Thursday, January 26, 2017



I have been a long while in putting all my notes and photos in order to finish this year's Vegas trip report.
Unlike earlier reports, this is not all bare bones, but has commentary and thoughts.
It is really written for me as primary audience.

Be sure that when you skim through one page, you hit “older posts” in the bottom right hand corner. These are really not “older” because I have posted backwards so that my trip is in sequential order.

The overview of my trip is that I stayed on Boulder, at Orleans, at Red Rock, in Laughlin with just a few nights downtown at the California.
Generally, I am pretty much disgusted with all the new fees along the strip, and I'm also aged out of wanting crowds or glitter. I just want a frugal trip and some good gambling along the way with some visits to places that are not casinos, like Red Rock Canyon, Grapevine Canyon, Oatman.
So, it may not be as useful for the average Vegas visitor because it is well off the usual destinations.
I stayed 19 nights and averaged $28 a night for hotels.
I paid for only 3 meals in my entire trip, two of them with my sons and one while in Oatman.
I won and lost and won again and on the last night lost a bunch, so my gambling score was $40 to the good.
However, I expect I'll get more offers from the places I stayed, and I earned more points than I could use. Most will still be active when I head back next November or December. I used all I could.
Also, there were plenty of free drinks.
And other benefits as well.

The most expensive bit of the trip was I rented a car for much of the trip. I am not doing well in the back department, so I felt I needed the luxury of a car, and I needed it to get to Red Rock and Laughlin.
Laughlin was the cheapest stay. 5 nights for a total of $22. 3 free at the Colorado Belle based on last year's poker play. 2 free on a Harrah's deal which gave rooms away in December for anyone who would pay the resort fee. In Laughlin that is just ten dollars a night and includes a heated outdoor pool.

I had father/son time with two of my five sons. Precious and rare is time spent together without women and children. I like both sorts of visits, but I do like some one on one once in a while, and they seem to like it as well.

I did get overtired, and I did not do meetups with other discussion board or Facebook friends. It was too frantic. I did see two of the four relatives I have who live in Vegas. I had just one night there between sons.

So, it was a success.
Usually, I travel to Vegas and back to Albany NY where i live. This Fall, my wife Elizabeth and I went to family Thanksgiving in Healdsburg, California and they hoped around the West. She does not do Vegas, but we also did Denver, and San Diego, coming home January 4th.
It was a difficult journey in some ways. Satisfying, but hard to pack for and exhausting.
Well, hope some of you enjoy this trip report. I suggest skimming titles for what you might like to know about.
Thanks for reading.

Forgetful Dewey

The hard part about being old in Vegas is that I forget everything and eventually it overwhelms my calm.
I get pissed.
The edge this time was the first morning in Red Rock when I realized I had left my camera battery charger plugged in the wall at Eastside Cannery.
I had bought the camera in Vegas because in California the week before I had forgotten to take my point and shoot out of my cargo pant pocket when I washed the pants.
The small zippered bag holding SD cards and a mechanism for loading them into the computer went missing after California, stayed missing the 20 days in Las Vegas, and was finally found under a liner of my large suitcase three days into the Denver stay.
I lost my electric toothbrush and looked so many places multiple times until I was convinced I had left it at Eastside Cannery. As security answered I saw it right on the bed stool.

