Monday, November 9, 2009

Trip to Las Vegas; November 1-4, 2009

So in conjunction with training for a new business venture, we had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas. There are really no words to describe this place. I thought it was cool when I saw the "strip" from the tarmac of the airport one time. Nothing can compare to seeing it up close.

This sign has been around for eons (or should I say neons!!) It was probably right on the road originally. Now it's in the median of a big highway. They have an exit for you to get off on (LEAVING town, I might add) in the middle of Las Vegas Blvd.
This is where we stayed. Not just your average hotel. Kristina & Dion have a resort membership which they took advantage of here. We had a 2-bedroom suite which was very comfortable. We never did get into any of the pools.
On our first evening we drove down the boulevard just to look. Phil and I were snapping pictures out both sides of the car. We were able to go inside a lot of the places on Monday night after our training. This is Excalibur Castle. We never did go inside but it was so darn cute. At night it's lit up like crazy (but then what isn't in this town?)
This is New York, New York. The place is created to look like the skyline of New York. It even has a Statue of Liberty. Coney Island is also represented both inside and out. Check out the roller coaster that goes around the place. Kristina and Dion actually rode that thing - right after we had dinner!
They even have a Brooklyn Bridge you can walk on as the sidewalk.

As you can see after driving down the road in the daylight, we also went back the next night and walked the boulevard after dark.

This is a HUGE golden lion outside MGM Grand. Check out the little pedestrian below for size. The size of everything is what really gets to you. Kristina said she now had a visualization for a word one of her students uses: "ginormous". I could not think of a word until Kristina said "opulent". That was a good word too.
Here is a 4-story place where you can find ANYTHING with the M&M logo on it. There was the cutest chess set made from M&M figures for only $195 or brass characters in a band for over $1200. You could even buy M&M's in any flavor imaginable for $12.95/lb.

Here's a wall with the M&M's through the years. Are you old enough to remember them all? I know I am.
This is a 70 million dollar LED cover over a street in another part of town - further from the big casinos. A passer-by said "welcome to little Mexico". They were broadcasting a concert down the street in preparation for the Latin Grammy Award Show coming soon. This was a scarier part of town than the regular boulevard!
We were able to run out to see the Las Vegas Temple. As you drive up the road it looks like a castle on the hill (which there aren't many of - hills I mean). The only reason we got onto the grounds was because a fireside was going on next door and this was for overflow parking. We would have gotten closer perhaps if security hadn't told us to move on. You can see the Las Vegas Blvd from here as well.
This was the headquarters where our training took place. We had no idea how many would be here for training. When we walked in the door we discovered we were the whole class. We got very one-on-one training. It was really interesting and very informative.
They even spelled our names right!

After class on Monday (about 3 pm) we headed out to see the sites.

This is the Stratosphere. 1,149 ft tall. Yes they got me to the top but in no way was I doing ANY of the rides up there!!! There are 2 rides that go out over the edge, of course and one that goes up & down the tower on top. Next year they plan to put a bungee jump on the thing!!! The view is spectacular and the elevator went up faster than the 4-story one in our resort. Planes don't even come down that fast either! Ooooh my ears!!!

Every place not only has their own casino but they generally have shopping malls as well. Yes this is inside but it's made to look like you're outside!

You can go around the world on one street. Here's a half-size Eiffel Tower. Also represented are Rome, Venice, Egypt, southeast Asia and the south Pacific. There are full-size pirate ships and huge statutes and waterfalls everywhere.

There was a conservatory inside the Bellagio that gets redecorated every 6 weeks or so. It had a fall theme of course including this talking tree. There were venous flytraps that worked as well.

The concierge in the resort told us to be sure to see the 2-story chocolate fountain at the back of the Bellagio. We hunted and hunted and suddenly found ourselves standing in front of this thing. It's behind glass. It was kind of neat but after seeing the size of everything else on the street it was not what we were expecting.

By far, one of the best things to see are the fountains in front of the Bellagio. Every night they dance to the music each 15 minutes. We saw several showings.
It was just plain elegant and gorgeous.

Kristina had to fly home a day ahead of the rest of us. She missed this volcano show in front of the Mirage. During the day this is a lovely waterfall in a lagoon. At night it turns into a raging, fire-spouting volcano complete with drums beating till the ground shakes. Spouts of fire come up all around the bottom of this thing in time to the beat.
This is the Luxor. A black pyramid that shines a spotlight into the sky at night. The lights along the edge run up and down. This Sphinx head is the roof over the front entryway. We came through the back taking pictures all throughout (like all the other places). When I took a flash of the hieroglyphics on the doorway, security told me I couldn't take picture inside, only outside! The only time we were stopped. The place is hollow inside. Each floor has a roof from the floor above but also a grand view of the whole inside.

This is an unbelievable, unreal place. Truly another world with some serious money floating around the place. All in all we had a great time and certainly enjoyed the sunny, warm days. Now it's on to the next big adventure: opening the store


Okay, so I don't like Halloween very much. Just one of those things. But what I do like about it is all the cute grandkids in their costumes. And it's always a treat when they come to our house to show them off.

