Thursday, June 26, 2008

8 June 2008 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the House of Blues

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
@ the House of Blues Cleveland
8 June 2008
(I forgot to post this before I went on vacation)
It was a fun night of swing and big band music as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy made another return visit to the Cleveland House of Blues last Sunday. Touring in support of their upcoming Cab Calloway tribute CD, the band played a mix of big band standards as well as the swing tunes their fans have enjoyed for years.
Bandleader/guitarist/vocalist Scotty Morris led the band through an eighteen-song set, despite having his left leg in a cast and having to work from a stool. However, this band has played so many shows together, and is as tight and professional as you will see a nine-piece outfit, and they followed everyone one of Morris's cues.
Amongst the Calloway numbers were the "Calloway Boogie" "Hey Now," "Reefer Man," "He's Close to Harlem," and, of course, "Minnie the Moocher." All done with the classic Cab Callaway Orchestra arrangements, the swing dancers in the house loved it.
The rest of the show was filled with the some of the usual BBVD numbers like "Oh Yeah" and Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (if it ain't got no swing)."
Another highlight included the New Orleans jazz standard "Zig Zaggy," with clarinets subbing for the saxophones.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are growing into a real roots music treasure, not only keeping swing music alive, but also carries of the big band legacy and traditional New Orleans style jazz. It was a great night of music, and the audience enjoyed it tremendously.
For more information on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy visit The House of Blues will be jumping all summer, check out their schedule at

Monday, June 23, 2008

23 June Las Vegas

Greg's comments: Before Bob rambles on about our trip, I thought I'd share our visit from a "ghost of vacations past" we encountered at the end of our trip. Our last night in Vegas was pretty mild, we ate dinner at one of the Italian joints over in New York, New York. We sat at our table and people watched, then got back to our room around ten to get a good night's sleep. We got to the airport by five for our seven a.m. flight. We were in the same row, Bob on the window and me on the isle, when right before take off a young kid in his early twenties plops down between us and says, "I'm never drinking again." He goes on to tell us he hasn't been to bed in two days, he lost a ton of money gambling, and he and his buddies had way too good of a time. Before he fell asleep he deleted all the phone numbers on his cell he accumulated before his girlfriend back home saw them. He put a black mask over his eyes and he had a very rough flight back home.
Bob and I just sat there and took him in, remembering what it was to be young and irresponsible and on vacation.
Bob's comments on Day 9: Greg and I rolled out of Motel 6 dignity and into Hooter's Casino by 10:00 am an even got into a room so we were able to unload our bags. We wandered over to MGM where we purchased a monorail pass. We wanted to be able to cruise effortlessly between the casinos and avoid the 106 degrees wherever possible. On the fly I can say the Flamingo looks to be a good Vegas destination. The Venetian an entertaining appeal and in this beautiful Italian monument we managed to find a Panda Express for lunch. After some very bad navigation and a poorly engineered map we must have walked 2 miles in search of the monorail station. Along the way we passed through a Catholic Church parking lot when a taxi pulled up to drop off parishioners. On the trunk of the cab was a 4x2 sign displaying the "thongly" clad hind ends of 6 Vegas dancers. Greg wondered allowed that he was a Catholic and if they were performing at the church we might get in free. We crawled to the monorail station and traveled to Harrah's and walked the overpass into Caesar's Palace where there was a movie shoot taking place. They were filming 10 of the Roman Legions finest. Their arms were as big around as Daniel Bradshaw's head. Next on the tour was the Belagio where the fountains were not entertaining anyone at the time. Back at Hooters we charged our batteries for a wild night out at New York New York, Aladdin and finally the Luxor. You can only imagine the fun we had Jason…..wink, wink. At this moment it is Monday morning 5:30 am and Greg and I are waiting for our flight to Cleveland. We are hopping to take a bump if the offer is right. Here is what we have done on this adventure: Tom, Bob and Greg arrived in Vegas on Friday June 13. We rented a red Chevy Impala that got decent mileage but had a horrible turning radius. We visited 6 outstanding National Parks mostly in Utah, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon (N. Rim). We visited 5 National Monuments (no different from NP), the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bridges, Monument Valley, Lake Powell Recreation at Glen Canyon Dam, and Hoover Dam. We survived the dangers of unsurpassed beauty from cliffs, crags, grottos canyons, buttes and mesas. Thanks to the US government for allowing us to take these risks because it really adds to the experience. We saw the best that nature can produce and here in Vegas, what man can achieve. We drove 1358 miles in ten days and ten nights. We heard at least 10 different languages, met people from Chagrin Falls, students from John Carroll, Chardon, a friend from Bradenton and strangely no one from St. Louis but it was in the news everyday. We watched NBA finals, European Cup Soccer and we watched the Tribe never win a game. We unwittingly consumed 3.2 beer and behaved like it was the real deal. We survived the archaic blue laws of Utah but it meant that we became members of 3 different establishments in Moab, Utah. We got to know the little towns of Hatch, Tropic, Torrey, Moab, Page, Bitter Springs, Jacobs Lake, Hurricane and a little known place called Las Vegas. Greg and I are taking money home from the roulette table at O'Sheas and between the three of us spent $625 per person on room, gas and some meals. You can't beat it. Thanks for listening and by the way Helen Thomas gets credit for our much used phrase ("found dignity") Out RTT

