Wednesday, February 17, 2010

6 Month Update

Well, almost 6 months anyway.

That's how long I have been in Vegas, and I thought it was time for an update on life out west.

So far it's okay. But just okay. This town has a lot of negative characteristics, in my opinion, no matter how you want to look at them. But, on the other hand, it has a lot of great things about it too.

For example, the people out here? Not so much. MOST people are rude, money hungry, self centered, and focused solely on their external image. I'm sure there are people on the other side of the fence, I have just not met them yet. There is very little sense of community at all. I understand this is a big city, but I still think it's entirely possible. Most people are here, like I said earlier, for money (which is definitely here to be had). They keep their heads low, and aren't really looking to make friends. Also, I read on another blog, that because the way the city is designed, with each house having a concrete fenced backyard, it adds to the lack of friendliness. The city and it's inhabitants live and breathe over-indulgence, and they see no reason to apologize for it.

Moving on. The BEST part about Las Vegas, isn't actually in Las Vegas at all. It's Red Rock Canyon. This is where we go hiking. There are about 20 trails to take, all different and unique in their own way. Some take you to panoramic views of the city, some take you to waterfalls (when the season is right). It is just a spectacular place to be. There is tons of wildlife, mostly jackrabbits and chipmunks, and once a bighorn sheep, petroglyphs (though I have yet to find any), and other various Native American artifacts. Each hike varies in difficulty and length, making it easy to go whenever we have a few hours to spare. If you come and visit, I will take you there.

I currently work at one of the big casinos on the strip. The money is great, but I work on call, so it's only great when they call me. Which, unfortunately, has only been averaging 16 hours a month for the past 2 months.

We live close to one of the casinos off the strip, where we often go for movies, bowling, and the occasional free drink at the slot machines. No large amounts of money have been won...YET.

NYNY has a great roller coaster that we love to go to, though it's a bit pricey for one ride. We also did the ride at Sahara, which was fun, but no as exhilarating as NYNY. We have yet to ride the nail-biters atop the Stratosphere, or go indoor skydiving, but those things will come with time.

We had the opportunity to attend the World Series of Poker, which was free, and a lot of fun. We got to see a lot of the greats, including Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harmon, Phil Ivey, etc. Matt got an autograph with one guy (I forget his name), and got him to sign his book, and I got a picture with Greg Raymer.

I have had only one celebrity sighting (aside from the poker stars), which was David Spade. He was highly intoxicated, and very short.

Matt and I saw Blue Man Group, which was a blast, and my sister visited and we saw Phantom of the Opera, which was creepy. I say creepy because I did not know the story line, or, I should say, I thought the story line was much different. For whatever reason, I thought the phantom was a hideous man that fell in love with this woman, who fell in love with him despite his ugliness, and they lived happily ever after. I did not realize it was about a crazed STALKER.

Moving on. We attempted to start a garden, but due to fire ants, lack of gardening skills, wrong time of year, and our crazy, hyper-active foster dogs, we failed. All that is left is a few stalks of lettuce. Wee.

We may try again in the spring.

One wonderful program we have become a part of is fostering dogs through the Humane Society. So far we have had three great dogs, but are currently taking a break. Mainly because I just adopted baby chickens! Read about them here, www.lucyethel.blogspot.com.

Anyways, not too thrilling I suppose. I just wanted to fill everyone in. Pictures are below!




This goose was at Tule Springs Park that we went to the other day. It is a historic site and one of the few natural watering holes in the area. It was used by Native Americans for years and then became somewhat of a resort for people to visit in the 30's. They are hundreds of birds, including ducks, geese, and about 50 or more peacocks.


It's very hard to see in the picture, but towards the middle of the frame there is a big horn sheep.


We hiked to this spot once before in the summer. There was no water whatsoever. Now it is a huge stream with beautiful falls all along the way. This fall ended the hike. I collected some natural spring water to drink, it was delicious (sort of tasted like water).


A few of the peacocks atop the cottage where guests can still stay. This farm also had horses, chickens and pigs.


I found this in one of the riverbeds a few months ago. It's where Native American's carved their arrowheads.


Amy's visit.


Carol's visit.


Another waterfall along our hike.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sorry for the delay...




Hiking in Denver.


Our garden, prior to being destroyed by fire ants.


Patio.


6lb jar of hominy for $2.50= AWESOME.


The Las Vegas wildlife.


