Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mini vacation and an Expo

Pictures for Mom!

 Hello, from Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  We were on our way home from Las Vegas last Thursday, January 23, and decided to take a little detour through this place.  It's been on MY bucket list for a while.  I've driven by the freeway off ramp leading to it countless times, so this was the time for us to stop and see just what was there.  Red Rocks!
 Lots and Lots and Lots of red rocks.  Just like in MY neighborhood in Southern Utah. Just like our Red Hill in Cedar City and up the canyon a ways.  But I happen to really adore Red Rocks.
 And Red Rocks shaped like elephants. Sort of.  I mean, they are SORT OF shaped like an elephant.
 There is a LOT of erosion in these old rocks.  Lots of holes and pits and crevasses.  Nice formations.  But the pictures get ahead of me!

We went to Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon of Jan 19.  We went to church with Mike's Mom that morning since her ward meets at 9 a.m.  Ours it at 1 p.m. now and we just wanted an earlier start to our little vacation. We left for Las Vegas around 2 p.m. or so.

We got settled into our Grand Desert Resort room.  It's nice. Photos follow.  We watched a little TV, ate dinner, relaxed, explored the area just a bit.  It's kind of a hike to our room!

Monday morning, we were "invited" to attend a little presentation and have an update on our timeshare points.  Or something like that.  They are sales people and they talk so fast that I really didn't know what exactly they were saying.  I heard "Free Breakfast" and "$100 gaming or dining" and we had nothing else planned for Monday, so why not?  They promised to be no longer than 45 minutes, breakfast included.  This time, they were not far off!  After a fairly nice hot breakfast, we had a fairly short meeting with a very talented sales lady, then we waited a bit longer, then we collected $100 worth of meal vouchers that expired in 1 week (so gotta use them this trip!) and went back to our room.  I cut Mike's hair (he'd been needing a haircut for quite some time), we went to soak in a hot tub for a while.  I think we took a nap, and we fixed dinner for when Kim and Terri came over to eat with us at 6:30 that evening.  We had such a fun visit with them, played Push The Dummy after, and just relaxed.  We just don't get to see good friends nearly often enough!  And I did not think to take a picture of us all.  Oh well.

Tuesday morning, Mike needed to be at the World of Concrete expo for his classes that day and to check out the exhibits, etc.  I dropped him off there, then dropped myself off at the Las Vegas temple and did a session there.  It had been closed for some weeks, so it was kind of crowded that particular day--the first day opened since being closed. But I had expected that and didn't mind that a session was split as I had nowhere else to be.  After I got back, I ate lunch, and took a nap afterwards. I went over to the outlet mall and walked through many of those shops.  I was looking for a swim suit.  Not a smart thing to do when one is 50 pounds heavier than one should be.  Nobody had any swim suits that interested or suited me.  I only found bikinis.  Ugh. THAT paints an ugly picture, doesn't it?!  Mike called me to come and pick him up when he was done with his classes and walking through exhibits. It (the convention center) is only about 5 minutes away if you hit all green lights.

That evening, we decided to use our food voucher for a nice dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House.  We knew it was going to be pricey.  We've never eaten there before, but had heard of it.  We just didn't know HOW pricey it would be! Yikes. We had steak each and a (yes, one) baked potato and a serving of sauteed mushrooms, drank only water, and we exceeded our $100 !!  Un real.  The meat was good.  But $50 good?  The jury's still out.  No, it's not ...  it is definitely overpriced.    That's done.  No need to go there again unless it's on someone else's dime. Oh, and they took a LOVELY photo of the two of us at our table. It was a nice photo--much nicer than the one  below--but $35 seemed a bit much for that, as well.
 Now we are up to Wednesday.  We had (leftover) steak and scrambled eggs for breakfast.  Mike had more classes at the WOC expo and he had his friend, Don, come with him.  Mike drove out to Henderson to get Don, they came back and I went with them to drop them off. If they had to park a car there, that would have been way too much walking in from the remote parking lot for Mike's knees. It was closer to drop them off at the door.  Plus, that gave me the car to do some shopping with.  Only the mall didn't open until 10 pm.  I ended up driving through the mall parking lot, headed back to the Grand Desert Resort, but took a wrong turn--onto a one way street!  Yikes!! THAT was a first for me.  6 lanes of traffic, and they were ALL going in the opposite direction.  I was so lucky that the farthest 2 lanes, the ones I turned into, were empty and as soon as a realized my mistake, I flipped around to face the correct way and started over.  Whew.  That could have been so awful.  I felt so stupid.  But I did get home to the room safely.  Then I walked over to the MGM to see what they had there, saw a lovely art gallery of some super photos, walked back, took the car to the mall and did some shopping.  Still found nothing I wanted or needed.  Except a Cinnabon for either dessert that night or breakfast the next morning!  And I wonder why the weight just won't go away....

