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Las Vegas #2

How I wish that there were more, Than the twenty-four hours in the day Cause even if there were forty more, I wouldn't sleep a minute away

semi-overcast 82 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

That's the buzz of Las Vegas.

But first, don't think you got away with it that easily, because here is more yodellin' as promised:


We are now packing ready for our last night on "The Town" before we move on tomorrow to Glacier National Park, in Montana; flying via Salt Lake City.

There will be no Internet access for two days (we will be in the middle of nowhere tomorrow and Thursday, but we will be back soon with more stuff from Las Vegas which I plan to type up at the various airports).

Bette Midler is in town: she has a show at Caesars Palace. We had breakfast at Steve Wynn's new and very posh place, "Encore", next to first extravagance, "Wynn's". We were convinced it was Bette Midler's mother who sat at the table next to us, or maybe it was even Bette herself on a bad hair day? She was of ample proportions with quite a... err... cleavage and when she pulled herself forward in her chair a couple of times, well, it may have registered on the earthquake detectors in California.

Just had Steak n Eggs for supper and off to bed. No winnings. Have video and loads of pictures to upload but no time now, unless there is a desire for more yodellin'?

Time for just one

Will see if I can get Internet service at the airport. It's midnight 19 and we have to be up at 6.30. Night night.

Posted by Johnash 17:58 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

What A Contrast

Las Vegas vs Glacier National Park

semi-overcast 84 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Room 203, Hilton Garden Inn, Kalispell, Montana

Actually, it's a no contest as they are both winners in their own way. One reason we love travelling here is the extreme contrasts. Yet, somehow the people are much the same. Except for Las Vegas: weird, very weird. Well, most are. On our last night in Vegas, (never call it Vegas) sorry, Las Vegas, as we went into the much loved "Carson Street Cafe" in the Golden Nugget for our now favourite supper of steak ñ eggs. Too late, really, we should have been having an early night but s*d it, this is Vega.... Las Vegas.

Sorry, yes, as we were having our Steak ñ Eggs (about $13 for New York Strip steak tender and tasty, hashbrowns, two eggs etc plus toast plus jam). Arthur gives it **** ("steak should be bigger, about 32 oz"). As we were having our Steak ñ Eggs we were debating whether we would spot a "normal looking" person. But really, we did not manage it.

Earlier we'd finished our gambling on the poker machines without any big wins. Bob has the occasional run but, we were down over all but within the limits we'd set. The only way to gamble, like having a good meal. Spend your stake, then stop ("and have a steak": Arthur).

We learned that, soon after we'd had breakfast in Encore with Bette Midler's sister (thanks, Paul), Sharon and Ossie Osbourne had lunch there. That was a narrow squeak. (She is appearing in the US Dance programme, thing). It is the place to be seen, y' know.

After Encore and Wynn's we cruised to the other end of the Strip to another favourite from the past, Mandalay Bay. It is the last big casino on the Strip and almost opposite the airport. It is less brash and possibly more stylish than OTT Wynn's and Encore. But, unlike Encore, they did not have an air-conditioned little lounge to wait in whilst the valet fetched your car. What ARE things coming to? They did have large fans blowing a misting spray all over us, however, which fogged up John's glasses.

The following day we re-visited Circus Circus (which had been our first hotel when we visited in 1981). Not much change except it is grubbier and has had little spent of it. And loads of kids which, of course, in most casinos are neither seen nor heard! Here we tackled the roulette table with others' bets.

Roulette is actually one of the worst games to play as, third only to the "Wheel of Fortune" and "Keno" (a sort of bingo), the odds are very much in favour of the house. Be that as it may, there was one winner. 34, Eric. But we had not put the full amount on the one number, Eric, (got Email afterwards) but there are winnings of $35, thanks to 34 and the numbers around it coming up a couple of times. $10 please!

I have a feeling Harvey did not approve of the Circus Circus and her customary luck was not with us.

Las Vegas is probably 6 times the size it was in 1981, when we first visited it. So it has become a busy city in its own right. It went through a phase of being "family friendly" but the casino owners now seem to think the future lies with the discerning adult. So Las Vegas is returning very much to its "Sin City" reputation, with quite blatant advertising for services which Arthur and Stanley did not understand!

Will now leave Las Vegas sadly behind, with a few images and video clips.

Before that, I must note here, else I'll forget, that the hotel we are in right now in Kalispell, is being invaded by hundreds of old ladies for some sort of reunion. It sounds like the ones in the room next to us are breaking it up. If you hear no more after this Blog, you know what has happened. Rural old ladies are very dangerous here. You've heard of Grizzlies?


