Saturday, February 20, 2010

Big Bear and Vegas Vacation Journal

Las Vegas & California – February 2010

~ Wait ~ Didn’t I just journal a trip about Las Vegas and California? This time, it was Vegas and Big Bear Lake.

Our afternoon flight into Vegas was delayed by an hour, because of bad weather conditions. We went to see snow and on the day that we leave – 49 out of 50 states (Hawaii being the exception) get snow. Amazing. What is that everyone is saying because the Saints won the NFL Championship – Hell is Frozen Over.

The first night of our trip, we stayed at the Trump Towers. To read more about it, click here (it will bring you to the trip we took to Vegas & San Francisco…. Lot of details about the Trump Towers in that journal).

The next day we ate breakfast at the Peppermill Restaurant and then went to see the Pawn Store. No, not Porn Store, though if you say it fast enough, it does sound like that. “Gold and Silver” is the location of one of Greg’s favorite TV shows. It’s interesting to see what people bring in and the value of the items ~ from a lottery ticket with George Washington’s signature to a potty-chair. The store was smaller than it looks like on TV. I guess that’s the charm of wide-angle lens. We only saw one person working the counters that was on the show, which was a little disappointing. I thought it was cool to see the shop and now when we watch the show, we say, “Been There!”

The drive from Vegas to Big Bear Lake was lovely. This time we saw the Desert Mountains with speckles of snow in Primm Valley.

The closer we got to our destination, the more snow we saw on the ground and the more our ears popped from the elevation. We took a road that Greg coined, “The Middle of Nowhere.” A two-lane highway that looked endless and you pray the car doesn’t break down, because there’s no help in sight.

As the road climbed up higher, I thought the mixture of cactus and snow was cool. Then we hit the curvy road section and I was thankful I wasn’t in the back. Rob said Roda was feeling dizzy. I get severe motion sickness, so there’s no way I would have made it…. There were steep inclines and wild switchbacks and the snow was thick on the ground. This is what we went for… the postcard look of snow.

And it was postcard perfect, as long as I don’t describe the place where we stayed.

Before we got to our resort unit, Greg handed me the camera and said, “Take pictures of me.” I did and he looked at the snow, looked back at me with this funny expression and then stuck his face in the snow! I kid you not! He said, “It was refreshing!” I couldn’t help it… you know the song “Pants on the ground?” Think…. “Face in the snow, face in the snow, lookin’ like a fool with your face in the snow.” Hehe. And then we went to the front door of our resort…

The “resort” – how can they call it that? Greg went to Unit 70 and came back, warning me with these words, “Think fraternity apartment.” When Mom walked through it, she coined the saying, “From Trump to the Dump.” We had to laugh.

The girls complained and the guys said they were Ok with it. Greg said that Dad felt bad about the accommodations, but hey, it makes for blog fodder.

Greg asked me why I was going to blog about the place and I replied, “Because it’s the truth and it’s a memory maker and secondly, because people who Google “Snow Summit Rentals” might come across my blog and be the wiser.

A breakdown of the Frat-house dump: Cheap Furniture, felt like a dorm room, bedding and sheets, etc from K-Mart (at best), horrible color scheme (instead of making it rustic, they painted the beams on the ceiling this bright blue color), pictures on the walls that looked like it belonged in a garage sale or an office, the bed was hard and the pillows were flat… blinds were broken and the toilet roll holder popped off the wall. There were no locks on the bathroom, so we had to devise a means of letting people know when it was occupied.

This was not the resort on the Internet. Greg said, “A resort is a place you to go to – to get away. It has a spa, spacious, relaxing… a resort is not something you run away from!” Guess which one we were feeling like?

That night, we left the Frat-house and went to see a performance called “Just Voices.” It was the highlight of the afternoon. R&R had to cover their mouths and almost ran out of the auditorium. It was because of the first song… the 8 singers started it off mimicking musical instruments. R&R thought it was hilarious; Rob said, “I told myself that if THIS was the entire thing, I wasn’t going to make it without busting out laughing! I was trying to think of a way to escape, but we had front row seats!”

