Las Vegas, Nevada! “Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada!
“Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

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Back from Las Vegas.
A fun trip to “Sin City”
Happy to be Home!

JOSHWILLTRAVEL! And travel to Las Vegas last week is what we did.*

*well, it wasn’t last week…. more like last month. Tempus fugit!

We were invited (very last minute) to our friend Frank’s 65th Birthday Adventure:
(via a series of text messages)
– Come to Vegas if you want we have extra rooms
– We arrive Wed and lots of different rooms. Party on Saturday
– The party at Topgolf should be good even if you dont golf. Has a private pool for us
– Then we got a big cabana by our pool Friday Saturday and Sunday

So, let me think about it….. and Road Trip to Vegas!
Left the beautiful San Fernando Valley at 1:30am on Thursday morning.
Highways to Las Vegas: 101north-134west-210west-10west-15north
We drove a rental truck, a no-frills silver Nissan Frontier, with unlimited miles.
No traffic! Driving 285 miles at night with the truckers on I-15 north.

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“World’s Tallest Thermometer” in Baker, California

Stopped along the way in Baker, California, for gas and to see the “World’s Tallest Thermometer” once again lighting the side of the 15 freeway. It was “non-operational” for many years, but has been repaired and now it is again a beacon at night on the desert highway.
NOTE: Gas prices were “too f*ckin’ high” in Baker! 

Stateline! No stopping until we get to town.

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Stateline! Primm, Nevada

Arrived at South Point Hotel and Casino before 6am on Thursday.

We have always heard good things about the SouthPoint. People regularly recommend their buffet as being very good. They were also recently featured in the Showtime series “Action” about legal sports gambling, so as we rolled into town we decided to stop there.

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SouthPoint Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

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Self Parking at SouthPoint is FREE. We parked outside, instead of in the structure, and it was only a short walk to the Casino entrance. We had to go to the High Limit Slots counter to get a Player’s Card because the Club Desk doesn’t open until 7am. We played some blackjack and a little video poker and won a little money.

We also earned 300 club points which entitled us to “spin the wheel” and we won 5000 points (so we cashed them out for $15.00), wandered around the casino, and then headed for their Breakfast Buffet.

NOTE: Get the SouthPoint Player’s Card and the Breakfast Buffet is only $9.95 + tax
(Really nice breakfast buffet for ~$11.00 + $5.00 tip for our server/waitperson)

Breakfast Buffet Time! The Las Vegas “Buffet Experience”! And we were hungry…..

On The Menu: Everything. It was a Good Buffet!

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After breakfast we headed out and drove to the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort near the MGM Grand and across the street from TopGolf at the south end of the strip.
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Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

Parked near Tower 3, walked to registration at Tower 2 and Checked In.
Our friends had the rooms reserved and a quick phone call was made, our ID was checked, and we were handed a keycard and welcome instructions. We walked back to Tower 3 and met one of our friends in the lobby. She gave us the “nickel tour” of the resort property and showed us the adult pool and the cabana they had reserved for our party weekend. We walked back to Tower 3 and grabbed our luggage and weekend supplies out of the truck and rode the elevator upstairs.

The SMELL in the hall.
Okay, something died. rotting trash beyond rotting. it was terrible. really terrible.
FOR THE WHOLE TIME! It was disgusting. It reeked. It stank.
Yes, we complained. And they tried to mitigate the smell with deodorizers and sprays, but they should have called for sanitary cleanup immediately. They were really good about apologizing and they gave our hosts credit for the inconvenience.

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“It’s Kubrickian!”

The Sweet Suite!
Tower 3, Room 392 at the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort:

Happily, the smell was only in the hallway. Once inside the room, a “lock-out” connecting room, adjacent to the first room our hosts stayed in…. they moved to the Presidential Suite, and her brother moved into their room. More on that later.

Each room had a nice kitchen area, living room space and private bedroom and bath. Mine was a little smaller than the room next door which also had a bar and bar seating in the living room space. I was very happy with the accommodations and also the fact that it was FREE! My hosts were treated to drinks, gifts and other forms of thanks all week long in appreciation for the invitation.

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After the little tour of the resort the it was nappy time. Then once we were awake and active again, we joined our friends for a quick visit to the TopGolf mega-entertainment center across the street. We met our friends in the inside bar and had a cocktail while they finished their food (we were still full from the morning buffet).

