Two Places I Can’t Recommend

Our last site to see in the Vegas area was Hoover Dam. It seemed we climbed and climbed (in a car) up the mountain until we got to the over look where you could see the dam. It was interesting but I wouldn’t make it a primary destination.

Our trek westward went from Las Vegas to Death Valley to Sequoia National Park
Our trek westward went from Las Vegas to Death Valley to Sequoia National Park

After Las Vegas, Charlie and I headed west toward Death Valley National Park in California.

The road sign says "Caution Extreme Heat Danger".
The road sign says “Caution Extreme Heat Danger”.

The plan was to see Death Valley in the morning and Sequoia National Park in the afternoon.

The terrain is diverse.
The terrain is diverse.

I don’t know if anyone could do all that driving but we couldn’t.

Borax mounds at Zabriski Point.
Borax mounds at Zabriski Point.

Death Valley is a diverse area known for its mountains and borax deposits.

If you zoom the picture you can see Charlie in the desert of Death Valley.
If you zoom the picture you can see Charlie in the desert of Death Valley.

It took us 5 boring long but interesting hours to drive through Death Valley.  I don’t recommend it.

The Sequoias were interesting to see but for me the ride to see them was horrifying.
The Sequoias were interesting to see but for me the ride to see them was horrifying.

After staying the night at a very pleasant AirBnb in a peach and plum fruit grove we headed to Sequoia National Park not to be confused with Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Monument. They are all approximately in the same area but the target destination is Sequoia National Park where the very large trees are located.

Charlie is standing at the base of a Sequoia tree for size reference.
Charlie is standing at the base of a Sequoia tree for size reference.

The drive to the park is a dizzying.  As we climbed to almost 8000 feet I was rewarded with a bad headache and extreme nausea that only subsided an hour and a half later when the car stopped.  Going back down the mountain was even worse.

A large Sequoia tree that had fallen is tall enough for a man to tunnel under.
A large Sequoia tree that had fallen is tall enough for a man to tunnel under.

The trees, however, were quite spectacular.  Glad I saw it, can’t recommend it.

Have you done something spectacular that you wouldn’t recommend?

Mushy Peas

While in Las Vegas Charlie and I ate dinner at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant.

Gordon Ramey's restaurant is called "Pub and Grill".
Gordon Ramey’s restaurant is called “Pub and Grill”.

Since I am a fan of Master Chef Junior I thought it would be interesting to try his cuisine.

A wall of ale kegs set the scene.
A wall of ale kegs set the scene.

The theme is British pub with a sixties vibe.

The waitresses were dressed in Carnaby Street hound's-tooth check mini-skirts.
The waitresses were dressed in Carnaby Street hound’s-tooth check mini-skirts.

The hostess asked us if we’d like a tall or short table.  We chose short and waited just a minute until the personable maitre’d led us to our table for 2 right on the perimeter of the restaurant so we could people watch while we were eating.

I chose from "Pub Pies" and Charlie picked from "Classic Ramsey".
I chose from “Pub Pies” and Charlie picked from “Classic Ramsey”.

The menu had a good variety but we stuck with British comfort food.

The fish was light and crispy.
The fish was light and crispy. The empty bowl held mushy peas.

Charlie chose fish and chips which was served with mushy peas.  Our waitress told us very few people like the peas.  We thought they were delicious: peas and mint.

The small pot pie was very filling and extremely flavorful.
The small pot pie was very filling and extremely flavorful.

I ate Steak and Ale pie.

The menu was pricey but this is Las Vegas and the food was good.
The menu was pricey but this is Las Vegas and the food was good.

This was one of the best meals we had during our travels out west. Unfortunately we didn’t have room for dessert.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

Our Last Night in Vegas

Our main purpose for going anywhere near Las Vegas was to see Celine Dion in concert.

The show incorporated lots of video effects.
The show incorporated lots of video effects.

Of the hundreds of shows in Vegas she is the only entertainer I would want to spend $198.50 times 2 for rear orchestra seats.

Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas

We parked in Caesar’s Palace’s Colosseum using their valet parking service which is free other than tipping the valet. Considering the number of people in the music venue in particular and Caesar’s Palace in general, the valet service was very fast.

The doors opened at 6:30, the show started at 7:45 and ended about 9:30 with no intermissions.
The doors opened at 6:30, the show started at 7:45 and ended about 9:30 with no intermissions.

Even though our belongings were searched upon entry to the theatre, we could keep our cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras.  The only requests were no flashes and no video recordings.