Above is the reception area in the Golden Nugget

Above from our special meal in Binion's Steakhouse on the top floor of Binion's Casino. The meal is John's "Prime Rib", the smallest available (although the waiter, Bill, did say they had been rather generous with the serving). Enough meat for a family of 6 plus shepherd's pie the next day!

Finally, the contrast. A taster from Glacier NP. Will try and do more on this later. If not, there is another gap as we travel through the night in an Amtrak sleeper car, on the way to Portland Oregon. That's Saturday night.

That's the view from our room on Wednesday

And we thought we had a big car before. Here is our latest (on the left, a Chevvy "Suburban") parked next to what we had before, a Ford Explorer. It's the size of a small tank.

Bye for now. Off to do some posing...

Posted by Johnash 15:04 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Huckleberries to Marionberries

A Story of Berry Overdoses

semi-overcast -21 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Room 18, Bandon Inn, Bandon, Oregon
From the Glaciers of Montana to the fishermen of the Oregon Pacific coast. It seems unreal. A couple of days ago we were watching a moose and her calf eat and drink right next to our balcony at the alpine Many Glacier Hotel. Right now, Bob is sitting in front of a couple of huge patio windows and behind him I can see the harbor of this little fishing resort and behind that, the Pacific Ocean.

Moose & Calf

Between those two we had the excitement of our first overnight Amtrak journey in our own sleeping compartment.

Glacier National Park was dominated by the beauty of the mountains, its lakes, its wildlife (we also saw mountain goats, bighorn sheep, beaver, meercat, wildcat) but no bear although black bear and grizzlies are in plentiful supply in this fabulous park.


Bear compete with man for the huckleberries. We had huckleberry vinaigrette, huckleberry ice cream, huckleberry jam, huckleberry yoghurt, huckleberry beer, huckleberry lemonade...... We're amazed there are enough huckleberries to go round. Round the Oregon coast, they have marionberries but we have yet to try them.

On our Amtrak journey we were hosted by the wonderful O.C. Smith, the sleeping car attendant from Chicago (they are all black and all from Chicago). He'd already made up our bunks before we boarded the late-running Empire Builder, train Number 7 from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. This made it a bit tight getting into the room but we had sink, armchair, shower-room/toilet and big picture window, all on the upper deck of this Superliner.

Bob took the upper berth and we slept pretty well. It was spooky how quiet it was. Little of the expected train noises apart from the distant wail of the whistle at each crossing and the bells as we passed the crossing. In fact there was more noise from the elderly couple in the room next door quietly chatting. Perhaps is was because we were upstairs that it was so peaceful?

While we were having breakfast in the club/viewing car. O.C. had put up our berths and turned our little room into a sitting room. What a way to watch the Columbia Gorge pass our window.

We made it on time into Portland where it happened to be Pride Sunday. Lots of royal personages and librarians about but we had no time to dally, or even dilly, except to wait for an hour while they delivered our rental car from the airport.

This turned out to be a much smaller Toyota Highlander, but just right for our trip down the Pacific coast to San Francisco where we are due to arrive on Wednesday.

Our stopping off point for the night at Bandon is almost what we hoped the Oregon coast would be.

What a trip. This has to be the best yet. (Have I said that before? Sorry).

See y'all soon!

Not the Highlander

from here, we got this view:-

Some real cowboys!

Here's a pretend one!

What a hotel: Many Glacier, built in 1910ish by the Great Northern Railway company

Would you believe, view from our balcony (moose below)

No arguments...

Eagle Falls

Nearly falls

The above from "Norm's News" a combined western store, ice cream parlor and newsagent. Try the Stetson straw hats and slurp a Bubblegum and Black Cherry double cone!

Posted by Johnash 20:55 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Boisenberries via Cranberries

US Highway 101

semi-overcast 23 °F
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Room 144, Best Western Bayshore Inn, Eureka, California

Checked in here mid-afternoon after mainly stunning drive down US101, one of the countries famous highways. Conversation at check-in. John:"I say. Do you have a double room with two beds, please?" - you usually get huge beds and so a much bigger room - check-in girl: "Two Queens?". John: "Does it show??".

View from bed last night as the sun set over the Pacific and Bandon

Start of our drive. Beach near Bandon. Loads of driftwood everywhere.

The inspirational Oregon Coast

Rules is rules

First of all stopped for fuel in Port Orford - reminded you ain't allowed to pump yer own gas in Oregon. So 'ornery guy pumps it. Where for breakfast? Try the Paradise Cafe back down the road. Is it Paradise? Well... not rerrlly.