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Our friend’s birthday party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the Chairman’s Suite, complete with private pool and lunch buffet, so they went to check it out.  More on that party later……
We wandered around and toured the massive four deck facility. There were lots of bar and seating areas, and a public pool area with lounges, private cabanas and a “swim-up” bar. There were televisions and monitors everywhere, and really big multi-screens by the pool and in the gathering and game areas. And there were a ton of people having fun at midday on Thursday! The Golf Area has private driving areas for rent, with computer monitoring, that tracks your ball and gives you distance, replay, and other fun golf info. And of course there is plenty of food and beverage service available everywhere.
Just mind the warning signs and watch for errant golf balls and clubs!
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And then back across the street to the resort.
Our friends moved their stuff to the Presidential Suite with a Private Veranda and we hung out there and waited for them to get settled in.
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We made a run to the local market and picked up provision for the week. And then later we went back across the street to TopGolf for a late dinner.

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TopGolf Photo Op!

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On The Menu: More cocktails
and Boneless BBQ Wings w/veggies & ranch dressing at one of the bars.
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FRIDAY at the Wyndham

Good morning! Cabana Time!
Our Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

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Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday began the same way each day: Tiki drinks for brunch! And some kind of food from the resort kitchen, along with snacks we brought from the room.

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The cabana was equipped with a nice television and a noisy ceiling fan, and the public smoking area was right next door and there was a public cabana in that area. Most of the pool cabanas were positioned in the sun, and must have been really hot inside, while our cabana was on the other side and in the shade set back but facing the adult pool area.

 

Dinner time on Friday, and we had a meeting in the Presidential Suite to decide where to go to eat. There are many choices, so the group reviewed them, and eventually decided to go to Burger Bar (inside the Luxor Hotel, which we didn’t know at the time).

NOTE: Everything we did took a long time to get it together and actually do it. It wasn’t a problem, and we resolved to just ride along and see what happens (most of the time).

And then it started raining. A real Desert Storm! And a wet Friday night.
One of our new friends was the non-drinking designated driver, and he was a cool dude. But his driving was not cool. And it was dark and wet and it took a long time to get there. And then we toured the parking lot, for a long time, before finally parking.

We made our way into the Luxor and found the Burger Bar. Basically a $20 hamburger without anything else, so we decided to go spend our money at The Peppermill instead.

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MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on a Rainy Night in Las Vegas, Nevada

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And so, after another wild ride in the rain around Las Vegas, we arrived for Dinner and Drinks at The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge!

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We had dinner and tiki drinks in the restaurant and then went into the lounge and had more drinks. The rain was really coming down and we were in no hurry to leave, so we rode out the storm in the lounge and met some fun new people.
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On The Menu: Tiki Cocktails!
A Lava Flow and a nice Beef Dip Sandwich with fries and extra au jus

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A good time was had by all! We enjoyed our dinner and drinks at The Peppermill. Frank had a big Scorpion drink (in a glass, not a bowl) and the rest of us had a few different drinks from their cocktail menu too.

One more drive around Vegas in the rain and back to the resort. We survived! We returned to the Presidential Suite and then back to our suite in the other tower. We decided to take a hot bath and then sleep in the next day.

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“Wanna take a bath?”

SATURDAY at the Wyndham and TopGolf

Cabana Time! Basically the same routine as Friday: tiki drinks, food, people hanging out and new friends stopping by until it was time to get it together and head over to TopGolf for the big shindig!

Frank’s 65th Birthday Party in the Chairman’s Suite at TopGolf – Saturday 2-5pm
Golf, balls, a buffet, more drinks and a private swimming pool just for us.

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Party at TopGolf in Las Vegas, Nevada!

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The Guest of Honor in the Private Pool in the Chairman’s Suite

On The Menu: Tacos (chicken, steak and pork), Sliders (cheeseburgers, battered fish and pulled pork), chips with salsa and guacamole, salads, and of course more tiki cocktails!

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The party was a lot of fun, we got out drink on, and there was too much food! We ended up taking a lot of it back to the resort afterwards. There was golfing (unlimited balls, or something like that) and swimming too. The pictures are just a sample before it got crazy wild.

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A beautiful day at TopGolf Las Vegas!

Saturday Night in Vegas!

