A New View of Las Vegas – Part 2


On Saturday afternoon, we decided to join our friends at the Orleans Hotel and Casino where, surprisingly, the Continental Cup was being held. I never would have thought that a Hotel and Casino would have a curling rink, but that’s only one of the many sports venues they have. It was interesting to watch (for someone who has played the game many times). As the score board indicates, it was a match between teams from North America (Canada and US) and the rest of the World, and the skill demonstrated was very impressive. We heard a few Scottish and Irish accents drifting among the spectators.

Can they get it through?
Sweep, Sweep!

We stayed for only one draw (game) that lasted three hours, and then we drove down to The Strip again.

The Paris

This time we drove on through to the older part looking for Rick at the Silver and Gold Pawn Shop from the Las Vegas Pawn Stars TV show, a favourite of Jim’s. We found him! We’d hoped to have dinner at the BBQ next door, where Rick often tends bar, but it was closed.

Hmm, something seems a little odd

We did discover this interesting “community” though, where all of the stores and restaurants, and some living quarters are made from shipping containers.

We drove back up The Strip and stopped at Circus Circus, one place I hadn’t been before. After chowing down on burgers that were so big we could barely get our mouths around them, at Vince Neil’s Tatuado, we squeezed through the throngs of people, mostly kids who were in town for a big Soccer Tournament, to watch some of the entertainment. It is actually a huge circus midway, in the lower floors of the Hotel. We managed to get lost trying to find our way back to our parking garage and had to ask for directions!

By then my bones were beginning to ache and, since we’d spent a whole week at the Flamingo Hotel on the strip when we were there six years ago, I wasn’t too keen about walking the street again. Jim was disappointed, but reluctantly took us back to the condo.

On Sunday we looked in the papers and hotel literature to find something different to do. We chose a one-hour drive to Valley of Fire State Park, and I was so happy that we did! The colours were stunning and the one-hour hike around White Dome was good for body and soul. I took far more pictures than I can post, but here is a sampling.

White Dome
Blue Rocks

It was after dark when we got back to the city. We took our second coupon back to the Silverton Casino Hotel and nourished ourselves with selections from the buffet again. We dropped a little more money in some slots and went back to the condo to reminisce about our fantastic adventure, and organize our belongings for the trip home the next day.

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A new View of Las Vegas – Part One


I started writing this post with the intention of finishing it all at once, but I realized that it would be too much to throw at you, so it’s going to be in two, or maybe three parts. Hope you enjoy the ride!

We were sitting in a restaurant in Chandler, waiting for the Ukulele Jam to begin, when I got a message from a new friend and co-Board Member, inviting us to join her and her husband in Las Vegas for the weekend. It turned out that they were there to watch a Curling Championship and the other couple who was to join them had to cancel. They had reserved two suites with their time-share. They offered us the second one for a really good price. We discussed it and decided that we could leave the next morning. Thus began our second adventure for the month of January!

We packed the car with a couple bags of food, since we would have a full kitchen, a small bag each of clothing, iPads and chargers, and Jim’s all important CPAP. I put my clothing bag, a bag of chargers, my camera, and one bag of groceries into the back seat, along with out iPads. Jim put the rest into the trunk. You might wonder why I’m bothering to share all these details, but you will understand later in the story.

We were on the road by ten. The day was sunny and warm, and we had the top down on the car all the way to Wickenburg before the clouds rolled in and it got cool. At Wickenburg we stopped at the Cowboy Cookin’ Restaurant for a really good lunch of Shrimp Scampi, and then were on our way again.

Cowboy Cookin’ Restaurant, Wickenburg


Nice Ride!

That is real cowboy country!

The Big Spur

We drove through some rain off and on until we reached Kingman, still in Arizona, and Jim decided it was time for gas. As we were approaching the exit into town, the car kicked out of gear for a minute and then kicked back in. That was odd. The battery light came on, but it had been doing that occasionally lately. We got into the gas station and filled up, but then the car wouldn’t start again, at all. Fortunately we now carry a small battery booster with us. It was pouring rain by then, but Jim had to get out and give it a try. It worked. He pulled into a parking spot and left it running, with me keeping my foot lightly on the gas pedal while he went inside. It seemed fine when we pulled away, but we only got back onto the highway and to the next exit when it shifted into limp mode. We took the exit back into Kingman. Fortunately, there was a service centre within sight. We expected we’d need a new battery, which is a big job in a Chrysler Seabring, because the battery is hidden behind the wheel-well. But it turned out it was not the battery, but the alternator. They were able to get to it in a short time and a couple of hours later we were on our way again. We had only another hundred miles to go, but the sun was already setting. We discovered that the radio no longer worked, but thought nothing of it. We could live without that for the rest of the trip and figure it out later.