Greg and I thought the singers did an excellent job, but admit that we were glad the rest of the songs had words to them! Greg’s favorite was “Shanadoa.” He said they sounded polished. I also liked that the performance was a charity fundraiser for the local hospital. For 20.00 dollars a ticket, it was well worth it! Oh and cute thing ~ in the lobby, they served hot chocolate, coffee and some cute Valentine’s Day cookies, which Greg picked up some for me, Mom and Roda.

The performance put us in a much better frame of mind and off to the Dump we went. Dad couldn’t walk up the stairs because of his bad knee. There were 2 bunk beds downstairs, but Mom and Dad couldn’t stay in them. So, they opened the sofa sleeper, which was more like cardboard over wires. Mom came up with the idea of moving the mattresses from two of the bunk beds and laying the mattresses over the sofa sleeper.

Sounds like a good idea, until they moved it and no matter which way it was turned around, the mattresses together were too large for the sofa sleeper. They ended up pushing the “extra” part of the mattress to the end of the sofa sleeper and it meant that they slept on an incline. (So, no matter what I say about the place, I can’t complain when we had a queen bed to sleep in upstairs…. Except…..)

Greg and I were getting ready for bed and he looked at me and said, “Did you fart?” Me – indignant and innocent replied, “No! I did not!” Then the smell hit me, “OMG! Is that you?!” He replied, gagging, ‘No! That’s disgusting!” He followed the scent (brave man that he is) and realized the smell was coming up through the vent on the floor.

Greg said, “I can’t sleep in here! It’s coming from downstairs, so it has to be your Mom or Dad farting! You need to tell them something! I’m serious! You need to say something to them!”

And, so I did. I marched downstairs and asked Mom, “Mom! Did you fart?!” She giggled and replied, “No. Why are you asking?” Then she said, “I think your Dad farted.” Dad came in the room, denying it and I said, “Greg told me to come down here and tell ya’ll that the smell from down here traveled up through the vent and into our room and Greg can’t sleep. So, put a cork in it or open a window!” I left with their howls of laughter following me.

I told Greg what happened downstairs and he said….

“It’s not just that it was a fart….

…. It’s not that it was your Dad’s fart….

…….. It was that the fart came up our vent….

…………… and the heater was on….

… It’s that it was a COOKED FART!!!…..

And with my CPAP machine on, the nozzle sucks all the air and fart right into my nose!”

My response started as a snicker, then a snort…. Greg kept up…

“It was stir fry flatulence…. A stewed poop… now they’re cooking with gas…!.. Gave a new meaning to Passed Gas – it passed from the downstairs to the upstairs!”

I had to cross my legs so I wouldn’t pee in my pants from laughing so hard!

We ended up opening the bedroom window, which did help to air out the room. But imagine…

We could now here all the clunky footfalls of snow boots outside and the conversations about Jacuzzis and such as if the people outside where right next to us in our bedroom. And though it was 20 something degrees outside, good thing the window was open, because someone set the thermostat on “Hell” oh and the vent… it was located on the floor on Greg’s side of the bed. The heater was cooking his side of the bed. The window being open was bringing in cold air. So somewhere between the bed and the window, the middle was just perfect temperature wise.

Needless to say, we didn’t have the best sleep. (But again, I can’t complain versus what Mom and Dad slept on.) I told Mom that Greg and I were “Dancing between the Sheets.” Greg looked and me and laughed and then told Mom, “It’s not what you’re thinking. I would wake up and move and then wake Aleta up by moving and vice versa.” I couldn’t get comfy, but when I did, I had dreams that ranged from Beverly making jewelry, about the office staff and some strange water dream. When the morning sun peeked out, I gave up on trying to get any sleep and took an early shower.

Oh, did I mention that this “resort” doesn’t have a hair dryer? Heck, even on the NCL Pearl Cruiseliner to Alaska had a dryer, but no, not this resort! (And no shampoo or condition either..) And I should add…. The “resort” was 500 dollars a night!

One nice thing was the kitchen. It was smaller than any kitchen I’ve had in an apartment, but it was usable. Greg cooked eggs and biscuits. Very nice way to start off the day.

From there, we went to The Village to do some shopping. It is a quaint town and had the perfect snow covered roofs, the Christmas card feel to the area. We bought a couple of things we liked to purchase and had lunch at the Pepper Corn restaurant. Greg and I had squash ravioli in a pesto sauce - yum!