Bob's hotcake (pancake) with bacon, ham, and boisenberry syrup.

John's Eggs over easy, bacon strips. hashbrowns with rye toast

Continuing with Oregon



And then into Northern California (via a sort of border crossing where they check for importation of foods and plants:- not allowed)

We forgot we would be driving through the giant redwoods. Magnificent beasts for mile after mile

US 101 is one of the few North-South highways in Oregon/Northern California and is consequently pretty busy. It varies from 6-lane highway to 2-lane rambling country road. There are few alternatives apart from short coastal loops from time to time. So, although we had bits of the Oregon coast to ourselves, much of the journey was shared with many giant campers, logging trucks, and other travellers in general.

Where we have stopped for the night is a significant "city" of over 16,000 though it has a restored Victorian downtown which we are about to visit.

We shall also search for dinner; no lunch necessary after that larger than normal breakfast (honest).

Thanks for the comments, as ever, Paul. Any comments are much appreciated and does give encouragement to your tireless Blogger. (Blogger, Arthur). Yes we have been buying clothes. Ridiculous value. Good American-made Western shirts for $25 (about 16 pounds) and great cotton "Hawaiian" shirts from J C Penny's in their sale for $13.50, about 8.50).

Moose? No they are dangerous and unpredictable, especially when they have their young about. The young maitre d' in the Many Glaciers restaurant said they were more dangerous than bear, which I found hard to swallow (as did I their bread rolls. Not really). His chocolate moose was very good though.

I failed to mention that we have been travelling to USA since 1981 and, despite all our best efforts, this is the first time we have seen any moose. Arthur says the lemon ones were good too.

Oh, and the cranberries? Well, apparently we drove through Ocean Spray's cranberry bogs where they grow all their cranberries. But we never spotted them.

Posted by Johnash 17:41 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Highway 1

A roller coaster ride

semi-overcast 66 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Room 65, Bodega Coast Inn, Bodega Bay, California

Once we had turned off the getting-busier US101 onto California Highway 1 the "Seashore Highway", we knew we were on the right road.


Firstly 22 twisting, up & down miles through lush countryside (with grey & foggy weather, that's why it's lush), then, there it is again, the California Pacific coast. For the most part, little traffic and mercifully free of the giant RV (recreational vehicle) trailers that now pollute so many highways and beauty spots.

Also, not too many bikers, though I think the ride all the way down Hwy 1 would be quite a challenge and very rewarding. Note to prospective bikers, though: California law required the wearing of helmets, unlike many others, (eg Arizona and New Mexico). I'd like to be a little bird (or even a big bird) at the California border with all these grey-bearded wonders, ripping off their helmets and tying their silly scarves round their heads.

Yes, Eric, it seems to be a pre-requisite here to have a greying or grey beard to be in with the biking crowd. It also helps to be over 18 stone (and that's just the women).

Seriously, (I am running out of superlatives here) , another wonderful day although blue skies would have helped it be even more fabulous.

As we got further south, the sports cars (Porsche, BMW etc) started to appear. They seemed to be on a mission to kill themselves and somebody else.


In many places the road is collapsing into the ocean and valiant efforts are being made by large men in metal helmets to shore it all up.

At one stage, before Bodega Bay, on a particularly bendy and steep bit, with the ocean hundreds of feet below, we were held up by a California Highway Patrol Car, for about 15 minutes.

Roadworks we'd assumed but, no, it was a very large film crew making a feature movie. Only in America.

Another Highway Patrol car was at the bottom stopping traffic going up.


A long drive to Bodega Bay from Eureka, with an average speed of no more than about 30mph. But well worth it.

When we were last here in 1983, Bodega Bay was a little sleepy, foggy harbour, miles from anywhere. We stayed at the only place there was, The Tides (now a big shop and restaurant), watched a fight in the bar and tried to eat "soft"-shelled crabs without success. We had not realised at the time, of course, that this place starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". Take a look at this.

Next month Tippi Hedren will be back signing her new book at what is now "The Tides". Bodega Bay has now become a weekend retreat for wealthy from San Francisco, which is where we shall be driving tomorrow. Yes, over the Golden Gate Bridge too.

I left my harp in Sampam Disco......

We have a great room (Two Queens again, how do they do it?) with a "deck" and a view over The Bay. The foghorn is sounding......

Any ideas what this is? By the motel.

Posted by Johnash 15:28 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

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