Saturday, October 3, 2009


There is no way the hotel pool is heated to 87! I’d be surprised it if was even 70. Definitely wetsuit legal...and I almost wish I had mine on. I only swam for 5-10min before calling it good. I had enough over stuff to get done before leaving anyway. Wes was all set to use the hot tub, but the hotel didn’t have one. I thought all hotels did!?!?!

The coffee pot did well with the veggie burgers. Next time we’re in this situation, I’m packing the cast iron pan (the small one) and the camping heating device thing. Wonder if it would set off the fire alarm. I wouldn’t be against setting up a campsite in the parking lot :)

We checked out with plenty of time to spare to play one final round of Bingo. This time we made sure to have tip money. I got two coffee and baileys. Wes had a tequila sunrise and a bloody mary. Good drinking for morning! We didn’t win anything, but were closer then the night before.

I thought we would have plenty of time to get to the airport. And we would have if we had gone straight to the car rental return. Unfortunately where we thought it was and where it actually was were two different places. The road signs are horrible in vegas! After a full lap around the airport which seemed to take FOREVER, we made it to the car return at 2:50. Flight leaves 3:50! If you’ve been to vegas you know it’s not a quick turnaround. Shuttle to the airport, wait in line to check in (thankfully no line for us), stand in line for security, then another shuttle to the gate.

The check in lady gave us a look that I thought meant we were not going to make the flight. They only have one a day, so we’d be stuck for another full day. But we just got a lecture and told to hurry. We checked one large bag and the bike box. Wes put the bike box on the scale, and it came in under 50lbs. I’m pretty sure it was due to the container not fully fitting on the scale, but I wasn’t about to try and adjust it. I put the suitcase up and it weighed in at 54 pounds. I took a few things out and placed them in our carry one and we were good.

We hurried to the security line and waited, and waited, and waited. Being the pain in the ass traveler that I am, I was pulled aside. My cooler had ice in a baggie which was considered liquid, so it was taken. I found out that they also consider peanut butter and almond butter liquids, so they were confiscated as well. I asked if I spread the peanut butter on my bagel if I could take it on. She said I would have to go back through security with my sandwich if I did that. Due to our lack of time, I gave in and let her take my peanut butter away. Next time I’m checking it! I also had “ice cube” things that were little packets filled with water. Each one was about 1 inch x 1 inch. Since they were all individual I thought it’d be okay. They made it through Cedar Rapids just fine. She said she could ask someone else to make sure it wasn’t allowed, but again, we were in a hurry so I let her have them. Damn!

My tri bag had the coffee maker shoved in it. It barely made it through the scanning device, but it made it all the way home safely.

We ran to the tram and finally arrived at our gate. They hadn’t even started loading the plane. Plenty of time to use the restroom, and still stand in line to get on. Mark (Cindy’s husband) had arranged our seats back, which was awesome! The plane ride was uneventful. I played Euchre on Wes’ iPhone pretty much the entire flight.

Back in Cedar Rapids it was freezing outside! Glad we missed crappy weather instead of good stuff. I waited for our luggage and thought I’d have to go to a special pickup area for my bike, but nope. It was on the carousel. The box was partially open, so I thought something had happened. When we got home I discovered that it had been inspected. They must have taken the bike frame out because the tie downs were untied and my handle bars were upside down. It looks to be all ok, but I won’t know until I ride it.

In all, it was a great trip. We got to see and meet great people and friends. I’m ready for my next vacation!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Slept in until 8am again! Yeah! Making breakfast was interesting. After the coffee was done, I SLOWLY cooked the eggs. They finally did get cooked, but I had to do one at a time and it took about an hour total. It worked, but I wouldn’t recommend it for feeding many people. Next time we’re bringing the Jetboil and buying fuel. Although I’d guess that open fires at hotels are frowned upon.

Our first stop of the day was the Fashion Mall where Lullu is. They also had an Apple store there, so it wasn’t difficult to get Wes there. I didn’t end up purchasing anything, but we did get some fancy chocolates at a chocolate shop. For lunch, we ate at Ra. A sushi place, but neither of us had sushi. Wes had eel over rice and I had the teriyaki salmon bento box.

Next we drove to the free parking ramp near the Flamingo hotel. My new favorite shopping center on the strip is at Caesar’s. They have a Vogue Chocolate Boutique and a Georg Jensen store! We also stopped at the conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel. It was Halloween themed with several large pumpkins. I wondered how they compared to Melanie’s pumpkins this year.

We continued south along the strip all the way to Mandalay Bay. I still can’t remember why I wanted to go there. Starting today is the Tattoo convention, so we did get to see some interesting body artwork.

Back up the strip we made stops at the M&M store, Sin City Brewery (beer wasn’t all that good), Sur La Table, and a few other random stores. The M&M store had a few types that I’ve never seen before, so we got some. A Coconut M&M and Strawberry & Peanut Butter version. The coconut was pretty good, and we haven’t had the other one yet. It sounds odd.

Dinner was at Sweet Tomato’s. Wes’ uncle had recommended it. It’s great for vegetarians, but it was very difficult to get any non-cheese or bean protein. It was a buffet and I was hungry, so I really didn’t care.