That afternoon, we had our first experience with snowshoe walking. Let me tell you, it’s harder than it looks! When you’re 10,000 above sea level, the air is thin. The snowshoes can cross in front and behind you. We were going uphill, not a flat space of snow. Definitely an experience. I don’t know if I’d do the uphill climb again, but I would be willing to rent snowshoes and go walk into a forest area for picture taking. I was the snail of the group, but hey! I didn’t fall! Dad took a hard fall and ended up hurting his back. I was really worried about him and the next morning, he was in a lot of pain. Poor Dad… back hurting him and he was coming down with a cold to boot. I knew if I went to help Dad that I'd end up falling too, so I called out to Greg and was amazed at how quickly he went to help Dad. Greg and Roda fell down as well during the snowshoe trek.

I loved the scenery and seeing the animal tracks in the snow was cool. We had two guides. The lady said there was a cougar in the area. The other guide, Marco, was a big help and stayed by Mom’s side. When Dad fell, he didn’t go much further and told Marco, “You help my wife. She can’t see. Stay with her!” And he did, I think it was the look in Dad’s eyes, being very protective of Mom.

As a group, we didn’t go much further either, because honestly it’s not easy going uphill, constantly having to lift the shoes up and then parallel bringing them down in place. Snow isn’t an even thing and I found I favored my right leg, putting too much pressure on it. Going back downhill wasn’t a breeze either, as you have to lean back. At the very end was a large hump of ice and snow to go over. I looked and said, “You’re kidding, right?” Marco said, “I’ll help.” I looked at the slope of ice/snow and replied, “I think I’ll just stay right here until the snow melts!” Marco laughed and over I went.

After the snowshoes came off, my legs felt like jelly. I’m definitely glad we had the experience. Greg said it was taxing and enjoyable and makes you appreciate oxygen!

The tour included a dinner at the Knickerbockers Bistro in the Mansion. It reminded Greg and I of our honeymoon with classical music playing and a rich ambiance. We had spicy Tortilla soup and tangy chicken and the desert – this incredibly light chocolate mouse. Great way to end the excitement. And as much as I complained about the resort, it was good to return back to it.

I actually fell asleep quickly, but then woke up at midnight to the worst smell in the world. That could NOT have come from Mom and Dad. Greg agreed, it was the smell of a skunk outside! PEWWWWWW We had to close the windows and wait a long time before we could open them up again. OMG, that was just awful!

The next morning, Greg and I woke up early. We wanted to take some morning pictures on the lake. Dad asked us to tank up the car and bring back Kleenex. When Greg stopped at the gas station, he asked a lady for advice on where to go to take pictures.

She gave him directions to bring us to the other side of the lake, which is where we went. We crossed the lake and parked the vehicle at an empty school parking lot. It was a short walk to get back to the lake and as we walked, we saw a dog crossing the road to the other side of the lake bank. I think I said, “I hope that dog doesn’t get hit by a car.” It made it over safe.

Then we saw another dog doing the same thing and it looked exactly like the first one. Greg said, “Those aren’t dogs! They are coyotes!” Then a THIRD one crossed the road as well. It was so cool. Greg ran to take pictures of the coyotes; they had already made it over to the other side on the lake.

Greg howled out and the coyotes stopped in their tracks on the frozen lake. He howled again and they turned, looking as if they would come back to see what was making that sound. Iwas a little nervous when they turned around....these are wild animals after all. But they kept on their original path and left out of sight. I was tickled to have seen them! (Later that day at the Discovery Center in Big Bear Lake, the lady said the coyotes come out in the early mornings to eat the frozen birds on the lake. We were fortunate to have woken up so early.)

Greg and I took a bunch of pictures along the lake. It was so lovely! Being that it was just the two of us, I asked Greg if we could put the camera on a tree stump and set the timer. It was fun to do, Greg told me where to stand, hit the button and dashed through the snow. I loved how the picture came out. Did I mention it was Valentine’s Day? I thought it was a romantic way to start off the day.