I lost my way, even with an old GPS from home and the one on my phone.
I muted the voice on the phone GPS by accident and did not know how to turn it back on.
I lost the time on my phone having again by accident switched it to military time.
In the Air Force military time made instant sense. Now I have lost that ability and have to so the math and that is difficult because I've lost the skill of subtraction.
I put my seltzer on the fine slap edge of the tub, but forgot and knocked it over when I got out.
I remembered to swipe for the coupon for the Ellis Island steak special, but I forgot to play $5 and swipe to take another $2 off the price.
I forgot where in my wallet I put my American Casino Guide ID.
I confused my nephew Chris who lives in Cheektowaga with his nephew Chris who lives in Vegas, getting the family stories confused by generations.
I forgot how long it takes to ride the 202 to Maryland and then the 109 to the airport and was late meeting one son to rent the car.
At the Budget Car Rental office I forgot my Fastlane membership card and forgot that I could beat the line by going down to the garage level. Luckily, the woman was very helpful and let me get my rental.
She also called me handsome and told me when I signed the paperwork that in Vegas that meant the two of us were married.
I did not forget I have a wife.
Nor did I forget to remind my very handsome son of what she said, that I was the handsome one.
I reminded him often in case he had forgotten.
I misplaced a MyVegas number for a two for one buffet at Red Rock. MGM has it all on file, but for the Stations rewards we must sometimes have the number. They can look it up, but they forget.
At MGM I did remember to ask the clerk if he could cancel the dinner 2 for 1 for Aria as I redeemed the lunch 2 for 1. I did not know how long it might take for my son Frank and I to get from the airport to Aria.
However, I forgot to check to see if this had happened. When I got to Denver, MyVegas reminded me that I had three outstanding vouchers and one was the Aria dinner and another the Sunset Station matchplay which I had tried to redeem, but had forgotten the numbered code. I managed to cancel those two.
I forgot that the buffet at the Eastside Cannery opens at 11 am and went down at 8 for breakfast.
I forgot I put my best wine opening corkscrew in a container I use for soap, but I remembered my swiss army knife and used that cork screw and other blades for other tasks. I find it very handy.
I did remember always to pack it in the checked luggage.
I forgot to turn off the touchpad on the little, ancient computer I carry just for writing, and forgot that it caused havoc in the typing because every time it is brushed by my thumb, it jumps the courser. I use an external mouse to avoid that frustration, but the mouse pad needs to be disabled.
I forgot to look carefully when shopping Walmarts at a box of what looked like seltzer but was actually soda using aspertane for sweetener.
I forgot numerous times where I put my small pockets of Tuvia, a great natural sweeter.

I left my foot cream home. This is the only thing that keeps the blisters away. I bought some just outside of Red Rock.
I remembered to buy some distilled water for my sleep apnea machine and put the water in the machine. I forgot to turn on the heater, so I got very little hydration for two nights, until it dawned on me. By then my throat was a mess.
In Laughlin I was on my way to the car to get money from a nearby ATM I had found on my phone. I left the phone and so the source of directions in the room.
I left my small flashlight home, forgot to shop for one at Walmart, and did not remember that my phone could be a flashlight until I was ten days into my trip.
I constantly left my glasses on some counter in the room and had to search and search to find where I had put them. I forgot to bring a backup pair. I can get by without them, but views of television and all the wonderful sights of Vegas, especially those with lights, would be a bit blurry.
Finally, I lost the distance glasses at the Orleans. They just were not there when I organized after check in. The case was empty. Probably I had set them down to read something and not taken them up again. Security did not have them. They let me come in and check the box of glasses they had. Security at Luxor had not gotten them either.
I cashed out from my machine at the Orleans to go to the drawing. I did not have my name drawn. When I got back my seventeen dollar slip was not in my wallet nor was any evidence I had cashed it out. The same woman played next to me and said that no one had been there. On the other hand these machines don't beep after cashout.
Ironically, looking all around for it and retracing my steps had me lose my seat. I sat on the other side, put $20, played three hands and caught four to the royal in spaces, needing a jack. I caught the jack twice for two royals, played a couple hands and caught 4 queens and then decided to take a break, cashing out with a profit of $815 because the one progressive royal had progressed from the normal $200 to $485. and the other one was high as well.
Somehow by the time I got downtown I had lost the spoon, knife and fork I was carrying, so I had to eat my can of oysters with a serrated knife and my can of smoked salmon with my fingers.
I later put the serrated knife in my carry on suitcase, and so it was checked in detail until she found it. Another thing lost.
In Denver I could not find my pull over winter hat that I had brought just for the cold until I was there for five days, when I located it in the pocket of a jacket. The day I found it, it was 60 degrees in Denver.

When I put together this trip report I changed the settings for readers so that only I could access it until I was completely done with it.  When I put it up on Facebook, I forgot to change the settings so that anyone had permission to read it.  Luckily my Facebook friends are not as dysfunctional as I am.

When I started this post, I was laughing, but as I finish I am just unnerved by how old I am.
I am very much relieved that there is the blog to record these trips. It is an extention of my memory. Often the notes and photos jog my memory, and I can then recall almost everything, or so it seems anyway.


Healdsburg, California
Flying to Las Vegas

I am not having a good start on the Vegas trip. I woke at 3 AM but did not think it was 3. I showered and dressed and then noticed the time. It is 5 hours until we head to the airport.

Then I went on the VP tutor to practice my Deuces. I thought I was doing just great. Then I made a bad mistake and was not warned. I realized that the warn feature had been changed and that I was not doing so well after all. Just over 98%.

