Travel During COVID (Part Two)

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

My first travel blog was about our epic 29-hour drive from Chicago to Las Vegas. I can honestly say when the strip came into view it was heavenly. The journey was almost over and we were ready to hug my mother-in-law and then…rest.

After a nice long nap, we awoke to mountain views, sunshine and an overwhelming desire to take the 10-minute drive to the Rampart casino. Parking was the same as always, but entry to the casino was quite different. Security was sitting by the door with what I thought was a camera, so when the guard said to pull down my mask, I smiled like an idiot thinking to myself, “Oh, that’s smart… they want to take everyone’s picture for enhanced security due to having to wear a mask.” But then I realized, this was no camera, rather, it was an infrared thermometer and they were just taking my temperature to make sure I did have “The Rona.” After the temperature check, they have the typical list of “do you have” and “have you been exposed to” questions, which in our case were all no’s.

The mask policy is very strict in Nevada (which to me is a great thing) and the casino follows the laws and guidelines to the “T.” Another great thing I noticed was they were constantly cleaning/sanitizing the machines and sanitizer stations were everywhere. Security also was on top of anyone who pulled their masks down even to smoke or drink. As we continued walking though, I noticed that many of the machines were off so you could only gamble at every other slot. Basically, I felt very safe while inside which made me happy because my mother-in-law is a senior citizen and she does frequent the casino.

One thing I didn’t understand is the Las Vegas rule about bars. I get that they have to be fair to all of the establishments, but having the bars in the casinos closed doesn’t make sense to me. They have the dividers, the bar top video poker machines are sufficiently distanced and let’s be honest, people are still drinking and gambling so what does it matter if a masked bartender is serving them directly or not. At that point I’d say the casinos should have a little more leniency since they can afford to put the proper protocols in place to adhere to state and local guidelines. But, that is just my biased opinion since I have gotten to know a lot of the bartenders and waitresses over the years and they are really struggling financially due to the very long shut downs.

Moving on, the next day we decided to go to the mountains which is one of my favorite activities to do in Nevada. We generally toggle between Mt. Charleston and Red Rock, and this trip we chose Mt. Charleston. We drove about 40 minutes and again were on winding roads climbing up yet another mountain. There are so many amazing viewing areas but my advice would be go up the mountain first, then make the viewing stops. The reason for the suggestion is, when you are heading up the mountain, the majority of viewing/parking areas are to the left and there is often blind spots to the turns where you cannot see an oncoming vehicle. This is why we tend to go all the way to the top, then right turn into the bulk of the viewing spots on the way down. Also I also left a kindness stone in a viewing area because I love to spread a little anonymous cheer. The pictures are be

In my novel, “A Dark Mind: Visions” I wrote about Mt. Charleston and the Lodge. Several years ago, my husband and I visited the lodge for lunch. The minute you walk through the door, there is a taxidermy bear to the right along with the dining area (I may have taken a selfie with the bear. The front desk and a little store to the left that is ridiculously expensive. When we entered the restaurant, it felt like something out of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Granted the décor was different, but it just had that feel. We ordered burgers which were so-so, but the waitress was friendly and the view from our table was spectacular. So, if you do venture out this way, I highly recommend checking it out.

The rest of the trip was somewhat of a marathon, much like the drive to Vegas. We ended up meeting one of our dear friends over at the Cosmopolitan on the strip and spent one night there. They were stricter with the mask mandate than the Rampart. I’m not kidding when I say the second I would pull my mask down to take a sip of my drink, security would tell me I had to put it back up. It was a little excessive since the same guard said “you have to put your mask back up” three times to me when I literally just put the straw in my mouth. But, with the slight annoyance, I was also happy they were making certain that everyone was wearing a mask and wearing it properly. Much like the Rampart, the Cosmo also had many machines turned off and the bars were closed. They did not have the temperature checks and the sanitizer was not as convenient to access.

The last 3 days before the drive back to Chicago were spent at the Rampart. We dined at the Hawthorn Grill (amazing,) Gambled (eh, it’s Vegas after all) and took walks around their pristine grounds. In the past I very much looked forward to my spa days, but due to COVID their spa was closed. Also because of the pandemic the pool was also closed, but that was fine as I didn’t feel like swimming in what would have been a very large COVID bathtub.

All in all it was a different trip than what we experienced in the past, but I have to hand it to the hotels and casinos for following the guidelines. I will be blogging specifically about the hotels and casinos at a later date. But next will be our Journey home. Get ready, because the journey home may have to be a two-part blog since it was a very crazy 36 hour drive (there was no way I was going to drive through Colorado again, so we went around it.)

Next Blog: Travel During COVID (part three)

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