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Category: food

Eating Las Vegas!

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Hash House Scramble. Yup, that’s a tiny tree.

Vegas is well known as a foodie paradise, but it is also a fast-foodie paradise. For those of us who aren’t quite foodies.

First up, Smash Burger. Now, I know there are Smash Burgers in San Antonio, but they are … less than impressive. If you’re gonna try Smash Burger, try one in Vegas. Even the kids smash is good, which can be hard to do with a kid-sized burger. Many restaurants end up with too much bread and too little meat when they down-size their burger. Ask me how I know. Oh: get the peanut butter shake. If you, uh, like peanut butter. And shakes.

Next up, In-N-Out Burger. The Vegas establishments aren’t as good as the California ones, but if you’ve only ever eaten a Utah In-N-Out Burger and you got two bites into it before chucking it in the trash, then give it another try. In Vegas, I mean. Not Utah. (Shudder.)

Ok, here’s a place an actual foodie might like: Hash House a go go. It’s not cheap, but the portions are huge! Waffles and French toast are both ah-may-zing.

And last up, what would life be without dessert? Carlos Bakery, at the Venetian. Though he’s famous for the Lobster Tails (which are delicious), my favorites are the Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Tower or the Dark Chocolate Mousse. You’re welcome.

Bon Apetit!

 

The Maryland Renaissance Festival is always a much anticipated event in our household, so we were delighted when the BFF and her gang invited us to go with them this year. The parents were up for the adventure, even if they didn’t quite know what they were getting into.

We met the 495 on-ramp at a dead stop, so after a few minutes, we decided to try a different route. The husband asked Siri for a non-495 way to the festival, and soon we were on our way – through – the dreaded city.

We took some wrong turns in the city, but the husband managed to find a route that got us to the festival. We were still nice and early, so we got half-decent parking, and we got to enjoy a few hours at the faire before it got too crowded.

We met up with the BFF and her 2 and a half boys (husband+baby+about-to-be-a-baby), and got started on the festivities. And by ‘festivities’, I mean food! Because that’s what the ren fest is all about! Turkey legs and sausage on a stick and fried stuff and cheesecake on a stick and more fried stuff and ice cream cannolis and some more fried stuff!

And then we got busy with the shopping festivities! There is so much stuff to buy! From chain mail bikinis to hand-carved wooden goblets, and wooden swords to blown glass ornaments, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

And of course, through the whole time, there is always the costume watching! Some costumes are impressive, some are confusing, and a few even have something to do with the renaissance. There seemed to be an influx of ladies with weird baby-hands in their overflowing bosoms, I’m not quite sure what that’s all about. Who wants to think about suffocating babies?

We watched some shows – a comedic, 30 minute version of Henry the V, and the parents watched the first 2 acts of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The BFF and crew tried a go at the sword swallowing show, but didn’t stick around long. Which is about what I did the first time I watched the sword-swallowing show. It’s not for the faint of heart – it sounds cool in theory, but it’s mostly just disturbing to actually watch.

After the festival, we hurried to Leesburg to shop at the Virginia store downtown. The parents wanted some Virginia-y souvenirs, and that’s the perfect place to find them.

After a day of eating junk, we topped it all off with a stop at Windy City Red Hots for dinner. It’s a small place, but luckily it was pretty empty when we stopped by, so we were able to snag one of their 2 tables. And we got hot dogs! Not just any hot dogs, they definitely have a superior dog. And it comes with a pickle! What could be better than that?

farewell tour: dc

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The parents were able to drag themselves out of bed a little earlier on day 2, so we headed downtown. I don’t drive downtown (unless I get stuck on a bridge), so we headed to the metro, and rode the train in to the metro center.

We bought tickets on a hop-on-hop-off bus, then rode it around to the Capitol. We walked around to the back side to get to the Library of Congress, as the dad wanted to see it on the recommendation from a friend. Visiting the nation’s library doesn’t sound terribly exciting, especially if you don’t plan to check out any books, but the building is quite impressive.

Besides all the architecture, mosaic work, and artwork, there are several exhibits. We got a chance to see the most influential American books, maps (they used to think California was an island!), and Jefferson’s original collection. I’ve been to Monticello, it’s hard to imagine how Jefferson fit all those books in his library. Perhaps Mrs. Jefferson really made the book donation …

For lunch, we made a stop at the American Indian Museum cafe and ate food from the great plains: indian tacos and a buffalo burger. Overpriced, yes, but at least the food there has a fun theme to it!

