Our Vacation Adventures Begin

(or the rest of our hundred mile walk)

Friday afternoon after MJBizCon (Read and see photos from that part of the Adventure here), we checked into hotel number three for the trip. The Rio, which we would be back to later for a show and then later to retrieve something forgotten in our room.

We would truly get to know this hotel throughout the next several days.

We were also going to really get to know the hotel where we had dinner, the Luxor. Since we had really planned out our dining, we only had room for Friday night to use the $50 worth of Gift cards we were given for the thermostat problem from earlier in the week.

It was OK. Typical bar food. But fine, since we had walked there from the Rio.

We were going to be on our feet for a few more hours, so we decided to grab the good camera. The Canon Rebel took some brilliant photos.

We got thirsty and decided to stop at the Cosmopolitan. In 2019, the Marquee Night Club was the site of one of the most epic MJBizCon parties I’ve ever been to since I started coming to the show in 2017. We looked for it. Couldn’t find it. But we did see this other club where you sat inside a chandelier. We headed to the casino bar.

What a weird night this turned out to be here at the Cosmopolitan.

The guy sitting next to me was in the process of getting thrown out by the time we were getting our drinks. Not sure what he said or did, but it must have started well before we got there. We decided to sit and chat and watch a wall of TVs showing horse racing from who knows where because we couldn’t hear it. There were a couple TVs with the American League Championship on and that’s the audio playing through the speakers.

We had walked around a couple of floors of the hotel and through the casino before we landed at the bar. So imagine our surprise when upon leaving, it was one way only, out, unless you had a room key or a dinner reservation. And you could only go out of selected doors. Security had shut that place down very quickly.

When we hit the sidewalk, we could see why.

There were at least 20 cop cars at the Miracle Mile Shops across the street. We decided to hightail it out of that area instead of sticking around for photos.

So we meandered back to the Rio for the night, which really isn’t ON the strip. But didn’t head upstairs until we took a couple of goofy pictures in the casino.

We also took photos of the goofy bathroom in this hotel room. You can see from the bedroom, through the shower, into the bathroom where the toilet is. Who the hell designed that?

Miles walked: 10.1


Up early and third Check-in Check-out day. Time to hit the road.

We took an Uber to a car rental place near the convention Center. We rented a comfortable car that would take us about 700 miles over the next 28 hours.

The first leg from Vegas to Williams, Arizona hotel was 225 miles.

We first stopped at the Hoover dam, which we had to pass over anyway on the trip. It was another great chance to get the good camera out. Karen had been there before. This was my first venture outside of Vegas once I got there. (I have driven from LA to Vegas twice.)

What a spectacular marvel that is. There was a moderate crowd, and we got some great photos. It was here that I noticed that the dual camera battery charger I had bought for this trip was missing. I knew exactly where I left it. In the hotel room. Imagine being in the parking lot of the Hoover Dam while trying to manipulate the complicated phone system that belongs to a hotel the size of the Rio.

There were a couple of magnificent areas where you could pull off into parking areas to take photos or just look.

We stopped for a bite at Last Stop Kitchen in White Hills Arizona.

So let me stop to tell you that I had developed a habit of yelling “O-H” every time I saw someone wearing Ohio State gear. This was something I was usually doing on the Las Vegas strip, but to my surprise, and to the couple who was walking out the door as we were walking in, I was able to exercise my habit out in the middle of nowhere Arizona.

At the Last Stop Kitchen, I bit into a really good hot dog and watched Karen walk into a broom closet. We were headed to the restroom before heading back on the road. There was a large sign that read Men to the left, Women to the right. She decided to open the small door between the entrances for some reason.

The road down I-40 was filled with truckers, but that’s what it was built for. It was also some beautiful country. Something we would see plenty of on this trip. This was the first of many times I was sorry I didn’t grab the dashcam for the rental car.

I-40 eventually dumped us onto good old Route 66 headed towards Williams, a town right out of the movie Cars.