I made a nice pasta dinner for me and Mike and Don and Don's wife, Keala, who joined us at the Grand Desert Resort after she got done with work.  Traffic was awful and we didn't eat until close to 7 pm.  It was fun to visit and catch up with the Cupp's.  We've known them since we lived in Hawaii and have kids the same ages.  Don worked with Mike in Hawaii for a while and have remained close buddies.

 Here's a view from the living room into the bedroom area. We had a nice, roomy, one-bedroom unit.
 We had a jetted tub in the room that we never even used... the outdoor hot tubs and pools were really nice.
 The shower was nice and huge.  We had a bathroom with toilet, shower, sink, and the other one with sink and jetted tub.
 A bigger-than-king-size bed.  It's about 6 inches wider AND longer than our King sized bed at home.  I measured.
 Comfy living room. The sofa has a bed in it, so there was room for more bodies than just us.
 And, we had a nice dining area. We even brought a bag of games with us, but only played one with Kim and Terri on Monday night.
 I spent a good deal of time in the well-furnished kitchen, preparing our meals.  I brought a LOT of food with us.  We brought a lot of it back home with us, too.  But we ate healthy food and not nearly as much as we might have if eating out all the time.  Like the steak--it lasted us for two meals, after all.

On our way home through the Valley of Fire, the first area you go through has all these drab, dull rocky hills.  But they are pocked with holes/caves.  They really fascinated Mike.  Eh, they looked like holes in the rock.
 It did end up being the coolest of the days we were gone--only in the 60's but still very pleasant.  Soon we can see the red rocks coming.  And it was so clear!  We could see for miles and miles and miles.

 Some of the area looks a lot like the formations in the Leeds and Red Cliffs area of Southern Utah. I'm pretty sure it is the same strata of rocks that run the length of the mountains/ridges in our area. But I really don't know much about geology.  You sure can SEE a lot of it, though!!

 There was a nice visitors/interpretation center here that we took a few moments to walk through and read about (some of ) the exhibits.

 Past the visitor's center, straight ahead, you can see a little poking-up rock?
This is what it looks like when zoomed in with my camera. I was just testing the zoom.  I really wanted to figure out how the panorama setting worked, but with the battery running low on my camera, it didn't happen.  There were also a couple of bighorn sheep down below this rock--a momma and her baby (teen-ager type baby).  That was kind of fun to see.  

We drove through the little towns of Overton and Logandale, then back to the freeway, on to Mesquite where we stopped for our FINAL buffet--I swear we are on the way to eating more healthily!! Honest, we ARE!!!  And then home.  Unpack.  Get to bed at a decent hour.  And we have to face the world of work on Friday. But it felt like a Monday to me!  Mike had good coverage of his classes while we were gone, and things were just dandy at my work place, too.  I just had a lot of catching up of reports to run and all was well.  I'm ready for the weekend. ha. My absolute most favorite days of the week are the ones where I don't have to get up to an alarm clock.  

Oh, and to finish up the "Vacation," we rented "Captain Phillips" from Redbox and watched it on Saturday night at home.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Little Library Humor

My co-workers and I were chatting this morning, and Tayce wondered how many books the Dixie State Library had in their collection as compared to ours at Southern Utah University. Apparently someone in St. George was inquiring out obtaining a library card for OUR library because he didn't like the one in St. George at Dixie State.  Scott, our boss, being the good reference person he is, looked it up.  SUU has twice the books in their library as Dixie State's library.