Rock towers by Oak Creek in Sedona.


Our swimming hole.




Snoopy Rock!


Us after a very long hike up the mountain.


Sedona.


Kitchen.


Living room.


Office.

These past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind, so I haven't had much time to update. Vegas is definitely a cool town, and by cool I mean it's about 100 degrees everyday. Pictures are below. Enjoy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Viva!

Good morning! (it's 8 am here!) We have arrived!

Matt, Olive and I arrived in Vegas about 5 pm Monday night to a bustling city and 112 degree heat!

The past few days have been a whirlwind, trying to find a place to live. It's a catch-22, you have to have jobs to get a house, but you have to have a house to get a job! Ah!

All is well though, we have 3 places we really like, that we are deciding on today. So, if all goes as planned, we will be in a place no later than this weekend. Then we begin the search for jobs!

We drove down the strip at dusk our first night, but I have yet to really experience it, I haven't even been in a casino yet! But that will come with time, I do live here now and all.

Olive is happy to be out of the car, but tired of being in the hotel by herself all day. We took her to a fantastic dog park yesterday. Responsible owners, well behaved dogs, and 7,500 square feet of green grass to run (this park had more grass for the dogs than people!). We let her run until she collapsed at our feet, rolling over on her back in defeat.

Matt went and played poker the other night and won millions! (just kidding, but if he did I would run him right over to the wedding chapel in our hotel, get married, divorce him in a week, take half the money and RUN!)

Just kidding, again, but I really would.

Everyone is happy and healthy. Mentally exhausted from going through the same motions everyday and coming up with peanuts. But everything will work out for the best, it always does.

Much love your way! Pictures are below!


The Stratosphere! (picture taken from my phone so the quality is poor)


Olive says hello!

Yowza.


Part of old Las Vegas strip.

I will try and get to pictures from Sedona and Denver today. But we are back on the hunt for now!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Time Flies

Well, well. We are reaching the end of our awesome adventure, and we don't want it to end! Right now we are at a motel in Sedona, Arizona, taking it easy for an hour or two. We haven't stopped moving for well over a week now, leaving very little down time. But what fun we've had! And it has really only just begun! Life in Las Vegas begins tomorrow!

Let's recap since Friday, shall we?

Oh Denver, what a great city! I have never seen people move, talk, drive, or blink so slowly. There is no reason to hurry, no reason to rush, everyone takes their time, and every car stops for pedestrians/cyclists. Matt and I were the latter in this laid back little city, riding around for a couple hours, making a stop for some fish tacos and a locally brewed IPA. The next morning, we woke up bright and early (as we have every day on this trip and I love it!), and made our way to the Rockies for some hiking.

We took Meadowlark trail, which was about 3 miles long, 1.6 up the mountain and 1.2 down. There were lots of runners, and lots of very intense, very in-shape, mountain bikers with calf muscles as big as my head. I'm not kidding, and I have a big head (which means a bigger brain, it's okay to be jealous). I felt flabby and out of shape, like a manatee on dry land.

Just kidding, again, but you would feel that way too if a 65 year old woman whooshed past you, running uphill through trecherous terrain like a gazelle, like it was nothing. Ouch. Time to hit the gym.

But not today, today our gym will be outside again, as we hike through the red rocks of beautiful Sedona. We arrived here yesterday about 3pm to 111 degree weather. We made due though as we hiked alongside Oak Creek (same creek we swam in here before Wolfgang's), with a great view of Cathedral Rock. Olive has become quite the avid swimmer, and jumped into the cool creek a couple of times. It's really quite a site though as I don't believe American Stafford-shire Terriers are designed for the water, nor have I seen one that likes it as much as she does.

Anyways, at the moment we are lounging, making the most of our last day before we enter the Real World again. We will be hiking this afternoon, playing with rattlesnakes and coyotes (you poke them with sticks and throw rocks at them right?), and hopefully finding a place to cool down, even if it's just the pool at the motel.

Pictures will come later.

Happy happy, joy joy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wrong About the Corn in Kansas

So about ten miles after we crossed the border into Kansas, the corn abruptly ceased. Wow, was I ever wrong about this state. It is absolutely breathtaking. Green and golden rolling plains littered with black, brown and white cows for miles, a colony of wind turbines were strewn across the horizon, farmhouses were scattered amongst the hillside. Untouched beauty. The pictures do not do this place justice.

