Las Vegas Trip 2014 – Part 2

We left Zion around 6PM and headed to get our quickest fast food.  It turns out that was 30 minutes away and both kids had fallen asleep by then.  Of course, I still needed to pee, so I quickly ran in before we went through the drive-thru.  We continued down the road, Zach was driving until the sun started to set and he said he was too tired.

With both kids asleep and wanting to make the last hour or so into Vegas, Zach was tasked with at least talking to me as I drove.  It was great to have an in-depth, deep, uninterrupted discussion instead of just the day-to-day constantly interrupted conversations we normally have.

We arrived in Vegas around 9PM and unloaded the kids and the car to check into the hotel.  We were immediately hit with the casino smoke and had to walk around the casino to get to the check in desk.  I realized I’d forgotten to warn Isaac that there would be games everywhere, but that they were only for adult.  The kids were done and worn out.  The checkin process was a bit challenging as they had to wait.  Then we had to head back across the casino to the elevators.  I don’t know what was the best way.  I was tired and wearing Lynzie and dragging a bag and trying to keep Isaac with me.  So we ended up zig zaging the floor (I suppose there is really no easy way to get across because they want you to stop).  According to Zach (who was behind us) security started following us until we did reach the elevators.

Thank goodness I’d asked for a room near the elevator and we didn’t have much of a walk once we got to our floor.  When we went to Disney, I didn’t think about the elevator location, I’d never stayed in a BIG hotel and we were forever away from the elevators – bad idea.

Once we got settled, we needed to get the kids food.  Remember they slept from Zion to Vegas….thankfully, just a few floors down in our hotel was a McDonalds.  A McDonalds that was frequented by us during our stay – HiC Orange and plain cheeseburgers were practically a staple at the end of each day.

And then we slept…and slept so well!  It felt like we’d done a whole weeks vacation in one day, even the kids who’d slept often in the car, were ready for bed.

The next day (Friday) we grabbed breakfast and headed over to the hotel our friends were staying at to enjoy the pool with all the kids.  There hotel was not a casino and was close to the airport, we were the only people enjoying the pool, which gave us the freedom to let the kids venture and play more and we got to relax and chat.  It was a fun morning.

In the early afternoon, we headed out to get lunch and visit the strip.  First, on my priority list was locating where the wedding was going to take place.  In such a crazy, unfamiliar place, I needed to relive the stress of unknown.

So we drove around, found where to park at Caesar’s and then walked Caesar’s to find the wedding site and then we continued down the strip.  Taking in the sites, enjoying the fountains at Bellagio and the Conservatory (a favorite of ours).  Then we crossed the street and went into Coca-Cola World.  Zach had heard about a “coke flight” where you get to try soda from around the world.

The $7.50 we spent on the flight was probably some of the best money we spent in Vegas.  We unloaded the kids and backpacks and gathered around a tiny table with 16 cups of different colored sodas.  I didn’t expect Isaac to want to participate at all.  He is not a soda kid – it’s too spicy (or in other words carbonated)!  As I read the descriptions of each drink and sipped, Isaac went right along with us.  Even Lynzie joined in.  We laughed and tried to describe what we were drinking.  We talked about the countries and sang to the music on the radio.  It was serious fun and at the end we all got to drink the rest of our favorite.  The kids had to share because they both wanted the syrupy sweet drink from South Africa.

From the Coca-Cola store we headed next door to the M&M World.  This store was four stories and took us some time to get through as Lynzie wanted everything and she was walking.  We took in the 3D movie, but otherwise, that store was more of a pain than anything.

We jaunted across the street again to New York New York.  We didn’t do much here as we were getting hungry and tired, so we began to head back to the car in search of food on the way.  We stopped for a minute to let Isaac and Lynzie nibble on their leftover sandwich from lunch.

We saw 800 degrees – A pizza joint, that’s kinda like Chipotle.  You order your pizza and watch it get made and they stick it in a wood-fired oven and then bring it to you.  We decided to sounded good.  Lynzie had fallen asleep again and we attempted to work on Isaac’s homework as we waited for our pizza.  My pizza was okay, I didn’t get one with sauce and really wish I had, because the sauce was so yummy.  And the fresh basil…yum!  Zach’s pizza was definitely the best – fresh basil, red sauces and three meats I think.  The kids got plain cheese that they didn’t touch and I got a white chicken.