The flight was easy, so much different than flying from Albany. This idea we had of just hopping around the West after our Thanksgiving celebration with family was a good one. Short flights are very nice.

I dreaded the end when we flew home from San Diego through Vegas, but as it turned out the San Diego flight was packed full, but it was a new plane and the seats were wider and more comfortable. The Vegas leg had so few people that both Elizabeth and I had our own rows. Delightful!



Sam's Town sent me three free nights and let me book them the last two nights in November and the first night in December. So, I started my Vegas adventure there. I was surprised to get an offer because most of my play was on the full pay Deuces VP, which is really a dime VP because the max bet is 10 coins.
Free rooms at Boyd casinos means the resort fee is also covered, so the room is completely free.
I was somewhat anxious about starting my trip there because it is a long bus ride with luggage after a plane ride, but this year the plane ride was just from San Francisco.
I took the 109 and then the 202 and managed quite well. I try for the seat facing the exit door and I got to that on the 109 right away. The 202 was crowded when I boarded, but again it was not long before I got to those seats. Next year, however, I will have my new 4.5 London Fog suitcase with the bottom wheels for an easier roll on these buses.
On the morning of the third day I took the bus into McCarran, met Keith and we went  to rent the Budget car.
Keith was to stay at Bally's.
This gave us some flexibility and I could easily change hotels the following morning when I went to Eastside Cannery for three days and I could take my him back to the airport.

I was at Sam's on a Young at Heart senior special day. I failed to swipe for a multiplier, and perhaps the full pay nickels are not multiplied anyway, but I did get the free buffet and later that night got a voucher for breakfast the next day.
Another day I used my American Casino Guide coupon and earned the buffet after 200 points.
So, it never cost me anything to eat there.
I used the $4 movie coupon to see Ouija, a story about a girl who manages to contact evil on the other side.
It was pretty poorly done.
Sam's is often not my favorite buffet, but after I waited for a table (I don't do well in booths and I don't like a chair facing a wall) they put me out right next to the courtyard which was all decorated in Christmas lights and very pleasant.
And I was well fed.
I found the beef tasty but pretty tough.
There was a meatball soup that I liked.
I ate refried beans and a no sugar added blueberry pie.
One morning I walked down to Eastside Cannery for the Webpass earned free ham steak breakfast. That was very good but a bit off my diet.
I was in the Young at Heart senior at Sam's drawing for $500 for one person and then $100 for 20 people, but had no luck.

I played the 2-6 spread limit.  I like this game, but I don't often do well in it.  I bought in for $180 and was simply drained down after a few hours.
I did have one great hand. I held 4-5 spades and 7-8 came on the flop. The 6 hit on the river for a $192 pot.
Most of the crowd were regulars. One was Casey who was always changing his seat for better luck. 
He bet into me with trips.  When I hit on my junk cards, he left in a huff. 
Kevin said later that he should have been fine with that because he plays all sorts of things.
There was also a grumbling old fellow who left and one other fellow who was frustrated when my a 3 in my hand went to trips on the turn and beat him.
I was not playing well. I was playing too many hands. But playing well with regulars who all play better than I do generally means I lose while holding things they can't imagine I am holding can sometimes get callers. 
The bonus this day was the highest full house by a certain time. The fellow who won was the fellow I beat with trip 3's.
I only played the 2-6 once.
I played once in the $23 morning tournament and when we got to the final table there was a movement to chop when 4 of us were left. I went along, so I only earned about $50. I would have much better played it out, especially since one of us was very low chipped.
My issue with tournaments is just when I've earned a seat at the final table, everyone wants to split the pot.  In my mind, that is where the real poker starts. 
Yet I hate insisting on not splitting when everyone else is ready to go home, tired of the long game.


I did hit four deuces on the video poker and played both quarters and nickels for hours. I ended down money, but with plenty of points. I imagine that I'll get another offer next year.  I seem to be getting them regularly. 
California does not have me on the radar yet, but I still have hopes for some offers there.
I played well because I had been practicing on the Dancer video poker tutor created years ago by ZamZow. Still, I think that I only play at about 98%.


