Monday, January 30, 2012

Day Thirty - Las Vegas, Nevada

Friday was our thirtieth day on this trip. We're about one third through it. Ahh! I never want to go home. Road tripping suits us. Charlie is about as easy as dogs get, Bear and I are loving it, and we've had so many wonderful, welcoming people to infringe on!

I'm blogging from my computer, also known as the computer with no pictures. I'm sorry. Posts are so much more interesting with some visuals.

I'll give you a visual with words. I do have an English degree, after all! I'm sitting at Big Bear Mountain with a dellllicious Pacifico cerveza. I'm in a t-shirt and I'm toasty warm in the sunshine. There's a huge, snow covered mountain in front of me. My wonderful Mungovan cousins, their friends Carlyn (a.k.a. Uge Von Schaaman, The Helmet, The Scowl), Golden Domer, and Harper, and Barry are all skiing. I can watch them ski and blog at the same time!

Back to Friday.

Bear and I decided to head to a casino. We've frequented the Red Rock Casino because it's only a few minutes from Aunt Judy's house and it's lovely. We've been to the strip a few times but it's a lot more difficult to win money there. In the guidebook that Cousin Jen gave us for Christmas (seriously, the most useful gift ever), I saw an article about a casino that has a saltwater aquarium with mermaids! It's called the Silverton Casino and Lodge.

When we arrived at the Silverton, the first thing we saw was a mermaid! The aquarium is right inside the front door. It's especially cool because it's a cylinder. The mermaid was swimming around, doing flips, petting the stingrays, and posing for pictures.

We signed up for a rewards card with the Silverton. Here's a piece of advice: ALWAYS sign up for the rewards card at the casinos. They're free and they come with tons of perks. For example, just for signing up at the Silverton, we got a free buffet. It normally costs $25! Bear ate his weight in snow crab legs. Deja vu from last week? Well, that was king crab. Also, we got $10 in free slot play and I won $30. So, they paid us $30 to eat free buffet and drink about five free beers.

After killing the snow crab, we headed back to suburbia. Loving Vegas.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Days Twenty Five - Twenty Nine - Las Vegas, Nevada

I'm putting this week into one post because honestly, I haven't done much! We've gone to the casino, shopped, walked the dogs, watched movies, cooked, and played Scrabble. Honestly, I haven't been feeling that great. I think it was the last two weeks of drinking and eating unhealthy food a lot. Yesterday I ate three salads. My belly was hungry for nutrition. 

Aunt Judy and I got pedicures. I forgot how fantastic they are. In Ohio, getting your toes done costs at least $40. Maybe more like $50. It's usually about $20 out west. 

Barry went up to Mount Charleston on Wednesday and skied all day. He loves it.
Today is Friday, which means it's our last day in Vegas. We're not leaving until Sunday morning, but we're going skiing all day tomorrow. Or maybe just Bear is going. Whatever.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day Twenty Four - Las Vegas

My mom, dad, and sister left Sunday morning on a 9 am flight. I got up at 6:30 to take them to the airport with Aunt Judy. The next few hours are hazy because I was 70% asleep.

Bear and I went to the swap meet with Alex in the afternoon. It was really fun. Doesn't that guy in the security tower in the parking lot make you feel safe? Pshh. I thought he was a sniper. Hmm, maybe he was.

This guy also made me feel safe.

Here's a weird hybrid of recipe/advice.

If you cut up a fresh coconut and some jicama, put it in a cheap plastic bag, put hot sauce and lime juice in with it, and shake it up, your life will improve. I promise. It's so delicious! It helps if you're walking around a swap meet where no one speaks English. It's more fun to eat spicy things while standing near Hispanic people. Everyone knows that. It will be a mess, a really sloppy, stains everything it touches kind of mess, but don't use a fork. That cheapens it.

List of things we considered buying at the swap meet:
  • Yellow skis
  • The original Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario
  • A small case of orange gum for $3
  • Left handed golf clubs
  • The complete Star Trek Blu Ray set
  • Barbecued chicken
  • Snowshoes
  • A wet suit
Can you guess which ones we actually purchased?

