English: Las Vegas Strip
English: Las Vegas Strip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Bucket lists. Many of us have them. Here’s Barry to share his how-not-to about helping his father-in-law fulfill his list. As I read this, I saw another National Lampoon movie waiting to happen:  Griswold Family  Bucket-List  Vacation.

Take it away, Barry!


My father-in-law had pancreatic cancer and went through surgery four years ago. He wanted to experience Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, and Grand Canyon before he experiences Heaven. My wife, Lisa, and I decided to take him on vacation to help clear a few items from his “Bucket List”. My brother-in-law and his wife wanted to go, so we just made it a family/adult vacation. My wife is a great vacation plannet and even created a spreadsheet with dates and times for every activity, including the meals, so we all just let her do the planning.

I went through hernia surgery two weeks prior to flying to Las Vegas and my wife did not take my hernia or her father’s pancreas into consideration while planning this trip. Once in Vegas, our first activity was to walk to a few casinos so we could enjoy the beautiful view of the Vegas lights and lose some money. Although my father-in-law and I agreed to this, before we made it to the first casino, we were dying and crying for the car. Now, my wife, eager to check this activity off the bucket list before the night was over, kept reassuring us that the next casino was just one more block.

The next day, we were scheduled to drive to the Grand Canyon, because that is what my wife wanted, since I do all of the driving. My wife woke up at 5:00 a.m. and mapped out the trip on Google Maps. When I awoke, she immediately told me the drive would only be two hours to get there. Two hours later, and after realizing we were only halfway there, we pulled over to use the bathroom at a gas station. It was lunchtime and my wife had packed sandwiches in foil and placed them in the cooler. So her brother dug down under the ice and found them at the bottom. Unwrapping the sandwiches, he realized they were soaking wet. Her brother ate his soggy sandwich and I ate half of mine, but I could not bear another bite or drink of my sandwich, so I threw the rest away. No one else attempted to eat their sandwich; they just said they would wait for dinner.

Not long after getting back on the road, we came up on a military check-point just before the Hoover Dam,  the military officials were questioning every third car. We were able to just drive through. We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon and we were all ready to help check this activity off Lisa’s list. We walked the entire south rim of the Grand Canyon and took the pictures Lisa wanted. By this time, our stomachs were growling and, due to the “waterfall” sandwiches we had for lunch, we decided to eat at the restaurant next to the Grand Canyon. Now, since the drive back was four hours and Lisa’s brother had been begging to drive our rental car all day, my wife suggested he drive back so that I could relax. I agreed and let him drive.

One hour later, we were a mile away from the military check-point near the Hoover Dam, and Lisa’s brother decided he wanted to play around by swerving back and forth, from lane to lane, on a two-lane road. The road was very curvy, with cliffs on one side and large boulders on the other. A car was heading straight for us, and we were in their lane, so I panicked and screamed like a girl for my brother-in-law to get back over. He did, with little time to spare. Now, as soon as that car passed us, my brother-in-law was getting yelled at by everyone in the car. I realized that, up ahead, a large rabbit, and I mean LARGE RABBIT, had just hopped onto our lane from the guard rail on the right side of the road. Now, we are doing 70 mph with guardrails on both sides of the road and the rabbit had stopped because a car was coming from the other direction, too. No one but my brother-in-law and I have seen the rabbit at this time, so immediately I started screaming like a girl, again, put both hands on the dash to prepare for how my brother-in-law would react to this rabbit. When I grabbed the dash, my father-in-law immediately screamed from the back seat, “What’s wrong?” I did not have time to explain and I realized my brother-in-law was hitting the brakes and not swerving to avoid the rabbit. The rabbit heard the brakes and turned to look our way. When he realized he was about to be hit by our car, he stood straight up on his back legs and was now taller than the hood of the car. All I could see was his huge, white eyes, as he looked into the headlights. I saw and heard us hit him, but I was not sure if we killed him.  With nowhere to pull over and check on this rabbit, and with a car behind us, all we could think about was going to jail for not rendering aid to this rabbit if blood was on our bumper when we got to the military check-point.

It was dark by the time we approached the military check-point, and they were standing by the stop sign with flashlights in their hands and questioning every car, now. When it was time for us to pull up to the stop sign, my brother-in-law was scared and stopped far away from the stop sign. The military official was giving us funny looks and waving us to pull up, so I said to my brother-in-law, “You are going to make the official search this car. Pull up!” When we got to the official, he approached our car and questioned us where we were all coming from as he shone the light in all of our laps, to only find that we were all drinking water. After he checked us from the driver’s-side windows of the car and knew we were not drunks or terrorists, he let us go through. We pulled over in the first town to inspect the car and look for blood, but all I found was desert sand on the side of my bumper. Now, no blood on the bumper is making us look like liars to the ones in the back seat, but we did not care. After having a nervous breakdown, we realized that all we did was clean him off and sent him back to the desert. We were relieved, but we still had to deal with our family making fun of us for this crazy story, and all because they did not actually see this rabbit or its blood.

After getting some rest and on the next day, we took a bus tour to the Hoover Dam and everything went great. Now maybe that was because we left the driving and cooking to someone else. Yes, I know; we just drove over the Hoover Dam the day before, but that is how the vacation planner had it written on the spreadsheet. Although my father-in-law was able to check off three bucket-list items during the vacation, I recommend not doing the following things while helping your family with a bucket list:

1) Never let a conservative woman plan your bucket-list items alone and remember you cannot take the money with you.

2) Never think you can walk the Las Vegas Strip after surgery. Just drive it, instead.

3) Never wrap sandwiches in foil and place them in the bottom of the ice chest. Just buy your meals. You only live once!

4) Never uuse Google Maps for out-of-state driving and use the navigation you brought from home.

5) Never plan activities back-to-back without proper research and you will save some money that way.

6) Never — and I repeat, never, let your brother-in-law drive while on vacation when you know he is a Dallas Police Officer who drives like a maniac.

Last, I hope this advice will make future bucket-list adventures easier to plan, less stressful, more fun, and safer than mine. Good luck!

Thanks for sharing your story, Barry.  So, readers, what sights are on your bucket list, and how do you plan  to see them?


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