Vacation vs. vacation

Redwood trees


I think there are generally two kinds of vacation: The Quiet Vacation and the Rowdy Vacation. You hide somewhere and contemplate your navel on the former, and you dance around outside of your usual shell on the latter.

For this vacation, my wife and I tried the Quiet/Rowdy combo. That was a situation I wasn’t sure would work, but it succeeded nicely.

First, we went to northern California to walk among the redwoods. We drove from San Francisco north into Humboldt County — known for more than its redwoods, of course — and rented a cottage for a few days along the Avenue of the Giants. I’m not a religious person, but there is something so humbling about walking among these unimaginably huge trees that it’s hard not to feel a divine presence. We also visited a few hilarious 1960s-ish roadside attraction places, including Confusion Hill:

After a few days of that serenity, and a drive back down a chunk of the Pacific Coast Highway and through the mountains, we flew to Vegas. Now, if you’ve visited this blog on a semi-regular basis over the years, you know that I love everything about Vegas’ cheesy little heart, even as the more sophisticated/urbane aspects of the city continue to grow and thrive.

Thus, we stayed at the Tropicana — a place so old (by Vegas standards) that it played a role in the 1960s Bond film Diamonds are Forever — and stayed in the so-called bungalow wing, which is really just the original three-story hotel near the pool. But this wing, like the rest of the Tropicana, has been shelled in recent years and the place is so nice that it’s now a Doubletree hotel.

We had a little balcony with a table and chairs, and a view of the pool and landscaping, and it felt more like a desert resort than a Vegas gambling joint. But three massive hotels occupied the other three corners of the street there, and you could get as much rowdiness from them as you needed. We only lost a little sliver of our gambling budget, and I had a screaming hot blackjack run one night that ended with me playing black chips for only the second time in my life.

So overall, the Quiet/Rowdy Combo worked well. We’re going to try something like this again in the winter, when we’re heading to Jost Van Dyke, which is peaceful for most of the day but turns into an adult frat party most afternoons. Can’t wait to see how that works out.


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