Eating Las Vegas!

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!

 

Viva Las Vegas!

Engage!

San Antonio reached an unheard of 105 degrees, so the husband and I decided to find someplace even hotter to spend a few days. You know, to make San Antonio seem downright tolerable.

 

Or maybe it was the 30th anniversary of Star Trek TNG and we bought tickets months in advance to the big Star Trek convention?

Either way, Vegas in August is hot, y’all. Do not go outside. You may spontaneously combust.

Luckily, there was not much venturing outside for us as we stayed at the Rio, where the massive Trek party was held. That’s right, 5 days of insane introvert fun! We met no people and made no new friends, despite the fact that we spent 5 days with thousands of likeminded people! Introvert mission accomplished!

5 days of Trek is … a lot of Trek. The casual fan may wonder, what can you possibly do for 5 days?

Well, there’s panels! Panels with TOS actors. And with TNG actors. And with DS9 actors. And with Voyager actors. And with Enterprise actors. And with Discovery actors. And with the movie actors. And with the NEW movie actors. And with writers.

So … that’s a lot of panels.

And then there’s the autographs! Which means lots of waiting in line for autographs.

And then there’s the photo ops! Which means lots of waiting in line for photo ops.

And then there’s all the people that are dressed up! Which means a lot of people watching.

And then there’s the vendors room! With that one toy you wanted when you were a kid but couldn’t afford because, well, you were a kid. Still in the package, even.

And then there’s the trivia challenges and auctions and tv and movie prop displays.

It’s a little hard to believe, but … we didn’t even do all the things. Turns out maybe 5 days isn’t quite enough, after all.

 

5 years?!

I meant to just take a little break to get settled into the new Texas life … but, uh, then 5 years went by.

So what happened?

Facebook. Facebook happened. Well, really, Facebook + Smart Phones. It’s just so easy to post my inane thoughts to the computer in my pocket! And I get instant likes! From my captive audience of 300 friends!

(Well, not my captive audience. But a captive audience. Because they are all checking their like counts on their … slightly less inane posts.)

So, quick 5-year recap:

  • I look like a legit grown up now! Many of my earlier posts are so whiny about how people never take me seriously because they don’t think I’m an adult, but my face has finally arrived at adulthood! I had suspected it would happen around 40, and that’s about right. I’m not quite there, but … almost. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m almost there.
  • We had a house built! In Texas, where land is abundant and materials and labor are cheap. So there’s acres of wood floors! And the largest granite island known to mankind. Like you can see it from space big. Except for we do have a roof, so you can’t really.
  • I’m obsessed with knitting now. Beyond obsessed, really, if that’s a thing. I’m in a real live knitting guild. And then like 2 other local San Antonio groups. And then … I started my own group. And I go to knitting retreats. And knitting conferences! Like comic cons, but for knitting.
  • The husband launched his writing career! He’ll be a famous writer any day now, I just know it. Or, perhaps, any day after he finishes his novel. Which has 7 really awesome chapters! And a whole bunch of chapters that are still rattling around in his head. That are probably also awesome, I just can’t vouch for them yet.
  • We’ve travelled to a billion awesome places!
  • B2, B3 and the sister are all married! B2 even has some babies!

I know that’s not it (5 years is kind of a long time), but that’s all the things that popped into my head just now. Hopefully the next update won’t take 5 years, but, uh, no promises. 🙂

farewell tour: slow sunday

After all the madness, Sunday was a much needed day of rest. We slept in, and had a nice lunch of fancy sandwiches! In preparation for the parents’ arrival, I had bought adorable little sandwich rolls and deli meats and cheeses. I didn’t think they’d last till Sunday, but we’d been so busy, there hadn’t been a chance to eat them yet.

After lunch, we went to church where we said a few goodbyes. It’s been a mad-rush of a move, so I expect that in a few months, there’ll be some folks at church wondering what exactly happened to us.

We had a breakfast-for-dinner of bacon and biscuits and gravy. It was a little difficult to eat as we had already given away our dining room table in anticipation of the move. Oops. But we managed.

We drove up to the Mormon temple, and saw the artwork at the visitor center there. The Sunday show was an orchestral concert, and as none of us apparently like orchestras, we headed home before the show.

Which gave us enough time to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes! Neither of the parents had seen it, so the husband decided that’s the show they should see. They enjoyed the monkeys (apes! I mean apes!), but who wouldn’t? Andy Serkis is a motion capture genius.

farewell tour: renaissance festival

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

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!

farewell tour: harper’s ferry

On account of all the jet lag, the parents slept in on their first full day in town. I had a leisurely morning, and figured I should let them sleep on account of they were on vacation and all.

Since we got a late start, we headed to Harper’s Ferry, since it’s a short drive. We stopped at a fabric store in Purcelville on the way. Because the mom has discovered the internet, y’all! And she found out you can find fabric stores on it! I found a book to buy in case, you know, I ever take up sewing like I keep thinking I might.

We made it Harper’s Ferry, and took the Park Ranger tour, and learned all about the Civil War Battle of Harper’s Ferry. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I always got a very different perspective of the Civil War than is presented in the more southerly parts of the country. It is a little strange to hear about the genius and bravery and courage of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. And the ineptitude of the Union forces. I suppose in moving to Texas, I will have to get used to it. Not in a ‘the South will rise again’ kind of way, but a Southern pride sort of way.

