Category Archives: Las Vegas

On the road in our Allegro Bus; Part One — June 9-23, 2018

We concluded our last post with this paragraph:

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the [Las Vegas] KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway….

We enjoyed seeing Jeff and Zane and Abigail in Las Vegas.  Barb took Abigail for several trips to the Strip, and one day we took Abbey out for a quick visit to The Valley of Fire.  It was hot, but nevertheless we went for a noonish hike at White Domes.  We misinterpreted a trail sign and got diverted onto a long and lesser-used trail that we followed for a time before realizing our mistake and backtracking.  Abby was not a happy camper hiker.

We got together with Rasmus & Kari for lunch one day, and we joined Jeff and Zane and Abigail for some bowling. And we all, Rasmus & Kari, Jeff & Zane, Abigail, and Barb & I, enjoyed the performance of “O” at Cirque du Soleil.

Leaving Abigail with Jeff in Vegas, we returned to Parks with our RV and toad and guests Rasmus & Kari.  Bill & Colleen hosted them in their home after our arrival.  We spent about a week there, during which we hiked every morning before breakfast.  Bill showed Rasmus the nearby Lava cave.  Colleen took them both to the nearby Bearizona Wildlife Center.  And we had many group meals on picnic tables on Bill’s garage driveway, and we all gathered for a movie shown on the TV housed on the outside of Bruce’s  RV.

Joined by Buck in his own class A RV, we took our Allegro Buses up to “boondock” on National Forest land just a bit south of Grand Canyon.  We spent  three days there, taking our toads up to the South Rim.  Bill, Rasmus and Buck hiked down the Bright Angel Trail into the Canyon, descending all the way to Plateau Point.  And one evening we all splurged and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the historic El Tovar Lodge, which first opened for service in 1905.

We then returned back to Parks so that Bill could get some dental work done in Flagstaff.  While headquartered in Parks, Barb & I took Kari & Rasmus to The Walnut Creek National Monument near Falstaff.   

Walnut Canyon was formed by 60 million years of water flowing first as a gentle creek across the plateau, then etching and carving its way through steep passes. Deep gorges formed in the sandstone, limestone, and other ancient desert rock some 20 miles long and 400 feet deep.

The ledges formed by the winding Walnut Creek left natural alcoves that were perfect for sheltering native peoples from the wind and snow that reaches the Monument’s higher elevations. Sometime between 1100 and 1250, over 100 people lived in Walnut Canyon.

The Sinagua Indians grew crops along the canyon’s rim and along the walls. No one knows for certain why they left, but they left behind fascinating cliff dwellings that render the Monument well worth visiting.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we continue our account of our leisurely trip toward Salt Lake City with Bill & Colleen in their Allegro Bus and with our guests Kari & Rasmus aboard our own Allegro Bus.

With Family & Friends — Las Vegas & Bismarck, Sept. 15-28, 2017

Bill & Colleen accompanied us to Las Vegas, where we both took spots in Sam’s Town KOA. Barb’s sisters Audrey and Mary were in town, as was Barb’s son Jeff. We all gathered to do some bowling in the extensive lanes at Sam’s Town Casino. The family celebrated the birthday of Cliff, father of Barb & Mary & Audrey. Jeff had asked Cliff what he wanted for his birthday, so when we gathered for cake, Jeff presented him with a (model) Mercedes. Later in the week we  RV-ers helped Audrey pack up a truck in preparation for her move to Kansas City.  We also partook of a number of Vegas’ attractions, but no significant gambling. We had some inexpensive meals at various casinos. We saw a movie. (Dunkirk) We spent some time walking the gaudy casinos on   the strip. We visited the Springs Preserve, much of which contained displays targeted towards youngsters, but that also contained an excellent Nevada State Museum. And we attended the Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson. Pretty good tribute, but not really in the awesome tradition of the other Cirque du Soleil programs we have seen that featured such an intriguing combination of bizarre costumes and amazing physicality.

After Bill & Colleen returned to Parks, AZ, Barb and I focused on our parents. I flew to Bismarck to see Mom (and Sis Zona), and Barb focused on helping her father get more comfortable with his new iPhone and, more importantly, get hearing tests and then hearing aids. We both had good visits.

When I returned on Sept. 28, we caught our breath and then took our RV out to The Valley of Fire. But that will be the subject of our NEXT post.

Heading East & North, Part I — Devils Tower & Belle Fourche, SD, Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, 2016

We returned to Las Vegas from Atlanta, GA (and from Nellie & Michael’s lovely wedding) on September 25.  We spent a few days visiting with Barb’s dad Cliff and sister Audrey, and with replenishing our groceries for our trip back to the midwest.  Oh, and we picked up the RV from the Vegas Chevrolet repair shop, where work had been done in our absence.  It started with a recall:  brake calipers needed replacing, for no cost, of course.  But we also asked that they replace a leaking seal on the left front wheel.  And then they checked the right side, and it was leaking too.  And then while replacing the calipers they discovered the rotors should be replaced.   And the brake pads.   And I asked that they flush the radiator and replace with new coolant.  By the time we got out of there, we had spent well over three boat units!  (Forgive the inside reference.)

