What’s there to say about Zion NP, except that it’s beautiful. Of course, pictures don’t do it justice. The stone walls are so massive- you have to be there.

When you enter the park from the East (near Kanab), the huge rocks and canyons are overwhelming. You could spend all day on the East side before you even get to the old tunnel. Then when you emerge on the other side, there’s even more splendor.

The main valley drive was full and closed until late in the day, so we took a hike on an unmarked trail.

Give me back my cane, you whippernsappers!
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The main canyon (the valley up-and-back drive finally opened)

This guy was watching the California Condors, who nest way up the rock wall.

After a fun day of tromping around the park, we got on the highway and headed SE to Las Vegas.

My gambling days are way behind me, and the place gives me the creeps now. Still, it was fun to show the boys the lights of the Strip, and give them a taste of America’s seedy underbelly. I got a room at the California hotel & casino, downtown, where the Hawaiians go for their Vegas hit.

To get to your room you have to walk through the casino, for obvious reasons.

excitement at the high-rollers table- that plexiglass looks permanent

It used to be they’d make sure the kids didn’t hang out long on the casino floor. If you had a room you were expected to get Timmy and Bethany up there quick and not linger in the gaming area. Now the indifferent dealers, pit bosses, concierges and ubiquitous security personnel couldn’t care less.

Carla asking the barmaid for another vodka tonic. That and the pack of Winstons by her plastic coin tray exempt her from the health mandate. Just a reminder here- this is the DW Shumway children’s book fans and family webpage.

The diner at the California had a two-hour wait so I took them out to the covered walk- The Freemont Street Experience. It was past the family hour (though plenty of families were out and about). They had security set up and the sign said no backpacks and no minors. The boys are minors and each had a backpack. I watched a Mexican family with four kids including a two year old waltz past the bored guard, so we did too. Backpacks all over the place. The Experience featured mobs of people just hanging out, and blaring music, lights glaring everywhere, homeless, wafts of herb, street performances featuring robotic dancing, grotesque costumes, twerking, a guy in a wheelchair with a dancing Chucky puppet, a photo op with leather-clad, rope-wielding Melinda the Dominatrix, a seven-year-old boy with thumping amp behind him rapping a song that featured the endlessly-repeated chorus “Chicken Wings! Chicken Wings, Yayah!”, etc. If you took a Mayan woman off the street in Xcalacdzonot, Quintana Roo and set her down in the Freemont Street Experience at 11pm on a Saturday night and told her she was in Hell, she wouldn’t doubt you.

For all the crowds outside milling about, there wasn’t much gambling going on inside. I saw a marquis advertising the proverbial Vegas steak and eggs for 11 dollars (used to be a buck 99 after hours at Golden Nugget back in the day) and so we walked through a sepulchral casino area to the tropical-themed, thick-carpet dining room with plush, torn-upholstery booths. Ah, Vegas. The host sat us in the darkest corner of the room and I asked the waitress if we could move to the light area in front of the permanently-closed buffet. “Sure!” she said but when the host came back he barked, “You guys can’t sit there! It’s closed!” But Nancy overruled him and we remained. I ordered one beer which the 72 yr. old barmaid delivered in a can, with plastic cup “in case you want to drink it that way”. She was nice and tried to chat up the boys, mentioning Zog Blasters 400 or some such video game that her grandkids played. Allen nodded, indicating yes, he knew that one.

You can tell they have the Vegas fever.

The steak was so-so. The vegetable was peas, carrots and corn straight out of a Del Monte can. Of course the boys loved it.

At least the room was nice. We got a good-night’s sleep before our 4 1/2 drive to LA. I wasn’t sad about leaving Vegas.

view out the window of our hotel

The Plaza used to have some of that old Downtown, cheezy character. Most rooms are empty now in this era of the Reset, and they’ve covered all the windows on the SE wall with this Order of the Illuminati mural.

By the casinos of Babylon,

where we rested for a night,

Yea, we wept,

When we remembered Zion.

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