And so we returned to the resort and hung out until it got dark. We decided our next destination would be (more) Tropical Cocktails at Frankie’s Tiki Room! 

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Saturday Night on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

After the wild road trip on Friday night, we decided we would drive to Frankie’s and meet the crew there. We cruised past The Strip and downtown to the bar.

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More cocktails! Famous tiki drinks! And it was really dark inside.
Here are some pics:

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We enjoyed a Mai Tai and then there was a lot of conversation and more drinks. We moved around from our table in the cabana to a seat at the bar. Lots of kitsch and weird decor to see, even in the dark. Eventually, they decided to return to the resort and we decided to go back to The Strip and have some Las Vegas fun.

We drove to The Wynn, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – FREE SELF PARKING!
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The Wynn is a beautiful property! And it was crowded, which was nice. We played a little and wandered around taking in the different areas of the casino and environs. We had some luck and cashed out and drove back to the resort and went to bed.

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SUNDAY (Mother’s Day) morning after waking up and getting ready, we walked over to the Presidential Suite for Breakfast/Brunch and more Cabana Time! It was a leisurely day of drinking and hanging out. There may have been an afternoon nap involved.

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So we were volunteered to cook and we grilled some steaks for dinner at 9:30pm on Sunday at the community BBQ Grills. There’s a curfew for cooking at 10pm, so we had to be quick! We took them upstairs and enjoyed a great meal on the private veranda (and of course, there were more cocktails).

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Then we went on a mission to The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign!
It was designed by Nevada-born graphic designer Betty Willis (1923-2015) in 1959.
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“The rounded diamond shape of the sign was inspired by the Goodyear logo and the idea for the starburst came from the one in Disneyland’s emblem, which to her meant a happy destination. The seven silver dollars were a symbol of good luck for visitors entering the world’s gambling capital. (Betty) Willis’s design was never trademarked.”

The sign was built by a small local company Western Electric Displays Inc, aka Western Neon. Western Neon was bought by YESCO (Young Electric Sign Company) and they have maintained the sign ever since. The original sign has been rebuilt, restored, and recognized as a cultural and historic landmark for the City of Las Vegas over the years.

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Safe and legal public access to the sign was finally made possible in 2008, when parking spaces and a pedestrian walkway were finally constructed. Clark County and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office had the sign listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

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NOTE: It was “Helldorado Days” a big holiday in the State of Nevada. There was a parade on Saturday and the Rodeo and other events were happening all weekend in downtown Las Vegas and on Fremont Street. So, we didn’t go there.

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Old Vegas! Glitter Gulch!

We returned to the resort and stayed up until MONDAY morning!
“It’s HOT in the Hot Tub!” 
And sometime before dawn we hit the Jacuzzi and Pool! (the pool and jacuzzi at Tower 3 are open 24 hours) It was very Early AM, at Tower 3, after it was cleaned, before the crowd and we were almost alone.

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We had stayed up all night and after our adventures we finally decided to try out the 24 hour pool and jacuzzi in our Tower. The pool area was empty except for one couple, so we waited until they were out of the water and then we moved in. We spent about a half hour enjoying the warm, bubbly spa, and swam in the cool pool until the calm was interrupted by two small children and their mother….. as we left the pool area at 6am the mother was screaming at the children in the shallow end of the pool, “Get over here dammit, you pulled this sh*t all yesterday, I’m not gonna have it today!” 

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Went up to the room and took a hot shower, ate some leftover tacos, and went to bed.
Requested and was given a late checkout time of 12 noon via the telephone.

And then,
Housekeeping knocked on my door three different times between 9:30 and 11am!
AND THERE WAS A “DO NOT DISTURB” SIGN HANGING ON THE DOOR HANDLE!
They also started cleaning the other half of the “lockout suite” and made noise like they were doing construction next door, making it impossible to sleep.

NOTE: We complained and Dan, the resort manager, gave us a $50 credit to use at our choice of restaurants “off-property” at a Caesars Hotel (there was a list of restaurants to choose from at each hotel) for our inconvenience and also took care of our friends who invited us. That’s real good hospitality!

Checked out of the Wyndham and drove back over to the Wynn. FREE Self Parking again.

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We walked to the Palazzo and Venetian, then went outside, crossed Las Vegas Blvd and went over to the Mirage. It was a beautiful day, but it was too hot of course.

