Friday, July 20, 2012

Birthday Week 2012

Andy and I have birthdays three days apart which makes celebrating really fun. This year we wanted to get away so we chose to go to Las Vegas. We dropped Hazel off at the PetSmart PetsHotel and started the drive. It was pretty uneventful as Andy and I were tired, so we switched on and off with driving duty while the other slept. We did make a stop at this cool gas station in the desert with animatronic gold miners.

There was a button to push that brought these guys to life and spoke about the food available in the station in front of them. This place was a welcome break for something to drink along the journey. It was so hot out. The temperature on our car's gauge actually read 120 degrees at one point.

We had intended to reach our hotel and have time to swim before the pool closed for the day but we were running a bit behind and knew we wouldn't make it (pools at the hotel/casinos close around 6pm...if you are in the pool you aren't at their casino making them money, right?).  So we stopped at an outlet mall on the way in. Neither Andy or I are big shoppers, but we are big eaters, and I had seen a sign for Williams-Sonoma Outlet from the road and was curious to see if I could find some deals. Next, we stopped at a grocery store to get some snacks for the room.

With Sour Patch Kids and plenty of chocolate in hand, we were ready to check into Monte Carlo (we had fruit and yogurt, too, for quick breakfasts but that isn't nearly as exciting). We stayed there for three nights, then moved on to Encore for two. Each time we're in Vegas, we try to mix it up and stay at a couple places that we haven't been to before. And I also insist on revisiting every casino so I can retake pictures of the same places. I think it drives Andrew crazy but he goes along with it and I appreciate it him for that. How many pictures of the gondolas at the Venetian or the Bellagio fountain show does one need? I know one set should suffice, but that doesn't stop the impulse to want new pictures each time!

We made our way walking up and down the strip, in and out of most casinos. Andrew did just a little gambling. (Poker...and won second place. Not enough to retire on but it did pay for dinner!).

We also saw a couple shows. The first was Le Reve at the Wynn. It was amazing. We weren't able to take any of our own, but photos and a video can be seen here. We also saw Sarah Colonna's standup show (she's a regular at the roundtable on Chelsea Lately). She was hilarious and I'm looking forward to reading her book that was recently released.

La Reve image source.

We went to two exhibits. One was the DaVinci-The Genius at the Venetian. We had high hopes for this going into it. It ended up being an overpriced view for a room full of mini-replicas of his inventions based on his drawings. I did, however, think it was interesting to see what the Mona Lisa originally looked like before the aging of the photo removed her eyelashes and brows, but I guess I could have just Googled that. I was hoping to learn about his Last Supper painting, but there was no mention of it beyond a shaky one minute video with bad color and poor resolution projected on a sheet. For a man who was a genius inventor, engineer, and artist, I thought it was a little sad to create such a lame and sleep-inducing exhibit. 

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor was awesome! We knew we would be going to this so we actually re-watched James Cameron's Titanic before we left San Jose to get pumped for it. It was really an incredible experience. Upon entering, we were each given a boarding pass for an actual passenger. At the end, you find out if the person survived. There are replicas of the ship's rooms (one each of first and third class), a hallway outside the rooms, and also the grand staircase. There was a replica of the promenade deck on the boat and it made you feel as if you were outside, walking on it that fateful night. It gave me chills. There are tons of artifacts- luggage, dishes, perfume bottles (you can still smell their sent-not very pleasant but cool to smell it for yourself!), a champagne bottle that still has its contents, floor tiles, faucets, jewelry, etc... There were even clothing items and a miniature playing die that made me wonder how such delicate pieces could survive the harsh ocean water and also how such tiny pieces could be found in such massive wreckage. Seeing items that the passengers brought on board (especially the pocket watches that stopped within minitues of hitting the water) and reading their stories really made it feel so personal and all the more heartbreaking. 

Our boarding passes. My passenger was in first class and survived but lost both her husband and son.
Andrew's was a second class passenger and Catholic priest traveling to NY to preside over his brother's wedding.

Titanic "Big Piece" image source.

Titanic grand staircase replica image source.

There was a giant section of ice in the exhibit that is meant to be touched to experience just how cold the water was the night the Titanic sunk (the water was actually 28 degrees Fahrenheit). The end of the tour featured "The Big Piece," a 26 foot salvaged piece of Titanic's hull that is just breathtaking.

We spent a portion of one evening at Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. We determined this would probably be our last time there. We usually like seeing the light show, the bands, and the street performers but this time it was just too dirty and even a bit scary for our taste. The light show featuring Bon Jovi was pretty cool this time, though.

Pool time during this trip was limited. Most days were overcast. It ended up being a good thing, though, because the temperature really cooled down and allowed for much more enjoyable walking along the Strip. I was excited that the sun came out at the end of our trip and we did get to experience one day at the Wynn/Encore pool.

On the way home we wanted to stop at a couple places we passed on the way down. The first was Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave desert. It was a silver mining town founded in the 1880s but was abandoned by the turn of the century. A couple original structures remain but the rest of the buildings have been rebuilt.

Andrew's favorite part of Calico Ghost Town- the general store with old time candy.

We paid a quarter to see the miner's shuffle which was him vibrating for about 5 seconds.

The sign on the bottom tells of the old barber chair the mannequin is sitting on.
The sign on the top tells of the dental drill it is hanging from.
So I'm not sure what is happening between these two men but it looks creepy nonetheless.

The last stop we made was more for my enjoyment than Andrew's. I have really been digging raisins lately (weird, I know, but they seriously are delicious to me) so we stopped at the Raisin Capital of the World, Selma, CA. It really does have this nickname and is home to Sun-Maid Raisin world headquarters and the world's largest raisin processing plant. So I bought my fair share of raisins to keep my stomach tamed for awhile and also a quick picture with a giant box of raisins and we were back on the road!

Getting back into town, we were both really excited to pick up Hazel and get back home.

Hazel's report card. She did well!

Andy's birthday occurred over the stay in Vegas. Mine didn't actually happen until the day after we returned home. Andrew had already left for work before I came downstairs and saw what he had created in the dining room.

Those round things are wrapped watermelons. Because I've also been really into watermelon lately. My food cravings may be off the wall but California has me spoiled with its overabundance of fresh produce and I'm taking advantage of it! That evening we went to Great America. Andrew wore his party tee.

G.A. shirt with the Peanuts gang = good times

Then we went to Red Robin for dinner and stopped at Dave and Buster's for some Super Shot basketball and skee ball. It was a perfect ending to our birthday celebration.

When playing Super Shot, I just use my Stretch Armstrong arms to help me reach the basket.

I just looked these up on ebay and they are going for $200!
Stretch Armstrong image source.

No comments:

Post a Comment