Barb and Audrey went out to a musical at the Smith’s Center one night:  Beautiful, the Carole King Musical.  I had no interest in joining them for the show, but I did regret missing their dinner:  All You Can Eat Sushi.

Next day, we began our long trek back toward Bismarck.  We spent two long days (stopping at Walmart parking lots for the evenings) before getting to Devils Tower, in northeast Wyoming, where we were joined by son Jeff (who was returning from a summer of exploring Alaska) for a few days of R&R.  In an adjoining campsite we noticed a single woman who was camping in her car.  Speaking to her out on a trail, we learned she was from Switzerland, and had remained behind for an extra month when her tour group had moved on.  We invited Nicole over for grilled pork tenderloin followed by S’mores.  Very enjoyable encounter.

On October 2 we (including Jeff) moved further east to the Rocky Point Recreation Area campground adjacent to the Orman Dam near Belle Fourche, South Dakota (where my father grew up).  At this time of year there are very few campers in this part of the world.  The ranger at the entrance suggested that if we wanted to be together, we could use the group site.  That worked well, since we were the only ones present there and since the site was commodious enough that I could fashion an unofficial “pull through” and avoid disconnecting the dinghy.

We parted from Jeff when we left Belle Fourche, Jeff heading south and eventually west, and we continuing on toward Bismarck.  But that is the subject of our next post.

Carr Family Reunion & B’day Celebration — Las Vegas, September 9-13, 2015

We flew out from Bismarck, ND, to Vegas on Wednesday, September 9, in order to attend yet another in a string of Carr reunions.  This one would be extra-special:  Barb’s father Cliff was turning 90 and two of his siblings — Evelyn from California and Joe from Idaho — attended.  We spent the first night at an east-side hotel/casino, and then gathered with the other attendees to move into a large multi-dwelling residence on the west side of Vegas.   We had used the same place two-times ago, so we knew the commodious property would serve us well:  large equipped kitchen with multiple ovens, comfortable seating everywhere, gazillions of bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool and a pool table and a large poker table.  Everything got used.  Perfect for a reunion with 38 attendees.   Folks took turns preparing meals, with Dan taking responsibility for the BIG meal on the day of the official birthday celebration.  Two prime ribs, baked potatoes, vegetarian squash-pasta, and salad.  After the birthday cake, everyone gathered around the huge high definition TV to watch the slide show Barb had put together featuring pictures of Cliff from childhood to the present.  He was in the Navy, a farmer, rancher, pilot, father of twelve, ran a trucking company, built the Carrington Livestock Auction in ND and ran it for many years, ran a dude ranch in Minnesota, sold real estate in Las Vegas, and became a skilled woodworker.  He is on his computer every day playing chess and is the first person we know to have upgraded to Windows 10 (which is something we would not have done until forced to).  He has been writing short stories for a number of years and has self-published a few of them.  Quite a remarkable guy!

The nine siblings kept track of the food expenses, with the contributions equalized at the end.  Audrey had primary responsibility for securing the venue.  The reunion was a four-day get-together, so everyone had an opportunity to partake of some of the famous madness on the strip.  We had gone to one of the Cirque de Soleil “Zarkana” shows a month ago, and so only went to the “Bodies” exhibit at the Sphinx.

Very successful reunion.

Oh, and we sold our Camry to Audrey since we had purchased a (very) used Chevy Tracker to pull behind our camper.  We flew back to Bismarck on September 13, a visit that was covered in the previous blog.   To learn what we did AFTER Bismarck, tune in next time.

High Roller and Zarkana; Downtown Las Vegas — July 15, 2015

In anticipation of a trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon, a number of us gathered in Las Vegas, where we decided to take in a show.  In town were Barb’s daughter Danielle and Danielle’s daughter Abigail, Barb’s son Jeff and Jeff’s son Zane.  Also attending were Barb’s sister Audrey and, of course, Barb & I.  We arrived downtown extra early, so that we could first take a ride on the giant High Roller.  The wheel, which has 28 transparent pods capable of holding 40 passengers each, is so massive that a ride consists of just one slow revolution that takes 30 minutes.  Here is Wikipedia’s description:

High Roller is a 550-foot tall, 520-foot diameter giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, US. It opened to the public on March 31, 2014, and is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.

After our ride we had dinner and then attended a performance of “Zarkana”.  Barb and I have seen a number of different offerings by Cirque du Soleil.  Zarkana is a return to the kind of acts that we saw originally.  Great fun.

Las Vegas & San Francisco — September 12-19, 2014

When Barb and I had finished our tour of Hoover Dam, we continued on to Las Vegas to visit Barb’s dad Cliff.  While in Vegas we did some window-shopping for campers, but ended up more confused than ever as to what we might eventually purchase.

