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World of Wonder, King Tut and a House Call from the Animal Kingdom 4/5/2018
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My March highlight was a business/pleasure trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles with my husband. We flew out on Tuesday and our three-day Las Vegas stay was filled with lots to do!

After settling into a roomy one-bedroom suite, with living room, kitchen and 1 1/2 baths at the Marriott Grand Chateau, we enjoyed a yummy Asian dinner at The Rio Hotel, before attending the spectacular “WOW—World of Wonder”,on at the Rio. Old friend, Michael Caprio, now based in Las Vegas, arranged for our tickets to this amazing show which included plenty of fantasy in and out of water, holograms, acrobatics, choreography and music. Performed by 30 artists on a vast, panoramic stage, it was extremely entertaining.

The following day, we took Michael to lunch at the wonderful restaurant inside Neiman Marcus, right on the strip. It was great to spend some time with my old friend again—we met when he was Jim’s publicist a number of years back.

That evening we dined with one of my husband’s business associates. He heads a marijuana company based in Nevada (where of course it’s legal!). It was the occasion for me to learn about the array of medicinal benefits offered by the cannabis plant, better known for its “recreational” properties.

The following day, we lunched with our friend, Linda, (another longtime Cleveland “transplant”,) who dropped us off at the marijuana production and packaging facility. We wore surgical caps, booties and a robe to tour the various rooms where hemp plant oil is extracted to make edibles, topical creams, etc.

We then visited the store where we purchased topical CBD (cannabidiol) creams (known to treat pain, seizures, stress, anxiety...), items classified in the wellness category, without any mind-altering effects. I rubbed some on my tendinitis-ridden hands and on the painful herniated disc zone on my husband’s back. The all-natural relief was immediate and we’ve joined the ranks of believers!

Later that day, we attended another show, again, care of Michael, called “Baz.” A musical inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s films, “The Great Gatsby”, “Moulin Rouge” and his 1996 “Romeo + Juliet”, it was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The following morning, we were off to Los Angeles for the second leg of our trip. We checked into our usual boutique hotel, a few blocks from our son’s place. That evening, he picked us up and his now-fiancée joined us for dinner at Rao’s, a fantastic Italian restaurant. This was our first reunion with the newly-engaged couple! They’re always so much fun and we had a great time catching up.

The next day, we enjoyed a scrumptious brunch together, outdoors (as it snowed in other parts of the country!), followed by a visit to the Farmer’s Market, where we met my best high school bud, Bud, and his boys, Jonathan and Simon. It was so good seeing them. This was our only chance to get together since they were flying to Mexico the next morning for spring break.

Later that day, we were joined by our favorite young couple, my sister-in-law and her friend, at the world premiere of “King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition at The California Science Center. It was fabulous! On display are 150 artifacts extracted from young King Tutankhamon’s tomb in ancient Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and much more. Our Cleveland friends, Barb and Craig, just happened to be in LA, so they came along too. It was a very fun night!

Sunday, we had brunch at the Nickel Diner on Main Street, followed by a visit to a very cool book store. My husband’s sister drove back from her home in Oxnard to meet us afterwards. We enjoyed a late day snack at a popular deli together, and later that evening dined in on pizza. Yes, calorie counters were stowed away for the day!

Monday, our son met us for breakfast at our Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and then we dropped him off at work. Ed and I returned to check out and took a little tour of the sprawling city before meeting up with another Shaker High friend at the Farmer’s Market for a very nice visit. An actress who does voiceovers, she has her own casting company--go Shaker!

Soon it was time to regroup and pick up our son’s darling fiancée for a visit to his new office and a few moments with his bosses, the executive producers/show runners for “Star Trek: Discovery”. This longstanding relationship goes back to our son’s first ventures into screenwriting and we think of the two of them as family. Our reunion was short but very sweet.

Next, the four of us capped the day with a cozy dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. We packed up the car for our red eye flight back home, with son and almost-daughter driving us to the airport for a little more quality time together. I don’t like goodbyes and it was a teary one—we just live too far away from each other! But it had been a wonderful week, filled with family, friends and fun, and I’m grateful for that.

Speaking of friends, but of an uninvited variety, on Good Friday morning, I awoke to the sound of something scampering on the floor right above our bedroom. I knew it wasn’t on the roof. It was inside the house, on the third floor. The exterminator came out and upon entering the room discovered a very large raccoon. He referred us to the wildlife removal company, who immediately came out and removed not one, but two, HUGE specimens: a male and a female in their prime, setting up house. They had pried open a window, which had always been closed by a latch! The wildlife removal man conjectured that the pair had been coming and going while we were out of town, taking their time to choose the best corner. It was breeding season and they were looking for a place to raise a new family. Well, they were removed promptly, and released out in the country where I hope they will remain and thrive to their hearts’ content. Apart from the scare, there was no harm done. I was thankful they politely did their business outside the window, before entering the house. My guests were considerate—unwanted guests of the best type, wouldn’t you say?