There were three.

Bear bought a wet suit and orange gum and Alex bought Star Trek Blu Rays.

Here's a line of butts. There were lots of these. Bear seemed to like them.

Here's a shot I love. When you're driving down the street here, it looks like the mountains are very close. They're pretty far away, though. I like mountains.

After we came home from the swap meet, I just sat around googling things and blogging. I watched the middle third of Wedding Crashers on TV, got bored during the end, then watched the first third when they played it again immediately. Logical.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day Twenty Three - Las Vegas

Saturday was my mom, sister, and dad's last day in town! The girls hit up some thrift stores and had lunch with several family members, including my cousin Eric, who I hadn't seen in many years. We met Barry, my dad, and my cousin Alex at some crazy fried catfish restaurant called Hushpuppies for dinner. My Aunt Joyce and Uncle Alex have been going there since the 70's. Here's a (slightly strange) shot of the interior.

After dinner we went to the Suncoast Casino so I could feed my growing addiction to Bingo. I don't want to brag or anything, but I have glitter Bingo markers. My cousin Annie went with us, although Aunt Judy didn't want to play. She played the poker slots instead and the woman won another $400! Lady luck.

When we got home, I packed a bag of things I don't need (now that I'm out of the winter weather!) for my parents to take home with them. I was so tired but I really wanted to get rid of a few things. After I nearly died of fatigue compacting it into a tiny bag, the buggers left it here! I'm currently looking at it sitting in the hallway. Oy.

Like the last few days, Barry went to Red Rock hiking and he took hundreds of pictures. Maybe he'll post one or two.

Day Twenty Two - Las Vegas

Friday we went to a gigantic Mexican market for lunch. It was really fun! No one spoke English and I loved it. Avocados were 5/$1, which automatically makes it my mecca.

We also went shopping and my mom bought a really cute dress to wear to our wedding. It's adorable.

Friday night we went to Red Rock Casino and Aunt Judy hit a royal flush on the poker machine (that's over $1000, thankyouverymuch) and she gave us $$ to gamble with. I won another $30 playing Wizard of Oz, the most fun slot of them all. Glinda floats around and gives you bonus money.

Barry went to Hoover Dam and then to Mount Charleston, so maybe he'll write a post someday!

Day Twenty One - Las Vegas, Nevada

Thursday morning we woke up and checked out of the Monte Carlo. Then my mom, Kate, and I went to the Aveda Institute. My mom has a regular customer at Nagoya that happens to own it and he offered to buy her a facial. Kate and I went with her, expecting to pay, and he had he left instructions to pay for ours, too. We were also about to buy $16 lip stuff that he also paid for. I don't know you, sir, but I love you. Bear and my dad had dropped us off to go hiking so Aunt Judy came to pick us up. We went shopping and then I made chicken soup for dinner.

I don't have a single picture because Bear took the camera hiking. He'll have to come by later with a more interesting post.

Here's a picture from Tuesday. Bear cuts his own hair but sometimes he's not so good at it. I laughed so hard when I saw this, my stomach hurt for an hour.

It's difficult to tell in this picture, but there was lovely fringe all around the bottom.


Day Twenty - The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

Tuesday night we stayed at the Monte Carlo on the Strip. Wednesday morning we woke up and went to eat crepes at the Paris. Here's a picture of the Eiffel Tower out front. Doesn't it make you want to move to actual Paris?

Since I'm really normal, I took pictures of the bathroom sink. Cool, right?

Barry's homeskillet.

Here I am... in a casino. I don't know which one. There are so many! This is a Japanese restaurant that has fish tanks instead of walls. 

These are my favorite street performers. Performer might not be the right word. It's Mickey Mouse, drunk, holding a beer, laying on the ground next to a lot of trash. The best part is that there are many of these. Sometimes it's Minnie or Spongebob. I couldn't stop laughing at them.

Get ready for Winnie and Buck. This is a HILARIOUS statue in... Harrah's? I don't know. Somewhere.