Approaching Las Vegas at Night

It was seven o’clock when we finally found the Grandview Condo Complex, got signed in, and parked outside our building. Jim pushed the button to pop the trunk; nothing happened. He tried the button on the key fob; still nothing happened. He tried using the key; no luck. Oh, oh! Something had happened to our interior electronics and there was no way to open the trunk. We took what we had in the back seat up to the suite, and I started making some dinner using what was in the bags we had access to, while Jim went back to the car to find a way to get the rest out of the trunk. Being a convertible, the back seats don’t fold down. The only interior access to the trunk was in through the pocket where the top stores when it is down. Jim took all of the casing out of that pocket, and was left with a space about a foot wide that he could reach into and retrieve another bag, but the trunk is deep and most of our bags were close to the back. He took a break to eat dinner and then I went down to help him. We had to do some contortions just to get as much of our bodies through the opening and reach as far as we could. Between us we managed to retrieve most of our real necessities. His big tool box was left in the middle, too large to fit through the opening, and too heavy to lift up anyway. We were able to lock the doors using the inside buttons. We left it for the night.

Our friends arrived, and we told them our saga before we crashed for the night. The accommodations were amazing. I’m sure the suite was bigger than our condo at home, and certainly way bigger than the motorhome. In fact, the shower stall alone was bigger than the whole bathroom in the motorhome! The big lounger bath tub looked very inviting, but it was time to crawl into the king-size bed and get some sleep.

The King Bed is Waiting

The next morning I made breakfast in the very large kitchen and we caught up on the news on the TV, before going out in search of some kind of tool that might help us reach the emergency trunk latch. Jim had looked through the car manual to see how to reset the electronics, to no avail. He’d found where the bright red tag to indicate the emergency latch was, but even with the grabber we purchased, we couldn’t reach it. A family came along and Jim asked the father if he could “borrow” his slim son. We knew he should be able to climb into the trunk through the narrow opening, and we hoped, release the latch. They were happy to help, so with the iPhone flashlight, in he climbed, a couple of times, but the bright red tag couldn’t be found. We thanked them and let them be on their way. We worked ourselves a little longer, moving the tool box around, taking pictures in the hope that we would see the tag, but it wasn’t to be. It was time to give up and enjoy the sights, sounds and food of Las Vegas.

The first thing on Jim’s bucket list was to go to the Silverton Casino to see the big aquarium, just a ten minute drive our condo. When we arrived we registered as players and got our rewards cards which enabled us to claim a dinner for 50% off at any of the restaurants.

After spending some time watching the fish and the mermaids in the aquarium, we found the Buffet. It was agony trying to decide what to try. The buffet was so long it was impossible to sample everything, but what we chose was delicious. As it turned out, one coupon was good for two people, and it was buy-one-get-one-free, so the two of us ate for only $10! I saved my coupon for another day. Luck was back on our side, for a little while anyway! At the slots, I quite quickly lost $9.95 of the ten I allowed myself to spend. Jim just about broke even.

Acquarium
Mermaids

We gave up and drove down through the lights and traffic on the Strip and then made our way to the famous Fremont Street.

When we got out of the car we realized that we should have thrown jackets in, as the evening air had turned cool. Before walking very far we found some inexpensive souvenir jackets. Our friend had told us that the
World Spinners Championship was supposed to be taking place down there. We caught the first round. Who knew that this was a thing?


Wow, some talented spinners!
Looking Up

After some dinner, we walked through the covered street, watching the varying displays on the overhead screen, and people flashing by on the zip lines. We laughed at some of the “acts” on the street by “buskers” and were impressed with others.

By the time we’d walked the two blocks again, I was ready to call it quits so we returned to the condo and I enjoyed a good soak in that marvellous tub, before climbing into bed.

The next day would be another busy one.

Rounding out January with Some More Adventure


The problem with getting some blogging done these last two weeks hasn’t been lack of adventure, but finding the time to write about them. Our weekdays are always busy with ukulele, pickleball, bocce ball and just socializing with our neighbours and friends. We’ve had two adventures during the last two weekends, which produced lots of pictures.