Back at the hotel we did a bit of gambling and bingo. Checkout is 1pm today, but we don’t need to leave for the airport until 2, so we’re playing bingo again at 1! I think it’s a bit more fun then Wes does. It’s a pretty cheap way to spend an hour.

I like to play with the dauber :)

Wes likes the free's never too early!

Plan for lunch is to finish up our veggie burgers. One last use for the coffee pot burner before packing it up. It did come in handy, but I have a feeling that most people reading this blog think I’m a bit nuts.

My body is not used to all the walking and standing we did yesterday. I had hopped to run this morning, but my hips are a little sore. I almost brought my garmin with me to see just how far we walked. I might take a dip in the pool, but doing nothing sounds good, too. Back to the grind tomorrow… I’m glad I have 2 days off before returning to work.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Internet Outage Delay :(

Up at 7am yet again yesterday morning. We finally decided on the day’s agenda. Kayaking, snorkeling, then spending the night in Palm Springs. The last kayak/snorkeling tour was at 1:30pm, so we picked that one. It was nice to be lazy during the morning with Molly and have lunch before leaving for La Jolla.

We almost had a person kayak tour, but right at 1:30pm another couple stopped by the shop and signed up. They are from Texas and seemed annoying, but ended up being pretty cool. Usually the tour includes going into one of the caves, but the tides weren’t cooperating, so we couldn’t go in. We later found out the area is under a Tsunami watch. The water was pretty clear, so we were able to see a lot of fish, a stingray, and sharks.

Mark had offered to let us stay another night at their place, but we wanted to get a bit closer to Joshua Tree so the drive wouldn’t be as long this morning. When I checked into our hotel in Palm Springs they desk guy said the internet was out in the surrounding 5 counties. Wonder what was up with that. I didn’t even try to hook into the internet to blog. Is anyone even reading this anyway?

A few cities down was a brewery and BBQ joint. The beer wasn’t all that god and the food lacked, too. But I still managed to eat too much! My stomach was a bit queasy from the earlier activities, and the beer/overeating wasn’t helping with my nausea. And we thought it would be a good idea to check out the hot tub. My tummy really hated me after that. I feel asleep as soon as I hit the bed.

We were finally able to sleep in this morning! At 8am, I took a brief swim in the hotel pool. It was probably 10-15 yard across, so I didn’t swim in circles for too long. The temps were pretty cool out, so I was very tempted to go for a run instead. The area seemed safe, but I opted to be lazy.

By 10am we left for Joshua Tree. We drove in the northwest entrance, dropped down to Key View, then out the northeast entrance. It was cool to visit, but we were only there for just over an hour. At Key View we were able to see Palm Springs. I think it’s the highest point in the park and it was WINDY! All of the wind turbines in the area should have tipped us off. There had to be at least a thousand of them!

After checking the time and distance left to the Mitchell Caverns, we knew we couldn’t make it to the 1:30 tour, and you can only view the caverns in a tour, so we had lunch in Twentynine Palms.

The options to Las Vegas were through Mojave or around it. Might as well go through. We only made one stop, which was the visitor center in the middle. It probably took about as much time to go through as around. I drove 70mph most of the way and there was hardly any traffic. I had to pass a car once and only saw about a dozen total. There was almost an accident with a couple road runners. It was about the only wildlife we saw, and it would have been bad to have killed it.

There’s not much to see in Mojave. A section of sand dunes and more Joshua trees. I drove and Wes was the navigator. We work much better the other way around, but we did get to where we wanted to go…just a bit longer then needed.

We’re staying at the Sunset Station in Henderson. I thought it’d be better to be off-strip, but there’s really not much to do around here. Last time we stayed elsewhere we were near Lake Mead which is really cool, but really expensive.

Across the street is the Galleria Mall. The hotel guy said it’s the second largest mall in the Las Vegas area, but almost all of the stores we have in Iowa. Not so fun. I looked up REI and it was close, so we went there. It ended up being in a pedmall shopping area that we had been to last April. A Whole Foods was also there! Yeah! Did a bit of shopping, then ate there. Wes said he wasn’t very hungry, but still managed to eat 2 pounds of food from the buffet! He’s been eating crap all day. I don’t understand how he doesn’t put on weight! Not fair! I also needed to get some honey roasted peanut butter. The rest of my first batch I left for Mark to share the goodness. I also want to take some back to Iowa with me…if it lasts that long. It’s soooo good!

The hotel doesn’t have a coffee maker and there is no microwave to use. My idea was to buy a coffee maker and an oven-proof container for breakfast making tomorrow morning. After brewing the coffee I hope to use the coffee-burner thing to cook the eggs in the oven-proof bowl. Wes needed a coffee maker for work, and we have room for it to carry-on, so it’ll get use after today, too. One of my vacation pet peeves is paying a lot for toast and eggs. I’ll pay a lot for lunch and dinner, but breakfast isn’t worth it!

There is a bowling alley in the hotel and tonight is $1 games, so why not? I suck! It’s been years since I have played and it’s rare that I break 100. Tonight was no exception, but I had fun anyway.

Hopefully tomorrow’s weather will be warmer. The pool is closed due to the “cold”.

Tomorrow we’re going to Lulu!!!