We tried to hop back on the bus, but waited for 30 minutes for a bus that was too full for us. And our 30 new friends. 10 minutes later they sent us an empty bus for us all, but it was frustrating, as time was ticking! We had things to see!

We rode the bus around for the rest of the tour, and got all the city highlights. We jumped on the green loop to tour georgetown and other non-mall areas, but that was a mistake. We did get the see the National Cathedral covered with scaffolding to fix the earthquake damage, but the traffic was bad and the driver drove as fast as he could in clear stretches to stay on schedule. It was quite a bumpy ride, I had difficulty staying in my seat. I would have reported the driver to the company, but he mentioned that he was leaving the job in 3 days, so perhaps he had already been reported.

Before heading home, we hit the gift shops at the Spy Museum and the Crime Museum. They are both excellent museums, but there are only so many hours in the day. But, you know, there’s always time for shopping! The dad picked up an NCIS hat for himself, and a few other trinkets.

We walked to the metro, rode the metro to the car, and took the car home, where we filled the husband in on our day. (It was so much fun! There was no working! We just spent bunches of your money!)

Dinner was Cheeburger, a local burger joint that we won’t have in Texas. The dad had a salmon burger, which he was a little disappointed in because he lives in the Pacific Northwest. Where if you order a salmon burger for dinner, that salmon was swimming in the river that morning. I had my standard BLT, the husband his standard semi-serious burger, and the mom had a tiny classic burger. The waitress forgot to put the husband’s order in, however, so he got to sit and watch us eat our yummy food. The manager comped his burger, though, so that sort of made up for the fact that he had to scarf his burger down when it finally arrived.

All in all, an exhausting day, but that’s what being a tourist is all about!

The sister had one day of fun before she had to head back home, so we went downtown to see the Alamo and the River Walk. She wanted to see the Alamo because, come on! It’s the Alamo! And the River Walk because of something about Cloak and Dagger. Which makes me wonder, why has she even seen that movie?? She was born in 1990. I’ve seen the movie about a thousand times because it was somebody’s favorite (maybe b2?), but I don’t even remember anything about it.

Even though my new home is in the boonies, we made it downtown and found a place to park in less than 30 minutes. Yay for 70 mile an hour speed limits through the heart of a city! Unless you don’t know where you’re going, then good luck to you. Just keep moving!

We wandered through the Alamo, and I recounted the story as best as I could remember. William B. Travis! Santa Anna! All the women and children hiding in one room! Nobody came to help! Everybody died! But, they slowed the Mexicans down long enough for Sam Houston to get into place and then he wiped out Santa Anna! Texas independence!!

It was early, so the river walk was pretty dead, but we found a place to eat lunch. The sister doesn’t like Mexican food, but I doubt whether she’s ever had Tex-mex. The parents were raised on Arizonan-mex, which is not the same kind of food you find in Texas at all. For one thing, Tex-mex isn’t ever a man-vs-food style heat challenge like Sonoran food often is. And another thing, Tex-mex includes chili! As someone who grew up with Sonoran-mex, that’s just blasphemous and silly. But, it is what it is. And, it’s yummy!

So, suffice it to say, we ate at the Rainforest Cafe. Because what says San Antonio like the Rainforest Cafe?! We were seated by the animatronic pandas, and decided to split the chicken parmesan. Which worked out well, as we are both tiny people with tiny appetites. Ok, so she’s a tiny person, I’m just a small one. 🙂 And I never get to split anything!

Given the fact that the Rainforest Cafe isn’t an Italian place, the chicken parmesan was surprisingly good. And we still didn’t clean our split plates! I was closer than the sister, as I’ve got 6 inches and 40 pounds on her, but it was still more food than I could eat. And I can put down an 8″ Deli like nobody’s business, so it was definitely a generous portion. No wonder America is fat.

After lunch, we hit the mall to do some shopping, and caught Batman at the IMAX theater. I had already seen it (duh), but the sister hadn’t, and she doesn’t live near any IMAX screens. So Batman it was! She liked it better than the husband did, but she, too, was bothered by the Ra’s al Ghul story not adding up. Because she reads comics. All of them. While I am conversant with many of the major characters in the major comics, she actually reads the things. It sure does make a geek girl proud. /sniff

We grabbed some Yummi Japanese on the way home, and the sister introduced me to Ramune. Which is just soda in a glass bottle. With a marble in it. And also tamago. Not only does my sister out-nerd me, she out-japaneses me, despite the fact that I have the Japanese name. Just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

After our gyoza and sushi, we slept in the new house on air mattresses that Amazon left on the front porch for us. Despite the fact that they are 4-in-1 mattresses, they clearly only have 3 configurations: 2 twins, 1 twin, or 1 king. I guess maybe math isn’t a requirement for marketing majors?

