Long before our 9 Day Southern Road Trip, we had other travel plans for the end of 2021. And much like everyone else in the world who like to travel, we were in a constant state of wait and see.
Chuck’s 60th birthday bucket list trip was to see Africa, the Maasai, and the Big 5 in the wild. And our trip to Kenya in 2019 checked all of the boxes. So much so that we’re both seriously talking about another trip to Africa – sometime.
In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, African bush elephant, and the African buffalo.
Last February, Mark turned 60 rather uneventfully in the middle of the pandemic. His buck list trip was to visit Israel, which we had booked for this past Christmas.
It would mean seeing all of the Holy Land and spending Christmas Eve outside of Bethlehem, but it also checked off another important box for both of us.
Seven Modern Wonders
For as long as we can remember, we’ve been on a mission to see the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. We’re not sure how or why this came about – it just did.
Early on in our relationship, we saw Chichen Itza in Mexico. For Mark’s 50th, we were sailing the Mediterranean and saw the Coliseum in Rome. We climbed the Great Wall of China, and just before the world shut down in March of 2020, we spent the day at the Taj Mahal.
That would leave us just three more to see. We had been booked to go to Machu Picchu in the fall of 2020, but that fell through.
So the opportunity to tie in a visit to Petra, Jordan, on the Israel trip, on New Year’s Eve was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Watch and Wait
Unfortunately, with the state of the world and COVID restrictions this past fall, we were cautiously optimistic about whether the trip would occur.
On this trip, we were meeting up with our friends Casey and Candi from Tennessee. They are a couple we met on our journey to China and have kept in touch with.
So, the four of us chatted back and forth over the month leading up to the trip, carefully watching all of the travel restrictions in Israel, Jordan and coming back into the United States.
No Such Luck
As the trip grew closer, we all realized that this trip to the Holy Land would not happen. Israel was severely limiting entrance to the country and requiring testing upon arrival.
If we were even allowed into the country, the mandatory quarantine while awaiting results, much less the outside chance of a positive test, and quarantining fourteen days were tough to swallow.
And, to be completely honest, we’d still have to cross into Jordan. And, a positive test and quarantine for a gay couple, apart from our tour group, really frightened us.
A Change of Destination
With the trip canceled, we all chatted about other possible options. We knew that any place out of the country would have its limitation and require a COVID test to get back home.
Casey and Candi, who have been to Las Vegas many times, decided they were headed there over Christmas.
Mark has been to Las Vegas nearly a dozen times for business-related conferences was okay with this option. However, in the past, Chuck had expressed ZERO interest in going.
But neither of us had seen the Grand Canyon or Hoover Damn, and we really wanted to hang out with Casey and Candi. So Las Vegas it was!
We can’t wait to share a little bit of our Christmas trip to Las Vegas, including hotel reviews, some great (and not so great) restaurants, and some fun excursions.