On a previous visit one of Barb’s sisters had left a recommendation for us to visit the Las Vegas Wetlands Park, and so on an especially hot day we impulsively ventured out into the noon heat to investigate the park on the Las Vegas Wash.   We found a surprisingly green park whose water source is a combination of runoff from all of Vegas and from reclaimed water from a treatment plant.  We saw little wildlife — maybe because it was so damn hot.  Duh.

I left Vegas before Barb, since I wanted to go see my son Wil, who lives in the famous Castro district of San Francisco, right behind the Castro Theater.  On the day before I left, Barb’s brother Dan and his partner Candy arrived in Vegas from Washington State, so I got to see them before departing.  Barb remained in Vegas in order to visit with her father and Dan and to help Cliff and Candy celebrate their birthdays.

Wil picked me up at the Frisco airport, of course.   I wish someone had taken a picture.  Wil’s car is a Lotus Elise.   If you aren’t familiar with that vehicle, it is a British-made two-seat sports car that has been favorably compared to an Alpha Romeo 4C or a Porsche Cayman.  (Click here.)  My bulging backpack just barely fit into the small trunk.  What to do with my soccer bag with the rigid spine?  There was no choice but to put me into the passenger seat and then put one end in my lap, with the rest of the long bag in a vertical position that rose above the level of the windshield.  Good thing the top was removed.

We had a good visit.   Dinner at his favorite restaurant one night with friends, three of whom were Apple employees that had in their possession the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, even though this was before the official release date.   And the next night, a smaller group at Wil’s home where we created and consumed an awesome paella.

Barb in Las Vegas — Sept. 12-18, 2013

On the 12th I (Barb) flew to Las Vegas to visit my father Cliff for a week and to be with him on September 16th to celebrate his 88th birthday.  One of the first things we did when I got there was to go to the Nevada Motor Vehicle department to get Dad’s drivers license renewed since it was to expire on the 16th.  The only test required for him was an eye exam.  Fortunately, he passed with flying colors and is still driving quite well and can now drive until he is 92.

One afternoon the retirement community where Dad lives had a potluck and karaoke party.  Dad was not to keen to go, so I accompanied him and we had a great time.  The food was quite delicious.  I am used to cruiser potlucks where many folks bring easy things like beans or coleslaw.    Not so here.  It was like Thanksgiving in September.  Two of Dad’s poker buddies got talked into singing karaoke and really threw themselves into it.  Fortunately for everyone there, neither Dad nor I succumbed to the pressure to do any singing.

Mid-way through the week we were surprised by a visit from Dad’s brother John (my favorite uncle) and his friend Barbara from Minneapolis.  They were on a road trip first to Las Vegas to help celebrate Dad’s birthday, and then on to Los Angeles, Tucson, and Phoenix to visit family and friends.

One day Dad and I took a drive to Mesquite, NV to meet my brother Mike, his daughter Jessica, and her daughter Taylor for lunch at a casino there.  They live in Parawon, UT so Mesquite was about halfway for everyone.  It was nice to catch up with Mike and the girls.  During our time in the casino I finally succumbed to gambling and as usual I lost, but fortunately only $40. I have been making an annual trip to Las Vegas for many years to visit Dad and my son Jeff (who recently moved to Knoxville) and am no longer dazzled by the gambling or the glitter.  It is a great place for Dad to live though because of all the amenities. and I sure appreciate the inexpensive flights.


Las Vegas: Sept. 11-20, 2012 – Carr Family Reunion

Barb and I arrived in Las Vegas late in the evening of September 11. We stayed at the Cannery – East Casino/Hotel for two nights before moving over to the homes on the west side that were rented for the Carr family reunion. By the way, the media was saturated with news of the horrible flooding that had occurred earlier in the day of our arrival. Here is what I posted to FaceBook at the time:

“We landed in Las Vegas last night, and learned that the city had been hit Tuesday afternoon with record-setting daily rainfall that swamped cars, flooded the county courthouse, had the Fire Department rescuing more than 50 people from their vehicles and responding to about 40 swift-water rescue calls. At first, the news sounded “just like” Trinidad. But then we learned the amount of rain that had set the record and caused all of the problems: 1.17 inches! Doesn’t take much to drench the “driest city in North America!”

We later learned that there was also one death: a worker was swept from his tractor when it was caught too near a drainage ditch that was swept by a flash flood. The reunion ran from Thursday until about mid-day Sunday. All five of Barb’s brothers were there, and two of her sisters. And her father and her son, both of whom live in Las Vegas, and grandson Zane who came down from Idaho. Plus, lots of the immediate family’s significant others and offspring. Almost all of us bedded down in one or the other of the two rented homes, and almost all of the meals were prepared in the larger of the two kitchens or else unpacked and assembled there. Lots of time was spent just hanging out and visiting, but there were also major expeditions to a go-cart track and a laser-gun arcadia and several casinos. On Monday I flew on to Bismarck to visit my mother and sister; Barb stayed back until Friday to visit some more with her son and father. But before catching my flight Barb and I drove out to Hoover Dam, where we walked out on the pedestrian shoulder of the new bridge that stretches across the gulch just to the south of the dam, and thereby provides a great observation platform for viewing the spectacular dam.