The Courtyard well lit for Christmas. Snow was on the trees, and decorative holiday dress on the animals.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


On the morning of my last day at Sam's Town, I had to meet son Keith at the airport and together we would go to rent the Budget car.
I misjudged the buses and was a bit late.  I felt terrible, but Keith was fine and told me not to worry.
I was Fastlane but had forgotten my card.  Keith suggested he wait in the line and I try to book downstairs anyway. 
The woman there said that I really needed my card, but she looked me up and agreed to do the paperwork.  There was no line there. 
She was quite a character.
Keith joined us and she started talking about how handsome I was.  Keith is a very handsome young man, so it was funny.  Still I enjoyed it.
She upgraded me to a Kia Sedona because it would be safer.  I was happy for that upgrade over the course of the rental.
I usually never rent a car in Vegas, and it was expensive with the loss damage waiver, but I treated myself to four weeks, and I was happy I did.  The trip is so cheap.  I am getting older.  My luggage was much heavier with all the clothes for my next part of the Western adventure, a Denver winter as well as Vegas summer like clothes, and I am having some back issues.
When we got the car, it only had a half tank of gas.  Once again Keith is the one who noticed that.  We drove up, got the woman's attention, and they sent a fellow to top off the tank with apologies.

We drove out to the Gold Coast for their breakfast buffet.  I had enough points from my play at Sam's Town to pay for both. 
I like their buffet.  Cheap and tasty.  The red eye gravy has changed a bit, but they can't really do much to eggs, especially since I like over easy rather than fancy omlettes.

Keith had a room at Bally's.  The second day I drove into their lot, but the third day, I took the 202 and that let me take a grand midday nap in Keith's room, and come home rather late from poker.

Keith and I play very different poker.  He plays 2-5 no limit.  I play only limit. 
I played the limit game at Bellagio one day, but it was 4-8 with a kill and so it pushes my bankroll a bit. 
We both played 2-4 at Flamingo and wound up sitting next to my old buddy from El Cortez days, Kevin and a friend of his, Mike.  That was very cool getting Keith and Kevin sitting next to them, with Kevin telling old stories.  It was a fine day.

Keith and I ate at Bally's.  It was an Asian place and I had a fine Tom Yum Seafood Soup.  One morning we went up to Ellis Island and had breakfast.  I had the steak special.  Still good.  No drink with it now, but I can't drink beer or soda anyway.

We walked through the Bellagio garden.  It was all Christmas and really more cliché than usual.  I was disappointed.  But we took a couple of photographs anyway.

We took the tram up to Aria and Keith played there a while. 
Here we are in front of the Aria poker room.

We were sort of on our way to the 2-6 limit at Excalibur to find a game we might play together, but I was really tired and that was when I took my nap.

Before the nap, however, I toured the art along that stretch next to Aria.  I especially love to see the Chihuly. 

 I got interested in this piece because if reflects an outdoor art piece that I thought I might visit later.  It is not too far from Laughlin. 
I took a few more shots as I walked back to Bally's for my nap.

 This one I took from the escalator.

Back in keith's room I took a long, long nap and felt a lot better when I woke up.
So over the few days we had a nice father/son visit, Keith and I.  He has three children, so this kind of one-on-one experience is rare. 
It also was a treat that Keith thought of coming.  I did not lobby or obligate him. 
Thanks, Keith.


I have some relatives who live in Vegas. They are all descendants of my very dear sister, and span three generations. I managed to meet with some of them by attending a chili and gingerbread house decorating party that is held every year by my grandnephew's significant other Valerie.
It was mostly attended by extended family of Valerie, but I did get a good chance to visit with grand niece Jan and Josh.
They were a bit tired. Josh is working long and grueling shifts, but we still had a decent visit. This trip was so tightly planned that I did not think I'd get to see them again.
Jan gave me some presents: some of her bottle art with her grandfather Paul's famous line, "It's all part of the great adventure," and some home brewed body creams.
Things were often rough for her grandparents, so it became quite a story.
Once one of my deceased nieces named Gayle (his daughter) was out mowing the extensive grass around their trout pond and the mower broke.
It was a hot day and she came in pretty annoyed.
Her husband sat on the couch and after she ranted her troubles, she said, "Well, as my father Paul used to say, ' It's all part of the grand adventure.'
Her husband responded, " F##k Paul and the great adventure, "
And immediately he had a heart attack and died.

