Category Archives: Trump

Luck be a lady 🎼🎹🎤

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It felt a ‘Vegas sort of a day’ as we set off under the hot sun and clear blue sky to explore a little.  In Vegas you have to accept the exploration of hotels involves lots of walking, i.e. the buildings themselves are enormous and, therefore, it is sensible to decide a mode of transportation from one point of interest to another. Granted you miss some of the sights along the way, and there are plenty of those (!), but you can cover greater distances. The cab was our choice – fairly inexpensive and a door to door service.

We started with breakfast along the way as we were walking to The Venetian (we hadn’t seen the light, or rather felt the pain at that point). This is probably my favourite hotel here and it seems to have improved even since my last visit. I just love the shops and restaurants underneath the artificial sky with the gondoliers singing to their passengers. OK, so it is fake and Carolyn and I worked out that the gondolas were electronically operated by foot pedals. Still a shot of expensive Las Vegas fun.  Maybe next time I will find the sort of excellent deal we got at The Bellagio.

The cab ride to our next port of call was very necessary as it was a very long walk to The Luxor. I had been in previously but had forgotten that it was a bit on the gloomy side. There are some Egyptian replicas around but the most fun you get is riding the elevators up the inside of the pyramid and feeling them go upwards and sideways at the same time.

As we were off to the theatre this evening, I had planned some relaxation for the afternoon in the form of swimming and a poolside snooze. I hadn’t reckoned that the strong winds would close the pool in this heat. But, sure enough, we could see the loungers blowing into the various pools and the elevators just would not go to that floor. Shame, but there are lots of nice things to see and do in the hotel which don’t involve losing your shirt (or your house) on the gaming tables.

Summoning more energy it was off to the theatre, all dressed up, to see ‘Rock of Ages’.  Great music, full blooded noise, enthusiastic cast and even more enthusiastic audience. Many knew the songs (every single vocal and some of the tune!!) and stood to mimic the dance routines. We had fabulous seats and Carolyn had found prices cheaper than the bucket shops. The drinks were a bit average (coolers rather than cocktails) but a great night.

This was the first day we not only failed to encounter our beloved Route 66 but we did no driving at all – the first time since leaving Chicago. Back on the road again tomorrow to find Barstow.

Carolyn’s Curios

A day in Las Vegas. Two kids from Preston… ‘hanging out’ on the Strip. We didn’t consider that even as a possibility those years ago. Well, we’re here and tomorrow, we leave on the last but one leg of our road trip on Route 66. Today has been unusual as this is the first day we haven’t been on Route 66 (we managed 600 yds before our long detour to Vegas yesterday). In fact, as Kath said, we haven’t driven at all. We walked and taxied to cover our travels which involved Paris (across the road), Rome (Caesars Palace), Venice (Venetian), Egypt (Luxor), Mexico (Margaritaville), Brazil (Rio), New York, New York etc.

Tonight’s treat was a showing of Rock of Ages. Perhaps it was that the music was from the 80s, but I didn’t engage with it as I have with “We will rock you’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Let it be’, ‘Sunny afternoon’ and others. However, a raucous, fun-filled show which was well worth the discounted tickets. We followed it with snacks in the Rio casino. I took a copy of the quote on the back wall of the theatre which said, “The dreams you come in with may not be the dreams you leave with… but hey, they still rock!” Enough said?!

It is astonishing how big these hotels are and how fixated they are on gambling. Yesterday, we walked 12200 steps, 4 floors and 8.7km despite only arriving at 3.00. Today we walked 11500 steps, 13 floors and 7.8 km despite using three taxis!

The Bellagio isn’t the biggest hotel in the world nor even the biggest in Vegas but it is has a bigger population, albeit temporary, than Kirkham!

Impressions of Vegas? Big, bold, brash with pretentions of class. Most people here come to gamble but the sights are worth the trip. Despite the relative ‘luxury’ of the accommodation, I’ve found more places on the journey where I would prefer to return first.

So, tomorrow we drive to Victorville via Barstow. Barstow is the penultimate named town in the Bobby Troup song which has focussed our journey. Only San Bernadino to go before we arrive at our current journey’s end at Santa Monica pier. Needless to say, we’re hoping to echo Sheryl Crow and “… have some fun until the sun comes up on the Santa Monica Boulevard”.

Viva Las Vegas! 🎼🎹🎤

Today has been a day of extremes as we started in Kingman, a small, albeit very comfortable, Route 66 motel and have ended the day in 5 diamond luxury at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. Of course, I have to mention the visit to the Hoover Dam along the way.

Let’s start with our journey to the Dam through more of the Mohave Desert, but with rocks and mountains of granite rather than the sandstone we loved in Monument Valley.  There was an openness to the vista and wide sweeping valley floors, miles wide, before the land rose to another mountain range. Deep into the mountains at the edge of the state, we also knew that we would have to cross a magnificent bridge from Arizona into Nevada before turning back on ourselves to wind down a steep road back into Arizona to access the Visitors’ Centre and the huge dam across the Colorado River.