After dinner, we continued down the strip – getting to the Bellagio fountains just in time to watch the full show!

We got back to the car and went to the hotel.  We decided to go up the tower of the Stratosphere and enjoyed the night views of the strip.  Although it totally freaks me out and therefore, Lynzie got a big scared too.  I did much better on the open deck than I did on the inside view, seems strange since the outside view is even higher!  On our way back to the room, the kids decided they were hungry, so we picked up McD’s again.

On Saturday, we woke up and went down the pool.  We enjoyed some fruit for breakfast pool side, but the pool was extremely cold, so our time at the pool was short.  We bummed around the hotel, got lunch and got ready for the wedding.

Unfortunately, it takes far longer to get ready, take showers with your husband, sew ties, iron and fix dresses than I expected and so I didn’t get to do my hair beyond drying it, guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t IN the wedding. 🙂

It took us exactly 8 minutes to drive from our hotel to the parking lot at Caesar’s and in that time Lynzie fell asleep.  I hadn’t planned on wrapping her at the beginning of the wedding, but since she was out, I wrapped her up and we walked to the wedding.

Lynzie slept through the entire wedding.  Only waking up when everyone clapped at the end.  The ceremony was short by sweet…the groom so tender to his bride.

Afterwards, we all walked through the shops at Caesars…I think we had or six adults and six kids.  It was quite cute to see them all holding hands and making their way.  We later learned there was a much quicker way outside to get to our final destination, but they hadn’t given us those directions.  Whoops!

We arrived at the rose garden and the kids could run in the grass and we could enjoy the sunset and drinks as we waited for the bride and groom.

The rest of the night was fun.  Partying with family, enjoying the kids, dancing a bit.

Zach was a bit peeved as the DJ didn’t have one of his songs and didn’t play the other because it didn’t fit in his beat.  I don’t think everyone at the party would have appreciated “Hey Lover” by LL Cool J as we would of so it was okay. 🙂

Our kids lasted the night and didn’t fall asleep until we got back to the car around midnight.

The next morning we slept in a bit before heading back over to our friends hotel to play in the pool again – their pool was plenty warm!  We enjoyed most of the afternoon and ate lunch their before picking up C (the youngest daughter of the family) and going back to the Stratosphere for Zach and C to jump off the top.  It was sunset and we enjoyed watching all the people jump.  Unfortunately, Zach and C went after dark, so we couldn’t see them as well, but they sure enjoyed it.  The whole process took a bit longer than expected and we kinda missed dinner time.

We drove C back to the Aria.  After we dropped her off, we parked and wandered the Aria a bit (it had been on the other side of the strip during our walk a few days earlier) and we really enjoyed the artsyness of it.  The kids enjoyed the Tornados in the shops and the melting ice.  We found a restaurant for dinner and ate.  It wasn’t great and I can’t remember the name.

After dinner, we headed back to the car and drove to the Mirage, where we waited a long while for the next showing of the Volcano.  It was a must on our list and totally worth it.  Isaac really enjoyed it and Lynzie kept saying “hot.” 🙂

On Monday it was time to head to Phoenix.  We packed up our stuff and loaded the car, did some geocaching and ate Brunch at Denny’s before heading out of the city.  We made a brief detour at Hoover Dam to explore and geocache, but otherwise we drove straight to Phoenix where we met up with our old neighbors for dinner.  Their son is just two weeks younger than Isaac and we really enjoyed being pregnant together and sharing the early years of parenthood with them.  They decided to move back home just before the boys turned two and we’ve missed them ever since.

After dinner, we went back to their place to chat and let the kids play before going to bed.  Our friends we kind enough to let us stay at their house, we setup a pack-n-play for the kids – yes, I stuck them both in there – and Zach and I shared their son’s full bed.  I think that’s how it was for an hour….then Isaac came to join us….then Lynzie.  Somehow, I managed to get Isaac to sleep down near our feet and it wasn’t as close and uncomfortable as you might expect.  We slept quite well that night.