Sunday, June 22, 2008

21 June Grand Canyon/Las Vegas

Yesterday was a rough one starting with the long drive to the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead, and ending with a wild drive back from the strip to our hotel and Tom taking off for St. Louis.
Bob's comments on Day 8: An update from last evening in Hurricane, Utah…. We went to the F.O.E (Eagles) even Rodney Dangerfield would recognize their membership as a rough crowd. A very tanked lady said I looked like a stockbroker from NY. Tom, standing there said that I was so there after she kept asking for investing tips. I told her to buy low and sell high. Good advice for us all. The entertainment was setting up while we sat at a table. The band was called "Most Wanted" and by their look there is no reason to doubt it. We headed to Ted and Allen's Sports Grille. In conversation with Dennis, the manager, he said he knew Bruce Meade (big time softballer from Bradenton) because they had played on the same team. Just another small world story. We were on the road by 7:30 headed for Vegas with our first stop being the Hoover Dam, an impressive monument to American engineering. It is a massive tourist traffic jam with tons of sightseers, lots of security, and impressive views. It was neat to see a bridge in the process of construction. It is to be complete in 2010 and will take cars off of the road over the dam. On the drive back to Vegas we took pictures of a small herd of Big Horn sheep along the busy roadside munching on manicured, housing development, grass (see picture). We went to Hooters where it all began on the 13th. We consumed the usual fare and watched Russia take the Netherlands in OT 3-1. Tom never agrees with the officiating, and Greg and I don't care. Stosh brought us Motel 6 dignity and we headed down the strip for some Sodom and Gomorrah (especially after 8 days of Eden). We ran into Jeff Womaldorff (Southeast grad and one time soccer coach) and his wife. We went into O'Shea's, and sat down at a roulette table. Greg started with $25 and walked away with $150. I started with $20 and won $87. Tom had his white collar on and preached to us the evils of betting. We headed to Fitzgerald's Casino where Tom knew of a great steakhouse. We had our last supper and Tom took us back to the hotel and left for the Airport. It is Sunday and we are going to check into Hooters for tonight and tour today more of the strip.

Friday, June 20, 2008

20 June The Grand Canyon

Today's travels took us to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I want to say a special hello to my niece Sarah Martin, who is having her graduation party tomorrow night and I'm going to miss it. To know her is to love her! And a note to Bob's girlfriend Yvonne...If I took you to the Grand Canyon for a romantic getaway we definitely would have eaten in the dining room there. There are some things he just doesn't get, if there was an Applebees on top of the rim he would've taken you there in a heart beat.
Bob's notes: Day 7 Friday... We left the confines of the Quality Inn of Page Arizona at 7:00 am, yes 7. We headed south on Hwy 89 headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This will be my 5th visit to the Canyon (3 South Rand 2 North Rim). The route took us through the Arizona Strip... 2.8 million acres with only one highway. We crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry and walked onto the Navajo Bridge to looked down into the narrow gorge. A plaque tells the story that the very last ferry ride before the bridge opened ended in tragedy and the death of 2. Greg asks "Couldn't they have waited for the bridge to open?" We stopped at a historical marker that told us about two Spanish Padres hiking from Sante Fe in 1776 headed for California. I now know that men of the cloth can be as dumb as the rest of us. "Hey Padre can you walk a little faster?" It is beastly hot. We climbed the Kaibab Plateau into a forrest of tall pines, turned left at Jacob's Lake and drove the 33 miles into the North Rim. We passed through a burned out area from a fire in 2006. We parked at 10:00 am and walked into the Grand Canyon Lodge (1928) and put and exclamation point on our trip. The North Rim is far less visited and 1000 ft higher in elevation than the South Rim. Much cooler. We walked the rim trail and drove out to other vistas. We left at 2:00 pm drove hard to Hurricane Utah to find dignity. We have Super 8 dignity tonight and an Eagles to visit. Note to Yvonne. I didn't eat a meal in the Grand Canyon Lodge dining room this time either. We went for the trail mix.