Before we left on the trip, I bought a Valentine’s Day card for Greg. I teased him about him not having one for me. (Actually, I was the only one in the group who had a card for the loved one…)

So, when we went to a store on the hunt for an ice chest to store food that was bought for the resort stay… Greg went to the card section and came out saying, “I found the perfect card!” I replied, “Really?” He said, “Yes, you want to read it? I don’t have anything written in it yet…” I held out my hand and thought it was perfect, very thoughtful. Then Greg took it back and said, “Ok, you read it, I’m putting it back on the shelf. Six dollars saved!” I busted out laughing. (No, he didn’t put it back on the shelf!)

From there, we went back to The Village. Greg wanted to buy the “Heart Pillars” that we saw at a German store. It comes in three parts, a woman, a man and a heart. On the back of each part is a saying.. “You complete my heart, my soul…” “…my life, my dream.” “The only one for me.”

When we arrived back at the “Trump to the Dump,” everyone was up and already packed. Greg and I quickly packed, then loaded up the vehicle, to leave 2 days ahead of the schedule. It was a short trip to Big Bear Lake, but what we did.. I enjoyed. We drove until we reached Las Vegas, this time staying in a different hotel – New York, New York Casino. The casino is shaped to reflect the New York skyline and has a roller coaster curving and twisting all the way around the skyline, so no matter what room you have, you have a view of the roller coaster.

I liked our view, because the roller coaster reached up and behind it was the mountain range. Very lovely to wake up to and see the afternoon sun sink into…

The next morning, Rob drove us to Caesar’s Palace for the brunch buffet. Greg said, “A 12 minute walk turned into a 50 minute drive, including a missed turn and onto the Interstate and then 2 stops around the hotel at the wrong valet parking.” I personally think Rob was trying to get revenge for Greg’s drive through the winding mountain roads! We made it to the restaurant in time for lunch, though R&R were disappointed that there wasn’t Sushi or Lobster at the bar. Greg realized that the last time we came to the buffet it was 40 dollars per person and was called the Champagne Sunday brunch… whereas this was during the week, on a Monday, and 20 dollars per person.

After lunch, R&R took Mom and Dad back to their hotel. Dad really wasn’t feeling well and was looking pale. Mom said that he slept most of the afternoon. R&R drove out to a grocery area that has Philippine food. While Greg and I walked the strip. We walked from Caesar’s Palace to the Bellagio Casino. We walked through the Casino to go to the front in order to watch the water display.

While going through the Bellagio, oh my gosh, it was so pretty! They had it decorated for the Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger. I was really impressed with the decorations and told Greg that I was glad I didn’t miss seeing it. He told me that the Bellagio does it up right, for any season or reason.

I thought it was cool how we had so much going on during this trip – Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras.

The Bellagio fountain display was to the Oklahoma song. I snapped some pictures and then asked Greg if he had ever gone into the Paris Casino. This was his first time too and I heard someone say that there is an elevator that takes you up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and then you step out to a view of the strip.

When we walked into the Casino, I wasn’t overly impressed with the décor. It was nice, but I guess I expected more – Paris, after all! Greg walked over to a lady who worked at the Casino and asked her about the Eiffel Tower ride. She was really nice and started to say something, then stopped, then put her hand in her pocket, reaching for something and handed Greg a card… It was an “insider tip” BOGO (buy one, get one free) ticket. How wonderful! We were able to go up on the ride at half the price (it was 10 dollars per person and we only had to pay 10 bucks total).

Then, as we are in line, waiting for the elevator, the lady asked if there was a group of 2. I raised my hand and she took us to the front of the line. The reason she asked for a group of 2 is because there was a man and woman waiting to go up as well. The woman is claustrophobic and didn’t want to go up in a crowd of people, so she requested only to have 2 other people in the elevator with them. Perfect for us – no crowd and we were moved ahead of the line.

550 feet up we went and out to the observation deck. I took plenty of pictures and liked being able to see the various casinos from up above. It also gave us a plan of which way we would go when walking back to NY NY.

It was a long walk, but enjoyable and definitely walked off every single calorie we consumed at the Caesar’s Palace buffet. When we returned, we counted 160 steps from the elevator to our room, which felt like it was at the end of a maze! What awaited us upon our return? Housekeeping. They were just starting our room, so we went to see Mom and Dad. Dad was sleeping so we talked briefly with Mom.