"And that," I said, "just speaks volumes."

heh, heh.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wasting time

Red box keeps sending me coupons for free movies.  More often, they send me coupons (via text) for rent one--get one free movies.  I never use those.  But I do use the Free ones.  And occasionally I'll just splurge the $1.28 for a couple of hours of semi-decent entertainment.  Because I don't want to clean house or wash dishes or prepare a lesson or do any deep reading.  So, we cuddle on the sofa and watch a movie just for fun.  But I didn't realize just HOW much time I've spent over the past many months.  Yikes.  That's a lot of movies.  I am going list them all, much to my embarrassment and chagrin.  Oh, the time! The wasted time!!

We did watch "Man of Steel" with Eric on Saturday night.  Man, they sure changed up the original Superman movies with THAT one!  It was still pretty enjoyable.

Over the holidays at Katie's house we watched:

The Man Who Came to Dinner
I Remember Mama
Random Harvest
It Happened on 5th Avenue
Ephraim's Rescue
Christmas for a Dollar
Semi-Frozen (someone had given Katie a pirated and very poor copy of Frozen, so we watched it)
Three or so Hallmark Christmas movies.  I don't even remember the titles, but they were all about the same.

And that was JUST at Katie's house and in less than one week!  Granted, it was too darn cold outside to do much of anything, so we were just inside...but still!  That's a lot of movies.

Thanksgiving Holiday I went to the Theater with Eric and we saw
Catching Fire

I PAID to rent:
The Internship in November
Iron Man 3 in October
Now You See Me in September
42 in August
Here Comes the Boom in July
Robot and Frank in April
Saints and Soldiers, Airborne Creed in March
The Avengers in February
Trouble with the Curve in Dec or Jan.

I guess that's not too bad--one a month.  But I didn't keep track of the films I didn't have to pay for :
Monster's University
The Impossible
Guilt Trip
Playing for Keeps
Fun Size
Angel's Sing
First Daughter

Mike just said that is probably more movies than we've watched in our whole married life, put together. Well, perhaps not. But it's a lot.
I'm going to take up house keeping or sewing.  OR, watch movies WHILE I sew, perhaps? Hmmm. New Year resolution, perhaps.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas, 2013

We had our traditional Christmas breakfast together, but -- MY!-- what a small group we are.  "Vegan Cassarole" with a fruit cup and egg nog for those of us who absolutely love the stuff.  Juice for the rest of the wimps.

Eric rather loves his new sweater.  He is very ready to start opening presents.   The tree certainly looks sparse with the bright sunlight through the living room window!

Yes . It was sunny on Christmas morning.  I never even went outside the rest of the day.  We love the warming sunshine in our living room in the wintertime.
Usually, we open gifts here at our house, and then trek over to Mike's Mom's to open her gifts to us.  However, this year, we had Mike go over and get her and her gifts and we just had one un-wrapping party at my house for a change.

I forgot to take a picture of our new luggage we got ourselves for Christmas.  Mike thought it was rather girly - looking, but it's neutral enough.  It survived the Madison trip quite nicely.  We took two of the three pieces.  I absolutely LOVED the way they strap together and I can pull two at a time and it just feels like one light piece of luggage.  Cool.
Mostly we received clothes.  Mike got a reloading equipment piece (it cleans cases), and a truck seat cover.  I got boots and a few nice tops, Mike some dress slacks, Eric some shorts and jeans.  Our trip to Madison was mine and Mike's main gift.

Madison, WI in Wintertime

I wish I could figure out how to make the first photo move down a notch, but I can't.  So we get to start with a photo instead of text.

