Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 10: Vegas NV to Salt Lake City UT

We got up a little early to get a head start to Salt Lake City.  We wanted to be out of town before we ate breakfast and got coffee.  Big mistake, there isn't a lot available on the road from Vegas to Salt Lake City. McDonald's in Overton.   It was a ways off of the freeway.  Then we finally stopped in Mesquite for Starbucks.  Had to run into the Virgin River Casino to get it.  MUST HAVE COFFEE!!  Then it was the drive through the Virgin River Canyon.  Wow.  It was very impressive.  Crossed into Utah and continued on to Salt Lake.  Stopped at One Man Band in Nephi and had dinner.  Interesting place.  You order your dinner from a phone at the table.  It gets cooked, they call you back, you walk up front to pick it up and pay for it.  We got into North Salt Lake around 6:00pm or so and checked into the hotel.  The boys went swimming.  Around 9pm decided we wanted some ice cream.  Everything was closed early because of the 4th the next day.  Watched some TV and off to bed.  Pretty uneventful day.

Day 9: Las Vegas

Pool Day, Pool Day, everybody sing for Pool Day.  Conner was up first at 7:55am, asking doesn't the pool open up at 8:00am?  Yes, it does.  Well, he woke everyone up and we were down at the pool by 8:30am.  We bought 3 intertubes and the boys went straight for the lazy river and the wave pool.  Unfortunately we had to hunt for chairs.  There was this pervasive smell where we originally sat.  It smelt like a port-a-potty that was too full in a park with 100+ temperature.  We moved to a few different places, but the wind would bring some of that fresh smell back to us.  Dan said it smalled like Khandahar.  We were at the pool for over 3 hours then headed back inside to shower, change and lunch.  Amazingly even skipping breakfast we did not get that "I'm hungry" cry from Ryan.  We walked over NY NY and had hot dogs, pizza and deli sandwhiches.  Stopped at the candy stand to get some candy and over to Coca Cola store. Years and years ago, you used to be able to get free samples of the cokes from around the world.  Not anymore. Bummer.

Then we we worked our way to Bellagio and Ceasar's so the boys could see some of the other casinos.  The atrium at Bellagio is always amazing with the flowers and the different themes.  This time it was a garden theme with oversided bugs and garden tools.  Continued through Ceasar's and watched one of the shows. 

Then it was back to the Monte Carlo for the pool, dinner and bed for Granny and the boys.  Laura and Dan went out to d.Vino, a very bad wine bar.  But oh well, we were in Vegas.  It's becoming apparent that due to declining revenues and fewer people traveling to Vegas, everyone is doing 2 things:  raising prices and decreasing operation costs and maintenance by giving you less but charging you more.  A bottle of water at the bar is $4.50.  The wines we had were nothing special but were $12.00 - $18.00 for a 2 oz pour.  Even though it was a holiday weekend and a fight weekend.  There was barely anyone in the casino.  If they want more revenue, they need to decrease the prices and maybe people will come.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 8: Flagstaff AZ to Las Vegas NV

Started the day out by visiting the Grand Canyon.  Another quotable moment... Conner asked, "How long are we going to visit the park?  45 minutes?"  Hunter scoffed... "No Conner.  There's no way we are going to spend 45 minutes looking at a big crack in the ground."  It's a little more than an hour in and an hour out of the park.  When we got there Whitluck would strike once more.  The main viewing area was closed for construction, but there was an alternate area via a walking path detour. We scared Granny one too many times by going close to the edge, so she asked for the keys and headed back to the car early.

What an impressive sight. 

Headed back to the interstate to begin the 4 hour drive to Las Vegas.  Stopped in Williams for lunch and a pee-break. Back on the road for about another hour.  Laura had gone two days without a Starbucks, but that was the limit. Got off I-40 at Kingman, she Googled Starbucks on her Blackberry.  Punched the address into the Hertz 'Neverlost' GPS and we located her grande, iced, mocha, no whip.  Caffeine crisis averted.

Back on the road towards Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam. Stopped to get some pictures.
Arizona Side of Hoover Dam

Low Tide on Lake Mead??

We crossed into Afghanistan Nevada at 5PM with just over 3000 miles, so far. Temperature was 111F.  Rolled on into Vegas, got checked in and the boys hit the pool for a half hour.  Then off to New York, New York for the roller coaster!  Whitluck struck.  All 3 boys are too short for the ride.  They needed to be 54" and they fell about 2" short.  Ryan said that he kind of expected that and he wasn't all that upset.  The other two welled up in tears and long faces.  We negotiated dinner with the three of them, ate and then took the city monorail to the Venetian. The monorail took their minds off The Great Roller Coaster Disappointment of 2010.  We walked the canals and got some gelato in their scaled down version of Saint Mark's Square.  The kids legs started to give out so, we went to the taxi stand to get a cab back to the hotel.