Aren't they the cutest? I want to be them. Poodle and all.

[ Side note spurred by poodles ]

When we were driving through Utah, we saw a sign that said "Last Services - 30 miles." I thought they meant public restrooms or maybe something having to do with semi trucks. I don't know. I don't speak road lingo. I say to Bear, we're going to need gas soon. He says, I'll stop at the next place. Thirty miles later, there hadn't been a single place. There had only been two exits and neither one had a single building in sight. 

(Side note within a side note - I will not be moving to Utah.) 

An hour goes by and as I'm telling Bear that I'm hungry I see another sign that says "Last Services." Except this one says 130 miles! Obviously, if I plan to eat anything that isn't a jelly bean, we need to get something at THIS exit. We had to drive four or five miles to get to a grocery store. Almost everything in it was in Spanish and I had a truly horrifying moment thinking that perhaps we had made a wrong turn and we were in Mexico.

Off track. Returning to train of thought, which is waaaay over there somewhere.

I get out of the car at this grocery store and take Charlie out of the backseat. We walk around a little and we walk by a group of three women. It just occurred to me how strange it is that they were just sitting next to a grocery store. This isn't them but it's very similar.

They're all gabbing and when I walk by they stop and stare. I got a little scared.

Fast forward fifteen minutes.

I walk out of the store and one of the women says loudly, "Is you that woman with that animal?"

Huh? I was baffled. I looked behind me.

Then she says, "I don't think no poodle is worth a god damn. If it were up to me, I'd get rid of every last one of them." 

This was all pronounced, "I done think no poodle is worth uh gadayum. If it were upta me, idda get reed uh erry lass one uvem."

After I realized that she was talking to me, trying to tell me about her distaste for poodles, and that she thought Charlie was a poodle, it all made perfect sense.

Here's a poodle.

Here's Charlie.

Utah was weird.

Day Nineteen - Fremont Street, Las Vegas, Nevada

Day Nineteen is also Kate's 21st birthday! It's also last Tuesday.

Here's Kate having a margarita at lunch. I made her wear that dollar store super expensive tiara.

For some reason, there aren't any pictures of Fremont Street. That reason is probably free beer.


I'll give you an idea of what it is.

Fremont Street is the original downtown area of Las Vegas. It was here before the Strip ever existed. It's probably four miles from the strip. The casinos there are the Golden Nugget, the Four Queens, and some others.  There's a stretch of maybe four blocks that's totally blocked off from traffic so you can walk everywhere. There are tons of street performers. 

For example, several of these crazy fast spray paint artists were there. My favorite performers were on the Strip, though. I'll post a picture in the next post.

The craziest thing about Fremont Street is the video screen. You know how they have giant video screens in Times Square in New York? There's one on Fremont Street, too. Except it's four blocks long. It goes overhead and it feels like you're in a giant TV tunnel. Also, there's a zip line! It zooms all the way along the downtown area. 

Of course, I knew most of this before I got here because I watch The Sister Wives. You know, they had to move the Vegas to avoid arrest in Utah. I've been looking for them the entire time I've been here.

My Aunt Judy, who we're staying with in Vegas, had some free nights at the Four Queens. My parents stayed there for two nights and my sister, Bear, and I stayed at the Monte Carlo.

I'll be back with the next update soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day Eighteen - Las Vegas

On Monday, Barry, my dad, and cousin David went to Red Rock Park, which was free for the national holiday, my dad's birthday. Wait, maybe it was Martin Luther King Day. One of those.

Here they are hiking through Red Rock. (I was shopping. Is anyone surprised?)

For dinner, we went to the Bellagio. They had a huuuge buffet, which included king crab legs. Barry ate enough to look like this.

In the lobby, the had a giant sequined horse.

Duh. What else would there be in a lobby?

We saw the world's largest chocolate fountain. I literally drooled, while pretending to drool. 

At midnight, Kate turned 21 and we went out for a drink at the casino by Aunt Judy's house. Here's the only evidence that surfaced. Game on, Kate.