Celine told a few stories about her family along with the singing.
Celine told a few stories about her family along with the singing.

The seats were excellent in that no one’s head was ever in my way and I could see every minute of the entire show.  Even the woman in front of me rocking to the beat in her seat was not a distraction.  I am glad, however, that I didn’t purchase the top level ticket because most of those people stood up the entire time and obstructed the view of the front orchestra.

The orchestra would do funny things behind Celine like get-up-and-sit-down or wave their instruments.
The orchestra would do funny things behind Celine like get-up-and-sit-down or wave their instruments.

Celine sang her hits, tribute songs to The BeeGees and Prince, and even some Great American Songbook standards. The music was a great mix of eras and genres all in the Celine Dion style.

Celine was standing on a disc that raised her about 15 feet off the stage and then it began to rain all around her.
Celine was standing on a disc that raised her about 15 feet off the stage and then it began to rain all around her.

Charlie and I had a great evening and then even a more interesting time at our AirBnB with a host who had never had guests before we arrived. One day I’ll write the whole strange story.

Who would you pay good money to see?

From the Grand Canyon to Vegas

We were supposed to stay 3 nights at the Grand Canyon: one night in a lodge in the national park and 2 nights at Red Feather Lodge just south of the park in Tusayan.

We stayed in a comfortable yet basic room in Grand Canyon National Park.
We stayed in a comfortable yet basic room in Grand Canyon National Park.

We did stay in the park at Maswik Lodge which was incredibly convenient for taking an early morning mule trek.

The sign at Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan.
The sign at Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan.

However when we tried to check into the Red Feather they never heard of us. I’m not sure I actually made reservations.

The scenery in Arizona is ever-changing.
The scenery in Arizona is ever-changing.

Since we had already decided to limit our stay to one night and had made reservations for AirBnb accommodations for the following night we headed toward Las Vegas without a place to stay.

Lake Mead from our AirBnB house.
Lake Mead from our AirBnB house.

Charlie suggested I get in touch with our hosts for the following night who said they could take us for later that day as well.

Our bed was turned down when we arrived.
Our bed was turned down when we arrived.

We stayed with a charming couple 35 minutes outside of Las Vegas in one of the loveliest AirBnb rooms we’ve ever stayed in overlooking Lake Mead in Nevada.

Bagels, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and cereal made for a hearty breakfast.
Bagels, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and cereal made for a hearty breakfast.

We had a great breakfast two mornings in a row with a myriad of amenities that made for a perfect stay.

What one thing must you have when traveling?

While We’re Away

We are currently in Las Vegas, Nevada, getting ready to travel to Death Valley, California.

New red oak flooring installed in the conservatory.
New red oak flooring installed in the conservatory.

In the mean time back home our new floors have been getting finished.

Old dining room floor in the foreground, new conservatory floor with one coat of polyurethane on top.
Old dining room floor in the foreground, new conservatory floor with one coat of polyurethane on top.

Our son called to say the transition between the dining room and conservatory didn’t look quite right after Day 1.

The transition between the dining room and conservatory needs to be seamless.
The transition between the dining room and conservatory needs to be seamless.

Charlie called the finisher and he said he would look at the area and reprocess it.

None of the new breakers were blown but the basement lights wouldn't come on.
None of the new breakers were blown but the basement lights wouldn’t come on.

Then we heard that some of the lights in the house wouldn’t come on but none of the breakers had blown.

We have a fuse box in the powder room which runs electricity to some of the old part of the house.
We have a fuse box in the powder room which runs electricity to some of the old part of the house.

We also have an old fuse box which our son had forgotten about. Apparently the finisher had 2 electric sanders which take 220V service.  They plugged one into the dryer outlet on the second floor and the other they hardwired at the breaker box. Using them both at the same time on the old house wiring blew a fuse.

Conservatory floor during the installation.
Conservatory floor during the installation.
The newly finished conservatory floor.
The newly finished conservatory floor.

I received a text on Friday morning indicating the floors in both the conservatory and master suite were finished. Can’t wait to see them in person.

If you could visit anywhere in the world where would that be?

Mule Ride on the Rim

Charlie and I headed to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix a couple days ago.

My mule riding gear.
My mule riding gear.

One of our planned activities was a mule ride on the rim. I was afraid they wouldn’t let me ride if they knew I had a broken ankle so I forced my own boot on and tried not to limp.

Charlie and I were issued mandatory water bags which also served as our ticket to ride.
Charlie and I were issued mandatory water bags which also served as our ticket to ride.

