Days 10-11: Alley Cat, Vegas, and more

I spent the better part of the weekend with my friend Allen Thompson (a.k.a. Alley Cat) and his family. On Saturday morning, I accompanied Allen and his son Durell to the Men’s Prayer Breakfast at his church, New Directions. It was good to be among the fellowship of men, both young and old, who were taking part, Unfortunately, we got to the event a little late, so only slim breakfast pickings remained. No problem, still lots of barbecue left at Allen’s house!

Me and Alley Cat, at the Thompson Estate, Rancho Cucamonga.

Back at the house, Allen and I lounged around, ate, and watched movies for awhile. I later went for a walk around Allen’s Rancho Cucamonga neighborhood. It’s pretty hilly out there, so it didn’t take long for me to get my heart rate up. On my previous visits, I hadn’t noticed how many lizards populated the neighborhood, but they were out today! Every few feet, I’d encounter one of the critters sunning itself on the sidewalk. As I approached, they would scurry back into the grass.

That evening, Allen and Denise went with Durell to his baseball team end-of-season banquet. I took the opportunity to visit with Jared Moore, the son of my TAS co-founder Steve Moore. Jared has been living in California for about five years, and he is located only 30 minutes or so from Allen’s home. I picked him up and we had dinner at the Fish House in the Victoria Gardens shopping center. I hadn’t seen Jared since he moved to California, and it was jarring to see that, like my own son, he’s not a kid anymore. We had a good time talking about sports and Jared’s adventures in California.

Back at Allen’s, I stayed up much to late trying to watch Saturday Night Live and otherwise vegging on the sofa. I finally went to bed around 2:30 am, but stayed up until after 4:00 reading a NY Times article on my iPad, about a woman diagnosed with Alzheimers who decided to schedule her death. I finally crashed and woke up after 8:00 am. Time to get it together and get back on the road!

Desert road to Las Vegas.

Before noon, I departed the Thompsons’, grateful for their hospitality and eager to resume the homeward journey. I headed up the 15 freeway toward my next stop, Las Vegas.

Back in Las Vegas, first time by car.

I reached Las Vegas in mid-afternoon, not quite sure what I wanted to do there. I parked in the Flamingo Hotel lot, near the middle of the Strip, and proceeded to take a walk to find a spot for dinner. Immediately upon exiting the parking lot elevator, I encountered bikini-clad young girls who seemed to have had too much to drink. Yep, I’m back in Vegas.

I took a sightseeing walk down the Las Vegas Strip to the Fashion Center Mall, to a restaurant called El Segundo. This was the site of my niece Karen’s 40th birthday party some years ago, and I had revisited a couple of times since them. Always enjoyed the Mexican food and atmosphere there. As luck would have it, a private party had taken the place over, so I wasn’t able to eat there. Fortunately, I was able to sit at their sister restaurant next door, Strip Burger, and order from the El Segundo menu. Not quite the experience I was looking for, but the food was good and the margarita tasty.

Selfie in front of the Venetian.

I wasn’t in the mood to gamble or see a Vegas show, so after dinner I decided to get back on the road and head to my next destination, the Hoover Dam. I had always heard about this 20th Century engineering marvel, but had never visited. Seeing the dam and the surrounding area was one of the main objectives of my trip.

Before heading out of Vegas, I checked the map for the town closest to Hoover Dam, and noted a place called Boulder City. I googled “Boulder City hotels” and noted that a place called the Boulder Dam Hotel was highly rated on Trip Advisor. I called the hotel and booked a room ($80.00 for a “big king” room) and set off for Boulder City.

On the road to Boulder City, NV, headed for the Hoover Dam.

I was pleasantly surprised by Boulder City. Only a half hour or so drive from Las Vegas, it’s a quaint little town with attractive restaurants, antique shops, at least one wine bar, and hotels.

A surprise gem – the Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City, NV.

Upon arriving at the Boulder Dam, I met Terry, the front desk clerk. She put me into a king suite that was just above the reception area, and informed me of the hotels amenities. Here are some of the key things I learned:

  1. The hotel is called Boulder Dam because that was the original name of the Hoover Dam. Naming the dam after President Herbert Hoover, whose term coincided with the Great Depression, was controversial, to say the least, and didn’t happen officially until 11 years after the project was completed.
  2. The town of Boulder City was originally created to facilitate the construction of the Hoover Dam. The Boulder Dam Hotel is located just 7 miles from the dam.
  3. The Boulder Dam Hotel houses a museum dedicated to the dam and the people who built it.

After the long day of driving and sightseeing, I was pretty tired, so I went on up to my room. The room was spacious, clean, and classy. I was surprised to find that the WiFi speeds were outstanding – 30mbps download, 25 mbps upload – not bad at all! My impression was that this was a place I could be comfortable in for a few days, and I felt a bit of regret that I would be leaving in much less than 24 hours.



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