The day after Christmas, we all got up early, loaded up our car and drove to Las Vegas to catch a flight to Milwaukee.  Well, not ALL of us went.  Eric got to go to Madison to visit the Rossaman's in July, so he got to stay home in December to tend the homestead for us.  And his Grandma's place.  Grandma L was nice enough to take us along with her to go visit Katie.  Or we accompanied her. Or something of that nature.  I played travel agent for this one, ordered the plane tickets and opted for non-stop flight and we went Southwest.  I took care of a car rental in Milwaukee (Southwest doesn't fly to Madison) and other than an extremely long wait at the car rental counter, we got to Kate's house in fairly good time.  She had a nice dinner all ready for us when we got there about 6:30 p.m. or so.  Casey got home from work shortly after that.

 We spent Thursday evening and all day Friday, just hanging out at Katie's house.  She lives on the second floor of a four-plex (two up and two down apts.).  Their's is a two bedroom, one bath, but even with three extra people and luggage, it didn't feel too terribly crowded.  That's the nice thing about having a small house to begin with.

 Katie and I were so very proud of our accomplishment when we put the United States Puzzle together.  Hayden is able to do it, too, with a little help from his dad.  Corbin likes to take it apart.

 We used the freezing cold porch/balcony for extra fridge space and a squirrel  came investigating.  We thought it was cute until I realized that one of the items in the bag outside was a loaf of bread!  Well, after that, we put the groceries in one of her storage bins (all her empties are piled on the porch).  And we never saw the squirrel again.
 Well, it's just funny when you end up all brushing your teeth together.  It just doesn't happen very often.

 I got a pair of black boots for Christmas. Katie was wearing her black boots for our excursion on Saturday.  Saturday was the warmest day while we were in Wisconsin.  It was the only day we made an outing with kids and Grandma.  We went to the Madison Children's Museum and the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Below are photos taken at the Gardens.  They had a nice little candy land train set up in one area, and the regular arboretum (?) in the other area. A hot house, basically--but with birds and critters like frogs, etc.  It was really fun.

Checking out the trains.

A "gingerbread" reindeer made out of graham crackers.  

I thought this gingerbread house had kind of a Frank Lloyd Wright look about it.  FLW does have roots here in Madison.

Hayden's pointing to fish in the pond.

This hot house was such a respite from the cold.  Though Grandma was bundled and inside most of the time we were in Wisconsin, she did notice the cold.  Cold is cold to me.  I ride me bike when it's freezing.

 Madison Children's Museum was our next stop.  Below is a picture of me wearing a real mink stole. Remember those?  Beady eyes and all.

 Mike was driving our rental car and we were following Casey and Katie and boys in their car while determining where to park when we got to see Casey do some pretty remarkable defensive driving.  Scarey to us to see them nearly run over by a large flat bed truck.  We were all stopped at a light and the big truck decided to turn right from the left hand lane.  Only Casey was in the center lane, apparently in his blind spot. Anyway, Casey managed to not get crunched by only an inch or two to spare.  A miss is a miss!
Hayden was beginning his ascent into the towers and tunnels and slide in this play area.  The first time he hopped into the driver's seat of this cut-away car, then to the back and up the tube, got about as far as he is in this photo and stopped.  He looked at me, slid down and said, "I've got to go get my mom!"  It was just too fun NOT to share!! 

Corbin on a climbing wall.  Climbing, crawling, pretending, creating, learning, name it, they had it at this place!  It was great.  This floor was geared for younger kids.  It had the cutest stuffed chicken toy, play eggs, an African mud hut, water play and more.

Hayden't getting ready to go down the slide.  The slide looked like it was covered in a snake (or dragon?) skin.

Casey squeezed on into the climbing apparatus and joined the kids and even went down the slide!  All the kids got a kick out of that.  They all came to his rescue when he claimed to be "stuck" in one of the tunnels. :-)

This is a scene out of one of the windows.  Extra tall street signs with fun quotes and words on them.  And, yes, it is snowy cold outside.

The entrance and front desk area had this interesting "cabinet" facing.  These are covers of Reader's Digest Condensed Books.

We brought a snack-y lunch and ate it at the museum.  Katie and Casey.


Corbin, too busy playing with cogs and wheels to eat lunch.

We went up to the rooftop level and donned some outer wear that was ethnic.

