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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Price


Ready to go on an adventure with us? Today’s blog will transport you on our two week journey Jason and I embarked on at the beginning of November 2022. Since we own our very own crash pad in Las Vegas, NV, we made that our home base while we traveled in and out of Nevada on various adventures. We started out attending the SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For those not familiar with the acronym, it stands for “Specialty Equipment Market Association” and is the premier automotive specialty trade event in the world. The event space houses 4.6 million square feet of exhibits. This year marked our 16th year attending the show. It has been an annual trip fulfilling Jason’s love for the automotive industry and his passion for classic rebuilds and restorations. Since Jason has been in the process of transforming his 2002 Toyota Sequoia into an overlanding off-road vehicle, we also wandered through the Overlanding Experience at the show to get ideas and check out the latest and greatest products.

The Valley of Fire State Park located just about one hour outside Las Vegas in Overton Nevada was our next experience along this two week journey. The history of the park consisting of bright red Aztec sandstone embedded in gray and tan limestone mountains dates back to 1935 when it officially opened as a state park. We entered the park receiving our map from the ranger at the West entrance and began our expedition stopping at several of the trails in search of the most beautiful and interesting rock formations we have ever seen. Heading northeast, the first trail we encountered was the “Beehives”, named so due to their uncanny resemblance to a beehive.

Next stop north of the Beehives, we found a .7 mile long trail named “Mouse’s Tank Trail”. This trail was used as a hideout in the 1890’s for Southern Paiute Indian renegade “Little Mouse”, who was accused of killing two prospectors among other crimes. The second part of the trail name “Tank” refers to a vessel for holding water. When you reach the end of this trail after passing several amazing petroglyphs, you come to a pothole in the sandstone where water collects after it rains. We took a video to try and capture the sound of dripping water into the tank since it was lightly raining at the time.

We continued driving north to our next trailhead stop named “Fire Wave Trailhead”. The trail to this most picturesque vision was 1.5 miles roundtrip, a pretty easy jaunt following the trail markers. Approaching this natural formation after hiking over rock that appears to be flowing like lava was a sight to behold.

We pointed our compass south and made the return trip along White Domes Road with the Visitors Center in our sights as we crested the road spanning between two gorgeous red rock mountain ranges. After picking up some snacks and wandering through the center, our journey continued to the far east side of the park where we stopped at “Elephant Rock Loop” to view the elephant shaped formation and have Jason pose in the provided photo frame picture spot. I snapped a few more breathtaking pictures of the surrounding mountain ranges before heading back to Sin City.

Jason and I have discussed visiting the Grand Canyon on many occasions but have just not made it until this trip. And what better way to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world?....then with a couple of great friends and getting to the South Rim by way of train. An actual steam train!! We met our good friends, Dave and Brenda Gibson, at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas and set off on the road for a 3.5 hour drive to Williams Arizona. Nestled along historic Route 66, we checked into the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel for a two night stay. We went all out treating ourselves to only the best this historic location had to offer booking a package that provided our two night stay in the “Phantom Ranch Suite” (see video below), breakfast and dinner for two days, a rail ticket aboard the Chief luxury parlor passenger car and a guided bus tour to view two vantage points of the South Rim including lunch. Let me just begin by saying we had the best time!! When we arrived in Williams, there was snow on the ground from the previous days dusting and the hotel grounds were all decked out with Christmas lights and decorations really making this a winter wonderland experience, and it was only the first weekend in November. Anyone who knows me, knows I love the holiday season so the earlier the better in my book. After checking in to our rooms, we made our way over to the train depot to pick up our pile of tickets for the weekend's excursion. We perused the gift shop which was getting ready to display all their holiday wears then proceeded to Spencer’s Pub, named for its artisan. Such a beautifully crafted piece to saddle up to and enjoy a cocktail.

We started our first morning in Williams with a buffet breakfast at The Fred Harvey Restaurant before boarding our comfy seats aboard the “Chief” car on the Grand Canyon Railway steam train. Once on board, a spread of continental breakfast snacks were available and drinks whipped up by our bartender and story narrator Terryl. She was a delight to listen to as we departed the train depot and headed north about 60 miles to the Grand Canyon Village. I later discovered that she was from our hometown of Hayward Ca. What a small world!! In addition to Terryl’s historic tails, we were able to enjoy some live music by one of the railway performers.

The ride brought us through several different terrains from snow to land filled with ponderosa trees to the desert setting.

Arriving at the Grand Canyon Village, we disembarked the train and hopped on a tour bus headed for Maswik Lodge for lunch. Next on the agenda was two stops where we could get out and view this amazing scene. First stop along the south rim was at Verkamp’s Visitor Center where I picked up a National Parks stamp book and branded its first mark with the Grand Canyon. I am now on a mission to visit all the National Parks and fill my book. Pictures of this massive natural wonder do not do it justice. Being able to stand on the canyon rim and view this geological phenomenon was an experience I was grateful to have shared with Jason and our friends. The tour bus drove us just a bit more north where we were given a second vantage view at Hopi Point. After spending some time seeking out the Colorado River winding through the floor of the canyon far below, we boarded the tour bus one last time and was transported back to the Grand Canyon Railway Depot where we were able to spend some time shopping at the various gift shops inside the El Tovar Hotel and Hopi House where native crafts were sold.