We got to Wilson Lake at dusk, and after a quick stop for some fishing gear and bait, set up camp. We found a great little secluded spot, right on the water, with a perfect view of the sunset. Olive went nuts immediately, she will probably sleep for two days given all the energy she's spent in the last two.

I woke up with the sun the next morning while Matt slept an extra half hour or so. I wanted to get up before him so I could get to the fishing pole first. I'm embarrassed to say that I caught a decent sized white fish, but it escaped at the last minute. Then the rest of the day I barely got a nibble. What made it even more frustrating was the beautiful striped bass jumping out of the lake all day and all night, taunting me, calling my name, bragging about how they were swimming instead of cooking over the fire. Someday fish, someday.

We made a hearty breakfast and took to the bike trails surrounding the lake. Neither of us have legitimate mountain bikes, nor are we mountain bikers, so we were defintely in for a bit of a challenge. The bumpy, thin trails took us up and down numerous hills that led to some fantastic views. At one point we found ourselves at the highest point on the lake, as far as we could tell, and had a 360 degree panoramic view of perfection. I however, being the thrill seeker that I am, found an even higher point at this particular spot (picture below). So much fun.

After biking for a few hours we got back to camp and while Matt went on a hunt for firewood, I continued to fish. The day continued peacefully, with me plotting other ways to destroy all the fish of Wilson Lake, and Matt trying to spear the fish with the spear and arrowheads he spent the afternoon making.

We cleaned up camp as the evening came, to be ready for an early drive, had dinner, and were off to bed. This is one of those places in the world where it seems like you can see every star in the sky.

What I'm glad we didn't see however, were the 2-5 coyotes we heard about two o'clock in the morning. Sleeping was not quite as easy after that.

But we made it through the night with all our limbs still attached, though all three of us have at least one limb that is sore from our excursions yesterday. Now we are on the road again, passing a beautiful sunflower field as we speak, and on our way to Denver, Colorado.

Enjoy the pictures! Check Tuesdays blog for some more as well!


Sunflower field.


Turbines on the horizon.


The highest point in Wilson Lake!


Matt fishing.


A wild mountain goat.




Taking it easy on the hillside after a long day.


Matt's spear.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Corn, Corn, Corn

I am so sick of seeing corn right now, and we only just passed the border into Kansas. Who EATS all of this?!?! I didn't ever realize that the United States consisted mainly of farms with corn, at least the Midwestern part. Crazy.

Well anyways we are about 3 hours away from our next destination, Wilson Lake, Kansas. We are camping there for 2 nights to take a break from driving to Denver. Hopefully it will be as nice as Rend Lake, we shall see.

We had our first (and hopefully last) bump in the road this morning (I'll get to that in a second), so we are off to a later start than predicted. Which means we will be setting up camp in the dark. I don't mind the dark, I just hope it doesn't rain on us...skies are pretty cloudy right now.

Anyways, where to start. St.Louis was fantastic. We had such a fun and exciting day. We started out at Forest Park, 2500 acres of sensory overload. This place was insane. Just incredible. I've never seen anything like it. On top of this giant hill there was a history museum that resembled a castle, an art museum that was equally as large, bordered by statues of Greek Gods, a planetarium, a ZOO, complete with cranes, bulls, kangaroos, antelope, all sorts of birds, and who knows what else (we couldn't go in because Olive would go nuts), 3 golf courses, tons of lakes, bike paths, nature trails, the World's Fair Pavilion...did I forget anything? Oh yeah, everything was FREE! That park would make the city well worth living in.

After a few hours though we made it to the gateway arch. Since Olive was in the car, and the ride up was close to an hour, we decided not to go to the top. But it was stunning just the same. Matt and I symbolically crossed underneath from the east side to the west, and continued our day in St.Louis.

We had dinner at the park, eating out of our U-haul kitchen. Fresh peppers and tomatos, tuna fish, some black beans and green beans, all wrapped up in a yummy flour tortilla. Definitely beats fast food.

Then as the evening arrived we met up with our Couch Surfing hosts. If you don't know, Couch Surfing is an online community for travelers, where people around the World provide an extra bed or couch to sleep on. It's all very safe and legit, nothing to worry about Moms and Dads reading this. Kyle and Emma (our hosts), were great. We felt more like old friends in town for a visit rather than strangers. They took us to Busch Stadium where we got into the Cardinals game for free after the 7th inning. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but baseball stadiums, especially at night, are just so vibrant and full of energy you can't help but smile. We stayed for one inning, nothing happened, and left. We then trekked down to Broadway Oyster Bar, had a couple of locally brewed Pale Ales, and took the metro back to our temporary home.

