Bill and Kit’s 2020 Excellent Adventure, Journal #5

When you step away from the confines of realistic,
you become an explorer charting new territories,
creating new ways of looking at situations,
and It’s impossible to be bored with your life.
Rick Foster

Sunday, January 5, 2020: Awoke at Oasis RV Park, Las Vegas, Nevada. Following breakfast, we broke camp and hit the road at 1130 hours under sunny skies and a temperature of 55 degrees. Then meandered through South Las Vegas until finding our way to I-15 which we merged onto and headed North.

That black structure to the left of the interstate is the new stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders, an NFL football team that escaped Oakland, California a few days ago.

This jet black, 1.8-Billion-dollar state-of-the-art facility, is undergoing construction and is slated to be completed for the 2020 NFL football season. It will feature a transparent domed roof, climate-controlled environment, and a clear wall structure facing the Las Vegas Strip which can be covered by large solid shields if desired.

At 1220 hours, we pulled into the Desert Eagle RV Park on Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada, and set up for a ten day stay.

So, why did we bother to only travel 22 miles just to camp at another spot in Las Vegas? Well, funny you should ask! Desert Eagle is still in striking distance of the kid’s house so we can see them after school or on weekends. Also, the campground is more to our style…and, most important, the daily rate is ¼ the fee of Oasis.

So, as the sun dove below the horizon on our first day at Desert Eagle…

…we bid you all a hearty goodnight!

Monday, January 6 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020-Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV: Our ten day stay here was full of fun activities including just playing tourist, something we haven’t done in the Vegas area for a few years. Some outings were just the two of us, and others included the grandkids.

The first morning here, we were greeted by a flyover of the USAF Flight Demonstration Team…The Thunderbirds.

Headquartered at Nellis AFB, these Ambassadors in Blue spend this time of the year bringing newly selected pilots and crew members up to speed and practicing their close aerobatic maneuvers in the skies over the deserted desert northwest of the base.

Their home-base hanger…

…features a nice little museum containing Thunderbird history, and information about the aircraft they currently fly…

…the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a fine Lockheed product!

As it turned out, Jack scored an extra week off school, much to the chagrin of brother Tucker. So, shoehorning a day into his other social activities, he’s 15 after all, we fetched him from home and enjoyed a day with Jack to ourselves.

One of his suggestions for the Jack Day-O-Fun were to ride the New York Roller Coaster…

…part of which can be seen as a red rail situated atop the New York-New York Hotel and Casino.

The coasters passenger cars are modeled after NYC Taxi Cabs…

…and take one on an exhilarating ride throughout the hotel complex…

…with loops…

Photo from Google Images

…spirals, and vertical drops. Kit declined to enjoy this ride, which was fortuitous, as we had someone to hold all the stuff from our pockets that could become airborne and pummel unsuspecting pedestrians below.

The ride was relatively short by mega-coaster standards, but just as exciting and jarring by pulling both negative and positive G’s…but, one ride was enough for this 72-year-old body.

Next, something a bit more docile, Jack desired to ride the Venetian Canals in a Gondola.

So off to the Paris Hotel and Casino we walked.

The ride was actually quite pleasant, although with unique Vegas “enhancements” like placing the canals of Venice inside the city of Paris.

The Gondolier was an Italian from New York (the real one) with an excellent singing voice…

…which we enjoyed as he treated us to traditional songs of Venice.

Following the Gondola ride, we ambled down the strip a ways. Getting near dinner time, Jack suggested we try The Secret Pizza…but he hadn’t a clue exactly where it is located, which is the point of a secret pizza joint after all. The only clue? It’s somewhere within the vast Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino complex.

And that’s the draw. The eateries entry point is obscure, without signage, and hidden from all but the most intrepid pizza fan. After about 30 minutes, and with the help of a few online clues, we finally located the elusive Secret Pizza.

And the search was well worth it…

…as the New York style pizza was incredible…

…even for the more discriminating guest.

As the night wore on, the day’s activities started to wear on Kit and me, so we decided to leave this adult fairyland and head home. On the way back to the parking garage, I asked Jack if he wanted a souvenir to remember the day, and…he chooses this little beauty.

So, we purchased him a shiny red Ferrari! Well a 1:32 scale of one anyway.