All our coats were on the first floor with Grandma (she did minimal walking about, as did Mike)

The snowy rooftop had this really cool crow's nest with flags to raise and lower and a telescope to look out of. Nice view from the top.

Corbin's taking a closer look at the ice fishermen we could see on Lake Monona nearby.

There was a grass hut.  Casey is peering inside.

And this is who he saw!  Hayden said it was the three pig's straw house.

The capital building is close by.

AND, there was a child-sized ice-skating rink  up there,too.

The skates had double blades for balance, but the straps didn't hold them very well, and it was cold in the shade, so we didn't stay long up there.  We did check out the chicken coop, pigeon coop and the little greenhouse and science place where they have some animals (rats, turtles, snakes, etc. in terrariums)

Katie putting on Corbin's skates and helmet (all provided)
We were all very impressed by the Madison Children's Museum.  It was a lot of fun and I hope they are able to get a membership next time they go.

We attended Church with their family on Sunday.  They are in the Madison 2nd ward, both have callings they enjoy and the ward is so friendly and growing (4 convert baptisms within the past few months).  They do love that part about their lives far away in the north.  Casey loves his job, too, and now that Katie is back at home and not working outside the home other than piano lessons, she is loving that part, as well.

We tried our hands at some video games.  Not really. I watched Hayden play "Bee-o" games.

I think this was Sunday afternoon. Some things never change, do they? Zzzzzz

Casey got 4 old movies for Christmas, and Berenice really wanted to watch them.  She did (and we all did) watch all four of them.  This is how she watches movies.  ZZZzzzzz  The same way Mike watches football games.  Zzzz

New Year's Eve we had a bunch of snacks and stuff.

 I didn't think to take a picture on Monday, but Jeff and Doris Master and their two grown children drove down from Fon Du Lac to have lunch and visit.  We knew them when we lived in HI and have corresponded over the years, seen them once or twice since HI. It was fun to visit and catch up.

That evening, a friend from the ward, Annie, came over with her daughter for Pizza and games.  She is the Queen of Games and we played some new ones to us.  "Ticket to Ride" which is similar to Settlers.  "Word on the Street" was the other one we played.  She showed us another that was similar to "Apples to Apples" but I don't recall the name.
Snuggle time!
 New Year's day we packed and got ready for our trip home.  We went out to eat at Culvers for lunch. It's a midwestern burger place that is quite good. All the time we were in Cottage Grove with Katie and Family, we were mostly in their house.  The temperature outside (other than that one Saturday) was nearly always single digits and frequently negative.  But her house was cozy and we were quite comfy!

Mike went out to buy a newspaper about every day, and he and I both went to the grocery store once or twice with Katie, but other than that and church on Sunday and our Saturday excursion, it truly was just spent "chillin' " (but not literally), eating, visiting, playing games, eating, putting away her Christmas decos, watching movies.  And eating.  Did I mention we ate a lot?  Katie and I both gained about 10 pounds over the holidays.

I was afraid with all the sub-zero weather and snow flitting that our flight would be delayed.  Originally, our flight WAS on time.  We boarded first, sat down and then found out that a Delta flight had blown THREE tires when landing and was kind of skee-wampus and blocking a runway partway.  So about the time we were going down the jet way, they were closing the airport to all incoming and outgoing air traffic till they decided what to do about the Delta plane and its passengers.  We left about 50 minutes later, after they plowed another runway.

When we first got to the airport in Milwaukee, Mike returned the rental car after dropping me and his mom and all our luggage off curbside.  We met up at the security screening place.  The sign above these benches just cracked me up.

You know how everything just gets so dis-combobulated when you have to pass through security?  Here's the solution:
Note what the sign above Mike's head says.
A place to recombobulate!  HA!
We were back home in Cedar City by about midnight and it felt good to be home in our own beds.  I took off the 2nd of January to put my Christmas decos away and to catch up on laundry, dishes, etc.

And on Friday the 3rd, it was back to the real world and I headed back to work.  Christmas vacation was wonderful and I'm so glad we were able to spend so much time with family, far and near.