I cannot help but think of the famous line from Inherit the Wind by Frederick March.......I'm not interested in the Age of Rocks, but the Rock of Ages....anyway you look at it....Grand Canyon is simply beyond belief.....awe inspiring. The enormacy is just wonderous......canyon in canyon in canyon, through millions, in this case, billions of years of our evolution......may we all be blessed by this treasure in America......God Bless our Troops.......Tom

Thursday, June 19, 2008

19 June Lake Powell/Page, Arizona

We are at Lake Powell and it is hot! However, we broke our disciplined routine and went beveraging in the afternoon, you need to replenish the liquids in this hot climate.
We have traveled ungodly number of miles……looking at some of the most unbelievable natural monuments of God's greatest works and testaments to Earth's ongoing evolution. Today, I was awed by one of man's greatest engineering feats…..Glen Canyon Dam…..not one of the wonders of the world, but magnificent in it's contruct. Today is a relaxing day……touring the dam, swimming in hillbilly heaven and prepping for happy hour with stosh and bob…..what a great trip. Well, until tomorrow……enjoy and never take this thing we call life for granted……Tomaz

Bob's comments on Day 6: We arrived in Page Arizona Wednesday night, found dignity at the Quality Inn , headed for the Dam Bar, home of real beer. We watched as the Lakers shut down early in game 6 to the Celtics and I have never seen Greg so upset. In the morning once we had applied our makeup it was off to Glen Canyon Dam. This 710 ft high by 300 ft wide concrete wonder holds back the Green, San Juan and Colorado Rivers. Started in 1956 it created a water paradise to serve and entertain millions. We made the tour and our guide was Duane who worked the dam as an electrical engineer for 40 years and now retired. We descended an elevator into the belly of the beast and gazed upon the 8 generators spinning their magic for the electrically challenged. At the base is a grass lawn the size of 3 football fields. Before we could leave Tom insisted on going to the Dam gift shop to buy a Dam postcard while Greg went to the Dam bathroom and Bob left to get another Dam picture. A park ranger actually had a telescope set up for visitors to peak at the sun. It was red in color and I believe on fire. The tour will be a trip highlight. We checked out the Wahweap resort and marina. You can see many very large houseboats. We drove to Lone Rock Beach which we renamed 'Red Neck Beach'. Every inch of land was occupied by trailers, RVs, campers, dog pens, Seadoos, anchors, sand, rocks, grills, campfires, coolers, country music, Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. The water was chilly but refreshing. We finished the afternoon off at the Wahweap Resort Saloon and watched the European Cup Soccer match of Germany vs Portugal. Tom met a couple from Cameroon and he mentioned that in August he was moving to Egypt. The guy said WHY? Greg is currently charging his batteries and when he wakes up we will go to another Dam Bar. As explorer John Wesley Powell said in 1869….when will this Dam journey end?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

18 June Natural Bridges/Monument Valley

It has been quite a day and we are now nestled away in the Quality Inn in Page, Arizona, which will be our home for two nights. Man, is it hot! Bob and Tom will share some thoughts on our adventures the last day or two.
Bob's comments on Day 5: This has been our longest day (not to be confused with the efforts of our WWII veterans. Last night we visited the 2 Axes Saloon and Restaurant. We munched on the salad and pizza buffet while the Tribe got beat by the Rockies. I called Ryan Thomas who is in Alaska to share our blog site and in the process he told us all Utah brew is 3.2. After getting over the nausea I asked Greg and Tom to take me home. Wednesday we will leave Utah and it's archaic blue laws. We headed to Natural Bridges National Monument which is out side of Blanding, Utah by 34 miles. There are 3 bridges and Indian ruins in one "snaking" canyon of light sandy color. Bridges are different form arches. They are formed by rushing water. The three could be viewed from nearby parking areas and a short hike. The place is extremely isolated and it seems only the French have discovered its uniqueness. We pushed on many miles to get to Monument Valley. Along the way we stopped to photograph Mexican Hat and stopped in the town of Mexican Hat at the San Juan Trading Post for lunch and souvenir shopping. I still have not found a belt. Not far down the road we saw the Monuments of Monument Valley (a destination). It was the same highway Forrest Gump traveled on his long run and where he stopped to go home. People suggested we not pass through but rather go into the visitors center and drive the "rugged" loop. The Navajos operate the entire Valley (paybacks) and they charge per person. We challenged the 17 mile loop in our red Impala. The unsuspecting will encounter deep ruts, tire crunching rocks, steep inclines and hard turns all within the first 100 yards. As the road smoothed out we searched for the ghost of John Wayne. After all this place was Hollywood's back lot for many westerns. We pulled a Cooperstown and made the advertised ride of 2 hours in 40 minutes (our poor rent-a-car). The Navajos must have gouged out this beautiful valley and they are still gouging us tourist. Experience tells me you can get all your photos from the main highway. In one more hour we drove into Page, Arizona home of 5% beer alcohol content……whew! We have dignity in a Quality Inn with a view high over Glenn Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Tomorrow you will know what we decided to do. Utah's beauty is 100 proof but that is as far as it goes.