Any fans of thriller films will have seen heroes diving or abseiling from such structures but my heart was in my mouth at the mere idea as I tried to photograph the wall of the dam from top to bottom.

 

The engineering involved and the electricity generated, to say nothing of the spectacle created, are just jaw-dropping in terms of statistics and sheer beauty

We spent quite a bit of time walking across the top of the dam and around the terraces of the Visitors’ Centre before taking the odd comic photo and travelling the remaining 20 odd miles further into Nevada. A slight difference in scenery.

As Carolyn has never been to Las Vegas before, as I got an exceptional hotel deal, and as I hadn’t stayed here before…I thought I could justify a bit of luxury at this stage of our trip.  Just as an aside, if anyone thinks luxury comes with total ease and comfort, think again. I am shattered. Just walking through the hotel to get to the elevators, only to walk miles of corridor to find your room, is a workout in itself.  But the view!  The Bellagio fountains are dancing, the Hotel Paris and its Eiffel Tower are opposite and the neon lights of The Strip are burning vast wattage. It’s Blackpool on speed!!

After cocktails and a wander, a visit to Caesar’s Palace, which has grown beyond all recognition from the place I once knew – they even have a Gordon Ramsay pub and grill! – it’s time to retreat and enjoy the luxury.  So, with a cold beer in hand, that’s it for tonight.

Carolyn’s Curios

So, we’re in Las Vegas. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it is impressive. ‘Blackpool on speed’ is one description but it is bigger and grander by far. However, despite its best efforts, it still has an air of trying too hard at pretence, somehow.

Every hotel, it seems, has a Casino. Games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker… and myriads of different ‘Slots’ – the latter, predominantly populated by women – are everywhere. I almost laughed out loud when I walked into ‘our’ Casino and heard the first track of music being played… The Police’s “Can’t stand losing…”!!! Seemed appropriate.

As Kath mentioned, the journey over incorporated visiting the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. It wasn’t on our original schedule but we wanted to build it in. Well worth the slight detour and the time spent there. Getting there brought us into disrepute with our Sat. Nav…. again. The website said we couldn’t cross the dam from Arizona. Ok, so, as we were coming from Arizona and wanted to drive over the dam, we intended to drive from Arizona to Nevada over the new bridge. Then we would drive over the dam from Nevada to Arizona. Hmm. But,… we found, once there, we could drive back over the bridge from… Arizona to Nevada! As Hannibal Smith used to say in the ‘A’ Team, “It’s good when a plan comes together.

The dam is impressive! Very impressive! Needless to say, security is important and we had airport type scanner scrutiny. Guns and knives were banned!

As today was a detour, we only spent about 600 yards on our beloved Route 66. Tomorrow will be the first (and last!) day of the trip without us being on any part of the Mother Road. America’s Highway will have to wait until the next day. Tomorrow is Las Vegas and the Strip with Rock of Ages in the evening.

Was this the way to Amarillo?

The temperature this afternoon crept up to 98 degrees Farenheit which, coupled with a strong wind, made the car journey in its air conditioned comfort a pleasure, despite the distance.  Of course, I did the Peter Kay walk and sang happily as we loaded up the car and it must have been the right way as we reached Amarillo late this afternoon.  Needless to say, there was an adventure along the way.

We both agreed that a visit to the highly recommended National Route 66 Museum in Elk City was a ‘must’. Our optimism was justified and the transportation element was great fun with the chance to sit in a Cadillac, climb aboard a fire engine and ogle the motorbikes provided many a giggle. The funniest moment might have been Carolyn’s determination to come down the firemen’s pole – which she did with aplomb!

The Old Town element showed us a two storey Victorian house, the top of which was devoted to early cowboy and rodeo way of life. There was an Opera House, a Livery stable, Railroad depot, drug store, a church and, of course, the jail.

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We had found some quirky 66 stuff shown in one of our books in a place called Erick. Oh boy, was that a story.  I will forever think of it as “Revenge of the Sat Nav” after we had decided to do our own thing in Oklahoma yesterday.  We thought we were being clever when we put in a rather obscure but very precise address.  After turning off onto  smaller and smaller roads, we realised we were really in the heart of nowhere. We came upon Erick Cemetery and reasoned we were not too far away, so reprogrammed and, at that point, you could almost sense, “You have to be kidding me”, from the sat nav.  We went from narrow country lanes (without a building or vehicle in sight), to narrower dirt lanes, to ones where the grass growing in the middle was rattling the car’s undercarriage.  All I could think was, “Please don’t let me break down”. Eventually we made it into “town” to find the exhibit which we were looking for was both delapidated and closed. Thinking about it, the town seemed closed too. Nowhere for a coffee, not that I was remotely interested in lingering longer and was just itching to get back to the highway.  We found said road in just about a mile, which is when I knew the sat nav had been having a laugh.  This was real redneck country and not for the faint  hearted!