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We visited the MLife desk, and asked about a MyVegas room rate. They offered us a Monday night room for $63.00 + taxes and the ridiculous resort fee, so we passed.

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We walked through the Forum Shops to Caesars Palace and enjoyed the weirdness!

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Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino was once the best place to stay and play in Las Vegas. Then they turned it into “Disneyland”, and they threw away all the class and quality that made it great. And then they added RESORT FEES and PAID PARKING.

We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and got a seat a the bar, but when we looked at the menu there was nothing that we wanted to order…. so we thanked them and left. We wandered around Caesars enjoying the sights while trying to decide where to eat.

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The Bar and Sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Then we decided on dinner at Rao’s Italian Kitchen, Las Vegas at Caesars Palace!
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On The Menu: Good bread, an excellent Caesar salad and their tasty meat lasagna.
We ate the salad and half of the lasagna and bread, and had the other half packed “to go”.
No drinks or wine because we were driving later, so only ice water with dinner.

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It was getting dark after dinner, so we started walking back, watched the sunset behind Caesars Palace across the street, and then stopped at Harrah’s and the old Casino Royale on The Strip.

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Casino Royale!

 

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And then we walked back to the Wynn. We enjoyed our after dinner walk at night and took in the sights along The Strip on our way back. We returned to our car and hit the road. Destination: Los Angeles.

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LEAVING LAS VEGAS around 9:30pm on Monday.
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Stopped at the new Mega-Gas Station Terrible’s Road House on the way back to California and filled up the gas tank and emptied mine. They have 100 pumps for “rush hour”, but the place was almost empty when we stopped in around 10pm on Monday night.

It was a quick stop, with lots of light and easy highway access. After getting gas, we took some pics and then got back in the rental truck and made a non-stop, no traffic, night drive back to Los Angeles. Home again before 2am. Had a really fun trip!

SouthPoint Hotel and Casino

Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

TopGolf

Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge

Frankie’s Tiki Room

The Wynn Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

 

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Super Bowl Sunday 2019!

Super Bowl Sunday 2019!

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Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, Georgia

February 3, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

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Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

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CURRENT ODDS: The Patriots are favored by 2-1/2 points, with an Over-Under of 56.5

The Patriots have not scored a touchdown in the first quarter in 8 previous Super Bowl appearances! New England has only scored 3 first-quarter points in the 8 previous Super Bowl games! They have been shut out in the first-quarter every Super Bowl except for last year against the Philadelphia Eagles, when they kicked a field goal.

C.J. Anderson, the Rams star Runningback, has an old tendency to fumble under pressure. Jared Goff is the youngest Quarterback to play in the big game. Will “Super Bowl Nerves” be a major factor in the Rams’ game play?

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NOTE: This game is billed as a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, played in 2002.
First-year quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams quarterbacked by Kurt Warner 20-17 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Colin Kaepernick Takes A Knee!

1) Take A Knee protest = Cops please stop killing unarmed African Americans,
2) Racist NFL owners won’t hire Colin Kaepernick as QB for starting the protest,
3) Racist propaganda targeting Colin Kaepernick hits the internet,
4) Nike hires Colin Kaepernick and angry racists burn Nike merchandise
Trump condemned Colin Kaepernick and other players joining the protest, incorrectly claiming they are protesting the national anthem and the American flag…
the discussion is over. The persecution is RACIST. The belittling of an African-American sports figure for political gain based in hatred is what this is about. Dividing the country is what this is about. Hate for a person of color is what this is about. That’s all.
FU LYIN’ DONNY!

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“THE FIX IS IN!” Rams-Saints Pass Interference “No-Call”
“whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion post-game, it’s never a good outcome for us.” ~ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (10 days after the game)

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Rams – Saints Pass Interference “No-Call” on January 20, 2019

The NFL’s Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron spoke to New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton after the game and said that pass interference should have been called against Rams’ defenseman Nickell Robey-Coleman for the early hit on Saints’ receiver Tommylee Lewis. Robey-Coleman was fined for an illegal hit, but Commissioner Roger Goodell did not overturn the result of the game or order all or part of the game to be replayed.

