Some prominent locals share what’s on their travel bucket lists

Bucket lists. Thanks to a 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, it’s become our go-to term in describing our own lists of things that we want to do or experience while we still can.

We’ve all got them, even if we don’t necessarily call them that. Lists of goals we’d like to accomplish in our careers. Activities that we’d someday like to do with our families. And, even, places around the world that we’d like to visit before our mortal visas expire.

We asked a few globe-trotting Southern Nevadans about the still-unmade trips on their own travel bucket lists. And since there’s nothing that says you can’t, feel free to use some of their travel yet-to-do’s in writing your own.

You’re already off to a good start: You’ve been to Las Vegas.

• • •

Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson is lucky enough to have already checked off a few items on his own bucket list.

“One of the things I did that was really meaningful to me, at least, was, I went to Dostoyevsky’s grave in Saint Petersburg,” Isaacson says. “On the day I went to his gave, it was in the summer, but it was raining. They have a bust of him on top of the grave, and … it’s like he’s crying. It looks like tears. It was beautiful.”

Not surprisingly, several yet-to-be-done items on Isaacson’s bucket list also relate to literature.

“I’d really like to go to some of the places in Britain (associated with) the late poets and such — of course, Tintern Abbey (in Wales), which is the famous Wordsworth poem, and some of the places (associated) with Wordsworth and Coleridge.”

He’d also like to visit the Lake District in northwest England, which is associated with the group of Romantic poets now referred to as the Lake Poets and which “I’ve never been to,” Isaacson says.

“I’d like to retrace the steps of Shelley and Byron in Italy, too. I think that would be fun.”

Then, Isaacson says, “one place that’s not necessarily literary that I’d really like to go to is Koydnov, a city in Belarus where Isaacson’s family lived before coming to the United States during the 1920s.

During his trip to Russia, Isaacson was prohibited from going there because of official travel restrictions.

“One of the great benefits we have in this county is just having freedom to travel,” Isaacson says. “I was an hour’s drive from (Koydnov), and you couldn’t go there because it was crossing the border (between) Russia and Belarus.”

• • •

Claytee D. White, director of the Oral History Research Center at University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries, has on her travel bucket list a visit to Cuba.

“I want to go to Cuba because, prior to 1959, some of the same owners and operators operated the casino industry in Cuba as in Las Vegas,” she says. “I would just love to see what those places were like. I’d love to see if there are any archives, with photographs. I’d love to see what they looked like in their heyday and I would love to see those places now.”

Now, with moves continuing toward loosening travel between the U.S. and Cuba, that trip might be closer than ever to someday being checked off.

And then, White says, “I’d love to go back maybe five or 10 years from now to see what’s going to happen.”

• • •

Culinarily intriguing locales make up the bulk of the travel bucket list of Jason Neve, culinary director of B&B Hospitality Group — that’d be Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich — restaurants in Las Vegas.

While Neve has been to Italy, “two places I haven’t visited are Sicily and Sardinia,” says Neve, who would, of course, sample the local cuisine during his stay.

‘I’ve also never gone to Asia, so that’s on the top. Japan, particularly. They’ve got some really good-quality sushi places in Tokyo.”

In fact, “anywhere in Southeast Asia,” Neve says. “You get to see a little of (Asian cuisine) here in Vegas, because we have a great Asian community and a Chinatown you can go to to sample these things. But what you want to do as a chef is, you want to do that firsthand.”

Neve says local foods would be part of any trip he takes anywhere, from enjoying barbecue in Texas to Nordic specialties in Denmark.

“Travel is a great way to experience any culture, whether it’s eating at somebody’s house, if you’re lucky enough to do that, or just making friends with your server,” he says. “You get to learn so much.”

• • •

Marilyn Gillespie, executive director of the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, has been “very fortunate, because I have been able to visit all seven continents. But there are places that I haven’t been to, and, absolutely, at the top of my list — and it has been at the top of my list for many years — is Egypt.”

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum’s “Treasures of Egypt” exhibit certainly has “fueled” Gillespie’s desire to visit Egypt, she says. “But I’ve had an interest in ancient Egypt long before we got our Egyptian exhibit.”

In fact, “I have had tickets in hand twice to go to Egypt,” Gillespie says. However, each time, civil unrest or other problems there forced cancellations.

Machu Picchu — a complex of Incan ruins located in the Andes Mountains in Peru — “is another place I’d really like to go,” Gillespie says. “I’ve been very fortunate to see some incredible sites of ancient archaeology, and that is one that’s just so fascinating.”

“You really have to have good endurance, because it’s a lot of walking and it’s high altitude, so I have a feeling I’m going to have to get to the gym a lot before I go there,” Gillespie jokes.

• • •

Dr. John Dougherty, incoming dean of Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, has traveled to several countries — Japan, Peru, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Haiti, among them — much of it in connection with his work as a medical educator.

But at the top of his personal travel bucket list is a trek to India’s Taj Mahal.

“I’ve always wanted to see the Taj Mahal,” he says. “I have some friends from India, and they just go on and on, and it’s just been one of those fascinating things I’ve always wanted to do.”

Then, like many whose forebears have come to the United States from somewhere else, Dougherty would someday like to travel to Ireland and, on the other side of his family, Alsace-Lorraine and a French town called Metz, where one side of his family is from.

Dougherty says his desire to see Metz is a product of “just hearing our grandfather talk about ‘the old country.’ “

Then, Dougherty says, “I’ve always wanted to cruise the glaciers in Alaska. That’s not as sexy as some of the other ones, but its still something I want to do.”

Finally, Dougherty says, “it’s a stupid thing, because it’s kid-related, but: I want to go to New Zealand. I want to take the kids there and see where they shot ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ “

So that one’s just for the kids? Dougherty laughs.

“That’s how I justify it, yeah,” he answers.

Read more from John Przybys at Contact him at and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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