It was time to reboard the steam train for our return trip back to Williams train depot where we enjoyed a champagne toast, some more live entertainment and yes….a train robbery!! Cowboys boarded the train about 30 minutes before we arrived back in Williams in search of valuables and cash. Our friend Dave thought it would be funny to hide his cash somewhere other than his pocket. Before heading to dinner, we took a stroll to downtown Williams which is actually situated on Route 66 for some shopping. Brenda found this to be a good spot to try and partner with some local shop owners who may be interested in merchandising her uniquely designed and custom made jackets from (going live 2023) . We enjoyed dinner at The Fred Harvey Restaurant and again for breakfast the next morning before getting back on the road to Vegas.

We relaxed a bit at our Sin City crash pad before heading to The Strip for dinner and a show. We dined at Gallagher’s Steakhouse, one our favorite places inside New York New York Casino and Hotel. After a scrumptious dinner, we took in one of the new shows to emerge post-covid, Cirque du Soleil's Mad Apple. I am not going to say this was one of my favorite shows, but will comment that should the comedian who entertained us in between acrobatic sets go solo as a stand up comedian, I’d pay to see him again. Audience engaging and super funny guy!!

With just one day left to spend with our friends Dave and Brenda before they head home, we spent some time at the Pinball Hall of Fame, enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Silverado Steakhouse within South Point Hotel and Casino at the recommendation of The Gibson’s and ended our last evening together touring the Neon Museum where “history is brought to light”. Jason and I have been there several times, but still enjoy seeing the preservation of these iconic signs that this non profit organization is so dedicated to. We ended our evening with drinks and stogies at one of our favorite cigar lounges, Eight Lounge where I have been wanting to try their tiramisu dessert. Unfortunately, we were too late as they stopped serving food for the evening so after our cocktail and cigar, we headed to Aubi & Ramsa for some liquor infused ice cream. Dave was in heaven and tried three different flavors.

We dropped our dear friends at the airport after a truly memorable weekend and returned back to the Las Vegas airport later the same day to catch a flight of our own. This part of the journey takes us to that place affectionately referred to as “the happiest place on earth”, Disneyland. On a rainy November evening, we landed at Los Angeles Airport to meet up with another couple and Disney fanatics, Rob Brown of Bitchin' Outdoors (one of the young bucks from earlier blogs) and his lovely girlfriend Alexa Ojala of hairbyalexaojala. Since Miss. Alexa celebrates her birthday in the month of November, we decided to make our couple days here a celebration of her. We made our way to the Disneyland Hotel to enjoy a yummy Disney style buffet at Goofy's Kitchen. We couldn’t let the big day go unnoticed, so the wait staff presented Alexa with a delectably sweet cupcake and a rendition of “Happy Birthday”. The next couple days were filled with your average Disney experience hoopla. We have visited Disneyland every year since we were married (23 years) prior to the shut down in 2020. I was a bit disappointed with multiple rides always being closed down or the cast members not really being as cheerful and courteous as I remember. The guys discovered you can be a bounty hunter inside Galaxy’s Edge. It was a virtual type game using your cell phone, the Disney Play app and screens within the land. We did enjoy a wonderful lunch at The Blue Bayou where we all devoured the famous Monte Cristo sandwich. Yum!! Our time in Anaheim was short, only two days. We headed back to Las Vegas for one last activity on our bucket list, The Big Smoke.

The Big Smoke is sponsored by Cigar Aficionado and was held at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip. We arrived at the entrance where The Big Smoke was being held and received our wristbands for entrance. Once the doors opened, we were handed a small canvas tote to collect our cigars in and a ticket book which included 31 tickets from various cigar companies who were on hand to provide samples. The venue was actually set up under huge tents just outside the hotel with loads of yummy food and drinks along with whiskey brands also sampling their spirits. Jason and I figured the game out pretty quickly to remove the tickets from our books and work as a team to gather all the different cigars that were being given. While Jason waited in a 45 minute line that eventually funneled him to about six or seven different vendors, I took Jason’s tickets and raced around the tent to the other vendors which were spread a bit more sporadically throughout the venue and collected for the both of us. I whittled the choices down to the final two longest lines heading for a whiskey vendor to pick up a sample and go wait in line while sipping my drink from a beautiful crystal glass. The evening was a fun new experience meeting and chatting with a few friendly people and actually running into someone from home.

As they say, all good things must come to an end. We packed up and closed up the condo flying back to the Bay Area the next morning. I felt like this was the most productive trip we have ever taken, packing so many new experiences into our itinerary.

Until our next adventure…keep it REEL bitchin!!


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Hi, thanks for dropping by!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and blogs as I bring you my many adventures of the outdoors and beyond.  Along with my wife and close friends from Bitchin' Outdoors, we are always looking for the next great adventure from a trip to a new city or destination to the best fishing hole or stream.  

Sit back and relax as I bring our travels to life and hopefully spark your desire to get out and be bitchin!!

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