Take a guess what the maximum allowable number of occupants is, in a seven passenger minivan taxi operated within the State of Nevada?  Well, that would be five plus a driver, of course. Say that once again, slowly... "Five. It's the law" according to the cab stand guy, 'You'll need to get two cabs.'  Hey kids, forget the Treasure Island Volcano, watch this... Granny got her Irish up and wasn't about to be screwed over by the Nevada Legislature, the cabbie lobbiest's and any other tourist shakedown conspirators.  She was going to show them!!  She'd walk back before she pays for a second cab.  (Note to self.  Go to the limo stand next time.  They'll haul you wherever you want for a flat fee)  Hunter and Ryan where pooped and did not want to hoof it back to the Monte Carlo.  Laura took a taxi back to the hotel with them.  Mom, Conner and I saw lots of things along the mile or so trek back.  We took a leisurely, late night, 90+F, stroll back past  Cesear's Palace's Fountains, Bellagio's Garden Conservatory exhibit with human sized ants and City Center's amazing architecture.  Granny's paced noticably quickened each time we neared one of the business card slapping wanna be pimps of the Vegas Strip.  I asked Conner, if he wanted up on my shoulders and he said, "No. He wanted to tell Hunter and Ryan he made it all the way back on his own."  Mom said he was a 'resilent little trooper.'  That and I think just possibly, he wanted to made sure he got a glance at as many of those discarded business cards as possible.  Remember, this is the same little trooper that spotted the two elk on a ridge a mile away at 55mph on day two. We made it back to the room at about 11:30PM and crashed out.  The much anticipated, long awaited pool day, is almost here.  DW

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 7: Durango CO to Flagstaff AZ

We started out with a visit to Mesa Verde National Park and visiting Spruce House Cliff Dwelling.  What we thought would be just a short trip went much longer.  It was 36 miles down the road to the exit and then another 20 miles to the site.  However, those 20 miles were one lane, pilot car escorted traffic.  It took an hour... each way.  Seems like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka Stimulus Act, is repaving about half the roads and bridges across the western states, especially in National Parks.  These must have been the shovel-ready projects  The slow drive to the site was worth it.  It's pretty amazing that these were built around 1200AD.   We only saw one of the dwellings, as time was tight and getting tighter. We wanted to get to Four Corners.  The boys have been talking about it for weeks.  They have joked about playing twister at the sight.  Well boys, let me introduce you to one of the clearest example of 'Whitluck.'  Four Corners Monument was closed for major construction.  What could be 'major' enough to close a pair of perpendicular lines in the desert?  Ever hear the phrase, close enough for government work?  Apparently, the monument has been about 150 feet off of dead center since it was created.    Supposedly, this was discovered during the satellite survey of the area. My guess is that countless numbers of boys scouts whipped out their GPSs and said, 'Hey, wait a minute?'  So those of you who have gotten your picture previously at Four Corners, you were probably only in Utah or Colorado.  Time for another Road Trip for all of you. 

Next decision was to drive along US191 through Monument Valley or take a different route and go to Meteor Crater.  If you ever saw Starman then you know about the crater.  We decided to deviate from our original plan. So about 2.5 hours later we arrived at the crater.  Again we were worried, website said they closed at 5pm.  We decided to take the chance and drive down.  This time Whitluck was in our favor, it was open until 7pm.  We went through the museum and went out to the rim of the crater.  Wow!! That is all I can say.  Also it was very windy.  Crater is a mile across and not quite as deep as the Space Needle is tall.  Research has concluded that the entire thing disintegrated into dust when it hit.  We then headed to the hotel and looked for a place to eat.  Ended up in downtown Flagstaff at the Monsoon.  Great Food.  Highly recommend.  Back to the hotel and the nightly swimming ritual.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 6: Colorado Springs to Durango

Day 6 started out pretty well.  We got everything packed, threw the air dam in the dumpster and headed out.  We stopped at Garden of the Gods and drove through the park.  The color is just amazing.  We stopped to get a picture by the Kissing Camels.  As Dorothy was coming back to the car, she slipped, fell and hit her head.  But everything is okay, just a little sore.  Stopped at Balancing Rock and took a picture of the boys.  It was funny a couple came with their pug, carried the pug up the incline and underneath Balancing Rock to get a picture of the dog.  The funny part to me is that they carried the dog instead of letting the dog walk by itself.  The incline was a little steep and the man almost slipped and fell.  Drove along US 160 to Durango and made a few potty stops along the way.  Arrived in Durango and had a hard time finding the hotel.  Neverlost was wrong.  Ate some pizza at Farquaht's.  Great pizza.  Then of course the nightly ritual of the pool.  The boys never get tired of swimming.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 5: Cheyenne WY to Colorado Springs CO

