Thursday, May 05, 2011

Day 16: Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Arizona & New Mexico

Before we left Sin City, we had to stop at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (the pawn shop on the hit TV show "Pawn Stars"). Klay absolutely loves that show and I like it too. We walked in to the amazingly crowded pawn shop, which looks just like it does on the shop. Klay watched something about the filming of the show a while back and because the show has become so popular, they only allow the people in the shop that they're talking to while they film (so they completely clear out all the other customers). The guys on the show only come out for the filming because they get swarmed with fans. After visiting it in person, we see why. There were so many people at the shop (they even have their own gift shop with t-shirts, mugs, blankets, etc. with Rick, Corey, Chum Lee and the Old Man's faces on it. The gift shop nearly took up half of the store.

The guys were in New York or so we were told. But it was definitely cool to walk around and see actual items that were purchased on the show. Klay would say "I remember that episode." That was a cool little pit stop on our way out of the city.

We headed south to the Hoover Dam, which was only 30 miles from Vegas. The dam is huge and tourists and travelers crowded the walkways taking pictures of the massive structure. It was designed from 1931-1935, and many people died during the construction of it. We kept joking that "The Cube" was below (as seen on "Transformers"). It was a pretty neat place to stop. We parked and had to walk down to be actually on the dam. I had to go to the bathroom, and the long walked like to kill me. Note: When visiting the Hoover Dam, go to the restroom before you actually get to the dam!

After viewing the site, we headed to the south rim of the Grand Canyon (about a 4-hour drive from Hoover Dam). The Grand Canyon is what it promises--grand. It's crazy how large and immense it is! It was definitely worth the drive. We walked a bit on a trail enjoying the spectacular view when Klay's nose started to bleed. We had to walk all the way back to the car to get some napkins for him.

It was around 5 p.m. when we finally reached the Grand Canyon so after walking around the time flew by. We wanted to get to New Mexico tonight. After 15 days of travel, we're now officially tired of being in the car. We're just ready punch the rest of this trip out and stay in a house!

After stopping off a few more times and enjoying the site of the Grand Canyon, we headed and went through Flagstaff. I started driving (Klay was tired) to try to see how far we could get. After 5 more hours of driving, we landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico around 1 a.m., where we stopped and are staying in a hotel.

Ready to relax until we leave in the morning!

This trip has been crazy!

See how it all ends "From the Road..." as we round up the end of the trip!

Day 15: Viva Las Vegas

We woke up around 11 a.m. It was so nice to sleep in and not have to get up and get in the car! We got ready and took the dogs outside for a walk. Walking the dogs to their 'potty area' outside of the hotel, we had to walk through the casino. I can't tell you how many people "awed" at our pups. Everyone seemed to be amazed by them--like they've never seen dogs before.

Billie would turn his head at the machines when they'd make noise, and overtime we'd walk by this cafe, he'd try to pull me in there. He really wanted some food!

We had lunch at the Tequila Bar in Bally's hotel and casino (which is connected to Paris Hotel), where we ordered the biggest plate of nachos. It was $16, but we split it. We didn't even scratch the surface of the plate. These were some TEXAS size nachos (I know all my Alaska buddies will roll their eyes at that comment). We gambled at Bally's  where we had no luck and then walked to Planet Hollywood, and gambled a bit there (again, no luck!). We just walked around seeing what all Vegas had to offer.

We went back to the hotel to check on the pups, and Klay took a nap (it was already 6 p.m.). Since he fell asleep, so did I. We woke up around 8:30 p.m. and headed out again. We walked over to the Bellagio to watch the famous fountain. That was pretty cool. Of course, we saw it shoot up the night before, but we didn't actually watch the entire thing.

We walked all the way down to MGM (gambled a bit; again, won nothing) and New York, New York, which was pretty cool. We ate and by the time we left, it was already past midnight, so we headed back toward the hotel.

One thing that was sort of annoying are the people on the corners of the street trying to hand men cards with the number for escorts on there. These people are everywhere handing out these cards and there are at least five of them on each corner. That sort of gets old.

But overall Vegas at night is a sight to see. It's seriously a town that never sleeps. I'm amazed at how many people are there and work at all hours of the night. I don't know how they do it.

Klay and I enjoyed our last night walking around and taking in Vegas. We actually got to spend some quality time together, laughing and enjoying each other.

For some reason, Klay thinks it's funny to talk in different accents to people. So, he definitely kept me amused!

We got back to the room past 1 a.m., took showers (have to get that smoke-smell off!)  and then went to bed. Off to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and stay up-to-date "From the Road…" for more details from our trip! It's not over yet! =)

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Day 14: Leaving SD and onto Las Vegas, NV

Before leaving San Diego, we, OF COURSE, had to hit up the Chargers fan shop at Qualcomm Stadium. We both bought shirts and then we went to the ticket office. After talking to the man about how we drove all the way from Alaska to see the stadium, a man was nice enough to show us the field where all of the action happens. The field wasn't painted or anything, but it was definitely cool to see where the Chargers play! Klay was exceptionally excited. We hope to one day come back and go to a game!

