Guess who’s back, back again

Not Slim Shady, but me – the long absent blogger. The month of June was a desert for blog posts as I got caught up in enjoying the Vegas life. I left you with something of a cliffhanger as I was returning for Day 3 of the Big 50 Tournament at the WSOP and hoped to last as long as possible to boost the payout I would receive. In the end, I bust out in 935th place when I pushed all of my chips in pre-flop with Ace-Queen against Ace-6. Sadly, my opponent hit a 6 on the river sending me to the rail to collect my reward of $2,202 for my efforts.

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Over the course of the rest of the month, Ishbel and I entered a few more tournaments and achieved minimal success.

But poker was far from being our only leisure activity over the course of the past month. We took advantage of some of the outstanding natural beauty that surrounds the city and visited Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park.

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We welcomed our sons and their partners to Vegas for the two week trip that was our Christmas gift to them. It was great to catch up with them for the first time since we left home in November and interesting to see some aspects of Vegas anew through their first-timers’ perspectives.

We visited the Pinball Hall of Fame which is always a treat for me.

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I’ve always loved pinball and, in my youth before we became parents, we actually owned an old pinball machine. We eventually donated that machine to a local cub scout group who used it, very successfully, as a fundraiser. The Vegas Hall of Fame is maintained by enthusiasts as a not-for-profit enterprise and all of the proceeds from the games are donated to charity. It’s a way to have fun and do some good at the same time.

We visited the Neon Museum – something Ishbel and I have never managed to get onto our agenda before and now realise that we were missing out on something sensational.

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The museum itself is an absolute joy and the tour guide is astoundingly knowledgeable about the history of Las Vegas, of the resorts, and even about the history of neon lighting. We were esecially delighted that we chose to visit at night and include the Brilliant exhibit in our tour ticket. It certainly lives up to its name.

We went to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve which has expanded since our previous visit a few years ago. It now includes re-creations of old buildings in an area they call Boomtown.

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If it ever strikes you as curious as to why there is a thriving metropolis in the middle of the Nevada desert, this place can answer a lot of your questions.

It’s not all been nature and high culture, of course. We went to see Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox at the Mirage. ┬áIf you’re unaware of their oeuvre, I highly recommend you take a look. They perform modern pop songs in a laid back swing style. Vegas is the perfect place to see them.

Anything else? Oh, yes. On their last evening in town, we took our visitors to the Voodoo Lounge at the top of the Rio to watch the sun go down over the Strip. This is always a dramatic sight. Even more dramatic when you’re 51 storeys up in the air and are struck by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale. I was fairly casual about the whole thing for the first 5 or 6 seconds, but when it still felt like I was on a boat after a half minute, my life wanted to flash before my eyes but I vehemently refused to witness that nonsense. As soon as it was over, Ishbel and I beat a hasty retreat groundwards. This came hot on the heels of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake a couple of days previously, which we had experienced while in the car, stopped at lights in Downtown Vegas. Having a drink in the Masquerade Bar at the Rio to steady my nerves, I dont think the bartender realised that when he told me he had lived here for 43 years and these two were only the second and third earthquakes he had ever felt, this was not reassuring information.

Another confession: I once again consumed enough beer to get up under the lights and sing in front of a crowd of people. Well, I say sing, but…

The Cosmopolitan hotel has a Barbershop, where I had my beard trimmed. And through the back of the Barbershop there is a speakeasy which, every Tuesday night, hosts a live band karaoke. How could I resist?

We have managed to fill our time in Las Vegas very well, and on Saturday we finally depart after six weeks here. We’re flying to Seattle and travelling on from there for our last month on the road.

Vegas has been like kryptonite for the blog posts but hopefully we’ll get back on an even keel and post more regular updates for the next four weeks.