Niece Jan and her husband Josh have been involved in pigeon rescue where they find a wounded bird and nurse it back to health, so she had some stories of that. I am a great fan of pigeons and kept them as a boy, but I wanted to admit to her that sometimes we ate them, and that when I went in the service, I gave them away to an old fellow who also raised and ate pigeons.
The trouble with pigeons as pets is that, unlike dogs or cats, they don't easily resettle in new homes but come back to where they have lived. I could not let them come back to my aging mother while I was away in the Air Force.
Jan seemed to take this well. She likes me enough.
Josh showed me a fine braided chain he had made for his Irish cross. He always has some creative, interesting piece.
Sometimes we don't like the folks that our family marries, but in both these cases I really like their chosen partners.
Josh is creative and smart.  He always has some project to describe or something he wants to do.
Valerie is one of those women who you hope when they connect or marry into your family. She is delightful, upbeat and cheerful, good to those around her, and well organized. She has made it much easier for me to meet up with my Vegas relatives who are not organized and often times approach the dysfunctional, especially now that my niece Jan is busy with her baby.
My grandnephew Chris has a great sense of humor, and a quick, bantering wit.  He is always fun to be around.  This time he was with a buddy of his who really was like a twin brother in verbal patterns, bantering rhythms, and mannerisms.  It was amazing really.  I had such a good time watching them and listening to them.
The buddy stayed around after others had left and I found him comfortable and easy.
It was good Jan and Josh made the meetup. I missed two others in that family, all descendents of my sister, but it has been a hectic and very busy trip so far, and to see them I'd have to take the initiative, make a plan which perhaps that would not even work.
I'm feeling my age in this respect.  That is why it is so fine to have Valerie pick up the slack.
I did not plan meetups of board friends this trip, and still I was exhausted by the end. Live poker takes a good bit of time at the table, more than other forms of gambling. And I am hesitant to schedule around it. I can walk away from a video poker machine and come back to the same game, the same odds, the same everything. Every live poker table is different, and some I just don't want to leave.
My great great nephew George told me about his new school and his interest in history. He is quite a kid.
So far they will not have to be concerned about an overpopulation of pigeons. The ones they have rescued included only one male, and once he was healed, he flew back home again after fathering a youngster.
If the youngster is a male and mates with one of the other pigeons, then they will have the dilemma of raising pigeon after pigeon, all of which will come home again.

Josh helped me fix my phone to get rid of military time, and to get the GPS talking to me again. It had been silent and that had not been very helpful. I am learning a bit of the phone, and some of it I find very useful, but I have never much liked phones, and the writing takes forever, unlike email or blogging where my fingers pay attention to some part of my brain, and I don't have to hunt and peck or think about the words.
I am using a stylus on the phone and that has helped with some texting. Also, the word appearing at the top helps because it is one tap and also adds space at the end. The fewer times I have to tap anything the better.
However, I would need three lifetimes to tap out a blog like this on a phone.
So my texts, unlike my blog entries, tend to be short and to the point.
In my writing I am partial to long development of ideas. I abhor acronyms and all those shortened expressions that are so useful on the phone. I am not critical of the young who use them; they just don't work for me.
For me there are times when less is not better. I don't wear bikinis, for example.

After a bit of chili and some corn muffins, the group took ginger bread house kits and added every type of sugar imaginable to decorate them in interesting ways. They squeezed on the frosting in patterns and then attached M and M's, gum drops, Good and Plenty, small decorative bits, two kinds of oreos, and assorted other sugar candies. It was fun to watch and the talk and banter during the construction was very lively.
After everyone had left the party, the hostess, Valerie, her son Brendan, and my nephew Chris sat and talked with me for quite a while, telling new and old stories, bantering, and finally putting some serious thought into coming to see me back East in the spring. She wants to come out to see us. Brendan sat quietly and listened.  He reminded me of myself at his age.  He certainly seems an easy boy to manage. 
I lobbied again that they all come for a visit on Burden Lake and they showed interest again.  Chris is a bit travel phobic, and he works long hard hours, but perhaps this year he will manage to work out the details. I don't have much family left at all and I'm not getting any younger.  

I think Brendan would enjoy fishing at my place.  They all would enjoy the boating.
Pretty exciting possibility for this coming May.

Here is what the gingerbread house building looked like.  Imagine almost everyone talking at the same time while they created their unique patterns and you get a flavor for the fun.  I was honored to be included.

 Jan and Josh

 Val and Brendan

 Jan and young Sebastian




I started the day by cleaning up the room. I certainly make a mess of things. It took me a while, but I managed to arrange things so that Frank had his spaces.

Walmarts provided me with a couple bottles of wine, more smoked cans of fish, advil, and what I thought was seltzer but ended up being fake soda with aspartame. yuck.  One can of that was enough.  I actually held it in the trunk until later in the trip where I gave it and much of my left over bottled water to a fellow in the parking lot at the Orleans at about 6 in the morning.  He thanked me and put it in the truck.  Perhaps someone likes that cheap soda, but if you drink seltzer on a daily basis, you soon lose the taste for sweetness.