The first adventure started with a last minute decision to take a drive up Superstition Mountain, a place I’ve written about many times before. Our plan was just to go as far as Tortilla Flat for some lunch and to listen to the band. But, after enjoying a huge hamburger at the outdoor grill and tapping our feet to the great music, we opted to continue driving to Roosevelt Dam, a distance of only about thirty miles. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, so of course the top was down on the convertible.

The last time that we’d travelled that part of the “highway” was the first year we were in Arizona and our neighbour had loaned us her car (we only had our bike here that year) so that we could take Jim’s daughter, Karen, sightseeing when she visited in March. We’d forgotten that after only a few miles past Tortilla Flat the paved road suddenly ended, tossing us into a mixture of hard ruts, gravel and sand. Or maybe we had hoped that the newly widened and paved section to Tortilla Flat had been extended beyond there. Anyway, there isn’t too much traffic on it at that point, but the vehicles we met were mostly 4x4s, and none were open convertibles. We got some amused looks.

We chose the paved highway to the left and made our way back to the city before darkness engulfed us.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Watch for our next adventure, coming soon.

Memoir Monday – The Princess Doll


I was dragging my feet along the tiled floor of the grocery store aisles, my mind probably at home in my room with my toys and books.  Or maybe I was thinking about what would be on the table for dinner that night. Perhaps it would be my favourite, chicken and dumplings. Of course my child’s mind didn’t think about how that would happen when it was already getting dark outside, and Mom the cook was still in the grocery store.

My daddy was holding my hand while mother was consulting her list and piling items from the shelves into the metal shopping cart, when my eyes darted upward to a crowded shelf that held not peas and corn, nor bread and cereal.  Instead the shelf was full of toys! There were big red trucks and shiny toy drums, building blocks and dolls. Dolls! That’s when I saw her. My eyes grew big as saucers; my feet stuck to the floor. There she stood, taller than all of the others, that princess doll.  Her shoulder-length hair was a dark blond and set in a Paige-boy style. The sparkling “silver” tiara on her head completed the royal look presented by the dark blue satin gown, trimmed with white lace. Her blue eyes shone from her perfect rosy face. All I could do was stare. I could imagine her sitting elegantly on my bed.

Although Mom and Dad looked toward where I was pointing, they didn’t seem to share my excitement and my pleas to buy her went unheeded. It was just a few weeks before Christmas and Mom’s thoughts were on getting the Christmas baking ingredients and the week’s meal supplies. They may have told me too that they couldn’t afford to buy her then. Or possibly they’d suggested I put her on my list to Santa. I’m sure I dreamed about her that night, but she wasn’t mentioned again.

The weeks passed and soon it was Christmas morning.  I wasn’t allowed to go downstairs until the rest of my family was up. Since my three siblings were teenagers who’d much rather linger in their beds, I had to be content with dumping out the contents of my stocking that hung on my bedroom door knob. When I was finally allowed to creep down the steep stairs to the living room, my eyes lit up in disbelief. There in front of the Christmas tree stood my princess! That was all I needed. I ran to examine her. She was even more beautiful up close than she’d been up on that shelf.  I looked at the little pearl earrings on her earlobes, and the triple strand pearl choker necklace around her neck. Her nicely shaped feet fit perfectly into the silver plastic, high-heeled slippers. That was the best Christmas ever!

I didn’t play much with that doll. I was almost getting to an age that I was more interested in playing games and reading books and playing outdoors than playing with dolls.  But I loved to look at her where she sat on my bed. She held that spot as I grew up, married and had daughters of my own. My father-in-law, an antique dealer, once offered me $100 for her, but I turned him down. A number of years later, when her dress had faded to a dull purple and the elastic of her necklace and slippers had rotted and broken, like my marriage, and I needed the cash, I made her a new dress and regretfully sold her on eBay for far less.

I wonder now what that doll represented. Why did I want her so badly? And why, when my daughters were given a number of very pretty and costumed dolls as Christmas gifts from an uncle, did I have a shelf built for them to be displayed, rather played with? Interesting questions.

Do you have a similar story, a childhood memory about a special gift? I’d love to hear about it.

Wrapping up Another Year


Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been too long since I’ve written a new blog post, I know. I’ve just lacked inspiration I guess, possibly because we’ve been staying close to “home” (motor home in Mesa, Arizona) so far this season. I’ve been busy with pickleball, and sometimes I join Jim at his ukulele classes and jams, but arthritis in my thumbs is beginning to make long stints of playing too painful. I did get a few stories edited and submitted to some writing contests though, and that felt good.