Because we were in Texas, it had to be steak for lunch.  By this time, we were in Shamrock, saw more Route 66 antiquities but were seduced by Big Vern’s Steakhouse for a sirloin and a salad.  Time was moving on, so onwards to another hotel. Because it is a Holiday Inn and same chain as last night, we are instantly at home. We were invited to Happy Hour in the lobby with snacks, beer and wine, all free. Amazing.

Tired now and 300 miles tomorrow but still looking for “Sweet Marie who waits for me”. Come on, sing the song!!

Carolyn’s Curios

When we look at modern day America with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric (and some in the UK!), we may forget that all Europeans in the US were immigrants. More than that, they were invaders! Recently, we’ve driven through ‘homelands’ of Cheyenne, Navajo and Shawnee. Deprived of their ancestral birthrights, I can only imagine how they may feel as Native Americans.

As we could needed the miles we’d set ourselves for today, we noticed that the land had changed. The brown and grey of the soil had given way to take on a red hue.

Reminding us of the flatness, likelihood of high winds and, of course, tornados, it was salutary to see roadside billboards broken but still advertising ‘Camping’ with clean rest rooms and… storm shelters

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A few interesting road signs have caused me to smile. Wrong way signs on one way streets, Yield, instead of Give Way, and, the best of all, for me, the speed sign in redneck mid-America pronouncing firmly ‘No tolerance’!

Wild life isn’t too evident here. Black Angus cattle, a few horses and a couple of squirrels but today I saw a coyote.

I’ve commented elsewhere about my experience of music -especially ‘popular’ – so the Roger Miller Museum prompted slightly off key versions of ‘King of the Road’ and, of course, ‘England Swings’.

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So, we hit Texas and the Purple Heart Trail. Suddenly, for me, we now seem a long way from the UK. However, the journey continues… more exploring, more sights, more music, more fun!

Again, to end, as Kath misses out in the main blog her part in the posing for photos, a few here…

The start of our Route 66 adventure

We expected a cool reception in Chicago but arrived to both high temperatures and equally high humidity.  It is extremely warm (100 Farenheit forecast again for tomorrow) and, as Carolyn reported, “If the Rainbow finds it hot, it is hot”.  Never let it be said that the intrepid two were going to let a bit of warm weather stop them and the Big Bus to hop on and off provided the very solution for seeing this fabulous city.

I had no idea what to expect on my first ever visit but the buildings and skyline provide an eclectic mix of old(er) and new.  The blend gives a few jaw dropping moments when you turn a corner to find a formal building of early 20th century origin juxtaposed with a glass and steel structure.   I LOVE IT!

A special moment was the Chicago Tribune building which is set with pieces of rock from some of the most famous places in the world, eg the Taj Mahal, Edinburgh Castle,  Westminster Abbey and the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln…..plus many, many more.

Cocktails at the top of the Hancock Tower may have been the day’s height of decadence until we went to the loo. You could sit on the toilet and enjoy Chicago’s beautiful buildings spread before you. I wonder how many ladies have risked leaving open the toilet door to appreciate the spectacle. Did we?  That’s for us to know!!

We then found the official start of our epic journey – the ‘official’, if somewhat battered, sign proclaiming the start of Route 66. Whoooo, we are here, we are ready and tomorrow we pick up the car.  So long in the planning, it is still important to pinch ourselves and believe we are doing this.

Meanwhile, tonight we are off to Buddy Guy’s Legends to enjoy some of the music for which Chicago is famous – a combination of blues and jazz.

Quirky bits…

I’ve committed myself to adding to the sensible parts of our trip’s description with some of the extra bits which, to us, seemed funny, unusual and/or quirky.

Seeing Michael Portillo about to board our plane at Heathrow was a case of… “Is it? Yes. So,…” He had his distinctive gait, brightly coloured blazer and more than slightly aloof air. We then found a hotdog café in Chicago with his name on! Interesting. If it appears in a future TV programme, remember you heard it first here!

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Another culinary ‘quirky’ was when we spotted a restaurant called ‘Yolk’ which may have been, I suggested at the time, the ‘Eggs-act’ centre of the city. Ok, they also spell ‘centre’ as ‘center’ or, as we might say, wrongly!

imageChicago completed – for now – great city and would love to come back. Buddy Guy was awesome and the city stunning. I can’t let this section go without making mention of what my granddaughter refers to as ‘bottom burps’! The Presidential candidate’s building is loud, garish, in your face and offensive. I’m saying nothing about him as a candidate, of course! #litigationproof