Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Home, I'm Exhausted and I'm NEVER Flying Frontier Again!

I had hoped to post while I was in Vegas. In fact, I carried my 18 pound laptop with me for that purpose. Connect fees were a mere $11.99 per day; however, if one forgot to lug their 18 pound laptop with them, they provided kiosks where one could connect for 25¢ a minute!

Missy and Jamal, our Zoo Crew, showed up last Thursday to stay the week with the beasties and do water duty for all of the weeds. Can't let them go while I'm gone.

On Friday morning, Missy and I got up early to do the morning chores. I had written her a 33 page instruction manual for her convenience. Fortunately, that didn't scare her off.

We finished packing. Actually to be honest, we started packing. Why rush things? We weren’t leaving town until 1. Somehow we managed. We even went to town to see Mom before we left.

We picked up Vicki and Ken and drove to Longmont. Mary was kind enough to offer to drive us to DIA so we didn't have to pay to park the car. Of course, we didn't tell her beforehand that we were flying out at 9:04 p.m.

We ate supper at Qdoba's, my favorite place to eat in Longmont, and then we headed for the airport. Check-in was very smooth and uneventful, leaving us with two hours to kill. We should have spent it in the bar. Had we only known that we needed to!

We finally boarded the plane when we SHOULD have been landing in Vegas. They were just a little behind schedule. However, the arrival and departure board had stated that they were on-time .... right up until the actual time they were supposed to show up and then they indicated the flight was delayed.

So now, instead of arriving at 10:29 like we were supposed to, we finally arrived just before midnight. We had all been up since 5 a.m. and were beginning to get a little grumpy. It took nearly two hours to pick up our luggage, get our rental car and drive to the motel. Dani texted me at about this time to see where we were and if we were having fun yet. Ummmm, no..... but little did we know that the real fun was just about to begin.

We arrived at the motel. Circus Circus hides their lobby behind and around three casino floors with poorly marked signage. Do you suppose there is some psychology to this? It only took us three tries to finally find where we were supposed to check in. We had chosen this motel because:
a). it was cheap
b). it was directly across from the Riviera
where the conference was being held
c). we didn't know better

We were on the 14th floor so we get into the elevator and go to the fourteenth floor only to discover that rooms 14732 and 14733 did not exist. We wandered down hall after hall trying to find the right tower with the right 14th floor.

Had we known that the motel and Vegas in general would look like this at all times, we would have reconsidered!

The next day we were scheduled for a Gray-Line tour. We had arranged this on-line. It was a day long tour that took us to the Ethel M chocolate factory, a riverboat cruise on Lake Mead, and a tour of Hoover Dam. We were to meet at
the clown sign at 8:25. Keep in mind that we hadn't gotten to our room until after 3:00. Naturally, they were late at didn't get there until after 9:00.

Our first stop was the Ethel M chocolate factory and cactus botanical garden. Of course, they weren't working because it was Saturday so all we got to see were empty rooms of equipment. It wasn't very exciting, but we enjoyed the free strawberry chocolate sample at the end of the tour.

I kind of went crazy with my camera in the cactus garden.

I really liked this particular cactus ...
... and this blooming one ...
... not to mention the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

Do you suppose this will grow in our zone?

I didn't know that creosote came from a tree.

Martini, anyone?

I really liked this tree, but could never find a label telling me what it was. So I still don't know, but I'm guessing it won't grow in good old Nebraska.

If anyone knows what it is, let me know.

I told you I went crazy with the camera.

Mardell really liked the palm trees.

We wanted to buy chocolate there, but it was 108 degrees and we were opposed to expensive chocolate soup, but I did get Dani and Krista a small memento for back to school.

Our next stop was Lake Mead where we went on a paddleboat cruise.

We had time to kill before the cruise started and the cruise line thoughtfully sold food to feed to the scavengers. Bags of popcorn were only $3.60.

Before we got on the paddleboat, they took our picture for posterity .... or else to identify the bodies in case of a disaster.

Would you believe this is the first picture of the two of us together for many, many years? We even look happy.

At least happier than Vicki, my co-teacher. She was threatening to do mean things to me with my camera if I took her picture.

Her hubby was oblivious to us. Or at least pretended to be. When we started talking about the book shelves he was building for our class room, he tuned in.

Lake Mead provides a great place for recreation. You can see how the level has dropped as the water is used for municipal water in Vegas. It drops about a quarter inch every day.

We really enjoyed the cruise.
We ate lunch on the ship and had the opportunity to walk along the deck and take pictures.

Jet skis whizzed by,

people were tubing,

and sailboats lazily floated by.

After the cruise, we went to Hoover Dam and took the tour into the belly of the dam. We were directly underneath the stored water. It is 726.4 feet from foundation rock to the roadway on the crest of the dam. The towers and ornaments on the parapet rise 40 feet above the crest.

This is the generator room on the Nevada side. The Arizona side has one more generator. All in all, there are 17 main turbines in the Hoover Powerplant. The original turbines were all replaced through an uprating program between 1986 and 1993. With a rated capacity of 2,991,000 horsepower, and two station-service units rated at 3,500 horsepower each, for a plant total of 2,998,000 horsepower. The plant has a nameplate capacity of about 2,080 megawatts. This includes the two station-service units, which are rated at 2.4 megawatts each.

