Across America

Normally when I am back from travel I try to do a photo recap, but since my cancer diagnosis and all the things that come with it, I may have missed a trip or more. For instance, I met up with friends in Las Vegas, Monument Valley, and Baltimore for some great times.

Monument Valley had been on my list for years, but I cannot place why exactly. All I know is that it is much more than “a bunch of rocks” as some people quipped. It’s the Navajo Luxor, in a way. We got an amazing little motel with views outside that blew anything in Las Vegas away, and we drove around many sites that you can probably place in A LOT of films. You also saw what the pandemic had done to this poor community that already has suffered so much. Anytime I bought jewelry from someone, they’d give me freebies, and they were all so sweet. We ate Navajo foods, played with stray cats and dogs, and walked around areas that looked like another planet. The 2-day pass is well worth it because there is no way you will see the whole park in just the 2 hour window you have to drive the loop (make sure you have a 4WD vehicle). If possible, try the horseback tour. It is not an easy drive to get there, but it is worth it.

Las Vegas eeking out of the pandemic was a big letdown compared with my last trip, but thankfully our friends were with us. We tried a few tiki bars, a few wonderful restaurants, and showed my friends the magic that is The Peppermill. It is the only constant in all my years going to Vegas. We visited the Neon Graveyard (finally!) and a few cannabis stores that were outstanding. The Bellagio has seen better days. It cost more to stay there than any hotel I’ve stayed in Europe — outrageous. No water pressure, the worst room service I have ever had, and for some reason you had to wear masks in the casino, but nowhere else. And guess what? Smoking indoors is still a thing! So when you got outside or to your room, your mask reeked of cigarettes! I then switched to The Sahara which has had an amazing upgrade since my last stay there. I was a little put out that everyone up-charged for everything despite lack of service and overall lack of, well, everything that I used to like about the city.

After that we went onto New York City, and visited friends a train ride away who had bought themselves a house with all the furniture in tact. It looked as though time stopped in 1977. The basement bar, furniture, tile, and even the appliances in the kitchen were pristine! How did they do it? Even the toaster in the wall was still operational as was the griddle. Well, it required a bit of a photo shoot before they tore out everything to make it look like the 21st Century. I wish in a strange we I could have a second home like this to escape to, as a time capsule — or just live in a state of irony.

So that’s that. I might be back in Las Vegas again for a conference, and if I do go back, I’m prepared how the city has changed post-pandemic.

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