Day Seventeen - Zion National Park

Bear already did a quick post about Zion, but I thought I'd add more pictures since Bear took over 200. The man is out of picture taking control.

On the drive out of Vegas, the light on the skyline was gorgeous.

We stopped at our friend Tara's house in St. George, then all fifteen of us went to Zion. Barry, Kate, Mom, Dad, Aunt Judy, cousin David, cousin Annie, cousin Alex, Jackie, Tara, Chris, Jordyn, Macuyler, Camryn, and me.

We arrived in Zion National Park, which is about three hours from Vegas. My cousin David held this rock up so we could walk under it.

Here are Kate and Jordyn on the trail.

This is a view of the top of the canyon.

Here are some random people on the trail so you can sort of see how big the canyon is.

Some lovely shots by Barry.

How cool is that? There are so many different lanscapes, the sun sets all crazy-like.

There's a place in Zion called Cafe Soleil where we ate dinner. Delicious. Get on board.

Day Seventeen - Zion National Park

Sorry we've been too busy to post in the past couple days so I'll catch up here.

So we passed Zion on the way to Vegas then we backtracked once Phoebe's family arrived.  We arrived kind of late so the actual hikers in the group were only able to hit the beginning of the Narrows and Emerald Falls (organizing fifteen people from five different locations is difficult).  Still a great time and I strongly suggest checking it out if you have the means.

 I decided war paint was appropriate.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day Sixteen - Las Vegas

Bear and I arrived into Las Vegas Friday night around 5. We had dinner with Aunt Judy and Cousin David, then hit the Red Rock Casino. Bear and I walked away with about $100 more than when we started. They also gave us free drink the whole time. Vegas is legit.

On Saturday, Barry and David went hiking with the dogs while Aunt Judy and I went shopping. I bought a white ceramic elephant. I named him Uncle Elwin. I love him.

My parents and my sister flew in on Saturday night. Aunt Jud and I picked them up. We drove down the strip on the way home. I love being around all the people. My dad has never been here before and he was pretty intrigued. 

Sunday we went to Zion National Park. It's about 3 hours away, but with all the stops it took us five. (This is the point in the story where I could start saying horrible things about my mother and the rest of the family I was trapped in the car with, but I'm choosing to gloss over that.)

Barry loved the park and took 200 pictures. He'll be back later to post a few of the good ones.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day Fourteen or is it Fifteen?
I absolutely loved Colorado!  Even though the cold, elevation, and dry air finally got to me and made me ill I was still sorry to leave. Thanks to Errica, TJ, Harper, Ramada, Scotty, Derek, Nick, Kathryn, John, Ryan, Jimbo, Bob, Kara, Rita, other John, Amy, Jose Grande, and Hurley for making our time in Colorado nothing short of amazing!  All good things must come to an end though and a little warm weather won't hurt.  Wish we could have spent some time in Utah the entire drive through it was breathtaking and the 20 minutes in Arizona weren't bad either.  Now we're in Vegas where I'm already up about $100 and falling.  Wish me luck, pics to follow. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day Fourteen - Leadville, Colorado

This morning, we woke up to Charlie whining to go out. Oh, wait, that's every morning. Anyway, Bear was outside with him for maybe thirty seconds. When he came inside, he looked mostly frozen. I started sobbing uncontrollably and refused to to get out of bed for several hours.

Well, not really. But close.

Kara had to work until noon. When she got home, we left for Leadville. It's about an hour south and Kara said it was really cute. We got there, walked around to a lot of the little shops and again only purchased things from the thrift shop! Of course, Leadville is nothing like Aspen, we could have afforded things in the actual shops there :).

On the way there, we passed this abandoned mine town. Eerie, right?

Here are a few shots of Leadville.

Tonight is our last night in Colorado. We're heading to Kara's now to cook dinner with her and her roommates. Barry is super excited because Kara got him some elk steaks. 

I really like Colorado but I'm so ready to head to a warmer climate. I am what I am.

Imagine me yelling, LATER, JERK!! at the snow as we drive away tomorrow. I'm pumped.