Sunday, April 20, 2014

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California

We decided to flee the RV for the weekend and go into Los Angeles and Glendale. We wanted to see the Griffith Observatory that sits atop a mountain overlooking the Greater Los Angeles area.  Once we arrived, we got to see the smog that sits over this area.  It was a nice, warm day, but what looks like fog, doesn't burn off.  There were hundreds of other visitors there and hundreds more at the Griffith Park below.  Thank goodness we have Debbie's blue handicap tag, as it cut our walk down from at least a half mile or more uphill, to a few hundred feet from the handicap parking area. The views were great, the exhibits were many, the planetarium had a fabulous 40 minute show, and the food court was good.  We had a great couple of hours.  Then we checked into our hotel, the Hilton Executive Center in nearby Glendale, only a few miles away.  We went to the pool and hot tub, then to the roof-top bar for a drink, and then downstairs to have a delicious seafood dinner. (fresh shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, and scallops)  We relaxed in our Parlor Suite on the 17th floor.  We got a free upgrade as Hilton Honors members.  The room had 2 TVs, 2 chairs, a couch, desk, a King bed, a large bathroom with a tub and a large separate walk-in shower.  We had a great view of the Glendale hills, especially after dark.  It was great to get out of the  RV and get spoiled for a day or two.
                                                             
Griffith Observatory
The Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory a few miles away
One of the two telescope domes
One of the telescopes
One of the views of smog covered L.A.
Debbie enjoyed the views
Debbie enjoyed the hot tub.
The Glendale Hilton Executive Center
Our view from the 17th floor Parlor Suite
Debbie enjoyed relaxing after the pool
                                                                   

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ramona

We went to the Ramona Bowl, an outside amphitheater in Hemet, to see the California state play, Ramona.  Its a story about the 1840-1850's in what is now southern California.  The white pioneers are moving into an area once part of Mexico.  They push the Spanish and the Indians off there land.  Ramona lives on the rancho and falls in love with an Indian, Alessandro who works there.  They endure the wrath of her aunt, who does not want a marriage to an Indian.
Ramona finds out that she is half Indian, as her mother was Indian.  She marries Alessandro and they have a baby.  They are driven off their land by white settlers, their baby dies, and Alessandro is killed by a white settler, who took their property.  Ramona is a story of how the Indians were forced off their land, how the Spanish and the Indians learned to live together with the help of Catholic priests, and how the Indians suffered under the white man's takeover.  This nearly three hour play is performed outside on a beautiful hillside.  It was a great show. There where at least 150 people in the play.
                                                              
Ramona
The Indians who live in the mountains
The Spanish who live on the Rancho
Alessandro and Ramona with their baby daughter

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                                                                         The Indians celebrate the babies arrival  


                                                                         

Monday, April 7, 2014

Las Vegas, Nevada


We stayed in "Sin City" or "The City that Never Sleeps" for 3 nights at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club, with a three day rate for a total of $238. for Hilton Honors members.  Yes, we had to listen to the 2 hour presentation, but we got a voucher for a future stay at any Hilton Hotel (up to $200.), 2 tickets for "Las Vegas, the Show" which was fantastic, dinner for two at Pampas, the Brazilian Restaurant, and 15,000 points on our card.  Not bad for $238. and a 2 hour presentation.  The Hilton is great, the pools and 4 hot tubs were relaxing and the food and drink at the poolside bar was great.  The room and the view from the 36th floor was nice.
At Circus Circus we gambled and only lost $50.  At The Venetian we took the gondola for a romantic float and got serenaded three times by our gondolier Francesca.  We ate at Buddy V's Italian restaurant, which was superb.  The restaurant is owned by Buddy Velasco, you might have seen him on his TV program "Cake Boss."  We went to the top of the Eiffel tower at Paris Hotel & Casino and watched the dancing waters at the Bellagio across the street from up above.  We also went to the Bellagio to see the dancing waters at night and to see the butterfly garden, the beautiful art and ceilings during the day. We visited Caesar's Palace, The Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and The Excalibur.  We ate outside Planet Hollywood at P.F. Chang's and got to people watch, and there are some strange people in Las Vegas. The volcano at the Mirage was quite a show, and we were as close as you could get and you really felt the heat.  As they say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  Some people really act the fool in Vegas, most of them under 30 years of age.  Where else can you get solicited for prostitution even when your with your wife, walk the street with alcoholic beverages, see young ladies dressed so scantily that their mother would drop dead if they saw them. All in all, with the exception of some sore feet from walking,  it was a great visit.
Our Venetian Gondolier Francesca, an Italian with an amazing voice
In the gondola at The Venetian

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                                                                            Our Gondolier Francesca serenaded us 3 times
Debbie enjoyed her eggplant lunch at Buddy V's
Caesar's Palace was beautiful inside
Debbie was sober, riding a goat at Luxor
We went all the way to the top for a great view
The view of the Strip from the Eiffel Tower
The new Ferris wheel, 40 people per car!
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                                                                                          The volcano at The Mirage
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                                                                                The dancing waters at The Bellagio                                                                                  
Across from New York, New York
Debbie at the M & M Store
Inside the mall called "Shops at Planet Hollywood Marketplace"
The Excalibur
The glass flowered lobby ceiling at the Bellagio,
The Bellagio and the Vegas skyline from the Eiffel Tower
                                                                                                                   
                                                                   

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nevada

On our way to Las Vegas for 4 days, we veered over to the Hoover Dam for a view of the exterior and the views around the dam. We did not take the tour, as we already took tours at the Shasta Dam in Northern California, Bonneville Dam on the Columbia river that connects Oregon and Washington, and the biggest of them all, Grand Coulee Dam in Washington.  It was very busy on the day we visited, but we did get some good photos. The water level behind the dam is very low, due to the 2 year drought in the southwest. I'd estimate that it's at least 40 feet below its high levels.
                                                   
The Lake Mead side of the Hoover Dam, before the spillway
Lake Mead and the drought reduced water level
Not a drop of water is going over the dam.......it's too precious due to the drought.