Here are highlights of how we ended 2018. 

For three days during the first week of December we were involved in the Annual Steve Judy Pickleball Tournament here in the park, not as players, but as volunteers. Since I am the new Pickleball Club Board Vice-President and Webmaster, I was busy mostly taking photos for the website, while Jim took a turn of driving a golf cart to transport visiting players between the courts and parking areas.

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Men in Action
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Ladies’ turn to Shine
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Our MCs Added a Little Fun

Between attending three Christmas Parties and a Birthday Party, we managed to get in a couple of trips to Tempe on the Light Rail, once to wander the many-blocks-long Fall Arts Festival, and another time to watch the Annual Christmas Light Parade.

Interesting Items at Arts & Crafts Festival

Everyone and everything in the parade was lit up, including dogs.

On December 29th we took the Light Rail again, this time all the way to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl Parade. It started out as a very cold morning so we dressed in layers and I packed snacks and hot chocolate, but by the time the parade started we were looking into bright sunshine that warmed us up. I wasn’t in a good spot for picture taking though, so have only these few.

The ride home was livened up when there was a bit of a ruckus that brought eight security guards into our car. The culprits were removed.

The weather here has been much colder than usual at this time of year, especially during the night and into the morning, so we’ve spent way too much time indoors with little exercise. New Year’s Eve day I decided to do some inside renovations, and cleaning. We are starting the new year without the dust-collecting valances an mini-blinds on the bedroom windows. By ten that night I was exhausted and neither of us saw the new year in here in Arizona, but we watched the ball drop in Times Square in New York before turning off the television. Yesterday we got in a walk and some pickleball.

This all sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? I resolve to write and post more often going into 2019 and I hope it will be more interesting. If we aren’t being tourists, I’ll entertain you with more memoirs, or maybe explain the game of pickleball.

Settled into Life at Mesa Regal Again


We’ve been in our winter destination for nearly two weeks now. It’s about time I got caught up on posting the rest of our trip!

The day we left Nashville, we drove until time to quit for the night, stopping only for lunch in Jackson at the Catfish Gallery. The catfish wasn’t anything special, but we smiled all through our meal while listening to the wonderful southern accent of our very chatty and bubbly waitress. We made it to Brinkley, Arkansas and after much searching, found an RV parking area behind the Super 8 hotel.

By 3:00 pm the next day we had reached Texas. That was the beginning of a long drive. We stopped for the night at the lovely KOA Mt. Pleasant RV Park.

We broke the next day up with a  stop in Dallas to do a tour of the 6th Floor Museum, dedicated to the story of the Assassination of J F Kennedy and located in the 6th floor room of the former Texas School Book Depository Building where the assassin fired the shots.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures. We bought a couple of postcards.

Find out more by clicking the link above.

It was very interesting, but the stress of finding a place to park the motor home (it took about an hour) left me anxious to get out of the city and settled in for the night. We stayed at the Wetherford/Fortworth West KOA.

The following day was another long driving day, across Texas. The landscape was littered with oil wells, and distant flames spewing from the refineries stacks.

Very long box-car trains stretched along the tracks running beside the highway, and trucks carrying oil or machinery for often times crowded the highway and parking lots.

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There were also a number of small “RV Parks” along the highways, where seasonal oil workers parked their various temporary homes.

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That night we were in one of those parks, in  Monahans, Texas after spending over an hour looking for the advertised RV Parks. There were very few amenities, but we had what we needed. It was raining and there was lots of mud. I was glad I had my rubber boots with me. When the rain stopped we took a walk up the road to the Travel Centre to get some exercise, snacks, and lottery tickets. We were in bed early that night, but still a little later getting away the next morning.

At lunch time we pulled into the town of Sierra Blanca, hoping to find a restaurant. It turned out to be mostly a ghost town! There was one Mexican restaurant that was in one of the old buildings, a newer sign hung beside the original sign. There was also an Exon Station with a Subway. We enjoyed wraps there, with the Border Patrol officers who were taking their lunch break. Doing a search later, I found some of its interesting history.

Shortly after one in the afternoon we had reached our destination for that day. We were back at Mission RV Park in El Paso! It felt like home! Jim had discovered that the RV was in need of one new spark plug and he hoped that the Repair Shop there would have what he needed. But, like the windshield wiper we needed last year, they didn’t. This time we were told that they only did work on things inside RVs, such as appliances. We did find a set of plugs at another location, but it was too big a job to do while travelling and nothing that was urgent.

