By Valerie C.

We’ve had an amazing start to our full-time RV adventure so far — dropping off the kids at college, having to be towed after a breakdown on the side of the interstate in Kentucky on day 5, visiting friends, family, and National Parks in Utah and Nevada (as described in my last blog post), and generally finding an adventure every day.

Oasis RV Resort Las Vegas

The Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas…rows of palm trees, an oasis-like pool complex, and 85F at night makes this one of the most beautiful RV parks we’ve seen so far.

This week continued our amazing RV adventure, including possibly the most interesting and fun 24-hour period ever!

The day was Friday, September 5, which started when we woke up at the crack of dawn at the beautiful Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas, where we had rushed from Reno (an 8-hour drive) to drop off the RV for almost two weeks of service on 28 different items.

The process of going over all the issues with two service managers took three hours. It’s unrealistic to expect all of the items to be fixed. But we have our fingers crossed that this time, the Camping World service center in Henderson, NV will actually get the RV into the garage and fix some critical things–like our heat not working in zone 2, or the flakiness of the rearview cameras. The process has been frustrating. We were expecting to spend some time in service centers this year with our new RV. But we didn’t expect *this* much trouble. We didn’t expect to be towed, ever, or to be effectively homeless for a week in our first month. We’ve heard two service managers in two different shops say, “Nobody wants to work on these things.” So, fingers crossed.

But the real reason we rushed to Vegas was to appease Val’s desperate wish to see Howard Jones and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins in concert on their Retro Futura Tour 2014 that evening. If you don’t know who Howard Jones or the Thompson Twins are (and I hear that all the time), pshaw, then you surely weren’t alive in the 1980s. Seriously, check my links, listen to the songs…if you don’t know them, either you’re very young, very old, or possibly you lived under a rock. Maybe you’re from Indonesia and you have amnesia. They were iconic acts of the 80s New Wave music period, and I have always loved their music. I saw both bands perform several times in the 80s as a teen and young adult, but never at the same time. To see them perform back to back excited me to no end!

Red Rock Canyon, about 30 minutes from North Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon, about 30 minutes from North Vegas.

At the service center, we packed up everything we would need for a couple weeks, including all the food in the full-size residential refrigerator, crammed it in the tiny Veloster, left the RV, and drove to my sister and brother-in-law’s house, where we basically moved in for the next 10+ days, depending on how the service goes (for which we can’t thank them enough!). Then we spent a few hours visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Park.  Mitch had never been there and I wanted to share it with him. The sun is so hot at 100F mid-day in early September that it sears the top of your head and saps your energy. But we braved the heat to get a few pictures of this gorgeous park.

Concert goers at The Beach at Mandalay Bay Vegas, can either sit on the sand or wade into the wave pool to be closer to the act.

Concert goers at The Beach at Mandalay Bay Vegas, can either sit on the sand or wade into the wave pool to be closer to the act.

Then we came “home” to my sister’s, took a power nap, and headed off to the Retro Futura Tour headlined by five fabulous 80s acts. The venue was the Beach at Mandalay Bay — truly a beach with the stage in the middle of the wave pool (waves turned off, for the most part). To get close to stage you had to wade into the water up to your ankles. Kids can swim and dig holes in the beach. Over a thousand people were settled out on their blankets on the sand. It was EPIC!

Howard and Jonathan

Howard Jones performs at the Beach at Mandalay Bay, Vegas. Drummer Jonathan Atkinson is on the left.

Katrina of Katrina and the Waves opened, followed by China Crisis, then Midge Ure of Ultravox. Howard Jones was next, and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins closed the act. Tom got the last spot by virtue of “exclusivity” as this tour was his first time performing in 27 years. I do believe nobody loved the concert more than me! Seriously, I was the biggest nut there, dancing, singing, jumping and hooting! Mitch was almost as enthusiastic as me. I’ve found the perfect mate–not only did he have these bands on cassette like I did back in the day, he doesn’t get embarrassed by my unbridled spirit. Our feet were a little prune-like after watching five different acts, but we had a blast.

Robbie Bronniman

Howard Jones introduces keyboardist/effects man Robbie Bronniman onstage.

After the concert, we got to hang out with Howard’s right- and left-hand men on stage, drummer Jonathan Atkinson and keyboardist/effects artist Robbie Bronnimann. Val met a group of Howard’s band and crew in 2012 when they were on their tour through New England, and took them to the Strange Brew pub in Manchester, NH so they could have a pint (“Let’s get pissed!” as they say in England). I can’t say enough about these guys–such a good looking bunch of talented Brits who are oddly down to Earth for rock stars, and just as nice as can be to regular folks like me. How exciting for me that not only do they remember me — Robbie gave me a little wave from stage as soon as he spotted me in the audience — they spent their only spare time in Las Vegas with us.

Robbie and Jonathan explained that the five bands of the Retro Futura Tour travel in three buses–one for Howard and his band and crew, one for Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins and his crew, and one for the other three bands. Their tour is fast and furious, 16 venues in the U.S. and Canada over only 3 weeks! After a long drive from their San Diego venue the previous night, the bands arrived in Vegas the next day, did their sound checks at 3 pm, performed from 9 pm until 1, and had to be back on the bus by 2:30 am for an overnight drive to Salt Lake. They didn’t even get to sleep in their fabulous rooms at Mandalay! As they only had about 12 hours in Vegas total, the fact that they agreed to spend their only hour or less of free time in Vegas with me made me feel very special!

Val and Jonathan on the Strip

“Groupie” me and Howard Jones drummer Jonathan Atkinson from the Foundation Room Vegas.

To make our time together count, I took them to the Foundation Room on the 52nd floor of Mandalay Bay, which has a breathtaking view down the strip from the balcony. Vegas is practically a second home for me, being a native Nevadan, and I do know some sweet spots. Unfortunately, much of the crew had no spare time at all, and were stuck packing up the stage. The poolside concert venue and the heat (85F) forced Mitch to wear long shorts, and the dress code of the Foundation Room calls for long pants. We had kind of hoped they’d let him in anyway; he looked very nice in a silk shirt and Sperry Top Siders, but the doorman politely declined to admit him. Robbie and Jonathan met us in clothing that met the dress code (I had warned them) but alas, Robbie didn’t have his ID. So Mitch and Robbie went to a casino bar while Jonathan and I went up to get pictures of the strip.

We rejoined Mitch and Robbie, and talked about traveling on a big rig and what it’s like. I remarked that it must be hard, not having much free time, sleeping on a bus as it hurtles from one city to the next. “It’s awesome!” replied Jonathan. Indeed! Such is a 24-hour day in the life of an actual rock star.

We wished them luck on the next leg of their tour, and headed off to join my sister at the MGM, where she works as an executive table and slot host. We went home to her place, and stayed up talking in her beautiful backyard until the sky got light in the east and the birds began to wake up. We’d just had a very exciting 24-hour day, albeit not as glamorous as Jonathan’s and Robbie’s.

We woke up the next day, ready for a new adventure. Mitch had the Thompson Twins going through his head, while I had Howard Jones’ “Prisoner” on my mind’s playlist. I still do, three days later.

#RVLuckyorWhat? This week, LUCKY!

In my next post, FAQs, I answer our top ten (okay, maybe eleven) frequently asked questions.

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