Hey all, just another hot day on the road……..did some wonderful places today…..had lunch at a great off-the-wall place……road trip is going well…..spending the night in Page, Arizona…..real beer and bars….The magnificence of this is awe inspiring…..the tremendous size just cannot be expressed in a simple post card or picture….it has to be experienced…..God Bless…..enjoy life…..the mayor of lower Dogtown

When we found out we were drinking 3.2 beer, each of us had flashbacks…Bob thought he was at Tony's in Chagrin…Tom thought he was at a frat party at Mizzou when he was in high school…and I thought of college ID night at the old Agora, with ten cent drafts. Those were the days!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

17 June Canyonlands/Arches National Parks

Today we hit two national parks near Moab, Utah.
Bob's notes on Day 4: After morning maintenance and breakfast we took off for Canyonlands NP north and west of Moab. The road (313) rises to 6000 ft and onto the Island in the Sky. Everywhere the traveler is surrounded by unsurpassed views of the distant canyons. What you see are canyons inside of canyons, inside of canyons and distant mesas. Finally the United States government got it right ……. If you want to be stupid around the edges no one is there to catch your 1500 ft plunge with the sudden stop at the bottom. It is like driving a car without airbags and seatbelts. If whoever named the Grand Canyon saw this site first they would have found another name for the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River has been a "Work-aholic" for millenniums, carving out awe-inspiring beauty. Greg, Tom and Bob have been earning merit badges by taking hot, dusty hikes and for capturing an Ansel Adams digital moment. Each park is surprisingly not crowded and every inch traveled brings you to a better view of the picture you just took. Arches NP is literally across highway 191. It turns out to be Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs) times 1,000,000. We gazed upon Landscape, Delicate, Double and Windows Arches always the La Sal Mountains in the background. In 1991 Royce Morrison photographed a piece on the largest arch collapsing. The monoliths are impressive and they are named for places like Park Ave. In Devils Garden we were warned about Mountain Lions. Dignity and laundry waited for us back in Moab. Tonight you can find us at The Rivers and Woody's, Tom and Greg are members. Word out to Skip. Lets have our 40th reunion here. See you tomorrow.

Hey one and all……the doctor of dogtown writing from Moab…..tourist trap of eastern Utah….but there are bars here!!!!!! Great day……..but we had a wonderful trip through Canyonlands and Arches…..I am forever amazed at the panoramic scenery we have experienced……the shear majesty. Ever step we take traces millions of years of Earth's evolution--growth and erosion. Well, for now, we close this short bio……take care, God Bless. Tom….ps…..instead of packing up the Vista Cruiser with the kids and jaunting off to Micky Mouse land or the beach……try this area……it will re-juvinate the heart…….Salaam ala meine.

Monday, June 16, 2008

16 June Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Day 3 finds us at Capitol Reef National Park, another beautiful place.
Greg's misc. thoughts so far…
Gas has been north of four bucks a gallon so far, and I think it has greatly affected people's travel plans out here. In Las Vegas last Friday night we were able to get a room on the strip in a casino for $71 a night. We walked through several other casinos and the minimum bets on the roulette tables were all five or ten bucks. The blackjack tables were just as cheap. None of the casinos, or the sidewalks connecting them, were crowded. We didn't even see a lady of the evening anywhere, business must be slow for everyone.
Saturday night near Zion was the only night we had trouble finding lodging, and that was because they had their annual arts festival going on up there. But so far we haven't had to spend more than $80 on a hotel room, and we haven't stayed in any dumps. The highways have been empty, the parks only moderately crowded, and a great deal of the tourists are from Europe or Asia.
I've been really impressed with the National Park Service. All the parks are very tourist friendly without being over bearing. Trails are marked, rest rooms are clean, travel centers are informative, all the higher help has been friendly and helpful.
Thank God for digital cameras! We have each taken hundreds of pictures, with hundreds of more to go. We've seen some unbelievable sights. There will be a full moon the next few nights, so we plan on being out and about with our cameras at sunset and beyond to take advantage of it.
Hope you are enjoying our blog, don't be afraid to post a few comments. Also, if you want to enlarge any of the pictures, all you have to do is click on it.

