This will be a longer entry than normal, but then the two days it details were very long days!
On Thursday, at the God-awful hour of 4:30 am, I woke up and got myself ready to meet Holly downstairs to catch a bus at 5:30 for Hollywood. Well, it was more a large passenger van than bus, but the seats were equally uncomfortable.
Not realizing that a light breakfast was included in the price, we made sure to hit the Starbucks in the hotel lobby before climbing aboard. (Gnate guarded Holly's milk-shakey-esque one until she met us in the lobby.)
Our driver, an older man named Larry... or possibly Stanley... I had a hard time not calling him Don, because he reminded me somewhat of our software trainer Don, so I'll most likely call him Don for the rest of this post. Where was I? Oh, our driver/tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable, and entertaining. The complete opposite of the horrible woman who was the driver/tour guide for the next day's bus trip/tour to see the Grand Canyon. I try to keep this blog PG, but she was a bit...oh, I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. (Calm, Rosemary...) Back to Thursday's trip.
I hadn't realized, originally, that Hollywood was that close to Vegas, but once I did, I was really excited about this day trip. There were eleven of us, including the driver. The four-hour drive, along with various potty breaks, passed along quickly.
Turns out that the Walk of Fame with all the stars, and the Grauman’s (sp?) Chinese Theater, as well as a good spot to view the Hollywood sign and a few other tourist-y spots are all within about 5-6 blocks of each other. So the van was parked at one end and we had three hours to make ourselves crazy.
The first thing we passed was the Roosevelt Hotel, home of the first Oscars and, according to Don, the place where a lot of stars “stay” prior to hopping in the limo to be driven the 2 blocks to where the red carpet is for the current Oscars. Also, it was home to one of the Top 5 Burger Joints in the US. Holly and I stopped for lunch - she got a burger, but I got a hot dog. Gnate and I enjoyed it.
After lunch, we walked the Walk of Fame - saw stars for a bunch of famous people - some I recognized, some I didn’t. We only saw one actual star, and Gnate wanted his picture taken with him.
There were even a few empty ones for after I become the award winning author that I know is in my future.
Having watched a video on the drive to California about the Chinese Theater and the history of having people sign and put their foot/hand prints in cement, it was neat to see the variety of stars whose marks were there.
Most of the stars were "older", but there were a few more current people there. While we were there, Marilyn Monroe gave us directions on where to go to get to the place where we could see the Hollywood sign.
It was close to midnight when we got back to the hotel. Before going to our respective rooms, we calculated that we had to wake up 4:30/5 the next morning (Friday), to be ready for the bus to pick us up for Friday's bus tour to the Grand Canyon.
4:30 am came really early. After getting our coffee, a rather surly man picked us up in a van (we are rather trusting souls, aren't we?) and took us and the others he picked up to join the rest of the people for our tour where our tour bus driver/guide was the aforementioned horrible woman. I generously gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought that instead of being a generally horrible person, maybe she thought she was funny... she would have been wrong, but.. after being with her the bulk of the day, my generosity ran out.
On the way to the Grand Canyon, we had to go over the Hoover Dam. Before getting there, we watched a video on the history of the Dam. It was very interesting and educational. I just wish I hadn't been so hopped up on cold meds to remember most of it.
The Dam was very impressive - although the restrooms left something to be desired - four port-o-potty's. Our tax dollars at work.
A couple of hours later, we arrived at the Grand Canyon. It was the West Rim. I had been to the South Rim before, but that was 20 or so years ago, and I don't recall being that impressed. I seem to recall a bunch of trees between us and the edge, so we couldn't see down into the canyon very well.
The West Rim totally mad up for any deficiencies that the South Rim may (or may not) have had. Of course, my main pop culture reference regarding the Grand Canyon is in National Lampoon’s Vacation, where Chevy Chase and his family get there, they stand together as a group, and then he’s like “ok, let’s go!" As I'm looking out at the beauty, I had to chuckle because that's playing over in my mind.
After a while, I had to go find a seat. There was a restaurant there, with a slew of outdoor picnic tables, so I found an empty one overlooking the path and decked myself out while waiting for Holly. This was my view:
As I sat there, blowing my nose, it occurred to me that the very last thing I'd wanted to do that morning was get on another bus. But looking at the beauty that morning made me glad I'd come... even if I was sick. That Friday was the day after what would have been Dad's 77th birthday. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him.. well, a man, his size, shape and approximate age, dressed just like Dad would have been dressed, walking with a cane. It made tears come to my eyes.... which didn't help my runny nose one bit!
I saw this at the edge - I wasn't sure if it was meant to be reassuring or scary.
I probably took 100 pictures that day and there's no way I could post enough of them to convey the beauty. I did take a video though... and I think I've figured out how to post it!
After a long bus ride back to Vegas, Holly and I had a wonderful dinner at Battista's Hole in the Wall, a great Italian restaurant, relatively inexpensive. Then we ubered our way to the Mandalay Bay (yes, the same hotel as the shooter was in) to see the Cirque de Soleil show One with Michael Jackson music. It was good, but creepy - having hologram's of Michael Jackson talking to us - and I like MJ's music the way he recorded it, not the way they reworked it. Love was the better of the two shows.
Another uber, this time in a BMW!!, and we were back to our hotel. Another late night, but at least we could sleep in before catching our flight back home to Evansville.