My Vegas provided me with a free breakfast at Sunset Station. However, I played a good bit of quarter Deuces Wild and that took up seventy dollars, so it was one of those expensive free breakfasts. I did like there being no line. The food was good.

I hate driving on large highways, but I managed the trip to the airport. There must be a way to go on smaller local roads, but I am still just learning the GPS function of the phone. At least it was talking to me.

I did okay.

I parked in short term parking.

Frank was delayed a bit, but I met him in baggage and off we went to have a fine buffet at Aria's.

We could still park for free in the lot next to Bally's and have a bit of a strip visit on our way to Aria.  Now, there will be a parking fee.

I love this spot. Plenty of shellfish and other good tastes. Plenty of soups including a spot to make a pho so I could construct a fine soup, but skip the noodles.

There were two fine sugar free desserts, one called a cream cycle and another a pudding with a blueberry.

We had parked at Bally's and walked the strip. It was a fine, sunny day and there were plenty of odd street performers and such to entertain.

I tried to get Frank to get the free tee shirt at Ellis Island and use other coupons, but he was ready to settle in the room at Eastside Cannery. 

My boys are not attracted to the "bling" of Vegas like their Dad.

So we headed out to Eastside Cannery for one night before the trek to Red Rock Casino and Canyon.

Claudine Castro no longer plays the Monday night at Eastside, but does play at Sam's Town. However, she was not playing this night.

We decided to try the little Skyline casino where we could play nickels and dimes at full pay.

I had not scoped it out at VP free and in my searching only noticed one JOB at full pay in dimes. He played there, and I took an eight five bonus so as to sit next to him.

I was doing very well with quads coming and trips coming and even caught the Aces. But in the end I lost five dollars of my twenty. Frank was into his second twenty when he hit a club royal. In dimes this is four hundred dollars, so he was happy. This was to be his only substantial win of the trip.

Drink service was very slow, but we managed. I did not want to drink much anyway, and he had cokes. He also had a late breakfast type meal which he said was good. There were small bowls of free popcorn. This was not so great.

Also annoying was this fishing slot where the computerized shouter kept shouting out the same line over and over again.

It was loud.

I wished I had brought my three dollar ear muffs from Harbor Freight, but then I suppose it would have been harder to hear the banter with Frank. We did have a good time and laughed a lot.

Constantly they were giving tickets for this and that, giving away baskets of food, hats and tee shirts and twice there was a money drawing. And the announcer reminded me of a old fashioned carnival huckster.  I liked listening to him.

The first was for two hundred and fifty dollars, but the winner was not there. So that money was kicked into the second pot, making that seven hundred and fifty dollars. We had quite a few tickets in that one, but we did not win. 
I'm not sure if we were really supposed to have tickets. 
They came with any win over a hundred. However, the runner was so friendly, and every little while she gave us some. So, it was an exciting old fashioned time. 
I will definitely go back to this little place when I am staying at Boulder.

Along with the full pay dimes, there were many coin droppers in quarters of all varieties that paid full pay.

We called it an early night so as to sleep enough for Red Rock. However, I was awake after five hours. I just don't sleep in, even when I am tired.

When I left for Red Rock I left my Elf camera battery charger plugged in wall.  Luckily the charged battery held through all the Red Rock photos.  I picked it up when I got back, but that is another story told a few posts down.


We took too long getting out of Eastside Cannery. I did not push Frank to go, but he did not have a sense of the length of the drive. 

We were both awake very early and could have gotten out and had more time for our first day at Red Rock. We were there to check in before noon and they gave us a room. They might have checked us in earlier, but either way we had the car.

Most frustrating is my memory. I had forgotten the easiest way to pack in luggage to the hotel. 
Park in East Garage on the 3 floor. There are signs for Platinum parking, but the immediate parking is for anyone.

Walk into the casino and you will be on the floor just above the lobby.

There are elevators to go down to the lobby and so avoid the long staircase. Check in there and in the lobby are elevators to the rooms. This is the most efficient way to bring in your own luggage.

We had quite a bit of stuff because I had shopped Walmarts and a grocery store near Red Rock, really preparing for my five days in Laughlin. Then we both have sleep apnea machines and luggage. It added up to a good bit.

We were exhausted and we opted to use the "free" luggage guys in the main check in area, which meant a $5 tip.

We could not leave the car near that check in area and make a couple trips ourselves or use their carts as we do in most hotels in the country.