It was an excellent tour, done by a Park Ranger who looked all of 18 years old. He really knew his stuff, though, and there weren’t any questions that stumped him. I would recommend the tour for anyone, no matter what side of the country they happen to fall on.

After the tour, we took the bus down to the lower town, where they’ve reconstructed many of the buildings and put in exhibits. We learned all about John Brown, as well as the history of industry and flooding and whatnot. We ate a ridiculously overpriced lunch on High Street, but it kept us from starving to death. Which, as we all know, Americans are at very high risk of.

We made it home in good time, and the parents watched the traffic in the opposite direction with surprise. But that’s how you get it all! A big house AND a job! You live in West Virginia, but work in the DC area. And then you sit. in. traffic. But we were moving in the opposite direction, so there were no hurdles in our way.

The husband and I treated the parents to none other than tater tot casserole. I don’t know if they were impressed or not, but it was much yummier than the chewy steaks we’d had the night before.

farewell tour

A week before the husband decided we should move, the parents decided they should visit. Alaska had just opened up a non-stop flight from Portland to DC, and, at least to start off with, they were offering really low fares. And so a trip was booked.

Since I quit my job and all, that freed up some serious time for sight-seeing! And also since I’m leaving this place I have lived for the last 10 years, I made sure to take my parents to all my favorite places … oh, and maybe a thing or two they might have been interested in. 🙂

On account of having driven my car to Texas, I rented a car for the parents’ visit. And since I picked it up at 8 pm, they were all out of the small suv class of vehicle that I had reserved. So would I like to take a nicer car? Like a fully loaded Ford Edge? At no extra cost? Darn tootin, I would!

So, I picked up the parents at DCA during the evening rush hour and managed to stay out of DC! While this may sound like an easy task, let me assure you, it is not. There are a multitude of major intersections in the Alexandria/Arlington area, and it is easy to accidentally get yourself on a bridge into DC. I lived in Arlington for 6 months. I hate the Arlington Memorial bridge. You’d think it’d be easy to, um, oh, NOT DRIVE ON ANY BRIDGES. And to stay in Virginia. But it can be a tricky task, what with 395 and 66 and 50 and the GW Parkway and 1 and 110 all merging and splitting and exiting on the left sometimes and on the right sometimes.

But, anyway, I got the parents home without taking a detour through DC. I drove all expert-like, just like someone who has, oh, maybe lived here for 10 years.

And to celebrate, we went out to the sister’s favorite ‘DC’ restaurant: Logan’s. It was a bust, though, as the bread was overcooked, and all our steaks were from a rather tough batch of beef. In general, Logan’s serves the best $10 steak around, but from our meal, the parents certainly weren’t convinced. But, the mom had fun throwing peanut shells on the floor, so I suppose maybe it wasn’t a complete loss.

yeehaw and darn tootin: texans aren’t murderous thieves edition

As I was cleaning up around the house last night, I realized I could only find 2 of the 3 house keys that I had copied. I looked all over the kitchen and laundry room, in drawers, on the floor, under the new microwave, and came up empty.

Immediately, I thought of the parade of strangers I’ve had in the house: 2 Best Buy delivery guys, 3 cable guys, and an A/C repairman. I had been storing the copies on the uber-secure open countertop.

None of the guys had seemed shady, but I started to doubt my judge of character. Plus, if all ‘bad guys’ seemed shady, we’d sure have an easier time avoiding trouble.

In the daylight, I am rational. I am fearless. I will go toe-to-toe with most any challenge. But once the sun goes down – I become very aware of just what a little girl I am, and suddenly overwhelming danger lurks around every corner. Locked inside the safety of my house, I am fine, but the possibility that somebody else had a key was enough to drive me to panic.

The husband tried to talk me down from my ledge over the phone, but I was having none of it. I packed up my stuff, and drove down the street to check in to the La Quinta.

Once I got checked in, I called the husband back, and he asked me if I had checked all my pockets. Hmmm, my, um pockets? Why no, I hadn’t checked any of my pockets …

Most of my pockets were outside in the car, so I decided to check in the morning. I enjoyed my sleep in a real bed, in a hotel room that was nicely air conditioned.

Sure enough, this morning I found the last key in my yester-yester-pants. It was such a relief! Nobody wants to chop me up in little pieces! Or steal my Dynex!

I guess Texans really are nice people, after all.

yeehaw and darn tootin: happy camper edition

As often happens when you have two different services set up for the same day, the cable guy and the A/C guy showed up at the same time. The A/C guy quickly diagnosed the problem, and put in a quick fix (“should” last 24 hours, so at least it’ll get me through the night) and promised to come back tomorrow with the right parts. And the landlord sent him! So I don’t have to pay him! I guess renting does have its perks.

The cable guy found all the rest of my channels, so now I have the full complement of 208 ESPNs and 8517 movie channels. The husband will be so happy! Now the TiVo can tape all the shows here while we are in transit. Good thing we have two TiVos!