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.