Steph's birthday is this Wednesday. She and Joan talked about some kind of a short get-away to celebrate. Las Vegas was the decision. Steph and Dan have a favorite place to stay and a restaurant they particularly enjoy.
The cats can be "self-tending" with an automatic feeder; we were off early yesterday morning, by car. It is "desert pretty" between Phoenix and Las Vegas... meaning: there isn't a lot of civilization, not a ton of greenery, but the landscape can be dramatic...
The drive started out with lively chatter, but got quiet along the way...
Well, it was an early morning. ;-) We stopped in Wikieup for snacks and a pottie break - didn't take Steph and Dan long to get into trouble...
Yeah, that is pretty touristy.
We rolled into Las Vegas shortly after noon. Steph and Dan's favorite place to stay is Paris... not the city in France, the casino/hotel on the strip. We were there too early for check-in, so we picked up tickets for the shows were were going to see that night. Shows, as in plural: we planned for dinner with the 4 of us, then each couple off to see what they wanted to see.
We walked up and down the Strip. It is a bit of an optical illusion trying to judge distances between the HUGE casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard... I felt like I walked my feet almost to the bone.
After checking in...
Back at our rooms, we got to rest our feet, then cleaned up and headed out for supper. Steph and Dan's favorite restaurant here is Texas de Brazil...
They had described it to us, but you have to partake of the "de Brazil" type of dining to appreciate it... it might as well have been called "MeatFest"... after you go through the very extensive salad bar, you flip over a round red/green disk by your place setting. On the green setting, the many meat-servers flock around your table. Not like that is a bad thing, they bring all different kinds of meat on a giant skewer, and carve you off a piece. All different types of cooked beef, pork, lamb, and chicken... have them slice off as much or as little as you want. It is not an inexpensive dining treat, so I felt like I should try them all. It wasn't long before my plate was covered with tasty meat servings. Flip the disk back to red, and the servers move on to other tables. Flip it back to green, and they are right there. The service was outstanding, the meats were savory. It is a unique dining experience, and we could see why Steph and Dan enjoy this place.
Back out to the Strip, and we dropped Steph and Dan off at Treasure Island for the show they wanted to see, a Cirque du Soleil production, Mystere'. We headed to New York, New York for a more adult Cicque production, Zumanity. We did some gaming while we were waiting for our seating at the show... Joan had good fortune with Blackjack, I came out ahead with Poker... it was already a good start to the evening!
The performers at Zumanity were amazing: sensual and all the acrobatic athleticism you expect with Cirque du Soleil. Some comedy, lots of music, breath-taking staging. A fun night out on the Vegas Strip...
I expected the crowds to be a little slack on a Monday night in March... I would be wrong - everywhere we went was packed. There was a NASCAR event in Vegas over the weekend - we heard it brought in over 120,000 people and put around 143 million dollars into the local economy. Vegas felt it when the economy tanked, but it appears that Vegas is back, baby!
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Photography. What were you thinking?
While Steph and Dan were here yesterday, Dan needed a PR image for his soon to be released graphic arts website. We took a short walk to one of the buildings here in the resort to find some good light and backgrounds.
Today, when we took the scoots to visit Steph and Dan, we downloaded the images on Dan's computer. Steph gushed over all of them, and they quickly picked two images. I took a few minutes to do a little retouching on each, and Dan has already uploaded them to his website designer. Fast and efficient.
Artsy, friendly, trustworthy - they were asking for a lot. ;-)
No, I don't do photography for hire anymore... except when my little girl says, "Dad, will you..." And then, the answer is always, "Of course."
While at Steph's, Joan used her sewing machine to "fine tune" the pillow I got at the Home Show - she took out enough memory foam stuffing to make another pillow.
Dan picked up a couple take & bake pizzas while I worked up the images. Joan popped 'em in the oven... tasty; I was in the mood for pizza.
When we were ready to leave, Joan packed her bike with the left over foam and all the other stuff she brought. I had the revamped pillow and my camera in my bike. Then, Steph came out with a baggie with our left over pizza... "Not enough room in my bike." "No room in mine, either." Joan opened up the little dash cubbie... I said, "I don't think that's going to fit..." They proved me wrong...
Beautiful day for some scooting!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Today, I was feeling sassy. Well, more like: SASsy. I have wide feet. Some would say fat feet. I prefer what I was told once while on Maui: Hawaiian feet. Call 'em what you want, but for most shoe styles, I would be more comfortable in the boxes instead of the shoes. Some shoe manufacturers offer a few styles in extra wide widths, but they aren't generally anything you'd want to wear.