“Listen, we understand the frustration of the fans. I’ve talked to coach Payton. The team, the players, we understand the frustration they feel right now, and we certainly want to address that” ~ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (10 days after the game)

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Tom Brady is 41 years old. Jared Goff is 24 years old. If the Patriots win, Brady will become the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, a record currently held by Peyton Manning (he was 39 in 2016 when the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers).

 

“He became a man the day of the greatest game he ever played. Everything he ever knew about common decency and morality he learned that day in December from Alan “The Horse” Ameche; and today in the Superbowl he would earn his wings. The crowd had assembled; a crowd of America’s elite. Toyata salesmen from all around the country—orientals and even those suspected of being orientals—stacked on the thirty yard line watching him sweat and wipe caked blood from his face. The Gallow brothers—Ernest and Julio—party guys who had skinned a few Mexicans and forced them to carry them on their shoulders down to the pre-game tailgate parties at the colosseum. The Pepsi and Coca Cola bottlers of America—Coke adds life; It’s the real thing—bombarded by missiles; flying flaming matchbook covers. The waterheads from General Motors up in the top seats where they belong; getting the worst of the pollution. All sorts of weird motherf*ckers were at the game.”

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Gladys Knight performed the national anthem beautifully at Super Bowl 53. The seven-time Grammy Award winner and Atlanta native is best known for her hits “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “That’s What Friends are For”. There were rumors that she might be joined by The Pips, but that didn’t happen.

2019 Halftime Show: Maroon 5 w/guests Travis Scott and Big Boi (TOTALLY SUCKED!) MORE CONTROVERSY! The Colin Kaepernick Scandal causes big name artists to say NO. Maroon 5 is targeted for saying yes. Just remember, it’s all about the MONEY.

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GO RAMS!

COIN TOSS: Heads or Tails?
The Patriots call “Heads”, the Rev. King flips the coin, and it lands “TAILS”.
The Rams win the coin toss. They choose to defer and kick off to the Patriots.

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The Super Bowl PARTY is the real thing!
The game may suck, and it did this year, but the party can still be reallyfun!

ON THE MENU: Chili w/cheese and chopped onions, Crudité: celery, carrots, and cucumber w/ranch dressing; Fruit: watermelon, strawberries, and raspberries w/whipped cream; Tortilla chips and fresh made guacamole, BBQ potato chips, lightly salted peanuts, M&Ms (peanut and pretzel), Cream Soda, and Iced Espresso.

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We made a pot of chili in the morning and had some for breakfast. Then we went to the market and bought our party supplies. We came home and prepped the food and then enjoyed the pre-game telecast and Super Bowl Sunday pre-party food and fun.

 

The game was really boring. The Patriots led 3-0 at halftime. The halftime show was terrible. The commercials were pretty bad, with only a couple of exceptions.
Not much to say about the commentary or pre-show. (F*ck Trump and his soft interview)
CBS’s visual coverage of the game was good. They had lots of cameras, effects, and no technical difficulties to speak of, but again the game was really boring.

The Rams were out-coached and out-played, but managed to stay in the game until the 4th quarter, when the Patriots finally scored a touchdown and then sealed the win with a an interception and field goal. FINAL SCORE: Patriots 13, Rams 3 (B-O-R-I-N-G)

Sad ending for a sad football season, marred by racial and political issues, and too many BAD F*CKING CALLS AND “NO CALLS” by the officials. The recent rule changes have hurt the game and the judgement calls by the referees have raised a lot of questions…..

Would it have been a better game if the Patriots beat the New Orleans Saints?

“Super Sunday. Dawn. My recollections of the last twelve hours are very dim. All that I know for certain is that shortly after I checked in, two third-world drug abusers disguised as hotel employees forced their way into my room; ransacked it, drank all my liquor, did all my drugs, stole my dinner. If the security precautions aren’t beefed up at this hotel; I’m looking for safer accommodations. It’s a sad state of affairs when this reporter has to go heavily armed to breakfast.”

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“We also know our officials are human, we also know that they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances,” he said. “And they’re not going to get it every time. As I say, they’re human.”
~ NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (10 days after the game)

THE FIX IS IN! (again)
Penalties called against the Rams: 12
Penalties called against the Patriots: 3
TOO MANY “NO CALLS!” Holding much? The Patriots 4th quarter Touchdown drive:

 

 

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FLASHBACK! The Denver Broncos Win Super Bowl 50! GO BRONCOS!

