This one's for you, "Anonymous". Sorry to leave you hanging, guys. (Yes, we are home in CO safe and sound.)
The city of sin apparently doesn't believe in wireless Internet. The La Quinta Inn in Salt Lake has it, but the Luxor in Vegas? Nada. I guess people are too busy gambling to need Internet. People might cheat in the casinos? Who knows.
So I left you last Thursday the 15th as we were about to drive to Vegas. We made it! Hurray! A few things to note along the way:
*The San Luis Reservoir area is GORGEOUS. SO green and the water looked so inviting. If ever you want somewhere different to camp or drive through, look into it, just off of CA 152.
*We kept seeing signs for Bakersfield. That looked familiar and it was bugging me, so I called Mom up to see if maybe that's where she was born. Nope, she was born in San Bernardino, but my Aunt Marilyn used to live in Bakersfield so that's probably where I know it from. Sweet.
*We drove through Bakersfield. Not too much to note, another city in a bland landscape from the interstate's perspective, at least. Er, excuse me, the "freeway". Everything is a "freeway" in California it seems... not a highway, not an interstate... a freeway.
*We stopped at the cutest little fruit stand/orange grove area just out of Bakersfield. We got AMAZING Medjool dates from there, I never knew dates could taste like candy. We ate them as desserts for the rest of the trip.
*I kept seeing signs for "Calico Ghost Town" along I-15, and it was on my road atlas too. I absolutely insisted to Jim that we MUST stop because I'd never been to a really real ghost town before. [Picture me at age 5: Oh PLEASE Daddy, can we? Oh please, Daddy, oh please??] We pulled up to the entrance of the "park" at 5:05 and apparently they close everything down at 5 but you can stay until sunset, so we got out of paying since nobody was there to take our money. I'm glad we didn't pay, though, because it was just a restored version of what the town used to look like. Still cool, but during the day I guess it's filled with shops and reminds me of Silver Dollar City. Psh. Anyway the cemetery was cool. Old silver mining town that died when the silver market crashed.
*I watched and Jim listened to Superman Returns as the sun set. Video iPods rock.
You can sense that Vegas is coming hours before you get there. First it's all of the billboards on the interstate, then it's the mini-Vegas town as soon as you enter Nevada (from both ways)... then you come over a hill, and there it is in all of its shining energy-wasting glory. I went just last year on a roadtrip with friends, but the last time Jim went it was for his sister's wedding and he wasn't 21 yet then, so we wanted him to be able to "fully" experience it.
We entered the city just as the last scraps of light were dwindling from the sky, and they were quickly replaced with the brilliant sparkle of the casino lights. After a murderous attempt (and success) at finding parking (thank goodness it was free), we walked the TEN MINUTES to get from the car to check-in. TEN. Walking very fast. So we check in, throw the bags we had on us in the room, walk the ten minutes back to the car, grab the rest of our bags, and walk the ten minutes back to the room. By this point we're hungry, tired, achy, and in bad need of a shower.
Step One: Take a shower. Aaaaah, much better. But now it's already 9pm and there's still that hunger issue to deal with.
Step Two: Find Mexican restaurant in Luxor. Have amazing burrito. Make note of the fried ice cream for later, but too stuffed for now.
Step Three: Ignore aches and fatigue, we only have two nights in Vegas. Jim pops his first emergency Red Bull of the entire trip.
At about 10:30pm, we were ready to hit the town with a targeted bed time of 1am. (It's Vegas, it's a requirement to stay up late.) We stayed within the bounds of the Luxor and Mandalay Bay since they are connected and we each spent about $10 on nickel video poker and black jack.
Why they make checkout time in Vegas 11am as the standard is beyond me. It's VEGAS. Nobody goes to bed until at least 1am, usually between 2am-5am. But, we were forced to drag ourselves out of bed at 9:30 anyway, pack everything into the car, and have a scattered breakfast of leftovers and cereal bars in the parking lot.