On Saturday, the boys wanted to visit the Mob Museum in old downtown Las Vegas.

Kit and I toured this unusual museum a few years ago, but Jack and Tucker had not. It’s a fascinating collection of organized crime history, photos, and artifacts. Most folks, when they think of The Mob, envision organized crime in Chicago or New York City, however the tentacles of this nefarious organization stretch across the United States…

…including Las Vegas, where organized crime had enjoyed a foothold until the mid-1980’s. The city, wanting to appeal to law abiding folks and ease toward a more family friendly vibe, worked hard at minimizing the Mob’s influence. Some claim organized crime has been eradicated form the city…others are not so sure.

We learned that the Mob had a presence in California as well. This took the form of a fleet of derelict ships which were anchored off the California Coast where gambling, illegal alcohol, and prostitution was offered.

Photo from Google Images

Being in international waters and beyond the reach of the authorities, frustrated The Fed’s. So, in a stroke of genius, the boundaries were redrawn by court order, all the ships were seized, the operators and the patrons were arrested, and the ships scuttled, putting an end to the illicit operation.

An interesting item in the museum’s collection is this .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver owned by Al Capone.

Boy, the nefarious history that pistol has endured. This pistol only recently surfaced a good 73 years after the authorities put Scarface into prison for tax evasion…which was the only charge that the Fed’s could get to stick.

At the other end of the spectrum is this toy car from the Mob era.

The tales of Government Agents, known as G-Men, were widely publicized in print and featured in movie reels of the day, so it was common for youngsters to play “cops and robbers”. My brother, our friends, and I would run the canyons of San Diego with our Red Rider BB guns looking for imaginary bad guys. Oh, and a bit of loosely related and totally useless information, the term BB does not stand for ball bearing…but rather it’s the size of the lead shotgun shot the original BB guns used as ammunition…size B was too small, and size BBB too large.

The Mob Museum is housed in the old Nevada District Courthouse, and on one floor is the courtroom as it appeared in the 1920 and 1930’s. There are films shown depicting some of the more famous Mob cases tried in Las Vegas, which was entertaining to view.

Before returning the boys to their home, we stopped by The Black Bear Café for dinner. This regional chain has attracted the attention of the dining public due to their great service, quality food and quirky menu options, such as Breakfast for Dinner…

…which features entrees such as, Brisket Benedict with homemade Hollandaise Sauce, Cheesy Grits, seasoned western potatoes, and to help make the dish a healthier choice…a small bowl of fruit! And…yep, it was as good as it looked!

On yet another day, Kit and I made a pilgrimage to the famed Las Vegas Strip…

…which normally we have skipped during our many previous Vegas visits.

In order to facilitate getting around, we decided to purchase a monorail pass…

…which allowed us to smoothly glide from venue to venue above the masses.

First stop was the High Roller, an attraction Kit and I have enjoyed in the past.

At 550 feet tall, it is billed as the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. There are 28 cabins each with a diameter of 22 feet and mounted to the outside rim of the wheel. These passenger cabins are kept level during the 30-minute rotation by synchronized motors.

On a crystal-clear day, the views are spectacular. However even on a hazy day they rival most any other tourist attraction on the strip.

Later in the afternoon, Kit and I found our way to the Bellagio Hotel…

…for the popular water show…

… which on this day was choregraphed to patriotic music.

Making our way further down the strip I spotted this large sculpture…

…which would confuse the heck out of most youngsters.

Rolling up and down the Las Vegas strip, are dozens of mobile billboards.

Some on city buses, and others on dedicated electronic billboard vehicles that advertise “adult entertainment”. Not to be outdone, other organizations roll about…

…with messages of differing opinions.

Nearing dinner time, Kit suggested The Eataly a short distance away. This upscale food court features fine Italian (hence the name) cuisine. We enjoyed roast beef and chicken followed by…

…delicious pastries and cappuccino before returning to the campground just in time to enjoy the setting sun.

Goodnight!

One morning toward the end of our stay, I was making coffee as the sun was rising to illuminate the park. Looking to the west, I noticed a full moon hanging in the sky. Opening the campers rear window and screen I steadied my camera on the window frame and began snapping photos. Then suddenly a large cloud like image moved into the camera’s viewfinder.