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Los Angeles Rams players Aqib Talib, C.J. Anderson, and Coach Wade Phillips are ex-Denver Broncos.

THIS JUST IN: In his first year of eligibility, cornerback Champ Bailey became the first Denver Broncos defensive player in history to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played the final 10 seasons of his 15-year career with the Broncos and was a four-time first-team All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowl selection. Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was also elected to the Hall’s Class of 2019. He is the majority owner of the Denver Broncos . The Bowlen Family, including his two brothers John Bowlen and Bill Bowlen, and sister Marybeth Bowlen, purchased the team from Edgar Kaiser in 1984.
CONGRATULATIONS CHAMP, PAT AND THE BOWLEN FAMILY!

 

Time to watch “Where The Buffalo Roam” again.

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Happy Year of the Pig!
Happy Lunar New Year!

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Happy Year of the Pig 2019!

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GO RAMS!

 

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com
(unsolicited and not “promoted”,  all unpaid for!)

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! Another Benchmark!

Many thanks to our loyal readers and all the “drop-in” visitors since February 2013!

There are almost 600 Previous Blog Posts (BLOGS) archived for your enjoyment!
Use the Search Box at the top of the page or just read though (there’s an “Older Posts” link at the bottom of the page) to find fun and interesting stuff.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! More to come!

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Best “Weekend Getaway” From Los Angeles?

Best “weekend getaway” from Los Angeles?

Here’s a Q&A from another saved draft. This is a Travel Blog.

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Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: My mom is coming to visit me in Venice for a week in April and we want to getaway! We’re looking for a destination to relax, hit up the spa, wine taste or have a great meal, do some boutique shopping, and maybe go for an easy hike? Since this will be for 1-2 nights, would like to keep it within 3 hours (one way). Out of all the amazing places, if you have to pick 1 destination for a visitor to see, what is the best destination for a weekend getaway from L.A. and why?

A: A fantastic Spa Weekend “Getaway” that meets your description can be experienced at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. It’s a beautiful full-service, luxury four star resort just north of Los Angeles with free self-parking.

The hotel has an amazing spa and pool facility with all the amenities. There’s fine dining on-site and in Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Moorpark, Malibu or the Pacific Palisades (and the hotel also provides a shuttle that will take you to the beach).

Watch the sunset and enjoy a cocktail on the deck at Moonshadows Malibu or have an amazing $u$hi meal at Nobu Malibu. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner at the Saddle Peak Lodge, Cafe Firenze or one of the many fine restaurants nearby. We’ve heard about (and seen pictures of) the fabulous desserts at CHOCOLATINE Café French Pastries.

There is great easy hiking nearby in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. We recommend the Paramount Ranch (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” filming site), Malibu Creek State Park (“MASH” filming site) or Point Dume State Beach.

There are also some nice wineries to visit nearby: Malibu Wines, SIP Malibu, Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards, Cornell Winery & Tasting Room and others are open to the public.

Horseback riding, shopping of all kinds, beach activities, nightlife options and more are all available locally. The hotel also offers cooking classes, other educational programs and fun activities.

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Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Good hikes in LA or surrounding areas?

Q: I have done a few in Malibu and Hollywood but looking for more ideas!

A: A great place to hike in Los Angeles is the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills and other trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Park entry and parking are free! Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park, Rocky Oaks Park, Stunt Ranch State Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Temescal Canyon Park and Point Dume State Beach all have great hiking. Entrance fees and parking vary by location.

To Paramount Ranch: Exit Kanan Rd off the 101 freeway, turn left towards the beach, just past Agoura Rd make a left on Cornell Rd and drive to the park entrance. Park near the Ranger Station and enter through the Western Town film location.

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Paramount Ranch Park in Agoura, California (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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500 Blog Posts! – It’s Flashback Friday!!!!!

500 Blog Posts!

It’s FLASHBACK FRIDAY!!!!! And it’s our Blog’s three year anniversary too.

It was only two years ago that we hit 250 blog posts and we were celebrating our one year anniversary…. Tempus fugit! How time flies!

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Here’s the big pic of the Rooftop Pool and Patio at the London Hotel in West Hollywood:

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The London Hotel Rooftop Pool & Patio – West Hollywood, California

Happy! Happy! Happy! Three years and 500 posts.

