Tuesday, June 14, 2011

unseasonably cool...

Upon the boys receiving their Junior Ranger/Paleontologist bagdes from Ranger Ron at the Grand Canyon, we head out for the Hoover Dam.  Maybe I was tired, maybe because it was a week ago (or a little of both), but I don't remember much about the drive or scenery between the two places until we got to the Route 66 signs.  By then, the scenery reminded me alot of what we saw on our road trip last year, but it was more interesting because we were on Route 66.  Historic Route 66.  And, Tim promptly took his Cars cars out of his backpack and started playing with them right on cue.  I was the one to choose the dinner stop, so I naturally chose the Route 66 Diner.  It was great food and alot of fun sitting at the counter with the boys on those infamous spinning stools. :)
For this trip, I did something I don't often do...I brought the camcorder.  Really, it was probably more of a burden than a blessing, but time will tell after we watch the movies of our trip on it someday.  And most likely laugh out loud at what we filmed.
Anyway, as we were on the road to the Hoover Dam/By Pass Bridge, I had the camera rolling.  First attempt. Epic failure.  Couldn't see the dam from the new bridge.  The sides were too high.  (Probably a good thing so no one wrecks staring at the dam while driving.)  Second attempt.  Failure again because we weren't (translated, I wasn't) going to hike up a dirt mountain to get to the bridge to walk to the middle of it to photograph the dam.  (Will probably regret that choice one day, but at the time, I was spent).  Third attempt.  Success!  Perfect setting, including having to round a bend in order for the new bridge to fill up the windshield, as we first caught a glance of it.
Now, as to why we didn't walk over to the dam and stand on top of it while parked near it, I don't know.  But we didn't and were okay with this decision at the time.  It was a huge dam, with lots of construction projects still going on around it, and a security stop even. 
We took photos and we moved on to Vegas, Baby.
Las Vegas...what can I say that hasn't already been said by someone else?  I've been to Vegas before.  Lots of people, lots of things to see, eat and do.  If you want to pay for it.  I know it's called Sin City, (I think it thrives on that nickname), but there's a little bit more to Las Vegas than the casino industry and show girls.
Walking the strip is fun (and free).  Lots of lights glowing and blinking at night.   (McDonald's big yellow "M" even has lights on it.)  People from all over the world.  Good ice cream.  Cool stores to browse that you don't find just anywhere, M&M's World and FAO Schwarz are just two of them.  And nothing can beat the Bellagio's water fountains that dance to music.  I've seen it before, but we weren't up for making it there this trip...time change does that to a person.  One hotel has a show where two pirate ships battle it out...one even sinks.  It's a favorite attraction of mine.  Another fun thing to do is the Freemont Street Experience.  Above your head exists a canopy of lights that when combined with music can hold your attention while you marvel at the wonder of it all.  This year's show wasn't as awesome as the one I saw before, but to see how it all comes together is rather cool.   
Our hotel for our night's stay, South Point, had a 64 lane bowling alley inside of it and it was open 24 hours a day.  Craziness!  There were several restaurants inside of it, too...one had a $5.99 breakfast buffet.  That's cheaper than Golden Corral by far and it was good so the boys and Scott say.  I had a granola bar once we hit the road. 
As Scott and the boys went out for bowling and breakfast, I listened to the local news while getting ready for the day.  Whenever the weatherman gave his report, I cringed.    Unseasonably cool weather...with a chance of rain coming in from the northwest.  We were headed northwest of Vegas.  This was suppposed to be my "warm weather treat" kind of vacation.
  I was not supposed to be chilly while in Vegas...but at least it was sunny.  The sunshine and cool temps made walking the strip that morning a great time!  We showed Tim the Eiffel Tower and even took the elevator to the top.  The views were stunning!  The boys couldn't get over the size of the Bellagio's "pool".  They wanted to go swimming in it, and were shocked that something that size would just be for fountains.  I honestly never realized how big it was either until I looked down upon it.  Crazy big...just for fountains. :) 
We made it out of Vegas with our retirement savings and college funds still existing (in spite of paying $16 for 3 ice cream cones) and headed for Death Valley. :)  Our goal was to reach Ridgecrest, CA before nightfall.
Death Valley is an experience that keeps on going and going for miles and miles.  Somehow, the Visitor Center lies a couple of hours inside the park by my guesstimation. (it certainly seems that way anyway).  Some want to stay and hike and explore every nook and cranny.  We just wanted to experience some of the sights as we drove on through...and it worked for us rather well.
Two things to keep in mind about Las Vegas and Death Valley.  The dry heat is no joke.  We were all suffering minorly from dry noses and throats no matter how much
water we were consuming.  Poor Alex was the worst off...and in the middle of Death Valley I finally found something to take the edge off his sore throat.  Chloraseptic Spray for $12 something...2.5 times the amount I would have paid normally, but it was all they had for a little guy in tears because of the pain.  Two things I'll never go West without again...decent tasting throat lozenges and nasal saline spray.  Both of which I had in my medicine cabinet at home, I just never thought to take them with us.  I won't make that mistake again.  I already pack everything else from the cabinet...two more items won't matter.
As for being in the lowest point in the USA, and usually the hottest...our car's thermometer never read over 99 degrees.  And I never broke a sweat while walking up to the lookout points.  It was really comfortable weather.  And, I liked it...alot. 
The sweetest thing ever was hearing Tim walking down the path from Zabriskie Point singing, "Deep, deep deep as the sea.  High, high, high as the sky.  Wide, wide, wide as the ocean blue is Jesus' love for you!"  Everyone could hear him and it didn't matter a bit.  My little missionary at heart singing praises about His Savior.  LOVE IT!

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