The next morning we said our good-bye and headed across town to visit my grandma.  Last time we were in Phoenix was three years ago, just two months before my grandfather passed.  Since then my grandmother has moved into an independent living apartment so that she can go to the cafeteria for lunch or dinner as well has have a shuttle and no need for a car.  We arrived a bit later than originally expected (we slept in) and Grandma was a little irked by that, but she got over it quickly and took us to lunch at the cafeteria.  We enjoyed the afternoon with her, trying to keep the kids occupied in her apartment and headed out around dinner time.

When I was younger, my grandparents had taken me to a place called Organ Stop Pizza on one of my visits.  Last time we were in town, I’d wanted to take Isaac, but the timing didn’t work out.  We decided to go for dinner.  The pizza was okay – Isaac actually ate it which is highly unusual, but it was so much fun.  One of the first songs they played was StarWars (got Isaac hooked), a bit later the Little Mermaid with bubbles (Lynzie loved the bubbles), they had cat puppets (Lynzie adored and was so sad when they went “nigh’-nigh'”, the boys requested Indian Jones and were very excited when it was played.  They also requested Everything is Awesome, but I doubt that is a great Organ piece.  But of course, the show stopper and point of us having to wait forever to leave was to catch “Let It Go”  both kids sang a long and danced.  It was the perfect way to end the trip after a long day cooped up in Grandma’s apartment and before they were strapped in for the 17 hour drive home.

The drive home was uneventful….we drove straight, I slept most of the night and drove in the morning.  We stopped for breakfast at the Colorado/New Mexico border on Wednesday morning and Zach picked back up until we got home around noon.

We attempted to “stay up” the rest of the day, but our efforts failed when we sat down and watched TV, only to wake up an hour or so later each time.

On Thursday it was back to normal…work and school and all that jazz.  I don’t know if that was a good idea or not….I was so exhausted, but I survived.

It was a great trip and we are really thankful we were invited to the wedding and made the decision to go.  We love traveling as a family.



Las Vegas Trip 2014 – Part 1

I still haven’t blogged about Disneyland and that was in April, but I’m going to start with our most recent trip to Las Vegas because it is fresh in my mind and won’t take as much time as Disney.

When I was sixteen, I met a great family, the C family.  They quickly became my second family.  They were a family of five – Dad – J, Mom – M, Daughter (my closest friend) – JT, Son – N and Daughter – C.  The oldest daughter and son are close in age and I’m in between them.  The youngest daughter is 6-8 years younger than the others.

Growing up, they had a close family friend with all boys (three), the middle son, was best friends with N but ended up marrying JT and they now have four boys.

When we got married, I really only wanted one person to officiate the wedding – J.  Thankfully, he agreed.  Over the last 10 years of our marriage, Zach has grown close to J, M and C.  They are some of our favorite people and seriously, we think of them as family, not friends.

N and I used to be close, we used to lead youth group together, but over the years we’ve gone down different paths and although we see each other at “family” functions, that’s about the extent of our relationship.  When I learned N was engaged to a wonderful woman, I was super excited for him and couldn’t wait to hear about his big day, although I didn’t expect to be invited…and then…we got an invite.

They choose to get married in Las Vegas and we decided that this year, we could make it happen and it would give us the opportunity to travel with our second family.

We decided to make a round trip….Colorado to Utah to Nevada to Arizona to New Mexico back to Colorado.  It’s a lot of driving and a lot of states in just seven days, but we wanted to get to AZ to see my grandmother and visit with some of our good friends who moved years ago.

Originally, we’d thought we’d leave on Thursday morning and drive through the day and geocaching and stop a lot.  As the time got closer, Lynzie showed that she is not that fond of traveling and sometimes is quite a pain to get back into the car.  We amended our plan to leave at around 8 PM on Wednesday and drive straight through to Zion National Park, about a 10 straight hour drive and we knew that wasn’t going to happen.

My car had been having challenges starting after sitting over night and Zach didn’t feel comfortable driving across the country with that problem.  We took the car to our friendly neighbor the Saturday before and were informed that we needed to replace the fuel pump because it wasn’t keeping pressure in the line.  They were going to have it done by the end of the day.

And then the nut wouldn’t come off.  They would have to break it, but didn’t have a replacement.  They would have to order it.  It would get to them on Tuesday at the earliest.

We’ve been parking the car outside because most of the crawlspace is still in the garage.  I spent a good chunk of time on Sunday re-organizing it so that the car would fit, but it’s still a bit tight.  On Monday, Zach texted me and said if I could get the car in the garage I should because I bad storm was coming.