We had just enough time to check into our quaint hotel, roll in our bags from the car, change clothes, lock up the room and travel another 60 miles to the south rim of the Grand Canyon for sunset. BTW…that’s Mater in the picture behind our bed.

After we bought our 7-day pass at the park entrance, we finished the trip to the rim. But not before coming across a herd of elk grazing on either side of the road. Thanks to the 300mm telephoto lens, I was able to get some good closeups.

Sure…the Grand Canyon is just a big hole in the ground. But it was a magnificent, colorful, vibrant scene that I had never experienced before and most certainly want to experience again. Next time with more time to hike near the bottom.

It was a little cloudy, so the sunset wasn’t as intense as we had hoped it would be. That didn’t matter, though, because for sunset fans like us, we had just witnessed one at one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. And we would be back in time for sunrise the next morning. (sorry…spoiler alert)

This was one of the nights we had not made reservations for dinner, since we knew there were plenty of restaurants in Tusayan, the city just south of the national park.

We stopped at a place called Big E Steak House. We were kind of worried when we walked in without a reservation and the place looked pretty full. We were told it would be about a 20 minute wait, so I grabbed something from the bar for us and settled in to a really nice lounge area. The lounge started filling up and we overheard one guest say to the group they were joining, “Typical wait time. It could be 20 minutes, it could be two hours.”

We were at our table in less than 20 minutes. The food was only OK. But they had a cool clock.

Back to Williams for an early turn in and a quick night’s sleep before returning to the south rim in the morning.

Miles walked: 2.8 (Not many steps since we spent more than six hours in the car)

Then that quaint hotel lost that designation during the night.

As we were just drifting off to sleep, about 10:30, we could hear the guest upstairs get into the room. Then he walked over to the window, then returned past the bed and into the bathroom, where he turned around and kept repeating it. We thought that maybe he was unpacking and we’d give him some time to settle it.

This is where I learned what hotel rage was. I actually, stupidly walked up to his door and was aobut ready to knock on it tell him to knock it off when better judgement came over and I went back downstairs.

Forty five minutes later I was on the phone to the front desk. The manager intervened. The guest quieted down for about ten to fifteen minutes when he started the pacing again.

After another quick call to the front desk, the manager had the guest removed from the hotel.

Don’t do crack, kids.


We prefer sunsets. We try to see as many as we can in northeast Ohio because of the way the sun just drops off the edge of the earth over the lake. But there was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to see sunrise on the Grand Canyon.

After a terrible night’s sleep thanks to our noisy neighbor, we were up at 5AM in order to get to the south rim on time to see the sun come up.

We made the less than hour journey in time to see the sun rise above the rim of the canyon. But the show wasn’t really the sun itself, as we had imagined. The show was the myriad of colors the rocks of the canyon opposite the sun turned, as the many light spectrums of the early morning seemingly gave each type of rock time to shine on its own.

We wandered around the walkways and sidewalks while taking some fantastic photos of the rock work and chatting with others along the way. We will definitely be back.

On the way back to Williams to pack, check out, and grab breakfast before the four hour trip back to Vegas, we stopped to pose with the Flintstones. Other than that, there wasn’t much to stop and visit between the two areas.

We ate breakfast at a nice little local restaurant in Williams on the way out of town. We did some souvenir shopping while waiting for our table. We make sure people now know we got our kicks on Route 66 and that we were at the Grand Canyon.

Then it was back to Vegas. To check into the last hotel of the visit, which was also the first. The Luxor. I had also called the Rio a couple times to see if they had found my battery charger. They had not, but the report from the cleaning crew hadn’t come through security yet. They said to check back.

After check-in we had time to watch some of the freaks on Fremont Street before heading to see the comedy-magician duo, Penn and Teller…at the Rio. This was the second time I was seeing them. They were good, but I don’t think they were as good as the first show. They might have been a little subdued because of Covid, and I think they thought too much during the break while they weren’t allowed to perform at all. So much cerebral humor, with some odd memorization techniques. But I would see them again.

