Nevada-Utah (July 2019)

We got the call – I’ve got to go! It’s kind of what we do. Jenny had an extra ticket for the Penn & Teller show at the Rio in Las Vegas and didn’t want to waste it (Tom had to leave because of filming in Chicago). Lucky me! I immediately booked a flight to Las Vegas for the next day. The plan was to stay in Las Vegas for a few days, then drive to Utah, with a destination east of Park City.

Saturday, July 13

I arrived at the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel. After checking in, I met up with the family (including Tom who leaves very late tonight) later that afternoon when they returned from a basketball tournament Bryan is playing in.

Most of us did a quick stop at the pool. It was crowded and hot, so we didn’t stay long.

One of the pools at the Luxor
One of the pools at the Luxor

Plans for the evening were to go to the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur Hotel. This hotel is connected by a covered walkway with the Luxor making the walk convenient and out of the heat. On previous trips to Las Vegas, including a trip in 1990 when the show (and Excalibur) opened, I had assumed this would not be a show I would possibly enjoy. I was wrong. Although the dinner was not the best (no utensils were provided – we ate with our fingers), the show was very good.

Sunday, July 14

Today is the finals for Bryan’s “Jam on It” basketball tournament at the Las Vegas Convention Center. His team finished 2nd out of 12 teams in his age group.

We took an Uber ride back to the Luxor. During the ride, Jenny recognized the accent of the driver as being Singaporean. The driver was surprised and pleased. We then had an interesting ride while talking about our living there and why he was living in Las Vegas.

Tonight is the Penn and Teller show at the Rio. We had tickets in the 3rd row, center section. This was an excellent location, and once the show began we could see very well (and be seen, as I’ll point out later). But first – the World Series of Poker was being held at the Rio, so we went in search of it. Unfortunately, you had to be 21 to go into the hallways and rooms where the activity was, so Jenny and I went in. Bryan, our future poker star grandson, was particularly disappointed.

On the way into the theater, we all picked up 4 playing cards to be used in one of the acts. While waiting, we were entertained by a jazz duo of the show announcer playing the piano and Penn Jillette playing the base.

Chinese linking rings was one of the early acts and required a volunteer from the audience. Hands all around the theater shot in the air, including Drake’s. Unbelievably, Drake was chosen to go on the stage and participate in the act!

The show ended with Penn & Teller making an “elephant” (a cow with a dryer-vent hose on its nose) disappear while surrounded by kids from the audience. Both Drew and Drake went up on stage for this final act.

Penn preparing to make a cow disappear
Penn preparing to make a cow disappear


When leaving the theater, we wondered why the crowd was moving so slowly. The following photos help explain, as people were getting selfies and taking photos with Penn and Teller.

Monday, July 15

We spent some time at the pool and later met one of Jenny’s friend from Strongsville, OH who now lives and works in Las Vegas. Karla met us for dinner before Drake and I went to see the Blue Man Group, playing in the Luxor.

Ray and Karla
Karla and me

At the start of the Blue Man Group show, Drake and I were issued plastic rain gear to protect us from paint spatters. After the show started we realized we were just outside the range of the paint, so we quickly removed them.

Tuesday, July 16

Today is traveling day – we head to Utah.

After Jenny picked up a van, we drove north out of Las Vegas. Our goal today is Hurricane, UT, near Zion National Park. Along the way, we visited the Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.

Entering the Valley of Fire State Park
Entering the Valley of Fire State Park

Our first stop inside the park was near Beehive Rock.

Then we drove on to a nearby petrified group of trees, fenced in to prevent people from taking souvenirs.

Next stop was the Visitor Center where we were given vague directions to an area Jenny had heard of.

Then on to Hurricane for the night.

Wednesday, July 17

Jenny was not feeling well this morning and Drake decided to stay with her while Bryan, Drew and I went to Zion National Park. We had decided to do the hike to Angels Landing, the most popular trail in Zion. Since there are so many visitors to Zion, the road into the Zion Valley is closed to cars – everyone has to stop at the Visitor Center and take buses to various stops.

Waiting for one of the buses

The trail to Angels Landing is 5.2 miles, round-trip, and has 1500 feet of elevation. The views are wonderful, but there are sections of the trail that have had chains installed to help visitors navigate steep sections. I did several of the chain sections, but I turned around at the “saddle”, while Bryan continued to the top. When you look at the photos, perhaps you’ll understand why I stopped.

Thursday, July 18

On our way to Kamas, UT, we drove through Zion National Park so that Jenny and Drake could see how beautiful it is. We made a couple of stops to hike.

From Zion, we drove to Kamas, where we met Lindsey and Geoff, friends of Tom and Jenny. They let us stay in their family “cabin”, a few miles outside of town. We spent some time with them while the boys enjoyed playing outside with their kids. Then we followed Lindsey to the cabin.

Friday, July 19 – Sunday, July 21

These next days were spent relaxing and enjoying the area. Once we drove into Park City to see a friend and another time Jenny and the boys went to a demolition derby. We also did some hiking and Jenny and Bryan did some running. What a relaxing place.

On Sunday, we drove to the Salt Lake City airport, where I flew back to Florida and Tom arrived from Chicago to continue their vacation.

Thank you, Jenny, Tom, Drew, Drake and Bryan! I had a wonderful time.

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