Let me take a time out here to tell you of my disappointment in the Luxor. For those that have never been to Vegas, it's the casino that's shaped like a big black shiny glass pyramid. When I came here last year, I thought it was THE COOLEST and vowed that I would stay at least one night there the next time I came so that I could ride the "inclinators". The inclinators are like elevators that go diagonally up the sides of the pyramids, but you have to have a room key or it won't let you in them. We managed to sneak our way on for a few floors the last time, but this time I was determined to go to the top since it would be legal with a room key.
Well, wouldn't you know it, our room was only on the fourth floor and we didn't even need to go up the inclinators to get to it. Apparently since our room wasn't accessible by inclinator, our key didn't work in it either. No view. No inclinator. No free wireless... just a $150 room (on a cheap night) that happened to have some fake hieroglyphs on the dresser. What a rip off. So mad. If we had stayed for Friday night too, it would have been $250 just for Friday night (Vegas on a Friday night is ridiculously expensive). I'm glad we didn't. They were rude to us at check-in, too. Psh.
Check in time for our cheaper room at "America's Best Value Inn" wasn't until 3pm, so we left the car where it was and spent the next 4 hours between MGM and New York New York. Rode the roller coaster at NYNY, which was fun except the seat didn't jive with my body and it smashed my head around a bit. Jim was fine, except he realized halfway through that technically he's not supposed to ride roller coasters due to the disc he herniated last year. Oops, we'd both forgotten. But he kept his core tight and he fit better in the seats so he was fine, and I massaged his back later to hopefully make the muscles feel better. Other than that, we mostly walked around. We also bought tickets for the 7:30 showing of Zumanity, a Cirque du Soleil show... a compromise. We couldn't afford to see "O", the best one with water. Maybe next time.
Jim started to get a little testy. I finally drug it out of him that he was disappointed that if you're not ready to spend a lot of money, all there is to do in Vegas is walk around. This is true, unfortunately. The roller coaster rides alone were $12 each. The next time we come back, it will probably only be because we are going specifically to see "O", which only shows in Vegas and does not tour. I was sad that he was disappointed, so we were in a bit of a sour mood for an hour or so. Part of that may have been the fatigue too.
Around 3 we headed back to the car and got ready for a 1 mile drive that was supposed to take 10 minutes. Well, we ended up missing a turn and caught in one-way traffic with no turn offs in construction that went way past where we needed to go. It took us an hour and we drove two miles to get somewhere a mile away. UUUUGGGGH.
But we checked in, and oh how glorious it was to have a parking spot four feet from the door of our room! We got our bags in the room in no time and promptly proceeded to take a nap before we had to get ready for our show. We woke up in much better moods. Just like 2 year olds. Haha.
Next time, I'm totally just staying in a cheap motel. They're nothing fancy, but I'm no snob. The rooms were outdated and had 10 layers of paint, sure, but the beds were clean, the A/C was working, the water was running, and we got our very own parking spot right in front of the door. Only $100 (cheap for Vegas) on a Friday night as opposed to $250+ everywhere else. And once we did get ready, it was only a 10 minute walk to New York New York where Zumanity was showing. Totally the way to go, in hindsight we should have just stayed there both nights. I'm not there for the hotel room, anyway.
Zumanity. It is marketed as "The sensual side of Cirque du Soleil" for "Guests of the age 18 or over". So you can guess at the content. Overall it wasn't bad, in fact it was funny... just not what I would call "Cirque du Soleil". It wasn't that I wished I hadn't gone, we enjoyed the show... but I feel no need to go back again and it won't be on the top of my recommendation list, let's put it that way. We should have seen Ka, another cirque show (I think there are around 5 in vegas), instead. Jim and I had already seen Mystere, O was too expensive, and Love sounds cheesey (a Beetle's themed Cirque show? Who knows how that would go...).