Still no word on the missing camera battery charger.

We went back to the Luxor after the show to get a much needed night’s sleep before hitting the road again for our second longest side trip.

Miles walked: 9 (We started the day in the car for a four hour trip back to Vegas, and used the rental car for most of the rest of the day)


On Monday, after getting to sleep in just a bit, we started a “quick” day trip that will be a three-day trip in the very near future. We drove through the beautiful state of Utah and to Zion National Park about 2 and a half hours away.

In fact, I was almost speechless at the beauty of where we were.

It was windy and a little overcast for the drive. So windy, in fact, we got hit by a tumbling tumbleweed. I really wish I had the dash cam with me for that one. We were doing about 80 MPH, when, off to the right, you could see this fully formed sphere of dried plant life tumbling toward, then over the low, wire barrier running along the highway. There was nothing I could do. I really couldn’t swerve. I couldn’t slow down or brake because I would have gotten run over by the other vehicles going 80+. So I just hit it. Luckily, I knew enough about them, so I knew my chance of it being light was pretty good. That tumbleweed hit directly dead center on the front of the car, made a sudden change of direction and went up and over. I can only imagine what the people behind us saw. And there was no damage to the car.

On the way we had a great lunch up on a cliff side with a tremendous view of the sprawling little town.

Many of our meals were planned long before we departed, but we weren’t sure where we’d be when we got hungry on the way to Zion. We got hungry just before we hit St. George. So, Karen checked Google and it recommended a great place with a great view. Once we hit the town, we had some climbing into the mountainside to do.

It was appropriately named Cliffside Restaurant, where the food, the service…and the view were tremendous.

But it was also here that we realized that Utah is in a different time zone and that we were an hour behind where we thought we were.

So we quickly got back on the road for the rest of the trip to Springdale, the town at the entrance to the National Park.

After some parking confusion that cost us $30 and too much embarrassment to mention here, we went on up into the national park…on our own…in our own car.

There is no way to fully explain the beauty of this area. Even the photos that accompany this story can’t do the area justice. We stopped as often as we could on those curvy roads, taking photos from all angles. We ventured on foot down into large gullies to look more closely at the rock structure, patterns and colors.

That’s when we realized we could have spent three days here and not seen everything we wanted to see. We know now for next time.

Unfortunately, with the lost hour and the early sunset, we were soon on our way back to vegas for another meal on the strip. But as we stopped for coffee before the 2 and a half hour drive home, we noticed how dark the entire town was. Since I work for a lighting company I understand how Utah is one of the leaders of Dark Sky regulations. And they obviously take it seriously.

The wind was even more terrible and rain turned torrential for the trip back to Vegas.

Las Vegas is NOT a city concerned with Dark Sky. You could tell you were approaching the city from at least 60 miles away from the light pollution it throws up into the clouds.

We parked back at the Luxor and decided to eat at the large Mexican restaurant, Diablo’s on the second floor. I actually had to tell the manager that it was not OK for us to be getting our drinks after our meal had been served. But other than that, it was good food. We just didn’t order a second round from the bar.

We finished some gambling and headed back to the room, because we had one more day trip to go and we wanted to get an early start even though it was close to Vegas..

The staff at the Rio said they had found my camera battery charger and to call the next day to make arrangements to grab it.

But you didn’t think we could have a hotel stay without any issues. right?

We came back to the room to find there was no water in the entire hotel. Which meant no ice in the vending machine. I journeyed all the way back to the main lobby and through the casino until I saw that they had closed the restrooms. Karen might not get her shower in the morning.

Miles walked: 4.2 (5 hours in the car, mostly getting in and out of the car at Zion)


Karen got her shower as the water came back on some time overnight.

