The best part of my vacation was the peace and quiet of my hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip.

Of all the places to go off the grid …

I’m not big on taking time off.  I like my job and I like to throw myself into those things I like. Taking time off means giving up time I’m never going to get back. I dislike travel. I detest physical activity. I don’t care for crowds. Noise irks me.

Naturually, I vacationed in Vegas.

You see, I came to two important realizations a couple of months ago.

I needed a break. And I had accumulated two weeks of vacation time.

It was time to unplug, relax, and recharge my batteries.

Last year, I took a series of consecutive Fridays off. All that did was create extra work, so as “vacations” went, that was a counter-productive approach.

This year, I scheduled the third week in September for my vacation. Friends were mildly surprised—and encouraged me to go somewhere. I wasn’t sure if they knew it had been years since I took a real trip—13 to be precise. In fact, I had last visited Vegas in the early days of September 2001. Flew home Sept. 9.

Before that,  I took an impulsive trip to Vegas at age 38 to take my mind off my troubles while waiting to have a biopsy.

This year, I’d originally planned on a “staycation,” but the more I thought about it the more I knew that for a truly complete getaway I was going to have to go away—as in out of town.

Catalina Island was out—I’m also the assistant editor of the Catalina Islander. I might as well hang out in Old Town.

Theme parks? Not me.

Travel abroad? No, thank you. Not ever.

Las Vegas seemed the logical place to go to get away—a hotel room and round trip airfare would be less expensive than a stay at Disneyland.

I left my laptop at home and refrained from following the news. Reporting for the Sun isn’t anywhere near as gritty as daily newspapering or television reporting, but there’s still a steady diet of politics, crime, disease and misfortune that gets into your guts after a time. I announced I would accept no phone calls from my editor. (OK, I accepted a couple.)

The temperature was a sweltering 100 degrees by the time I arrived Monday afternoon. Night time wasn’t much better, but I endured the heat to trek over to the Mirage for the volcano show. It’s a free show mixing light, smoke, water, flames and music. I caught two “erruptions,” one from each side of the “volcano.”

A performance by a pair of street drummers using paint cans and large water bottles occupied the time between volcano shows.

It was Tuesday afternoon when I finally stopped thinking about work. Room 1109A at Bally’s allowed me a fine view of several neighboring hotels—the Flamingo, the Cromwell, the Bellagio and the Venetian.

Little sound penetrated the window, though it was impossible to keep out all the sounds of the Vegas traffic and the new “observation wheel” (actually a ferris wheel for grown-ups) called the High Roller. In the distance, behind the hotels and beyond the strip, were beautiful Nevada mountains.

And I sat in the room a few hours each afternoon, enjoying the break from the relentless din of the casino floor or the sweltering, oppresive heat of the Las Vegas street. No deadlines. No Internet. No crime. No coyotes. No Seal Beach politics. In the last place on Earth an individual would expect to find a place of simple contemplation. Too bad I spent so much money at the … no, I’m leaving that story in Las Vegas.

Charles M. Kelly is the assistant editor of the Sun Newspapers and the Crime Log correspondent.

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