The weather was perfect for us yet again.

It's a bit cloudy on the road right now, but we think we can see the Rockies already (just kidding, but we'll let you know).

Pictures are below, I will try not to let so much time go between the entries. Also check out Monday's entry for new pics as well.


The Gateway Arch.


The World's Fair Pavilion in the park.


Olive made a turtle friend.


Sculptures in front of the zoo.


The mini All-Star Arch.




The setback I mentioned earlier. Matt got the uhaul stuck jumping a curb. We had to call a tow truck. No big deal though, something like this was bound to happen.


You can see the arch in the background.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Stop, Rend Lake!

Well we are here! Our "official" first stop of our journey.

We've been in the car all day (crossing THREE state lines!), we are a little tired, and a little low on battery so this may be short and sweet, but I will do my best to recap the last 2 days.

We arrived at Cory and Ann Marie's in the stunning mountains of Asheville yesterday about 2:30 pm. The drive was a little rough on the car...and by rough I simply mean driving up the mountain was a bit nerve-wracking, only because we thought the car would overheat. But that only lasted for about half an hour, then the rest was easy, and we obviously made it alright.

Corry and Ann Marie are absolutely adorable, what a fantastic couple. I won't lie, I'm not the firmest believer in marriage, but I mean it when I say that I really believe they will be sitting on their porch at 86 drinking sweet tea in their matching rocking chairs. Not to mention their home is straight out of a Southern Living magazine (right down to puzzle sudoku and a graham cracker scented candle in the guest room) , all in tip-top shape I might add. But I don't want to embarrass them...sorry guys. Anyways, upon arrival we got right down to business with a few delicious beers and a couple rounds of corn hole (look it up). We had a delicious veggie pizza, made by Matt and Ann Marie, paired with ceasar salad and red wine for dinner. Though they both claim to be exact opposites, it's very obvious that Matt and Cory are brothers. Same features, stance, gestures, phrases and more importantly, great character and integrity. I'm happy to have met all of these wonderful people so far.

We woke up at 6 am (I know! But I was wide awake can you believe it?!) and were on the road by 7:15. Matt led us back out of the mountains of NC, but once we hit Tennessee I finally got a chance to drive the U-Haul. It took a little getting used to. But really, it's similar to what they teach you in driving school, or actually what my Dad taught me about driving on the Bay Bridge when it's windy out, "Don't overreact to the wind", is what he always told me. It's the exact same concept with the U-Haul, when it starts to wobble, overreacting only makes it worse. So that's that, probably boring you with driving lessons. Moving on.

Tennessee was uneventful, just a lot more mountainous terrain to get through. Then we hit Kentucky. Uh...WOW. I'm not kidding when I say there is NOTHING in that state. Nothing. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful. Chock full of farm land as far as the eye can see. Blue farmhouses, black farmhouses, green farmhouses, purple fields, corn fields, hay fields (lots of hay fields) and plenty of cute little moo cows. As far as human life goes...eh, well, there were plenty of Waffle Houses (but only one KFC, what's up with that?!). Perfect blue skies with big puffy white clouds to complete an awesome picture though. My Mom would have gone crazy here, trying to paint everything.

Kentucky took most of the day, and once we crossed into Illinois we were practically at Rend Lake. We picked out a spectacular campsite right on the water. It's called the primitive camp site but that's only because we have a tent, instead of a ginormous RV (it's a word I promise) like the one next to us. But there is running water, bathrooms, a picnic table and a fire pit. Matt actually just made a fire with the wood Olive and I collected earlier. This is awesome, I'm having a blast. I miss my family but I always do. I'm happy, the sun is shining (again! great luck with this so far!) and peace and quiet in the great outdoors is at my feet.

Pictures below, if I missed anything I will update tomorrow with tomorrow's blog.

I miss and love everyone! Matt and Olive say hello!




Our morning drive (leaving Asheville).


The view from Cory and Ann Marie's front porch. The picture doesn't show the mountains unfortunately.


Awesome veggie pizza.


Matt and his brother, Cory.






My miserable attempt at fishing. We used dried apples as bait.