Today was the day we finally got to wear the hiking boots we packed. We also finally remembered we had a selfie stick. It was time for more western beauty at Red Rock Canyon. Not sure how many miles on our feet we put in up and down those rock faces, but it was a 13-mile road through it.

The loop is a road where you stop every so often. I could be a mile or more or sometimes less. There’d be an area to pull off and view the terrain or hike further in. We chose to hike further in every chance we got.

The second stop is where we really decided to see how far we could go. After walking down into the gully and back up the other side and up even farther, while stopping for selfies and other photos, we looked back to realize we had probably walked at least a mile and could no longer see the car. Once we just couldn’t hike any higher into the rocks, we started our return journey.

After several more stops, with the side trips being much shorter and not as much climbing, we realized that we were supposed to have the rental car back…and we didn’t have cell service to let them know we wanted to turn it in late. We drove down the loop road further until we found enough service to login into the website and extend our rental a day.

As the sun set on Red Rock Canyon, we made a hasty return to the hotel so we could get ready for what was easily the most expensive and most anticipated meal of the trip.

As I mentioned, we had made reservations at the restaurants we really wanted to visit. One of those was Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. But when I checked in September for a reservation in late October, the next available table wasn’t until November 29. Karen and I really wanted to try the beef Wellington.

After a post on Facebook bemoaning the fact that we wouldn’t be able to dine at Hell’s Kitchen, a friend responded that Ramsay had a had a steak place in the Paris. Guess what? They had the same menu as Hell’s Kitchen! So we were able to get reservations for the meal we wanted, but not necessarily the spot.

Didn’t matter. It was one of our finest meals anywhere. Karen ordered the beef, I ordered the lamb, and we shared our dishes.

As usual, we were dining late, and we got hungry for dessert even later. Karen had been dying for ice cream, so we went hunting.
Why does no place serve ice cream after 9 PM? We couldn’t find ice cream anywhere. Any place that served only ice cream was closed.

We even walked into the Hershey store which makes milkshakes. I pointed at the ice cream and asked for two scoops and the guy wouldn’t give it to me because he said they only make milkshakes. I said, “you’ve got ice cream there. You can’t stick a couple of scoops in a bowl?“

So it was back to the Luxor for just a little more gambling and a good night’s sleep before a long day ahead on Wednesday.

Miles walked: 11.2


This trip that I dubbed Vagabond adventures was now in day 11. And it was kind of a cool down day…kind of.

It was also the day we forgot to charge the selfie stick we just remembered we had the day before.

We chilled and prepared for our flight home. There was all that trying to figure out what goes in what suit case. Good thing we brought the big ones so there was room for souvenirs.

We checked out of the hotel late: best 30 bucks we spent on the trip. We checked our bags at the hotel and returned the rental car. Upon returning the car, even the rental manager said he was impressed because most people don’t take advantage of the region like that. They just stay around Vegas. Total miles on the rental car, 1150.

Since our flight out of Vegas wasn’t until 11:45 PM local time, we kept our luggage stashed at the Luxor and took one more walk along the entire length of the strip. Maybe it was one and a half times, maybe more. I don’t know, the daiquiris were flowing all afternoon.

By the way, no place in the US, ESPECIALLY Las Vegas should have machine gun sound effects as their “go” signal for crossing the street. (see video below)

We still had one more meal to grab before we headed to the airport and we did so in the shops of Mandalay Bay. We found this glorified pizza place where I had the lasagna.

It also led to the only note that I took outside of Facebook.

Did the restaurant we are eating at really just change the World Series to a cooking show on their TVs? (Slice at Mandalay Bay.)

Lastly, it was on the way to the airport, where we caught the red eye back to Cleveland while the flight crew watched us sleep.

Karen wanted me to mention about my road rage on the way home from the airport that morning, but I don’t think I should.

We made it back to my condo in Madison about 8:45 Thursday morning.

That was one hell of a trip.

Miles walked: 14.1 (Totaling an even 100 miles of walking)