Bob's Notes on Day 3…what a day. We cannot start Monday without putting the finishing touches on Sunday. After checking into the Days Inn in Torrey Utah we pushed down the road to The Rim View Inn for dinner. A majestic view of the Capitol Reef NP Mesa rising 2000 ft., meant dinner was served by Karla and Krista (please see picture) on the patio as the sun cast a red hue upon the scenery. Day 3 began with a 6:30 wakeup call and an early dash into Capitol Reef NP. We were awed by the shear size of the wall that makes up the western face. Red in color, with crumbling rocks below we drove into the park after photos of Chimney rock and the Gooseneck. The journey on the one way scenic track south took us ten miles into an incredible canyon drive. It reminded me of Phantom Canyon, Colorado (Howard). We did a neat hike into the area they call the narrows complete with the signatures of the pioneers carved into the walls of the canyon. We took off for Moab. Utah on Hwy 24 that include a dip into the Fremont River and a view of the Capitol Dome (name of the park is based upon 2 things….the formation that looks like the US Capitol Dome in DC and the fact that at one time this giant formation was a reef under a gigantic ocean millions ago. Out of Capitol Reef the canyon walls melted away into true desert as we pushed onto I-70 and the Moab exit. The route was rife with desert scenery and desolate landscape. It was hot and air conditioning is a must. We entered into the Moab valley that included an historic site where Japanese detainees were held during WWII. This site is a great story, please ask us later about it. After arriving in Moab we found The Rios Sports Bar and from there we called hotels for two nights of dignity. We found the Virginian. Greg bought membership into The Rios so they could serve us (Mormon Rules). We are good for the next few days. We are about to check out the town. Hello to all who might be reading and viewing By the way we are here to visit Arches NP and Canyonlands NP.

Hey Tom here, the other guy on the trip….aka…..Akhem Allah Bibi Boodlite…….the trip is just going fine… at times, but OK…….the scenery is just incredible….tall majestic buttes, mesas, and wonderful plateaus. Our National Park system is incredible….Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef..….wow….we are so lucky……everything is going so well….great travel miles and long-never-ending ribbons of highway….met some nice people…….Utah is a semi-dry state……we have to buy beer and bring it back to our hotel…..and today, membership into private Clubs…….the La Sal mountains to the east are snow-capped and magnificent. God Bless America! Never forget our troops that are abroad and those that have made this trip possible…….pss…..Happy Father's Day, a day late…….the Doctor of Dogtown.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

15 June 2008 Bryce Canyon

Day 2 of our trip was spent in and around Bryce Canyon.
Bob's Notes: Day 2 out of Vegas and we find ourselves in Torrey Utah, the gateway into Capitol Reef National Park and Butch Cassidy hideout country. Here is how we got here: After a restful night in Hatch we had breakfast at the Cowboy Inn Restauant and journeyed just below to take a peak at a beautiful trout stream. We took the short ride into beautiful and inspirational Bryce Canyon National Park famous for its Hoodoo's (sculptured spires and Grottos (cave like indentations in the rock formations). We visited the lodge, and various vistas along the rim. Tom and I hiked into the canyon along the 1.3 mile Navajo loop. For a short time we walked behind an Asian Gasser (65 yr old Japanese tourist who was passing wind). We wandered among the towering hoodoo's into places like 'Wall Street' that includes 2 tall Douglas Firs and the 'Twin Bridges'. Stosh read while we hiked. From the rim we saw in the distance smoke from a wildfire north and east of Bryce. We saw the intense smoke from the fire for most of our journey as we headed east on highway 12 for the next 90 miles all the way to Torrey. We passed through Ebeneezer Bryce's home town of Tropic and if you look on a map this road is a scenic byway that goes through Grand Staircase National Monument - Escalante filled with mesas and canyons all viewed from a winding road that eventually took us up 9600 ft and over Boulder Mt. The Alpine forest was a lush green and the temperature cool. Tonight we have dignity at a Days Inn. Hi to all.