A few months back, the husband decided we should move to Texas. After some thought, I decided I was up to the adventure. I married a Texan; I knew the day would come when I, too, would become a Texan. I’m pretty sure it’s in the marriage vows.

And so ensued a whirlwind of activity: renting out our house, finding a rental home, finding jobs … I thought it was all supposed to be hard, but everything fell into place without too much effort. Moving is easy y’all! I think I’ll do it more often!

To get my car to our new home, we decided I’d drive down early and take care of logistics (internet and cable, really … the husband might just die without internet and cable). But I didn’t want to drive for 26 hours all by myself, so I flew my sister out. She couldn’t take a whole week off (ah, the shackles of adulthood), but she managed a long weekend for a ‘road trip’. Little did she know it was less a road trip and more just a whole lot of driving.

I quit my job early in the afternoon, hopped in the car, picked up my sister, and we were off! We managed to beat DC traffic and had ourselves a looooong drive through Virginia.

At the recommendation of a few coworkers, we stopped just shy of the Tennessee border, and called it a night. The Virginia side of the border is supposedly ‘nicer’ than the Tennessee side; I had to laugh when I looked out our hotel window and found a lumber yard. Admittedly, it was a clean and orderly lumber yard, but I was promised mansions and golf courses!

Day two took us through Tennessee, with a quick stop in Nashville for lunch (and a t-shirt), and another stop in Memphis for another t-shirt. Both Nashville and Memphis seem like happenin’ places, I’d like to go back sometime and spend more than 30 minutes there.

We stopped just past Little Rock, and the sister decided to have a swim. I had forgotten a bathing suit, so she risked the dangers all by her lonesome, and managed to not get kidnapped by hill folk. The hill folk were a bit odd (“there was a guy in the hot tub … wearing a trucker hat “), but were apparently friendly enough. They told my sister they’d “see her later,” which left her hoping they meant at breakfast the next morning. And me hoping it was just an expression that they said without thinking of the meaning behind it.

We did manage to get out of town the next morning without incident, and made it to Texas. We drove through the husband’s home town and ate some really terrible barbecue because the good place was closed. Chicken Express would have been a much better choice.

Later that night we made it to our destination, and picked up some Rudy’s. This time the sister was impressed – brisket, sliced white bread, and cream corn – and decided that Texas barbecue doesn’t suck. Which is a good thing, otherwise the husband would have had to disown her. I’m pretty sure that was in the wedding vows, too.

This weekend, the husband and I made ourselves sandwiches for lunch.  As I assembled my turkey pita pocket sandwich, there just may have been a jealous onlooker …

the husband: Somebody made me a sandwich like that one time!

me: Oh?

the husband: It was really good.

me: Was it me?

the husband: Ohhhh, yeah, I think so.

me: <suppressed laugh> I see.

As he was already halfway through making  his wonder bread concoction, I didn’t figure it made sense to make him a pita sandwich.  But his child psychology worked, he got ‘somebody’ to make him turkey on pita (turkey in pita?) for dinner tonight.  I’m a sucker for a compliment, what can I say.  🙂

disaster averted

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the husband: <gets bread from cupboard, places two slices of bread on a plate>

the husband: <gets mayo from fridge, spreads mayo on each slice>

the husband: <gets mustard from fridge, squirts a circle of mustard on each slice>

the husband: <gets american cheese from fridge, peels off a slice, places on one slice of bread>

the husband: <tries to get ham from fridge>

the husband: <distraught> I don’t… I don’t have anything to put on my sandwich!

me: <looks at nearly finished sandwich>

me: I could fry you an egg.  Oh, I could if we HAD any eggs.

me: Well that’s really … that’s really sad.

me: Oh!  There’s chicken nuggets!  Or fish sticks!  In the freezer.  You could microwave some up real quick.

the husband: <rummages in freezer>

the husband: DINOSAUR CHICKEN NUGGETS!!!

