Spring Vacation 2013: San Diego/Las Vegas

Yeah, I know that looking at someone else’s vacation photos is lame, but, really, if you had anything better to do you wouldn’t be here. Am I right?

In what’s becoming something of a tradition for us, we headed back to San Diego last month, and made a brief stopover in Las Vegas on the way home. April is a great time of year for this itinerary. San Diego is much too crowded in the summer, and Las Vegas is much too hot.

As usual, we stayed at the Glorieta Bay Inn. As a resort, it’s
nothing special, but the location in Coronado is ideal, and the price is right, especially compared to the high-end and iconic Del Coronado which is across the street.

Speaking of the Del, it’s celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and they managed to wrap one of the hotel spires with a big honking gold ribbon to commemorate the occasion.

Photo of the Del

Downtown San Diego is across the bay from Coronado. There are so many great photo ops; this is one my favorites.

Photo of the San Diego

We’re always in awe of the horticultural richness of this area. The record low temperature for Coronado was 29º in 1949, and the highest monthly average temperature is 77º (in August), so just about anything except tumbleweeds flourishes there.

Photo of a
flowering Bird of Paradise

We took a short drive down the coast to Imperial Beach (which, frankly, was kind of smelly), and were impressed by this ice plant-covered vacant lot next to a cozy beach house.

Photo of blooming ice

It’s still California, however, and will someday disappear into the sea.

Photo of an
earthquake warning sign

This was our fourth trip to San Diego, but just our first time to tour the USS Midway, the aircraft carrier that’s now a floating naval museum. It’s a fascinating experience, whether or not you’re a
history and/or military buff. The flight deck is home to many aircraft, and where there are warbirds, there are armaments. Who doesn’t love armaments?

Photo of guns and
stuff on an airplane

And more armaments…

Photo of guns and
stuff on an airplane

I’ve already used the term “iconic” once in this post, but another San Diego icon is the “sailor kissing nurse” statue on the Embarcadero, which is visible from the USS Midway. It’s an inspiring sculpture.

Photo of somebody

Speaking of the Embarcadero, it’s a great place to stroll on a Sunday afternoon and take a look at the modest bass boats anchored in the bay.

Photo of the
Vibrant Curiosity

This is the 280-foot superyacht Vibrant Curiosity. See that triple
row of silver rails running vertically up and over the top of the boat? That the track for an interior elevator so the guests don’t have to weary themselves with a long climb up the stairs. (Impressive as it is, it’s still puny compared to the 330-foot Attessa IV that was docked here last year.)

Another must-see destination in San Diego is the collection of museums at Balboa Park. We never tire of the Air & Space and Automotive Museums.

Photo of window-mounted
car air conditioner

Remember when car air conditioners looked like that? You do Wow…you must be really old.

Photo of Hercules
motorcycle with Wankel engine

This is a Hercules Wankel 2000, a German motorcycle introduced in 1974. It was the first motorcycle with a rotary engine offered for sale to the general public.

By the way, Debbie got lots of admiring stares as she paraded through Balboa Park in her Mayan princess costume and pet jaguar. OK, not really. San Diegoans are quite jaded, and no one gave her a second look.

Photo of a real
Mayan princess

I never figured out whether this was an alligator or a crocodile. Whichever, he hasn’t been eating well.

Photo of reptile

I also never figured out why Debbie insisted on wearing 3D glasses throughout the trip. It’s a good look, though.

Photo of Debbi
e in 3D glasses

Our stay in San Diego ended all too soon, and we hopped on a Southwest flight to Las Vegas, where we’d booked a room at the Vdara Hotel. This is a fairly new hotel on the Strip (it opened in 2009) and we were attracted to it because it’s non-smoking and doesn’t have a casino. It’s also centrally located, overlooking the Bellagio and next door to the Aria.

We had a room on the 42nd floor, and we were sort of disappointed by the rustic nature of the surroundings. We actually had to get out of bed and walk over to the wall to operate the remote-controlled shades on the huge picture windows that spanned the entire length of our 582 square foot room. I mean, really?

Like you, I’ve always wondered what happened to all those canoes from summer camp once they reach the end of their floatiness. Wonder no more…this is the “sculpture” in front of the Vdara (that’s the Aria in the background).

Photo of canoe

Here’s the view from our room, looking down on the fountains at the neighboring Bellagio.

Photo of the
Fountains at the Bellagio

Even from 400′ up and behind plate glass we could hear the faint sounds of the fountains when they fired off.

You can make out the inner workings of the fountains from this angle. Those guys walking around are the pool cleaners.

Photo of

I had never thought about it before, but there’s a lot of trash on the sidewalks of the Strip, as well as a lot of tipsy and/or inattentive/inconsiderate people (I’m sorry to burst your bubble if this was a shock to you), and so a lot of gunk ends up in the Bellagio’s pool. Someone has to keep it clean, and these are the
guys, dressed in their wetsuits and floating on their party barge. A Saturday morning is an ideal time for this work.

Photo of
fountain cleaners

Whereas San Diego is chockfull of natural wonders, most of the amazements in Las Vegas are manmade. Doesn’t make them any less notable, of course.

Photo of a hotel lobbyPhoto of giant

We don’t go to Vegas to gamble; we’re there for the shows, and we saw one each night we were there. On Thursday night, we caught a taxi down to the Stratosphere where Frankie Moreno has a nightly show. This is an awesome musical show by a guy who will likely someday be headlining a show in one of the premier hotels in Las Vegas. Moreno and his brother are musicians and songwriters, and they’ve put together an first-rate band that specializes in what I would call “big band music with an edge.” The only way it could have been better is if we could have danced.

Photo of Frankie
Moreno and band

By the way, don’t confuse this show with that of Frank Marino, who is a female impersonator. You might be surprised if you expect one and get the other.

On Saturday night, we went to see the production of Jersey Boys at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. If you’re one of the few people in the nation who aren’t familiar with this long-running show, it’s the
story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it was very entertaining, although the language will make a sailor blush (but probably not a 14 year old high schooler).

We also had a good view of the Paris hotel from our window:

Photo of Paris Las Vegas

It’s good to go on vacation, but it’s also good to come back home, especially following the municipal insanity known as Las Vegas. We’re now looking forward to a summer trip to Hilton Head Island. Stay tuned for more pictures…don’t say you weren’t warned!

Categorized as Travel