Since this was going to be a short driving day, we slept in for a little while. Had an interesting breakfast.  Not sure if the waiter was on something or what.  He wouldn't hold still to take our orders.  Had to chase him down to order drinks for Dorothy and the boys.  Then when our order came it wasn't quite right.  The other table that he was attending too didn't even get their order.  Passed by Ft Collins and Loveland.  Brought back some memories for Laura, as that was where she went to junior high.  Stopped at Starbuck's (YEAH!).  You don't want to mess with Laura if she doesn't have her daily coffee.  She didn't have it yesterday and let's say it wasn't pleasant.  Finally arrived at the Air Force Academy.  We took the Chapel tour and watched the Freshman cadets on the parade field.  Again some nostalgia for Laura as her dad taught electrical engineering from 1976 - 1980 at the Academy.  Conner believes he would like to attend the Academy.  We noticed that they have a prep school here too. Maybe one of the boys may need some discipline later on in life.  I'm sure you can't guess who (Ryan).  We had dinner at Jake Quinn's Irish Pub and participated in Quiz Night.  When we left, we were tied for second.  Not bad.

Day 3 and 4 Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Things Daddy Hears from the 3RD Row in the YUKON.

  1. What time are we going to get to the hotel?
  2. How late is the pool open?
  3. I’ve got to go to the bathroom.
  4. STOP IT!
  5. I’m hungry.
  6. How much further?
  7. When is the next stop?
  8. Hun-terrrrrrrrrr!!!
  9. Ryan! Stop THAT!
  10. I know, but…

 Top Ten List from the middle row…
  1. Oh look, a deer!
  2. No, that’s an Antelope.
  3. Hunter Stop Yelling at Ryan.
  4. Are you sleepy? Do you need me to drive?
  5. But he is annoying me.
  6. Oh look, there is a house or something out there on the hill.
  7. Which hill?
  8. I think you were supposed to turn there.
  9. Daddy. The GPS said turn the other way.
  10. “Calc-cu-lat-ing new route. Make legal u-turn at next op-por-tun-i-ty.”

 Top Ten List from the Front Row…
  4. … why did I take that chair off the roof.
  8. Hey. I’ve got an idea. EVERYONE TAKE A NAP!

Day 4: Sturgis SD to Cheyenne WY

The Holiday Inn Express in Sturgis is popular. Took a little effort to get to breakfast. We left Sturgis and headed to Mt. Rushmore. Wow. I can’t even imagine the effort this took. Pretty amazing. I never realized how much there was to still do, but couldn’t happen because of lack of funding. From Mt. Rushmore we went to Crazy Horse. Okay, I thought Mt Rushmore was impressive, but once Crazy Horse is finished, nothing can top that. Crazy Horse is taller than Washington Monument. All four of Mt Rushmore’s head can fit into the head of Crazy Horse. We walked around the museum and craft area for a while too. Hunter and Conner each bought a bracelet and Ryan bought a marble turtle. Drove on to Custer to have lunch and continued into Cheyenne. We arrived at the hotel around 8:00pm, had dinner and the boys did some more swimming.

Day 3: Cody WY to Sturgis SD

The day started out around 8:00am with breakfast. The clouds started coming in. Originally we were going to stop at the William Cody Museum, but decided to get on the road. Thunder and lightening storms for quite a ways. We decided to go to Devils Tower. Some of you may remember “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. The scene when the aliens land and the music plays. Classic. Pretty impressive. We continued on to Sturgis watching the thunder and lightening, going around twisty roads, seeing lots of bikers. Saw lots of antelope, one moose and many deer. We got into Sturgis around 5:50pm. Checked into the hotel and then went downtown to eat at Rozco’s Bar and Grill. Okay dinner, not anything to special. Then we went back to the hotel where the boys were able to swim to their hearts content.

Day 2: Bozeman MT to Cody WY via Yellowstone

A little late start after limping in at 12:30am the night before. We were able to visit with Cassie for a little bit during breakfast. The drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone was incredible. The scenery was beautiful. Conner was the first to spot wildlife. Dan said he’s going to rent him out in the fall during hunting season. We were traveling 55mph and he spotted a huge elk buck, minimum of 2000 yards, 700 feet up on a ridgeline above a meadow. We pulled over got out the binoculars and sure enough there were two, a male and female. We watched them as they disappeared into the trees. The picture is zoomed in 10x optical, looking closely in the middle, you can see two white dots right by all the trees in the back.  I tried to edit the picture and zoom in but wasn't able to on this laptop.