We did get to enjoy a lovely reunion dinner with Shawn, our new-found friend from last year in El Paso. It was so nice to see him. We regretted that his wife was unable to join us.

We were in Deming, New Mexico for lunch the next day and happily in Arizona by mid-afternoon.

Some highway signs across the desert.

Our last stop before reaching Mesa was in Wilcox, home of Rex Allen, Sr. We did the tour his Museum before booking into the Grande Vista RV Park for the night.

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There was a section for Rex Allen Junior, and other Country Hall of Famers

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

 

The Memorial continued in the park across the street.

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Grande Vista RV Park

 

We were “home” in time to make dinner the next day.

Something We’ve Never Done Before! A Tour of a Distillery.


Before we left Bardstown Kentucky on Friday morning, we decided to check out the Distillery that our Camp Ground Host told us about. The little map that he provided was a bit confusing so it took us a half hour or so to find the Barton 1792 Distillery, best known for its Bourbon.

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy such a tour, but it was really fascinating. I wish I could remember all that our wonderful guide, Katie, told us. I can’t but I’ll share what I remember, with some of the many pictures we took.

We waited in the gift shop for the tour to begin.

A few facts Katie shared about the production of Bourbon:

  1. It is made from mostly corn, mixed with some barley and rye.
  2. It has to be 51% corn to be called Bourbon.
  3. It can be made and bottled as Bourbon only in the US because of trademark

We walked over to the productions buildings where Katie explained much along the way. She showed us samples of the ground corn, barley and rye that was used to make the mash (starting process) and we had a peek in to see the Masher, but it was too noisy to go inside.

She told us of the strict rules for acceptance of corn from the farmers, and how it is brought in and emptied from the bottom of the trucks into the bins below the ground.

Next stop was a Ricker, the building where the barrels of brew are stored to age. They have 27 of these buildings, and they hold between seventeen and twenty thousands barrels each! Here we were able to take a sniff of a few barrels to see if we could discern a different aroma. Because all barrels aren’t exactly alike inside, the aroma and flavour differs. The barrels are charred inside to allow the liquid to absorb the flavour of the wood better. The barrels are used only once for Bourbon, but can be used once more to make Brandy.

From there we went into the Distillery, where we had to climb two flights of steep stairs. At the top was a hydrometer that measures the specific gravity of liquid to determine the alcohol content. It must be at a 125 before it is put into the barrels to age. We were given a chance to sip a sample that was a higher content. At first I declined, but my scratchy throat made me give it a try. It helped! Going down the stairs might have been a little more challenging!

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After that we went back to the Gift Shop for some taste-testing of finished products, Bourbon on it’s own, Bourbon paired with dark chocolates, and Bourbon Egg Nog.

If you get a chance to do one of these tours, do it. You’ll find it very interesting, whether you drink the stuff or not.

By the time we were finished the tour and taste-testing, it was lunch time. We drove back to the highway to the Walmart to get a few groceries and picked up a couple of Wraps to eat on the road. We wanted to get to Nashville before dark.

While Jim drove, I booked a site at the Nashville North KOA, one we’d stayed in on our last visit to Nashville. I was disappointed to learn that the Shuttle Bus no longer transports people from there to the Grand Ole Opry, something Jim wanted to attend again. But we were assured that we could get an Uber or a Lyft ride. I called the Opry and secured us two tickets for the evening show, way up high again, but still good.

I thought we’d have to rush to get ready after we arrived at the KOA, but then realized we’d gone through a time-zone change, so we had an extra hour. That was good because our neighbour wanted to chat. And the Lyft driver was forty minutes early so I did have to rush to finish dressing once we got that warning! We arrived in plenty of time to pick up our tickets and get a bite to eat at the outdoor BBQ truck and sit on the patio to eat. We even had some time to wander through the Gift Shop. We had to climb three flights of stairs to get to our seats, but that exercise did me good.

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I have to admit, again, that I wasn’t familiar with many of the performers, but they were fun to listen to. Some gave us some chuckles too. I still think that Mario Carboni belongs on that stage!

When we got home at 10:00 we had great internet reception, so I just had to finish my first blog post and get it published! I wished I could stay up all night and get caught up on the lot, but as it was I stayed up too late and had trouble sleeping.

It was a very busy few days. Saturday and Sunday we spent on the road. The Mount Pleasant KOA was our first stop in Texas and I enjoyed having good internet to get caught up with my blogging.

Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to publish this one, and it’s been three days since we’ve had WiFi.