It is still my hope that by sharing my journeys and experiences you will be inspired to embark on your own adventures. This blog is interactive, so please join the conversation!

Luxury Travel Advisor, Travel & Lifestyle Writer & Blogger, Independent Consultant

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Throwback Thursday! Four Seasons Westlake Village!

Throwback Thursday! Four Seasons Westlake Village!

Handmade chocolate truffles after lunch. Love the Four Seasons!

Four Seasons Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

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Four Seasons Westlake Village (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)



“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada in August on a two night trip to “Sin City” for my birthday!

NOTE: This Blog is unfinished…and will likely remain unfinished.

Enjoy!

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Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Bally’s, Paris & The Cosmopolitan

“ROAD TRIP!” We left Los Angeles on Thursday Morning, made two stops along the way, and arrived in Las Vegas a few hours later. It was a beautiful day to make the drive.

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Our first stop was in Glendora at the famous Donut Man shop just off the 210 freeway. They are known for their Strawberry Glazed donuts, but all of their creations are great.

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

We bought a half dozen, a strawberry glazed, 2 chocolate custard filled, 2 glazed old fashioned and a cinnamon roll. We enjoyed the custard filled and took the rest “To Go”.

Half Dozen Donuts

Half Dozen Donuts “To Go” at Donut Man in Glendora

We stopped for gas and to stretch our legs somewhere between Barstow and Vegas, and I ate the strawberry glazed donut…it was a good donut, but they make such a fuss about them, I guess I expected something more.

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip”

The drive was without incident, and we arrived in Las Vegas and drove directly to our destination. We stayed both nights at The Palazzo Hotel at The Venetian-Palazzo Resort.

The Venetian Hotel & Casino (pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel & Casino (this pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Bypassing the regular line for Invited Guest Check-In

We valet parked the car, and proceeded to the Invited Guest (VIP) Check-In desk. After a short wait we were given our room assignment and keycards.

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In Front Desk

Guest Suite at The Palazzo:

The Palazzo Hotel - 9th floor

The Palazzo Hotel – 9th floor

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel -

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel – “Wanna take a bath?”

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View! The view from my room.

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel: (Right Click and “Open in New Window”) http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1P4

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe – Fried Chicken Strips & Waffle with Maple-Pecan Syrup

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Dinner at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wings at The Venetian Hotel (Right Click and “Open in New Window”)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1Qb 

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Food Court at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel – Original Boneless Buffalo Wings $12

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino on Friday Night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

READ THE BLOG! Birthday Dinner at Mario Batali’s CARNEVINO Italian Steakhouse at the Palazzo Hotel (RIGHT CLICK AND OPEN IN NEW WINDOW)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1NX

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Carnevino Bar at The Palazzo Hotel

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

“Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – I can see the “High Roller” from here!

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Linq (Wanna knish?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

HAIL CAESARS PALACE! (they ruined this place). Evel Kneivel ate it big time on this spot:

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Caesars Palace

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas!

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The

The Statue of “David” at Caesars Palace (NSFW or is it Art?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Cosmopolitan & Bellagio from Caesars Palace

Craps!

Craps!

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Flamingo

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View at Night!

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The

The End… “David” at Caesars Palace – Nice Butt. “Take a picture it’ll last longer.”

Had a great time. Will return shortly…

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

Vegas baby! Vegas!

Here’s the view from my suite on the 9th floor of the Palazzo Hotel:

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of the Pool & Treasure Island Hotel!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Trump Hotel & Fashion Show Mall

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Treasure Island & Trump Hotel at night!

MORE TO COME!

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O’Ryan’s Irish Pub and the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland Oregon

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub and the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland Oregon

There are two Pubs in downtown Ashland, one English and one Irish, that are competing for the “biggest dive bar” award. The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant is an English themed pub upstairs on the Plaza. O’Ryan’s Irish Pub is, you guessed it, the Irish pub/dive bar farther up Main Street with Oregon Lottery machines and two (2) pool tables.

O’RYAN’S IRISH PUB

This is probably the “go to” place in Ashland on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the “DIVE BAR” downtown. Just like the name says, it’s an Irish Pub bar. It’s dark, dirty and smells like old beer. The pool tables and lottery machines give this place the feel of a basement game room. They have a good selection of beers on draft and a full bar, but I didn’t stay long enough to have a drink. If you like dive bars, you’ll like this place.