After checking in the night before and getting weighed in our clothes to insure neither of us weighed over 225 pounds, we headed to the mule barn by Blue Route bus from Maswik Lodge where we were staying.

Our wrangler, Lily, is mounted in the center of the photo.
Our wrangler, Lily, is mounted in the center of the photo.

At the mule barn we were met by a bus which took us to another mule corral area about 15 minutes away on the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon.

Hoop showed us how to use the motivator (in his hand) on the hind quarters of our mule. I didn't use mine, instead I urged with my legs.
Hoop showed us how to use the motivator (in his hand) on the hind quarters of our mule. I didn’t use mine, instead I urged with my legs.

At the corral Hoop, a mule wrangler and instructor, gave tips and strategies for riding a mule. Each of us was issued with a motivator to encourage our mule forward since we were supposed to follow tail-to-nose the mule in front of us.

Lily helped me mount on to Charlotte.
Lily helped me mount on to Charlotte.

The wranglers helped us mount. I told them I had a gamey right ankle and so would need a mounting block which was a 2-step unit.  Mounting was not difficult but forcing my right foot into the stirrup was uncomfortable.

Charlie and Jo on mules on the Canyon rim. The mules are muzzled at the request of the Park Service to restrain them from eating the wild foliage.
Charlie and Jo on mules on the Canyon rim. The mules are muzzled at the request of the Park Service to restrain them from eating the wild foliage.

We were 7 riders including our wrangler, Lily.  Charlie brought up the rear on Decker and I was just in front of him on a black beauty named Charlotte.

We were above the clouds on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
We were above the clouds on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

We rode along the rim for about 4 miles stopping at planned vistas where we turned our mules to look straight out over the canyon.

Some folks had little control over their mules who took them very close to the edge of the Canyon.
Some folks had little control over their mules who took them very close to the edge of the Canyon.

The views were magnificent.

The expansive vistas looked like a painting.
The expansive vistas looked like a painting.

Charlie had a camera tied around his neck (mandatory) and took pictures each time we stopped.

This trek cured Charlie of his fear of heights just as Hoop, the wrangler, suggested it would.
This trek cured Charlie of his fear of heights just as Hoop, the wrangler, suggested it would.

I don’t do photos much while I’m traveling so I just enjoyed the scenery.

Are you the picture taker in the family?

Flooring and Trim List

While Charlie and I are out west, our flooring guy is supposed to do some sanding and polyurethaning of the newly installed floors.

The new conservatory floor needs to be scraped and sanded and polyurethaned.
The new conservatory floor needs to be scraped and sanded and polyurethaned.

We were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to access our bedroom and bathroom during the process so we’re happy to be away from home while it is happening.  Our son is staying at The Glade to sidewalk supervise this project.

The floor in the master bedroom (left) is lower than the new floor in the hall and so needs a threshold reducer to improve the transition.
The floor in the master bedroom (left) is lower than the new floor in the hall and so needs a threshold reducer to improve the transition.

In addition to finishing the floors in the master suite and the conservatory the finisher is supposed to add threshold reducers to some doorways to give a smooth transition.

  • In the conservatory
    • French doors
    • Bathroom
  • Front door to the house
  • Master Suite
    • French doors

      The French doors in the master bedroom need a threshold reducer to make the transition from the floor to the door sill and to block air coming up through the floor.
      The French doors in the master bedroom need a threshold reducer to make the transition from the floor to the door sill and to block air coming up through the floor.
    • Bathroom
    • Between bedroom and hall
    • Between bedroom hall and main hall
The master bathroom door has a small hitch when opening it that needs to be adjusted.
The master bathroom door has a small hitch when opening it that needs to be adjusted.

He should also plane the bottom of the doors so they open and close smoothly.

Both new bathrooms have this round window which is inside the shower area and need special casings which we have.
Both new bathrooms have this round window which is inside the shower area and need special casings which we have.

The he’s going to finish the baseboard trim and door and window casings that are unfinished.

Trim and casings:

  • Conservatory bathroom
    • Round window casing
    • Baseboard
  • Conservatory – baseboard and door casing in closet
  • Dining room – baseboard behind piano and adjacent wall
  • Upstairs hall – baseboard
  • Master suite hall – baseboard
  • Master closet
    • Window casing and sill

      The master closet window needs a sill and casing.
      The master closet window needs a sill and casing.
    • Door casing
    • NO baseboard
  • Master bedroom – baseboard behind bed and side walls (not shelving)
  • Master bathroom
    • Round window casing
    • Missing baseboard

Now that seems like a fairly big project.

Do the final details drive you crazy?