After that we headed to Vegas, and on the way I fell asleep. My eye hadn't gotten much better and was irritating me so I took a nap. I woke up and we were right outside of Nevada state line. As soon as we crossed the state line there were casinos, hotels and shops. But we moved forward toward our destination.

We stayed at Paris Hotel on the Vegas strip. They accepted dogs for a decent price and allowed guests to leave their pets in the room (which most hotels don't allow), so it was a perfect fit for us! Seeing Vegas in person is pretty awesome. Neither of us have ever been, so we were ready to get out there and experience it.

After we got settled in our room, we went to eat--we were starving--and then we walked around the strip--and there are lots of weird people out there. It was cool though to see all the people who stand out there and showcase their talents. And as some of you may know, you can walk around and carry your beer/drinks on the strip wherever you go, so there were tons of drunks too.

We went to gamble at Harrah's first and didn't really win much there. We were about to head to Caesar's Palace when we saw this guy who was spray painting pictures of the Vegas skyline with just the spray can and paper (it's hard to describe, but he's crazy talented). Klay and I ended up watching him for 30 minutes and bought two paintings.

We arrived at Caesar's Palace, and I sat down and put a $20 bill in a quarter slot machine. The first pull, I got nothing; but the second, I won $175 bucks. Klay didn't believe me until he walked over to the machine. After I didn't hit on that machine anymore, so I walked around to another one and hit $40 right off the bat. Then I'd work my way down to about $150 and hit $60. I probably hit $60 bucks on this machine four times and hit $120 once. I ended up playing that machine for two hours because every time I'd get to stopping point it'd bump me back up. I ended up walking away winning $130.

I know for Vegas it might not be that much, but at least I was winning and not losing! I can't say the same for Klay; he had no luck. Poor thing, his money went quick!

On the way back to our hotel, we decided to stay another night. We were dying to sleep in, actually relax and take a day to do whatever we wanted. We got back to the room around 1:30 a.m., took a shower and crashed!

Having fun living the Vegas lifestyle...tune in tomorrow for more "From the Road…"

Monday, May 02, 2011

Day 13: Laguna Beach & San Diego, CA

Today was the most exciting day for Klay. Like my day yesterday, he got his "Buffy" moment. We arrived in San Diego, got situated in our hotel and headed to Qualcomm Stadium, where the San Diego Chargers play (Klay's favorite NFL team and mine too). So he was excited to finally see in person the city of San Diego and of course the stadium!

The team shop was closed, so we will hit that up tomorrow, so we drove around the stadium looking everything over. I could really tell he was so happy to see it, but I know he was disappointed that the team fan shop was closed and it wasn't football season. He's dying to go to a game.

After looking at the stadium, we went to eat at Dave and Busters and play some games. We were just enjoying ourselves as much as possible. It's gotten to the point now where it's really hard to leave the dogs in the car (because it's hot) and having dogs on the trip has hindered us on our options for things to do. And the dogs are getting more and more restless in the car. I think they're ready to be back at home.

But it was nice to chill out and joke around for a while!

With it being our last night on the California coast, Klay and I took the dogs to a nearby beach for a walk. We were going to watch the sun set, but we couldn't find a parking spot (I guess everyone had the same plan we did) so we caught just the tip of the sun as it finally set. Then we sat on a bench looking at the ocean and enjoying the view. It was so pretty and definitely makes us question moving back to Texas.

So not too much happened today, we'll probably do some more cruising around San Diego tomorrow. Supposed to head to Vegas tomorrow too!

I'll be hearing the sound of slot machines in my sleep!

P.S. We also passed through Laguna Beach! It was a pretty cool town with houses everywhere. The beach was crazy crowded too! But it was neat to finally pass through it after watching the show so much. =)

Stay tuned for more "From the Road..."

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Day 12: Malibu, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills & Hollywood

Before we left sunny Santa Barbara, Klay and I decided to take a nice walk on the beach. It was beautiful and relaxing! Klay really loved Santa Barbara and says he likes southern California better than northern Cali. But we just took our time and walked along the beach, soaking in the sun and fun, before heading to the city.

After seeing how beautiful Santa Barbara is on the beach , we definitely weren't ready to go to chaotic Los Angeles. But to fit in the basic tourist attractions in LA we had to take off.

We traveled down Hwy 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), going through Malibu, passing Neptune's Net (the place seen on "Fast and the Furious" and a few other TV shows and movies like "The Hills"). Traveling on a Saturday in Malibu and Los Angeles was terrible--at least it was for us, and perhaps this is why we enjoyed Oregon so much. For one, there were way too many people and cars in Malibu and LA. When we finally got to Santa Monica, we just rolled on through because it was crazy busy and packed with no parking anywhere. So, we headed toward Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I'd been to LA before (in 2006) so I'd seen all of this, but of course I wanted to show Klay the 'touristy' type attractions.

We went down Rodeo Dr (of course) and headed to Hollywood Blvd to park and walk down the 'Walk of Fame.' We walked down looking at all the stars w/ celeb names lined along the street.

Apparently, there was an event happening Grauman's Chinese Theatre (it was some kind of film festival) so it was packed.