I rushed downstairs and made some modifications to the arrangements, pulled the car in a squeezed out the side, closed the garage as the first rain drop fell.  Rushed to shut all the windows and then it really it.  It woke Lynzie up and as I was standing next to her bed, I watched golf ball hail fly diagonally into the window.  It was a crazy powerful storm, but we didn’t get the worst of it.  Even still, our kitchen window was broken in the storm.  We’ve had a lot of crazy storms this summer and it makes me so thankful we have a newer roof.

On Tuesday, the part came in as Zach was coming home.  He dropped it by the shop and I was going to pick him up with the second car, but Zach forgot and took the only keys we have with him.  Whoops!  When he went back to get the car to come get me so we could all go back, they just offered to drive him home.  It was perfect.  The car was done in a few hours and we picked it back up….grabbed dinner and then went home.  Because the fuel tank had been open, it was a little smelly in my car, so we decided to pull it into the garage to roll the windows down over night.  The car didn’t want to start.  It was even worst than it had been and it wasn’t even sitting!

We decided that the next morning (Wednesday – the day we are leaving) Zach would try to start it before he went to work.  He had an all day training at a different location that was close to Zach’s dad’s place, so was planning on taking Lexi with him and dropping her off for the week.  This meant he was leaving a little bit before he needed to.

The car didn’t want to start and this time Zach got to experience it.  The shop opened at 7 and it was 6:40, but we quickly made the decision to get the kids in the car, take the car to the shop (we were going to leave the keys in the night drop) and then we’d all drive Zach to his training and worry about Lexi later.

I was super busy at work…I had both kids and no support…Isaac had to go to school…Isaac had to be picked up from school.  I was a ball of stress.

Just after I dropped Isaac off, I got a call from our neighbor.  They’d fixed the car, a washer was split and causing improper pressure, because he knew we had a lot going on and didn’t want to make us pack up the kids and such, he was bring the car to me and would catch a ride back to work with his wife, who was home for lunch.

Being so busy at work, I got off late and Lynzie wanted to cuddle (we wasn’t in a great mood all day because of the early wake up), so we didn’t even start packing until about 7PM….yep, we didn’t leave on time.

Around 9PM, just after Ron and Cody picked Lexi up, we grabbed dinner and a few miscellaneous things at the store and started driving.  It was raining and we knew the mountains would turn to snow.  I don’t like driving in rain and I don’t love driving in the mountains, but Zach kind of enjoys both.  He was our first driver and took us to the Utah/Colorado border at about 3AM.

I drove a bit, about 2 hours, before I got so tired I decided to pull into a rest stop and rest.  Lynzie was restless and hadn’t really let the “sleeper” sleep for either Zach or I.  We pulled the kids out of the carseats, cuddled in some blankets, locked the doors (switch kept locking and unlocking, so we unlocked them) and slept for an hour.

As the sun rose, I began to drive again.  I really kinda wish I’d seen from the border on in the sunlight because it looked so beautiful.  I’ve never seen that part of Utah before and as the sun raised it was amazing and beautiful and such and enjoyable ride.  We got to Zion around 9 or 10 I think and drove from the East end to the West and decided to park and hike around a bit.  Just outside of Zion (about a 1/4 of a mile) we found a spot on the road and unloaded and headed out. I packed up the sandwich the kids didn’t eat for breakfast and some water, but we really were just going to ride the bus, walk a bit and see if Isaac could get his Jr. Ranger Badge.

The bus ride was pleasant and the kids sat next to each other and cuddled was so sweet.  In order for Isaac to get his Badge, he had to attend a ranger talk and the only ranger talk left for the day meant we wouldn’t be able to hike.  Isaac made the decision that he would rather hike, so we got off the bus and headed to the river bed.  We walked and walked, and the kids were slow and eventually, I spilt from this to see the “end” of the trail….it wasn’t worth it, no different that the other part and I would have been happier to enjoy the family enjoying the river.