Zooming the camera in, I could tell it was a flock of birds that were flying in a very tight formation, turning in unison and swooping through the morning sky.

They appeared to be photo-bombing the full moon as they kept coming into the camera’s viewfinder.

What a mesmerizing and spectacular sight! I’m not a bird person, although I have heard that I share a similar sized brain, but I’m guessing these are Starlings. I’m sure if they’re not, then my friend Florida Dave, a consummate wildlife photographer, will inform me…which I always appreciate.

Spent the rest of the day doing laundry and taking care of other mundane household chores before enjoying a fine dinner and a few cocktails.

Well, this brings our bonus 10-day stay in Las Vegas to an end. And, as if to bid us farewell…

…the sun put on another spectacular display.

So, where will the intrepid travelers end up next…stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s: We certainly enjoyed our additional time in Las Vegas. Our trip with Jack was fun! He had researched several things he wanted to see and fortunately, we were able to see all of them. Next time we come out here, we’ll have to take Tucker to The Strip. Our extra time in Las Vegas is always a bonus, as we revert back to our “normal” speed, Senior Speed!

8 thoughts on “Bill and Kit’s 2020 Excellent Adventure, Journal #5

  1. How did those boys get so big?! Seems the last photos I recall they were about half the size! 😳
    As always, great pics and background info. Thank you for sharing ❤️

  2. I have to say that NY rollercoaster looks both scary and exciting all at once! Vegas has certainly changed since I was there many years ago. The mob museum looks very interesting…would love to see that. I love your sunrise shot with the birds. What an unexpected shot to just happen on. Make sure to include that in your book….!

  3. What fun to be able to enjoy Vegas at “senior pace”! And to have a dedicated Jack day. Can’t believe how he and Tucker have grown…and we saw them in the summer! But then Elise has too.
    Enjoy the rest of your journey as I enjoy my “armchair adventures” with you.💕🐊

  4. What a great journal,
    Vegas is a far cry from what it was back in the 60s when Jeanne and I celebrated a segment of our homey moon there. Actually the stop was the last on a two week trip to Hawaii. Sub note!! I might add it was a very expensive visit and I suspect a few nuts and bolts helped to build the worlds tallest Ferris wheel. LOL
    The gondolas sure bring back fond memories to when I was stationed in Verona Italy for two years, I spent most week ends in Venice during the summer months there supporting Harrys Bar. Jeanne and I returned to Italy twice and enjoyed the Gondolier serenading us. I recall the gondolier telling us that he spent his winter vacation in an exclusive resort in Mexico, however the name escapes me now. It was an indication as to how very profitable his profession is.
    The construction of authentic gondolas is a very guarded secret to include the special ebony paint formula.
    To be sure Vegas is so much more tourist friendly now than back in the 60s. That monorail makes it so easy to get around, just how expensive is it, as well as to ride on the Ferris wheel and Rolla coaster?
    It has been some time since i saw one of the antique roller/brush erasers, cool!!
    Finally, the Starling murmurations are a common sight just before dusk here on Merrymeeting Bay during the fall. The starlings migrate south by the tens of thousands through here feeding on the wild rice as it goes to seed. They roost on the tidal flats by the thousands in the tall three corner cattails out front I guess we just take this annual sight for granted and shouldn’t. Possibly before you head south and west next year, you might spend an evening in September out on our deck to watch and film this most interesting display of precision flight. cocktails on us! I may even have a picture or two taken of the starlings in flight which I’ll forward if found.
    Like the other commenters, we enjoy seeing how the grand sons have grown as well as other family members lifestyles and a new series of spectacular sunsets!
    A few signs of spring beginning to show here, we’re on the down wind leg as I type! lol
    Enjoy the remainder of the journey and be safe.
    Nancy and I will celebrate both our February birthdays at the Muddy Rudder on the 21st.
    Ps
    Kit we do read your comments and are delinquent in not even mentioning it. Bill would be hard pressed to find such a devoted co pilot, cook and mixologist!! LOL

    Chet and Jeanne

  5. We loved the descriptions of Las Vegas, it is a fun town to visit. Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego. Reed and Beta

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