And thus, disaster was averted, and dinner was not a sad affair.  In fact, there may have been a song about a stegosaurus in there somewhere …

on ravioli

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The husband thought he was going to be out for awhile last night, so I was left to my own devices for dinner.  But then when he came home earlier than expected and hungry for a dinner of his own, I offered up my leftovers.

me: Do you want some ravioli?  I had extra.

the husband: um, half a can of ravioli?  That’s not very much.

me:  <blink> <blink> No, it’s real ravioli.  <Getts tupperware from fridge to illustrate point> See?

the husband: <eyes warily>

me: There’s no sauce on it, you can put sauce on it.

the husband: <eyes warily>

me: They just have a little olive oil to keep them from all sticking together.

the husband:  hmm.  <Gets bread from the cupboard>  I think I’ll have a bologna sandwich.

seattle

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I booked a red-eye out of Seattle for our trip home from Leavenworth, because I wasn’t sure when the rest of the family would be leaving – and also because it was really cheap.  Turns out people don’t like to spend the night in a tiny airplane seat …

With the family departing early in the day, that meant the husband and I had a long time to spare before our 11 pm flight.  So we spent the day in Seattle!

I know I’m from Washington state and all, but I’ve never really spent much time in Seattle.  With this latest adventure, that brings me to 4 whole days in the city. 🙂

On our way to Seattle, we stopped at Jack in the Box for lunch.  I miss that place.  I don’t understand why there aren’t any in Virginia.  🙁  If one ever opens in the northern Virginia area, I think it’s safe to say that the husband and I will single-handedly keep it in business …

Once we reached the city, we parked by the waterfront, and made our way to the Aquarium.  There were a lot of people out and about, and the aquarium was no exception.  We did get to see the feeding of the sea otters and the seals (or sea lions?  I always get them mixed up …), which is always fun.

After the aquarium, we wandered up to Pike’s place market.  And I mean UP.  Unfortunately, it was ridiculously crowded, so we didn’t stick around to do any shopping.  We watched the fish guys holler at each other for awhile, but there wasn’t much throwing going on, so we left.

We stumbled across the BEST chocolate chip cookies ever.  The signage was a little disturbing – it’s a cookie masquerading as a cow-pie in a field – but we took the plunge.  And it was oh so yummy!  And the best part is … they deliver!  I haven’t ordered any yet – they are a tad expensive, especially when you add the shipping in – but I have a feeling I will some day.

Next up was the Ducks tour, but they were sold out.  Never underestimate the draw of the amphibious vehicle tour …

So we ended up across the street at the Experience the Music Project/Sci-fi Museum.  Everybody (b2, the husband’s work buddies) kept telling us to hit EMP, but it was actually the sci-fi part that got us in the door.  They have a great exhibit of sci-fi goodies: comic books, star trek props, star wars props, a fan-made borg costume (looked better than a lot of the real stuff, IMO), and an animatronic teenage mutant ninja turtle!

After we were done with that, we hit the EMP.  It was a lot of interactive stuff that we passed on, but I think if we had been in the mood, it would have been a lot of fun to lay down our own tracks and shoot a music video.

After that, we made our way to the airport, turned in the car, and tried to check in.  Except we couldn’t because the ticket counter was closed.  And the auto-checkin machines were turned off.  We were, admittedly, a little early, but if we’d have known we’d be sitting in front of the ticket counter for an hour, we might have laid down some tracks.  Or at least found one last Jack in the Box …

Once we checked in, we went through security.  As is expected when you fly.  It’s the place where you remove your jackets, belts and shoes.  And remove your laptop from it’s case.  And empty the change and keys from your pockets.  And put your 3 oz bottles of liquids and gels in a 1-quart ziploc bag in a bin such that it is visible to the security folks.

I know the drill.  The husband knows the drill.  Everybody who flies out of Dulles knows the drill.  And thus I am spoiled and shocked when I encounter people who do not know the drill.

We were behind one man who had to go through again because he didn’t empty his pockets.  And he GRUMBLED as he put his handfuls of change in a bowl.  Seriously?  Dude, you are walking through a METAL detector.  It detects METAL.  Like that $4 in change you just put in the bowl.  Metal detectors are not new at airports, they were there even before the 9/11 craziness started.  It’s not like they suddenly changed the rules on him.  If he’s flown at all in the last 20 years (that’s when my flying experience started, so I can’t vouch for before that), then he’s been through a metal detector.  Where he’s had to empty his pockets.

We were behind another gentleman who had trouble with the ‘remove your belt’ thing.  He removed his belt, but then proceeded to walk through the metal detector with it IN HIS HANDS.  Um, sir – they asked you to remove it so you could put it in a bin and NOT set off the detector …

And, lastly, a young man who was insistent that if he removed his belt, his pants would fall off.  Which was true, but the TSA gentleman had a suggestion for him:  HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTS until you get your belt back on.  Which he finally did.

Everything else was uneventful, thankfully, and we made it safely back home.

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