The kids got hungry and were starting to be a pain, so we pulled out the sandwich and it turned out it was only the last two bites of mine that I had meant for the trash – Mommy fail!  We got back on the bus and were in a hurry to get back to the car to find a place to eat.  We had a few snacks, but no real food.  Both kids fell asleep on the bus, Lynzie on my back in the wrap.  As we pulled close to our car, I thought I saw are parking lights flash.  I didn’t think anything of it, until we tried to unlock the doors and they wouldn’t (this only happens when the battery is drained).  We used the key to unlock the door and the the car wouldn’t start and then it locked the doors again.  It continued the game of locking and unlocking the doors for the next two hours.

Several months ago, Zach decided he wanted AAA because we go on so many trips and it would be nice to have the security.  This happened, no big deal, we’ll call AAA and get someone to jump us.  Easy pease….until you are on hold with AAA for 40 minutes and have two hungry kids and no food….the restraunt across the street that you decide to go to is closed until 5.  Every person you ask to jump your car says they have a rental and don’t feel comfortable.  When you finally get AAA on the phone, your husband has gone business to business to see if someone will jump us and since you aren’t the policy holder, you need him and in packing up the kids, they start crying and the person on the phone can’t hear anything you say and then when you find your husband he tells AAA that he has someone that is willing to jump us and hangs up.

And then someone comes, we connect the batteries (we had jumper cables in our car by accident) and the alarm goes off, the doors are all locked and the only open door is the back passenger door.  I jump across the car seat and the car, grab the keys that are on the seat and turn the car on…it starts for a brief moment and then nothing….it won’t even attempt to turn over.  We thank the helpful young man and go back to calling AAA.  Zach’s phone battery is at 60%….mine is at 6%.  The data connection is horrible and I’m unable to research anything AND I have to pee.

We spend the 30 minutes on hold with AAA reading the manual to the car and learning that when you have one remote in the car when you lock it it can cause a malfunction (we had a spare with us that we left in the car) and if you try to jump the car while the doors are locked (which they were due to the malfunction) the engine will immobolize because it thinks it’s being stolen.  All we needed to know was how to tell the car we were the owners.

AAA offered to tow us, but we didn’t know if a local place would know/be able to fix the problem or if we’d need a dealership or even law enforcement involved.  This has never happened in the six years we’ve owned the car.  As Zach talked to AAA I decided to call the police.  I called 911 and told them it wasn’t an emergency and they gave me the non-emergency number.  I spoke with the person who answered explained the situation.  He was no help.  He told me to call a tow company.  I said I didn’t have a number as I wasn’t from the area.  He said he couldn’t give me anything because that would be showing favoritism.  It wasn’t until I broke down in tears that he even asked if we were safe.  Ugh!  I don’t think police are in it to help the community.  I have never once met a police officer that was willing to HELP anyone.  I think they get into that profession for the power.

About the time I hung up, Zach hung up.  He had two numbers…the closest dealership and a local shop.  It was about 5:20….He called the dealership and with my remaining power I decided to call the local guy.  Zach got the run around and they said they would have to hook the car up to the machine in the morning to see what was wrong.  I got an answering machine and as I started to leave a message a lady picked up.  I explaining the situation as quickly as I could and she said, “Oh, I’m sure Bill can fix it, here he is.”  WHAT?

I explained to Bill what happened and he proceeded to tell me how I COULD FIX IT without his help!  Then I mentioned the battery not being charged and having no one to jump it.  He stopped telling me what to do and said he’d be there in 16 minutes.    Oh the relief!

I sat in the grass next to the car with Isaac and we colored his homework and I tried to de-stress.  Our hood was open for this entire time and people we walking by and driving by and staring, but did one person ask if we were okay or if they could offer any assistance?  Nope.  None.  In fact, when I needed to pee and walked to the local shop, I was told I needed to walk to the Zion visitor center 1/4 a mile away….I let Isaac pee in the tree.

Bill arrived.  A bit later than he told me, but it was by 6…maybe he’d said I’ll be there at 6.  I was a little emotion and could have misunderstood.  He had the great big yellow van and pulled out a battery tester/charger.  Within 5 minutes the car was on.  We let it charge for a bit, paid Bill far less than deserved, got some good advice for Colorado drivers in Utah and directions to the nearest fast food.

No tow.  No overnight stay.  Just about 2.5 hours of inconvenience.  We missed the Packers Game.  We didn’t get to enjoy the evening with everyone.  BUT…we were safe and on our way.