I used to do good with a shoe by Sperry/New Balance - a sneaker looking boat shoe; extra wide width, comfortable, and well-made. Like many manufacturers, looking to maximize profit, they start to cut corners... succeeding purchases of that same model went from well-made to OK-made... to feeling like cardboard and wearing about as well.
Last year, Joan suggested I try SAS. I had preconceived ideas about SAS: worn by old guys who seem to prefer velcro® instead of laces. I thought these were cheap shoes that you would find in an outlet mall. I was way off base. SAS is San Antonio Shoemakers; they are handcrafted of nice leather (glove soft). The price isn't cheap, but buy a pair and they spoil you for other brands. And, they offer men's sized from narrow to medium to wide to WW (weally wide?). I am a WW.
I looked for some shoes while Joan was shopping at the mall yesterday. Most places, the salesperson just stared at my feet when I asked if they had any shoes in extra wide widths... then said, "No." I don't think my feet look freakishly wide when I look down at them. I tried on a few shoes, but Joan said, "Don't frustrate yourself, let's find an SAS store."
Well, today, we had lunch with Steph and Dan; they came up to our place and we went to a place recommended by a waitress at another place we ate a couple weeks ago: Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill... the food was good!
Steph joined us afterwards (Dan had errands to attend to) on our trip to an SAS Store. Joan had looked up sneaks and sandals from SAS, and had my hopes up. Yes, the store had exactly what I was looking for. Classic, not particularly hip, but not too old-manish (technical term for guys of a certain age... like myself). Yep, sensible shoes. No matter - I have comfortable footwear!
Steph found a pair she liked. Joan found a nice leather purse (something they just started handling... "You are the first one to buy a purse here!" That's it? No celebration? No first-purse-buying-customer-gets-one-free! sale??). No one left empty-handed (my usual state when shopping elsewhere for shoes).
Steph's birthday is next week - I am told there will be some walking.
Rock 'n Roll!
We got home and settled in for the evening. While taking Izzy for a walk, I heard music... live music... 60s and 70s rock 'n roll music. I walked to where the sound was coming from, a large grassy area north of the swimming pool. Yep, a rock band was playing. People were dancing. Sitting in lawn chairs. Soaring beach balls around the crowd.
It looked like a typical rock concert, except everyone in the crowd is of the "active adult lifestyle" age. ;-)
The Big Zephyr Band was playing...
I have reached an interesting point in my life: my music tastes are now part of the "active adult lifestyle." When we first started RVing, we got turned away from 55+ parks... not old enough. These days, there is no questioning us about our age (well, my age); and my music tastes were always "too young" for most of the folks as we RVed our way around in the winter. Not any more.
My people! ;-)
Friday, March 7, 2014
No, I won't be growing any vegetables. You may know my motto: "Eat vegetables indirectly - let the cow eat the green stuff, then eat the cow."
The Annual Home & Garden Show is in bloom at the stadium. After breakfast out, we were on our way...
There was a geezer discount for Friday morning, and it was apparent from the crowd that we weren't the only ones taking advantage of that. Even more booths than the Sports Show we attended a while back. Lots of booths for servicing air conditioning (good business in the desert), hot tub sales, patio supplies, greenhouse products (some BIG palm trees in there), awnings and sun screens, cookware, all kinds of decor, security systems, etc, etc. The booths are set up on the floor of the stadium - you can see stadium seating in the background...
Lots of booths had some kind of come-on to get you to visit: "We're giving away free stuff here!" or "Come spin the wheel to see what you can win - no obligation!"...
I think Joan was warming up for some Vegas gambling. ;-)
I was very impressed with this display of art work...
Beautiful high-gloss laquer and unique framing/mounting.
One booth was doing teeth-whitening right there are the show... 'cause when you think "Home Show," you think "Hey, I should get my teeth whitened while the crowd watches." Or not.
I was on the hunt for the pillows I saw at the Sports Show... 3 booths selling them here. Joan encouraged me to get one of those hoses that squishes all up for storage - the guy selling those gave us a good demonstration as to why the kind he is selling is so much better than the green ones you see advertised on TV.
Need to clean up cat hair? Buy the lint-roller at the "special" price and we'll throw in the $30 handle with a bigger roller and a smaller roller for free! Seriously, how could you pass that up? The guy said you can even use the roller directly on the cat... pretty sure Izzy isn't going to be good with that premise. ;-)
If you were going to be redecorating, there were all kinds of cabinet refinishing places and some very nice coordinated decor for tiles and backsplashes...