Can you believe I remembered this? I didn't .... I googled it as I was doing this. It was very impressive. More impressive than my memory.
Here are a few more facts to impress you. Hoover Dam provides generation of low-cost hydroelectric power for use in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam alone generates more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours a year - enough to serve 1.3 million people.

All in all, it was a great way to spend my 45th birthday. Even if it was 108 degree with 65% humidity! So much for dry heat!

We got back to the motel and only spent 45 minutes looking for our room. I think they move the towers around while you are out of the room ... just so that you'll have to walk through their casinos to find them.

The next morning Vicki and I rose very early so that we could beat the crowd to pick up our packets for the conference. It was held at the Riviera.

The Riviera probably is better known for this image. You wouldn't believe the number of men who get their pictures taken next to this!

By the time we were done for the day, Vicki and I were exhausted. The conference was superb and we were pleased with the sessions that we had chosen for the day. The best part was the exhibit hall. Many, many vendors with lots and lots of books. So much for our pact not to buy any more books!

Mardell was brave and drove to the Fabric Boutique quilt shop. After having ridden with Ken to Circus Circus from the airport, I thought she was crazy, but she was back in the room unscathed when I returned.

I crashed for about an hour and then we braved up and ventured out amongst the masses to get supper. We ate at The Garden Grill. We had margaritas, crab and shrimp nachos and a scrumptious desert called Crepes of Cajeta. The margaritas were for medicinal purposes ... of course!

The next day Vicki and I attended the conference again. We bought more books. It seems that they put new ones out on the 50% off table each morning. Of course, we were compelled to check them out!

That night Mardell booked us a Neon Lights Night Tour. It was fabulous and well worth the money.
Our first stop was Caesar's Palace. We browsed around the forum shops while we waited for the fountain statues to come to life. This alone was worth battling the crowds!

The Luxor has the strongest beam of light in the world. It costs $56 an hour to power it.

Next we went to Bellagio's. We got to see the fountain as well as the indoor garden, glass flower ceiling, and a chocolate fountain that was one story tall.

Our last stop was Fremont Street for the Fremont Street Experience. We had $1.99 shrimp cocktail at The Gold Nugget while we watched the light show.
We arrived back at our motel after 11. It was a great evening and we both enjoyed it very much.

The rest of the time was spent at the conference. Vicki and I bought so many books that we had ship them home because they wouldn't fit in our luggage. Fortunately the Riviera thoughtfully provided a UPS shipping site in their Convention Center.

Vicki took Ken, Mardell and I out for supper at The Steak House for our birthdays. It was very expensive .... I ordered medium rare prime rib. It was literally mooing when it came to the table. I've gotten away from eating such rare meat .... I usually order medium to medium well anymore. But the coolest part of the meal was the pats of butter. I also had black bean soup which was delicious. It was a lot of fun and took me back to eating at the Country Club with Grandad Jiggs and Grandma Lou. The interior was dark like it used to be out there.

That left Thursday for us to play tourists. Ken and Vicki stayed to gamble while Mardell and I ventured out into the city. We went to a few more books stores, the quilt store, a fabric store and we ate lunch at Olive Garden. We picked Ken and Vicki up at 3:30 and returned the car to the rental place. Checked in our luggage and went through security. Our flight was scheduled for 8:04 so our timing was good.

I spotted an Ethel M chocolate store so I went to buy some more of the strawberry chocolate candies that we liked so well. The store was closed with a sign that they would re-open in fifteen minutes. The slots were close by so I put $5 into a Texas Tea machine and played. I was down to 33 credits when it hit and I won $59.10. I cashed out and then put $5 back in and hit $11.25. I figured that was about all the luck I would have, so I quit.
I bought us a sandwich at Wolfgang Puck's and some chocolate covered strawberries for supper. I figured that would tide us over until we got to Denver.

Our plane was late .... of course. It finally arrived at 8:40 and they had to service it and clean it before we could board. Finally got on board only to discover that a sensor on the landing gear wasn't working. Minor detail. It would be about fifteen to twenty minutes for the guy to service it. To appease us they turned on the free t.v. and handed out glasses of lukewarm water.
An hour later they announced that the plane could not be fixed in a timely fashion and they were going to de-plane us and wait for the one to arrive from Denver. It was due in at 10:39 and we would be on our way.

To make a long horror story short, we finally left Vegas after midnight and arrived in Denver at about 3:20. By the time we got our luggage it was 3:40. Mary picked us up .... we are so indebted to her. We drove to Longmont and dropped her off and then headed home. We finally arrived home at 8 a.m.

I am too damn old to pull two all-nighters within a week's time!


sisterthree said...

Hey Trudy! Happy belated bday! It was great to your pics from vegas. I forgot how hot it gets there. My favorite part of the city were the little sprinklers that shoot down on pedestrians to cool them off.

I love the picture of you and Mardell -- you guys look awesome! That's the only picture I've seen of you smiling, except one where you were dressed up like a mummy and it was just an implied smile.

Even with the delays, Fronteir is still my fave airline because they're the only ones with mini tvs on the back of each seat. (Although we always seem to get stuck in the front row with no tvs.)

It's fun seeing your trip like that! Keep posting pictures. I'll put some on too once everyone has had a chance to check yours out.
love ya,


SisterTwo said...

My friend Amy just got back from Annaheim, CA yesterday. They flew Frontier (Parrot on the plane) and arrived early. You must have been on the wrong plane. What were your animals?