Escapes: Vegas is making a comeback. Here’s what to expect

It’s almost Vegas, baby.

The city that never sleeps, never even snoozes, has shown new signs of life, and our package of stories this week shows what you can do (dine out, but not in hotels or casinos just yet) and what you will be able to do (go into a casino and park for free at MGM properties as they reopen) and how it has all changed. With thanks to Jay Jones and Michael Hiller for the reporting.

My name is Catharine Hamm, and I’m the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. Besides Vegas, we answer questions about group travel (it’s going to be alive and well but, you guessed it, different), what’s open and closed in our area and whether you can catch the coronavirus in the water. And in the End paper, which lives up to the end part of its name, I describe how my extreme dislike of weeding taught me a valuable lesson about travel. Really.


Dive right in; the water’s fine.

Back on the bus

As part of our “crystal ball” series, I focused on group travel and whether it will come back. It will, but as with air travel, you’ll see some changes: more social distancing on the bus, smaller groups (and maybe private ones) and how companies are expanding the definition of “duty of care.”

What’s open, what’s closed

Check our local list of what’s open and closed, which will be updated for the weekend. With thanks to Mary Forgione and Christopher Reynolds for their ongoing reporting.

Want to take the boat out? Good news, skipper. Many marinas will be open, Chris Erskine reports. But if you’re hoping for a charter fishing trip or whale watching trip, you may be disappointed.

Joshua Tree is opening in phases, including some family campsites, Mary Forgione writes. (So have popular trails in Angeles National Forest.)

Denise Aguilar from Hawthorne walks with her dogs along a newly opened path on the Strand in Manhattan Beach on Friday.
Denise Aguilar from Hawthorne walks with her dogs, Elsie, left and Jojo, along a newly opened path on the Strand in Manhattan Beach on Friday.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

But can we get in the water?

Yes, Christopher Reynolds writes. Academics from UCLA and USC say you’re “extraordinarily unlikely” to catch the virus that causes COVID-19 in a swimming pool, the ocean or a large lake.

Mask wear is up in the air

Hugo Martín writes about what the airlines can do if passengers won’t wear masks. Answer: precious little, because there’s no federal requirement. Why that’s so remains another of the big unknowns.


What we’re reading

Everything I’ve been reading this week (aside from the L.A. Times) is a little bit weird, just right for these times. To wit:

Dogs can sniff out drugs and truffles. But in terms of health, they may also prove effective in the fight against the coronavirus, Samantha Tapfumaneyi and Francesca Street write for CNN. Trials in Britain are testing whether dogs can detect the virus, which would be useful in airport screening. A half a dozen dogs, Labs and cocker spaniels dubbed the “Super Six,” are being trained to sniff out incoming visitors for the coronavirus. In the U.S., the Department of Agriculture uses beagles to sniff out prohibited food items coming into the country.

Those ancient Romans — what cards they were! That’s according to Dalya Alberge, whose article for the Guardian reveals the discovery of leather mice at Vindolanda, a historic fort in northern England near Hadrian’s Wall. Vindolanda Museum curator Barbara Birley says it’s clear that the bits of leather were faux mice and that they might have been a second-century practical joke. No indication of whether anyone ran shrieking from the fort upon the discovery of a mouse in the, uh, house.

Congratulations to the marching band of Southern University and A&M College from Baton Rouge, La. That group was, according to research by CalTech seismologist Zhongwen Zhan and his colleagues, the loudest of the Rose Parade bands, Science magazine reports. The researchers evaluated the “seismic signatures of the passing marching bands” in the parade by repurposing underground fiber optic cables as low-cost seismic sensors, using a technique known as distributed acoustic sensing, Katherine Kornei writes. This isn’t just about earthquakes, Kornei points out. The technique can also detect leaks, reveal something about traffic flow and catch intruders.


What’s on your reading list?

The L.A. Times? We hope so, for your sake and ours. You help us do what we do, and we help you do what you want (see plethora of options above) and stay informed.

Other newsletters? Why not? They’re delivered to your inbox, and they’re free and tailored to subjects you like.

The newly reformatted L.A. Times recipe database? I stopped by to take a look, expecting to spend five or so minutes perusing. About an hour later, I had to tear myself away.

Your own work? Yep, if you send us cogent points about articles you’ve read, liked, didn’t like or didn’t understand. Share with us at


End paper

The wildflower bloom was subdued this year, but late spring rains made the roses glorious. And with that glory comes weeds, my sworn enemies. I mean, how can a yard that’s mostly rocks and some roses sprout weeds? I thought that was why you had rocks — that and to conserve water.

But weeds are sneaky little bas — um, I mean, devils. And things were starting to look ratty. Gardening gloves on hands and mask on face, I set to it. Varieties of weeds I hadn’t seen before (and some that I had) had crashed my garden party, and I was kicking them out.


It was a beautiful day. Sun shining, solar fountain gurgling, birds chirping. But one little winged creature kept buzzing me.


Harrumph, hummingbird. Go back to the bottlebrush tree.

She didn’t listen. Moving out of the sun for a drink of water, I was sitting quietly (and sweatily) on my porch. She was still buzzing, and I finally realized why: She had built a nest in one of my porch ornaments.

Although I thought it nervy that she was ordering me around my own home, I moved away and let her tend her soon-to-be children.

How many times did I go in and out of that front door without noticing? (Not many, but one does have to go to the grocery store every so often. And, with this house, the hardware store, which explains why they are considered essential businesses.)


But it was only when I slowed down and took a break that I realized what was going on.

Somehow it took me back to a day in Italy last summer when I decided to collect myself and sit quietly in a park. Young people, arm in arm, strolled by; dogs trotted by on their way to some unknown destination; women and men provided a veritable fashion show of high Italian style. It was a small slice of daily life, away from tourist-y stuff, and I was mesmerized.

In those two hours, I learned more about that town than I had the previous two on a walking tour. Somehow, this fabric of life had made sense of the garment that a guide had tried to sew.

The hummingbird — in true humans-must-possess fashion, I have named her Bitsy so that when her children hatch, I can call them Itsy Bitsies — and I have reached a separate peace.


And I thank my weeds for making me work hard enough to reward myself by staying still.

I’m also reminded that when I travel again — and I will, and so will you — I must find those quiet moments that give context to that perfect picture-postcard view. “Music is pleasing,” wrote theologian, monk and poet Thomas Merton, “not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it; without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm.”

What that time comes, travel safely and well, building silence into your travels and finding your rhythm, and remember that we will always be here to welcome you home.

A hummingbird finds a home.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)