We stopped in West Yellowstone so that the boys could buy some souvenirs. They picked rocks. We visited the Grizzly and Wolf Center at West Yellowstone. Highly recommend. There are 8 grizzlies and 8 grey wolves. They only show 2 bears at time. I overheard one of the guides saying that they have to be careful which two go in the pen at the same time as one of the females is very particular. The wolves were split into 2 packs, highland and lowland. It was fun watching a couple of them play. We entered Yellowstone at the West entrance. A friend recommended that we stop at Firehole and go swimming. We asked the park ranger about it, but it was closed because of high water levels. The boys were a little disappointed. Again, eagle eyes Conner was the first to spot a lone bison. Laura spotted a bald eagle and a nest. Then Dorothy saw a herd of elk. There were at least 10 of them. Amazing. We stopped at Paint Pot and saw all of the various types of geysers. The colors are amazing. It was incredible watching them. Next stop was Old Faithful. We got there just in time to pay an exorbitant price for a hot dog. We walked over to the old lodge. It’s 3 stories tall and made of logs. Old Faithful was worth the wait. At 5:24pm it started and lasted about 3 minutes. Then it was time to finish the drive to Cody.

 As we were leaving the park, cars were stopped along the road. It was a baby grizzly and two extremely stupid people out of their car. Out of country tourists trying to get a close up picture. They were only about 30 feet from the bear. They are lucky that momma bear didn’t come out from where ever she was. Dan yelled at them to get in their car, the park ranger was yelling at them too. We almost got to see Darwinism in play. After that excitement, we continued along our way and saw some of the most incredible nature: Yellowstone lake, the rocks, canyons, etc. What a beautiful country we live in. We arrived in Cody around 8:30pm. Ate another late dinner at the Ilma hotel. The hotel William Cody built. The original cherry wood bar is still there. It’s gorgeous. And then bed, another late night.

Friday, June 25, 2010

First Day


Used Thursday morning to get everything into the rented Yukon.  Of course we had to pay homage to "Family Vacation" and the Griswolds.  As you know the title of the blog is Whitluck and we experienced a little bit of that Thursday morning.  Laura had to run to the store and big up a few things and as luck would have it, she ended up in the slowest possible check out line.  So in turn we were a few minutes late to pick up the boys.  But, we were well on our way by 11:00am.  We stopped in Ellensburg for lunch and then Couer d'Alene for some ice cream and to stretch our legs.  Dinner in Missoula at Iron Horse.  One of the best meals we've ever had.  And finally we limped into Bozeman at 12:30am.  Cassie came to meet us at the hotel and give the boys hugs and kisses. LW

Mapquest lies.  10 Hours turned into 12 and a half, plus the time change. They must assume that you have the bladder of a camel and can goes days without relief.  After a traditional 'must stop' at Ellensburg, it was straight thru to Missoula.  Nope.  Ryan started first, "when are we going to get there?" It was somewhere between Vantage and Moses Lake.  Near Cheney, he needed to stretch his legs.  He was tired of sitting.  Get used to it kid...  By the Idaho line he was working up excuses one after the other.  The best one was... "I need to get out of the car so I can rest my legs. We got him to hold off for a bit when he realized that he could stand up in the Yukon.  Of course getting him to stay in the seat became the ultimate challeng,e so we stopped at Couer d'Alene. Couer d'Alene which turned into a ice cream stop vs just a leg stretch for Ryan.

Yahoo-oooo!  Idaho and Montana Speed Limit 75!!!

Gassed up in the little town of Alberton.  Had a new experience there.  Found out that you can only get $74 of gas out of a pump before it stops.  Reloaded the pump with the debit card and the Yukon took another $20.01.  Damn.  (Gotta check the gallons/mile meter when I get back on the road...)  Averaged 15.8... er... uh... well... there were a lot of mountain passes.  Yeah that's the reason. DW

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why Whitluck?

So we decided to try out the whole blogging thing. I know, we are a little late to the game. Why is the site called "Whitluck". Well if any of you know Dan, he always refers to Murphy's Law as "Whitluck". Whatever can go wrong usually will for us. Though sometimes it can be good "Whitluck".
Also the other reason for this blog is that on the 24th, we are starting our first long family vacation. In the traditional of the Griswolds, we are driving and visiting Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Vegas and everything in between. This will be a two week road trip. Yes, we are driving with the 3 boys and Dorothy (Dan's mom).
When Dan was back east last week at Ft Dix, he was visiting his Aunt, Grandmother and cousins in Philadelphia. He was telling them about the trip. The idea came up to start the blog to keep family and friends in touch on our trip around the Western US a la the Griswolds. So the countdown begins. We will keep you posted.