After the show was our much anticipated dinner out. We'd been making ourselves eat our roadtrip food from the grocery store all day (aside from some pretzel sticks from NYNY), so a sit-down meal after the show was just what the doctor ordered. The plan was to go to Paris and try to find a good French meal. Well, that place was too expensive (we were willing to spend a bit, but $45 a plate is too much for me my friends)... so we found a Provencial French dinner... which is mostly northern Italian. Close enough. It was delicious and there were live performers. We got a crepe suzette to go, and ate it at Caesar's Palace out on the benches after watching the Bellagio's water show.
We had done quite a bit of walking to get everywhere we had gone, and by the time we got back to the motel my feet were KILLING me. I don't recall them ever being in that much pain (must have been the shoes, dressing up and walking don't mix, how girls walk in heels is beyond me)... I was convinced that the entire pads of my feet must be bruised if that was even possible. It was to the point that I literally ran the last block because it hurt less to run than walk, go figure. Walking into that room with the blast of cool air was one of the most relieving feelings ever. And that was a "rough" time for me, we have it so good in this country.
We got up just in time for check out (wanted to be well rested for the last leg of the journey) and went to the nearby Coco's Bakery for breakfast. It's like an IHOP near as I can tell. The food was delicious and cheap, but apparently this is what makes them popular and all told took us another hour. But, I had promised Jim that we could have a real breakfast this day for once :)
Add that to losing an hour with the time change, and technically we didn't leave until 1pm mountain time. Fast forward 8 hours through the desert. Nothing exciting to note here... the drive between Vegas and Grand Junction is *almost* as boring as driving through Kansas. ALMOST. 9pm MST in Grand Junction, and I see a Chick-Fil-A sign. We had told ourselves we could get chicken (expecting a KFC) to add to road trip food for dinner since the last of our ham had spoiled. Well, they hid the chick-fil-a... and all told between getting gas, a quick 10 minute trip to Kohl's, and finding the chicken took another hour. Ugh, so our ETA changed from midnight to 1am. (The Kohl's run, for the curious, was for Martha's birthday. I had picked up a pretty fish necklace charm in China Town for her present, but needed a chain for it, so I found a good one there at not-california-or-vegas prices. Her b-day was technically the day we drove back but the party was the next day, Sunday, which I was to attend and didn't want to have to go shopping the morning of.)
The western slope portion of I-70 is one of the best stretches of mountain road I've seen... clearly marked with bordering-on-gorgeous rest areas. The eastern slope? Not so much! We struggled to find even a line, much like the western slope portion of I-80 that Jim hated on the way through California to Scott's.
We made it home at 1:30am, sorted the mail, loved the "neglected" children (dogs and bunny), unpacked a bit... and went to bed at 3am. I got up around 11 and left for Lulu's (Martha's) party at 1 (she turned 7!)... and Jim was still sleeping. Dad would be proud... I convinced Jake to play Simon Says with the girls! That's what every dad should do at his daughter's birthday party, right? I got back from the party, and Jim was napping. So I took a nap too. From 4 to 7. I got up and made dinner, at which point Jim was finally able to tell me that he wasn't feeling well. We pumped him full of liquids, chicken, airborne and cold meds and he was perky again within the hour. Did some cleaning since the dogs brought in half the yard with them while we were gone, took care of business stuff that piled up while we were gone, then attempted to get Jim to bed at a decent time to start his new job!
Jim got to his new job just fine and had a fairly normal yet uneventful first day. He seems pretty neutral about it at this point. I nannied today so I didn't get to see him much, but from what I can tell he likes it okay. I think we'll be able to tell more when there's less signing of papers and more actual job, so we'll let you know in a couple weeks. He has orientation tomorrow at the Denver Tech Center, so he went to bed extra early so he can get up at 5:45am, yech.
So anyway, not a very exciting "Big Ending", anonymous... I'm sorry :) We were a little late in posting due to exhaustion... and lack of enthusiasm. Hehe. Thanks for reading all, I'm still checking for comments and *maybe* we might get around to posting a few pictures one of these days. Hehe, you know us, but don't lose hope either!
Sarah and New Job Jimmy