Since this was the first day of the show, the vendors were pumped up... it was very easy to say, "No thanks, we don't live here," to all the offers being hawked.
As we left, it seemed that we had more packages than other people who live here...
Just doing our part to help the local economy.
From there, we were off to the nearby mall. It is apparent that the economy is on the upswing - besides the crowds at the Home & Garden Show, the mall was plenty busy... and lots of people carrying packages.
Retail therapy... you can't do this kind of stuff on our little island. ;-)
Thursday, March 6, 2014
It happens. You think you have everything rolling smoothly, and then... a dumbass attack.
Nothing scheduled for the day, we decided to find some new city roads that we haven't covered on the scooters. I suggested heading east and just seeing where the road takes us. With that agreed, I went out to the trailer to get the scoots ready...
I saw it right away: the key on my scoot was turned... as in: on. Yep - dead battery. I checked Joan's bike - it was fine. I'm the one who puts 'em away and gets them out; can't believe I wouldn't see the headlight glowing in the trailer, but here we are.
We have a battery charger in our storage area; Joan got it out while I opened up the battery compartment under the seat of the scooter. This charger doesn't have a "start" setting on it - 10 amps is the best you get. I left the charger on it for a half hour and tried the key - the bike fired right up.
The best way to charge the battery: ride the scoot and let the alternator do what it does. We put on helmets and headed east. Well, when I put on the helmet, it pulled my glassed down off my ears... I started over. Something didn't feel right, but I got the helmet on and we rolled.
Less than an hour into the ride, I started to develop a headache - I could fee the helmet pressing against the top of my forehead. I mentioned it to Joan and she said, "Your glasses are sitting odd on your face."
We continued our ride, then made a plan for a lunch stop... a Mexican place that Steph and Dan had introduced us to last month...
My motto: live to ride, ride to eat. When I took my helmet off, Joan said, "You have a huge crease on your forehead." I felt up there... sure enough, you could put a pencil in the crease. I knew something didn't feel right with my helmet. I checked the liner in the helmet, and everything seemed fine. We went in for lunch, my head felt better, and I didn't give it any thought.
After lunch, back to the bikes. When I pulled the helmet on, I left my sunglasses off... the liner in the helmet wasn't touching the place with the crease. I figured out what was going on: I had the helmet sitting further back, trying to not mash my ears with the glasses and the helmet.
On the bright side, the bike fired right up after lunch. Joan suggested, "Let's ride northwest 'till we come to 303, take the long way home, keep the speed up, and let your battery get a good charge."
"Sounds like a plan."
In places, the speed limit on the 303 Loop is 65 mph. The GPS matched up to the speedometer right up to 65. The helmet was feeling comfortable again. It was a nice ride - not a ton of traffic, we covered a good portion of the north side of Phoenix. High thin clouds today, but the temp was still in the lower 80s... nice riding conditions. One other thing I discovered about the GPS: exceed the speed limit by up to 5 mph, and the speed readout turns yellow; above 5 mph over, it turns red.
When we got home, I took the helmet off and could still feel the creases... an hour and a half later...
No, not the ones caused by age on my lower forehead, the indentation at the top of my forehead. The headache was gone, but the crease was still there as a reminder: helmet first, then sunglasses.
I took Izzy for a walk. She got a little miffed when she heard some people walking by say, "Look - a cat on a leash. That is just ridiculous." I told Iz to ignore that woman... she is obviously a dumbass. ;-)
One observation today: we drove by a place called Central Latino Tax Service. It was in an area that appeared to be mostly Hispanic. Nothing new for us, since the county we live in at home is about 85% Hispanic. I just thought the name of the tax place seemed a bit exclusive. If someone opened a tax service where we are staying and called it "Old White Guys Tax Service," I'm guessing someone would object to that. Maybe for "old", maybe for "white", maybe for "guys"? ;-)
Oh, and I double checked the bike when I put it away - nothing left on.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
We haven't seen our kid and Dan since the game last Friday. They had stuff going on Saturday, then Joan came down with a lousy head cold (didn't want anyone to catch what she has)... so, we didn't do anything with Steph and Dan... until this evening. Supper out with 'em. It makes me miss the fact that we aren't closer to where they live. But, it was fun to visit with them this evening.
They have two more days before their spring break. No doubt, the kids are ready for some time off... too.