The Big Bus (Las Vegas)

We’ve wandered along the strip, been transported back in time with the Jersey Boys, visited the engineering Marvel that is Hoover Dam and floated on a chocolate high and we’ve only just begun our Las Vegas Adventure.

Today we wandered through the Hawaiian Market Place. I’m not sure why it’s called the Hawaiian Market Place but its right in front of Polo Towers so it was an easy walk and right in front of the  Hawaiian Market Place is the bus stop.

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We’re looking for the hop on – hop off double decker tour bus. Like the trolley tours in Boston, you buy a ticket for the day and can get on and off and ride the whole day. With the wisdom of 20-20 hindsight we should have bought the 2 day pass but we really had no idea and settled for a one day which was $42.00 each.

Being picked up at the Hawaiian Marketplace  meant that we were starting in the middle of the tour route.  The original plan was to ride the whole route and then do it a 2nd time getting on and off. It didn’t work out that way.

The guides on the tours were all good. Pointing out the sights and telling us little tid-bits about each landmark.

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Trump Tower stands alone surrounded by empty lots. There is no casino and no smoking. Some say Trump was denied a Nevada Gaming License others say he has one but chose not to put in a casino. , the internet truth finder,  say the rumor that he was denied a license is false. The Donald was approved for a licence in February 2004.

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The Wynn is a beautiful property, very elegant and sophisticated with lovely landscaped grounds. I was particularly interested in seeing this as Steve Wynn is trying to build a casino complex in Everett, MA. I say trying because every time he gets a green light someone throws another challenge in the way. Most recently the Town of Somerville sued because of traffic concerns.

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The bus took us into the old section of Vegas, where it all began, also known as the Fremont Street Experience.

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The Rearing Horseman marks the entrance to The Freemont St Experience  in old Las Vegas along with the iconic Golden Nugget. The Golden Nugget was originally built in 1946, making it one of the oldest casinos in the city. Our guide says the largest gold nugget in the world is on display here but according to Wikipedia it was display until 2013. Since we didn’t hop off here I can’t say one way or the other. Maybe I’ll check it out next trip . The Hotel is built around two aquariums so that would be fun to see.

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Cactus and Chocolate

I hope everyone had a nice Easter. It turned out to be a beautiful spring day in Taunton.

I want to back track a little on the Vegas adventure. I missed a part of the tour when we went to Hoover Dam.

The “Dam”Tour was great but there was one more stop before we went back to the hotel and that was at the Botanical Cactus gardens and the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory.

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When the bus first pulled up I only wanted to see the gardens. Dropping into the Chocolate factory could wait. I don’t need more candy. My time share has been showering us with boxes of Ghirardelli Squares since we checked in.

So into the prickly garden I went.

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They had all sorts of cactus.  Rabbit Ears

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Prickly Pear

But soon it was time to stick my nose into the chocolate factory.  Inspired by Ethel Mars‘ pursuit of the perfect chocolate, Forrest Mars Sr. created Ethel M, named in his mother’s honor. Using her timeless recipes. It’s not all about M &M’s.

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My favorite turned out to be the pecan bark. Since the chocolate is made without preservatives in small batches it meant that I’d have to eat this chocolate in a hurry. But it was sooo Yummy!



Jersey Boys

What’s Las Vegas without the shows?

There weren’t any headliners Like Elton John there but there were loads of tribute artists like Michael Jackson, The Beatles and the Jersey Boys.

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Sandy is Old School and so am I even if her school is a little older than mine so Michael got scratched off the list and we’d seen Beatles Tribute Bands before, especially “RAIN”. so Jersey Boys became the choice.

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We got our tickets through the time share so they were Dinner and a Show. Dinner was the Brazilian Steak House, Pampas and what an experience. The food was amazing. We had a chocolate mousse cake for dessert and we should have taken a picture because it was beautiful, rich and creamy. Even splitting it we couldn’t finish it.


Then we wandered over to  the theater in the Paris Hotel. Had to walk off the chocolate!


Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

“They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story”


I remember the songs, all of them from Sherry to Can’t take my Eyes Off  You  and many, many, more. Guess that’s dating me but I loved the show. I didn’t know all the things that happened, some very sad, until the show. I won’t give the story line away in case you get to go but I did a fact check and found they were true.

I lugged my camera over prepared to grab few shots but that idea was quickly shut down when they announced no photos or recording devices of any kind. I had my expensive camera so I wasn’t going to risk having it confiscated if I got caught sneaking a picture so back in the case it went.


All I can say is that its a great show. There are several casts touring, not just Las Vegas, so it could be coming to a theater near you. If it does, don’t miss it!




Hoover Dam

Day 2 of our Las Vegas visit started cool and bright. We were up early as we had to catch the Hoover Dam tour bus. With the construction going on around Polo Towers, the driver had a challenge  maneuvering the big, full sized bus around the sharp corners to the loading area at the West entrance.

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Our Dam guide explained that the strong desire to harness nature’s power drove the human mind and body to build a dam in the hottest, driest area of the United States. People wanting to irrigate low lying plains, known as low desert areas, without suffering from flooding and the battle over water made it obvious to the United States government that the Colorado River was part of the solution and the perfect location was the deep gorge of the Black Canyon of the Colorado.

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As a survivor of the “Big Dig” , Boston, one of the facts that most impressed me was that this giant project came in not only under budget but 2 years ahead of schedule! A consortium called Six Companies Inc. won the right to build the concrete arch dam.

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They created a planned community to house the 5000-man workforce. Miles of street were paved and railroad tracks were laid to connect the canyon-side village to the project site and neighboring Las Vegas. The community, known as Boulder City, is still standing and is one of only 2 cities in Nevada that prohibit gambling. The casinos near the city are actually outside the city limits.

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Our tour took us inside the dam to view the huge turbines that generate electricity for customers in California, Arizona, and Nevada and creates enough power for 1.3 Million people.

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The Bureau of Reclamation, the department subsidizing the project, supplied a whopping 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete for the dam itself, plus another 1.11 million cubic yards for the power plant and additional facilities. This quantity of concrete would be enough to build 3000 miles of road—a full-sized highway from one end of the United States to the other. Additionally, the dam required about five million barrels of cement, nearly equaling the total quantity of cement utilized by the Bureau in its previous 27 years of existence.

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Lake Mead formed behind the high walls of Hoover Dam creating a huge reservoir called the Hoover Dam recreation area.DSC_2432 copy

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The dam, the gorge and lake Mead all combine to make a spectacular vista.

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