However, on the way out we could access our car easily in that East Parking Garage lot and make as many trips as we needed.

The rooms are very nice. Fine marbled bathrooms with two sinks, towel racks, a good view of the mountains, plenty of electrical outlets, a large collection of pillows.

I am amazed at how many pillows some places put out. I make a tower of them in some corner because even two is sometimes one too many.

Once we settled in, we decided to swim in the heated pool. We could not be certain what was heated, but we saw another guy swimming and sure enough, it was at a delightful temperature.

The swim erased all the driving difficulties.

However, it cramped up this muscle on my right side that is giving me trouble, and the hot tub did not erase the cramp. Aleve helps.

I had some back in the room.

Refreshed, even without a nap, we set out for the little hike at Calico Basin. It is free and just off the Calico Basin road with free parking. There were plenty of rock climbers going up the large rock and in other sections. The sun was off the whole area at this time, but it still was very beautiful. The trail was a bit rocky for walking, but I had my nice hiking boots and that protected my ankles from turning when walking in the rockier areas. Much of the trail is maintained with gravel brought it. This is easy walking.

For the developing blister on one toe I bought the foot cream called Zim's Max foot cream and it worked very well. I also bought some bandaids that had a gel in them and put one on the developing blister. That worked and I had no other foot issues on the trip. I should have done that earlier and not put it off.  Just walking around casinos in the dry air does damage.  Vasoline will lubricate, but it won't hydrate.  These foot creams are just perfect. 

The cream is made for dry and cracked skin. Here in Vegas the air makes for dry and cracked skin. It has Arnica, Aloe, and I-arginine as well as a large list of other ingredients.

Both of us were tired from our day.

I used the American Casino Guide to get a 2 for 1 supper buffet. It was good as always. I ate too much, however.

One favorite concoction was the green pork stew mixed with collard greens from another table.

I like this buffet, but I have two complaints. First, they do not have a hot sauce other than Tabasco. No Cholula. Second, their bowls are too small to make concoctions from various parts of the buffet.

They did have some sugar reduced iced cream and no sugar added desserts and I had some, but unlike other years I did not have good numbers the next morning. It is discouraging.

In Laughlin I'll eat more in the room and lighter.

With the boys I've been going to two buffets a day. I usually do just one.

At Red Rock Frank wanted one upscale meal at the Yardhouse.  His main course was microbrews, of which they had quite a selection.  One even came with a free glass.
I stay away from carb high beer most of the time.  I am also tired of the inflated red wine prices. 
Here I saw a sangria that looked great, a hand crafted specialty drink which was cheaper than wine.  I don't quite get that.  How can they put a glass of red wine in with a liquor and other tastes and end up offering it cheaper than buying the red wine?  This one was made with agave, but I have found that in most places I can have them just leave our the agave.  I had two of these, one on a happy hour special of $8.  They did not spike my sugar.  Very interesting.
For my entre I had a halibut special and it was the best piece of fish I have had in a while.  Buffets don't offer good fish.  It is always overcooked. 
Frank and I had a good long talk.  The waiter was great.  The music was not too bad.  So it was a great meal.  We reduced the price a bit with $10 of comped points.
It was one of three meals over 20 days that I paid cash for.
I guess I deserved it.
I'd certainly go there again, especially with someone who liked beer.


Son Frank and I like to hike a bit in Red Rock Canyon as part of our father/son time away.  It is a great setting just to quietly enjoy one another's company.

We don't try anything very challenging, but simple trails.
Generally, we have gone in November, so I was worried that December might bring some winter weather issues.  There can even be snow at times.
This day I was particularly wary because I felt terrible. I had an extreme sore throat and the pain of it was moving into my left ear. I thought I was getting a good cold. I was over tired and weary. It was hard to get it up for the hiking and I was disappointed because I look forward to it all year. 

The weather was fine, however, and whatever was going on in my head resolved itself enough for me to enjoy myself. 

The first hike into the canyon there are two stops at Calico. I had forgotten which had stop had the steep incline. It is number 2. If we were to hike all the way to number 2, we still have to hike back to the car either on the same trail or on the road, so I generally hike just until I can see that incline and then hike back on the trail.
This time the helpful person in the Visitor's Center suggested I substitute the Sandstone Quarry trail, and just head back again when the rock scrambling became necessary.  It is right into the rocks and moves away from road traffic, so it is quieter. 
I did not remember doing it before, and we decided to try it, especially since there was major construction the closed Stop 1 for the Calico hike, adding noise and making my usual route impossible. I hate the long climb at 2 at the end of the hiking.
Also, the parking in the first Calico turn off was closed so the second turn off parking was packed up.