We didn't get to do too much walking around there because it was 80 degrees and we had to leave the pups in the car (we cracked the windows), so we didn't stay long.

We spent the next hour and a half trying to find somewhere to eat (our GPS was messing up), and then we would go to a place and it wasn't there or didn't look very good. The one thing really stupid thing I will say about LA is that there are NO, and I mean NO, green left arrow lights. So with all of the people in the city and with every street packed and busy, you have to gun it when the light is yellow to turn left; it's awful and left turns take forever because of it. And, once again we have pedestrians and bicyclists flying out in front of the vehicle at their own will. A couple of them almost got hit--not by us, but some other people!

Overall this was one of those frustrating days where every place we turned had construction, we kept spilling things or knocking things over (which created more problems and frustration), and had trouble with virtually everything. We were still having some fun, but it was too busy out for us to really enjoy ourselves.

The one thing that I'd always dreamed of doing was visiting the school where "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," my favorite TV show, was filmed (along with other shows/movies like "Beverly Hills 90210," "She's All That," "Bring It On," "Not Another Teen Movie," among many others). And today, my dream finally came true!

I'd googled it's location (along with a couple of other Buffy filming locations, which we didn't go to), and Klay and I found it! I flipped when I finally saw it.

Luckily, Torrance High School (the name of the actual school), was having an event and they had the school not completely gated off. So, Klay and I walked around and I was citing lines from "She's All That" and "Buffy" showing him where they filmed what scene and what episode it was in, etc.  Then, we found the Sunnydale HS courtyard (Sunnydale is the fictional town Buffy lives in)!

I seriously had  a few tears come out! I know, I know I'm lame! But imagine this, people: I've watched this show since the 4th grade.

I've seen every episode, and the first couple seasons are my absolute favorites--I might possibly be the biggest Buffy fan ever (check out my old Facebook photos for proof; pics of my old Buffy room are on there). I think I know most of the words to every show, so seeing this literally made be the happiest Buffy fan on the planet.

This day definitely ended on a high note--at least for me! Klay kept joking that we needed to be careful and watch out for all the demons because we were on the hellmouth! Just an FYI--I'm kicking some vampire butt in the picture to the right! This was definitely one of the coolest things I've done. Now, I just want to get my DVDs of the show and watch them for the millionth time!

Tonight we're staying at the Ramada Inn in Newport Beach. This hotel is completely booked (no joke) along with the rest of the hotels in Newport. We're lucky enough to have the laundry room right next to us (that was sarcasm) and it's midnight and the housekeeping staff is still working. So that's sort of annoying because the dogs flip out when they hear people talking and walking. It's now 1:20 a.m. and I'm still not asleep.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this post! Tomorrow's destination: San Diego! Gooooo Chargers! Whoop!

Thanks for reading "From the Road..." and stay tuned for more posts!

Day 11: Santa Barbara, CA

Ok, I apologize for not posting last night! I'll explain all that happened...

We got off to a late start to the day not leaving the hotel til around 10 a.m. Then, we went to an urgent care center (called 'Doctors on Duty') to find out what was wrong with my eye and get medicine (it started to get worse overnight). Luckily, the place we went to took Tricare (our insurance) and we sat and waited for about 45 minutes until I was seen by a doctor.

The doctor came in for a 2 WHOLE minutes, looked at my eye, told me it was infected and prescribed me some antibiotic eye drops. We spent another hour and half talking to 8 people on the phone with our insurance and Elmendorf (our base in Alaska) to make sure that we wouldn't have to pay for the visit. It's hard to explain, and it's boring, so basically we were annoyed with talking to so many people who all told us several different things to do. It was frustrating and took up the bulk of our day.

We arrived in Santa Barbara (about a 3 1/2 hour drive) around 4 p.m. and ate late lunch. I wanted to go to Santa Barbara Winery (a winery I visited in 2006) and do a tasting. We made it just in time, a little before 5 p.m. (which is when it closed), to do a tasting. The tasting cost $5 and we got to taste six wines (they actually gave us a free one, and I asked to try two more, so we tried nine). Klay and I tend to sway more toward white wines instead of reds, and we already had bought three white wines, so we were trying to find a red we liked. We ended up buying two red wines at the Syrah and a ZCS.

Then, we walked across the street to do another tasting at Oreana Winery. It was $6 for six wines and was a really cool place! In the photo of Klay and I, we were about to drink the "Eliminator" which has 20% alcohol content. It was a little strong for me, but wasn't too bad.

A block away from Oreana, was another winery, which gave a whopping 11 tastings for $8. Their wines we weren't to crazy about. But we met some friendly folks who suggested some places to stop at in Los Angeles.

Our hotel was right around the corner and I'd already started getting a headache. I thought about blogging, but when Klay got out the computer, we apparently had to pay money for Wifi! I went ahead and went to sleep (although I probably wouldn't have blogged any way; the wine got the best of me). I woke up with a massive migraine, took some medicine, went back to sleep and woke up just peachy (literally no headache or anything)! Needless to say we didn't stop at any more wineries before leaving Santa Barbara.

But Klay and I really had fun and have learned a lot more about wine on our trip!

Stay tuned for more "From the Road..."

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