo Canyon Road

Eye of the Needle, Echo Canyon Road

Eye of the Needle, Echo Canyon Road

Exfoliating stone, at the end of Hole in the Wall Road

Exfoliating stone, at the end of Hole in the Wall Road

Mysterious symbol found at the end of Hole in the Wall Road, probably left by Aliens

Mysterious symbol found at the end of Hole in the Wall Road, probably left by Aliens

Probably an Alien spaceship, commandeered by the NPS, near Furnace Creek

Probably an Alien spaceship, commandeered by the NPS, near Furnace Creek

Dee Dee and Charlie, at Hole in the Wall

Dee Dee and Charlie, at Hole in the Wall

Round the turn at the top of the pass, dropping into Titus Canyon.  We call this "Oh Shit Corner," because that what you say when you get there.  Although can't tell, it's an abrupt 180 degree turn going down a steep slope.

Rounding the turn at the top of the pass, dropping into Titus Canyon. We call this “Oh Shit Corner,” because that’s what you say when you reach this point. Although you can’t really tell from this image, it’s an abrupt 180 degree turn going down a steep slope.

Looking down, from top of pass, into Titus Canyon.  You had to be there to experience the sheer vastness of this scene

Looking down, from top of pass, into Titus Canyon. You had to be there to experience the sheer vastness of this scene

Beginning of Titus Canyon Road washing out

Beginning of Titus Canyon Road washing out

Charlie leaving his mark at Leadfield (on the Titus Canyon Road)

Charlie leaving his mark at Leadfield (on the Titus Canyon Road)

Entering the Narrows, Titus Canyon

Entering the Narrows, Titus Canyon

Sine wash, flowing into Furnace Creek Wash

Arterial wash, flowing into Furnace Creek Wash

Furnace Creek Wash

Furnace Creek Wash

View of burned out Furnace Creek Inn Laundry Building

View of burned out Furnace Creek Inn Laundry Building

View of burned out Furnace Creek Inn laundry building (across Highway 90 from the Inn)

View of burned out Furnace Creek Inn laundry building (across Highway 190 from the Inn)

Dead mesquite trees, NPS Furnace Creek Campground

Dead mesquite trees, NPS Furnace Creek Campground

Side wash, flowing into Furnace Creek Wash, about 4 miles above Furnace Creek

Side wash, flowing into Furnace Creek Wash, about 4 miles above Furnace Creek

'Exploding Bush,' Echo Canyon Road

‘Exploding Creosote Bush,’ Echo Canyon Road

 

 

Viva Las Vegas!

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?

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Dinner with old Modesto friends

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!

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Good friends Al and Linda Cover

 

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Getting ready to depart Big Al’s RV Park and Sheep Ranch, in Modesto

 

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One of Big Al’s work benches

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.)

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Lunch at Peggy Sue’s, near Yermo, CA

 

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The ‘Original’ Peggy Sue and Dee Dee

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.

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Sam’s Town entrance at night

 

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Sam’s Town RV Park, restrooms at night

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.)

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Part of the buffet at Sam’s Town

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.

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Light show at Mystic Falls, indoor water feature at Sam’s Town

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.

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Dee Dee and Charlie at Lake Mead

 

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Charlie and tennis ball, Lake Mead

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.

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Rocker and Dee Dee, as we were leaving ‘Rock of Ages’ performance, Venetian Hotel/Casino, 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.