These are Becky's girls. Grace, the witch; Kaylee, Sleeping Beauty; Aubrey as Snow White. Becky made the costumes for Grace & Kaylee and the cape for Aubrey. They were posing on the treehouse stairs.

This is a fairy belonging to Mandie. Her name is Lorien (and she wouldn't put down the binkie!)

This is Hayden. He loves swords and the like. Sorry I can never remember what the name of the character is but his companion is a fairy in a bottle (imagine trying to get Lorien into a bottle!). Mandie made both of these costumes.

This is Anna in a gorgeous oriental outfit.

Ethan is a Jedi Knight, I believe.
He likes my molasses cookies.

And, of course, Jayden is Harry Potter in a Quiditch outfit. I see he likes my molasses cookies as well!

As for Jeff's kids, these cuties came via the internet!

Noah makes a cute dalmation puppy.

Mitchell in a Thomas the Train outfit.

Larissa makes a splendid pioneer. Her mom made the outfit after they bought the bonnet on their cross-country trip earlier this year.

Last year Jesse went as a chef so it only makes sense that he be the food this year! He loves making pancakes and this is brilliant - thanks to his mom.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zoo Trip - September 11, 2009

So with all the big kids in school, Mandie and I went to the zoo for the member preview of their Predators of the Serengeti. A million other people had the same idea. We had to park in "outer limits" and the place was a "zoo"!!!

We went early but it got hot very quickly. Here
Hayden checks out a turtle.

These are the statues at the opening of their new exhibit. The lions haven't been around for awhile. Hayden feels the teeth on the male while....

...Lorien takes a ride on the female, then sits with the baby lion.

Some of the exhibit wasn't finished and a few animals hadn't arrived yet. Of course, the whole thing was supposed to open in July so they are way behind schedule. The cheetah and the wild dogs were very visible.

Hayden gets a hug from the only lion we saw. The real ones were hiding in the shade, no where to be seen. We'll have to go again when it's cooler - and don't have to park so far away.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 2009

Okay, so I'm a little slow. But it took me forever to sort through all the camping pictures deciding which to include here. These are just a FEW of them (as if I had to tell you!).We went to Lower Falls for Labor Day weekend. It's always interesting comparing pictures of these falls at different times of the year. In July it was MUCH fuller which is unusual even then except for the heavy snowpack we had this year.

Did I mention there was rain in the forecast? We come prepared and have a good time anyway. In this picture is Jeff, Jon's parents, Mandie & Jon, Aubrey. Phil with his back to us and a little snack thief, Mitchell!

This is a place called Tire Junction. The first time we found this place, we had been driving all over gravel logging roads and suddenly came out onto asphalt. This is a place where 3 "main" roads converge, one leading to Trout Lake. The "planting" in the middle is quite pretty with wildflowers in the spring. Many logging roads lead off these roads and I try to mark on the map all the ones we've taken.

This is Langfield Falls. It's not too far from Tire Junction. It too has varying amounts of water flowing depending on the time of year. Feel free to ask me about my ghost story from this place!This is Dave Senske, Tyson & Jen Candland, Lynn Senske and Lorien. (Jon's parents, sister & her husband.) They came up from Utah to go camping with us and have Hayden's birthday. We taught the desert people how to camp in the great NW - complete with rain. In return they did my dishes in their trailer!Aw, breakfast with grandpa! Looks like Lorien is hungry.Hayden got to celebrate his 5th birthday while we were camping. Mandie forgot candles so we used matches instead. I believe I had to do that for one of our daughters birthdays!!!By our second evening Becky's & Jeff's families had joined us. Becky's tent became the "All Girls, All The Time" place. Cousins Kaylee, Grace & Larissa slept together in Becky's tent. What a hoot when they discovered they all had bought the very same sleeping bags - pink, of course. The next evening Becky went home but her tent became a place to play in the rain and the mattress became - bet you can guess - a trampoline. Boy did the kids love that.

Okay, so you get a sunbreak and take off for a hike. If you're prepared, no big deal. Here grandpa shows Kaylee & Jesse how to count rings on a freshly cut tree. Lots of them had to be cut this year from across the trail.Ooops! They missed one. Jen & Tyson first, then Kaylee, Becky & Aubrey go over, while Jesse goes under.This is Mitchell at Taitnapum Falls. (Don't ask me how to pronounce that!) This is Upper Falls. All these falls are on the Lewis River.Did I mention the rain? Did it bother the kids? Not one bit. While the grownups pack up to go home (a day early) Larissa roasts a marshmallow while Jesse & Hayden play in the fire.
Jon has made a tradition of making a totem out of a stick and whatever else he can find. This was the one from this trip - complete with roasted apple head on top. Suppose to keep the evil spirits away. Too bad it didn't keep the rain away. But we all had a good time anyway.