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub

O'Ryan's Irish Pub

O’Ryan’s Irish Pub


THE BLACK SHEEP Pub & Restaurant

Upstairs, behind the double red doors on the Plaza, is the Black Sheep, an English themed pub & restaurant, that is an “institution” in Ashland (and some of the patrons should probably be committed!). Above the Front Door and at the top of the stairs is a Union Jack. There are pictures, art, signs, photographs and tapestries decorating the brick  walls. It’s dark, dirty and smells like old beer. They have live music and entertainment (on a previous night they had a drag show), and a good selection of draft beers & ales on tap and a full bar. The also have a pretty traditional pub menu and are open for lunch & dinner and late night dining and drinking.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

I went upstairs and sat at the bar alone for about 15 minutes without anyone smiling, saying hello, or even acknowledging that I might want to order a beverage. It was loud, and the small crowd was pretty much locals who knew each other. As you can see from this next pic, I might as well have been invisible. After waiting patiently, I got up, walked back down the stairs and went in search of a friendlier and more comfortable place to have a drink.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

They have a rear entrance and street seating on Guanajuato Lane on the creek with a nice view of Ashland Creek Park.

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – rear entrance on Guanajuato Lane

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – street seating on Guanajuato Lane

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel.

O’Ryan’s Pub – 137 E Main St, Ashland OR 97520 (541)482-8572

The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – 51 N Main St, Ashland OR 97520 (541)482-6414

We recommend the new Brickroom on the Plaza – 35 N. Main Street, Ashland OR 97520 (541)708-6030 http://www.brickroomashland.com

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Is it expensive to island hop in Hawaii? In a word: YES.

Q: Is it expensive to island hop? My fiance and I are coming to the big island for a work trip for 3 days and are looking to extend our trip a couple days. Is it expensive to fly from the big island to Maui? ~ Katie C., Huntington Beach, CA

A: Yes Katie, it is expensive to island hop in Hawaii.

Consider not only the cost in money (airfare, bag fees, transfers, tips, etc.), but in time. Inter-Island travel time is short, but you’ll lose a day at the airport, getting a rental car and checking in to a new hotel.

There’s so much to do on the The Big Island Hawaii:

Watch the sunrise/sunset from the top of Mauna Kea. You can go skiing if there’s snow (and then head for the beach afterwards).

Spend a whole day at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park! Visit the Kīlauea Volcano. Try a tasting at the Volcano Winery, buy a bottle of wine and drive through the lava fields to where the molten lava spills into the ocean. Have dinner at Hawaii Volcano House Hotel and/or stay overnight with a view of the crater.

 Kilauea meets the sea. Volcanoes National Park - Big Island Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Kilauea meets the sea. Volcanoes National Park – Big Island Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Drive around the island and visit the green sand beaches at South Point in Kalae, the southern most point in the United States. There are lots of places to stop, eat and shop along the way.

Hike Akaka Falls State Park home of two majestic waterfalls and lush tropical gardens. Visit Rainbow Falls and see historic Hilo.

Rainbow Falls - Hilo, Hawaii (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Rainbow Falls – Hilo, Hawaii (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Snorkel Keauhou Bay and and other spots along the Kona coast, you might get to swim with endangered sea turtles.

Visit the Waipio Valley and “cowboy country”. Have a steak dinner. Go horseback riding. There are lots of places to visit, eat, shop, etc.

Snorkel Honaunau Bay and visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Park.

Take a snorkel cruise to the Captain Cook Monument or go whale/dolphin/manta ray watching. Go to a Luau w/dinner & entertainment.

A beautiful Waikoloa sunset on the Big Island of Hawaii (copyright 2010 Joshua Weisel)

A beautiful Waikoloa sunset on the Big Island of Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Visit some of the other amazing Resort Hotels! Hilton Waikoloa Village, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, etc. See Petroglyphs, tropical gardens, art, etc. for free.

These are just a few suggestions, there is so much to do and see on the Big Island Hawaii (you wouldn’t be able to do it all in three days if you weren’t working) that isn’t on this list. And of course, take time to just relax and DO NOTHING. Lay on the beach or by the pool and sip umbrella drinks, that’s an essential part of the Hawaiian experience.

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NOTE: You can also spend a week on Maui and not see everything, so consider visiting another island on a return trip.

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