The new foot cream had well prepared my feet and I was confident I would not get blisters.
It was a good decision. The hike is easy at the beginning and then there is moderate rock scrambling. I very much liked the hike, and we did rock scramble for a bit without trouble. We stopped at an open space with red rock around us. This is not the hike to actually see the red rock. It moves out of the intense red rock area that defines Calico.

However, just before sunset on the evening before we had gone to the free area up Calico Basin Road and taken the short hike into plenty of red rock on the back side of Calico. 
I loved this hike. It is not in the scenic drive park. So, we had seen a good bit of red rock formation and rock climbers.
More rock climbers passed us on the trail.

On the trail we saw a road runner pass and it was fairly up close.
I was as delighted as I could be with all the discomforts, especially in my throat. 
This was a quieter hike than the Calico trail.  It moves away from the road and the car noises.
I especially liked the mix here of creosote and other trees with the views of the rocks.

One interesting fact on creosote trees is that they take moisture from the air. So when California has a huge rain and it drifts in the air, the creosote can capture water from the humidity.

 Occasionally we would see a bit of red rock mixed with the less colorful rocks.

 On our second day we did not hike.  We checked out of the hotel.  Frank had to get to the airport, but we had time to drive around the park again, see a few of the pulloff sights, and take a few more photos.

We did not get going early except to pack. 

Frank seemed content to take his time this morning. He went down to play a bit more video poker.

I repacked carefully since I had the time, putting all the food and drugs and such in the backpack and the rest in the suitcase. I added the sleep apnea machine.

So, when we were ready to check out, we could manage the luggage in just one move and not need a bellman nor a cart.

We got it packed out and we checked out at the desk. They would not extend us an hour, but we really did not need it.

Frank redeemed his matchplay from MyVegas and won twenty dollars. I redeemed my MyVegas two for one and used points for the rest of the breakfast.

We decided not to hike again, but just to drive through Red Rock and stop where we wanted. The construction at Calico one made parking at Calico two  very crowded with people; they extended along the road for quite a while.

I was not satisfied with any pull overs near Calico because the edge of the road seemed high and a bit jagged. I did not want to risk cutting a tire.

Finally, I saw one fellow pulled off the highway and pulled in behind him. Here we took some photos, even a selfie, and then set our seats back and took a long nap. It was fine to fall asleep with the rocks right there in front of us, wake to see them, doze again. It was quiet.

I kept driving slowly through the park. Somehow it was a different experience. It may have been that I was over most of the illness or that I used polarized sunglasses over my regular glasses. Or it many have been that the sun was just right at about noon.

Whatever was the reason, I was better engaged by the canyon on this drive. I especially experienced how the dips and turns of the road changed how the nearby cactus hills merged with the far away rocks. 
I could imagine the people who designed the roads thinking of this visual experience. 

And I thought again about how productive it is to re-experience art and bring a new day's perceptions and emotions to the experience.

Frank was fairly quiet, perhaps not looking forward to the long plane ride home. He did say that for him four days was plenty, not too much and not too little.

For me, uninterrupted and unshared father/on time is very rich in pleasure. I was so grateful this year to have it with both Keith and Frank.

We stopped again a few places. Often I wanted to let those behind me go by. They travel much faster than I want to travel and often close on my bumper. In traffic I most hate tailgaters.

Once there were two cars behind me and the last one decided to pass. It is a two lane one way highway so passing makes sense. He had room, but I moved a few inches to the right to give him more. When I did that, the car directly behind me also decided to pass, and did not see the passing car behind him. 
Only a quick horn saved an accident.

 Frank having a coke.

We left the canyon finally and headed to the airport.

Frank said he best liked the hike at Calico Basin, but he did not want to go there again or to the spot called Red Springs near there.

We had plenty of time to get to the airport. I took Sahara and then Flamingo. It dawned on me that a night at the Gold Coast as first night in Vegas might be better than our choice of the Eastside Cannery. The Gold Coast has a heated pool and Frank has been there before. I tried this time to book a room there, but the cowboys had them all locked up. 

On the way in we stopped for a bathroom break while I filled the tank. Good thing. Gas in Laughlin was forty cents a gallon higher than what I paid.
At the gas station I gave away the last two cokes to a fellow with a backpack who asked for change for coffee.