After going back to our room, we figured we’d go downstairs for supper at an Italian restaurant. On the ride down, the elevator stopped and in walks Mom and R&R. That was too funny seeing them! I asked if they were going to the Tropicana Casino, which they mentioned earlier in the day. They said yes… but come to find out later, I guess the plans changed and they went to the Aquarium. Mom said it was a lot like the one in New Orleans and they had a picture taken of the three of them.

That night, my throat started to hurt. The next morning, I couldn’t talk. It hurt to breath, yeah, that kind of raw feeling. The only thing that saved me was the throat lozenges Greg bought for me. Our flight didn’t leave until 7pm, so I had a full day in Vegas and was not in the physical frame of mind to enjoy it.

Dad wasn’t happy that the “late check out time was noon” when he could have done a late check out at 3pm with the Trump Towers. After we checked out, Mom wanted to do some shopping at the Outlet Stores. We stopped at Outback Steakhouse first.

That’s when Greg made the comment: “So, we left New Orleans because we didn’t want to do Mardi Gras; we went to a ski resort and nobody skied; we went to Vegas and didn’t gamble; then on the way out of town we stopped at an Outback Steakhouse and no one ordered steak! Makes me wonder if we’re going to an airport and get on a plane?”

Thankfully, yes, we did get on a plane, though it was delayed by an hour. We didn’t get home until 12:45am. I was so out of it, that when we got out of the limo mini bus, I forgot our camera case. OMG, I was sick with a sore throat and tired from the long day and no sleep the night before and then worried sick about the camera. Thankfully, the next day we called the limo service and they had the case delivered to us. Big Easy Limo – if ever you need the service, go to them! They are prompt in picking up, great service and they are honest!

All in all, an enjoyable vacation. I loved seeing the snow, the new experience of snowshoe walking and seeing the coyotes and going to new casinos – heck, even the “Trump to the Dump” made some really funny memories!

Thank you, Mom and Dad! We really do appreciate it!!! Love you!!

To see more pictures, click here. (Look for one of the billboard signs, made me laugh..)

You might have noticed that I had pre-posted some things during our vacation in Big Bear and Las Vegas.. that's because I wanted to surprise Greg with the Valentine's Day poem for him. Thank you for the sweet comments :) And a few more pictures to share - love the snowball fight!


LaurAyn said...

Man the two of you could never handle NYC in the summer if you can't handle a fried fart. LMAO

Kavi said...

That was one exhaustive account. Thanks for sharing ! Looks like you had a wonderful time !

Enjoy !

Dr. Wifey said...

looks like a fun trip! y'all are always going somewhere!

Dan said...

I still think Big Bar looks neater in the late spring/early summer. Of course, there isn't any snow then, but the verdant green is gorgeous.

carma said...

You had me at "like cardboard over wires" LOL -- not to mention your mom's "From Trump to Dump" - You've been having some fun excursions!

Darlene said...

WOW Aleta it sounds like you all had a fabulous vacation! What fun!! Your story made me feel like I was right there with

If your question is about the Crockpot chicken recipe, instead of cream of mushroom you can use cream of chicken. That is how I made it today. I make it both ways.

Lois Lane II said...

Oh my goodness, lol!! At least your vaca was memorable! =)

Grand Pooba said...

Awwww, look at you two love birds!! What a nice little getaway! Oh my gosh that picture when Greg put his face in the snow is hilarious!!! Especially his look beforehand!

Brandy said...

You got some beautiful pictures but that resort sounds like anything BUT a resort! Oy!

Trixie said...

Looks like an amazing trip. I'm jealous.

Homesick Cajun said...

Looks like a great trip! I've been to Big Bear Lake in July and it was absolutely gorgoeus!!

Crazy Sister said...

Cooked farts... sums up a family holiday!

Kim said...

Sounds like you had an awesome trip! Even with the frat house accomodations and getting sick on your last day. I'm so jealous that you got to go to Vegas! I want to go soooooo bad!

I hope your feeling better!!

Lilly said...

Wow I love reading about your vacations and you always make me smile. You could be a travel writer. Greg with his face in the snow - he he!

By the way have I ever told you you have great eyes, just gorgeous!! Loved all your pictures too. I dont need to go on my road trip to the US now, I am doing it vicariously through your holidays.

Kristen said...

Totally enjoyed your trip journal. And that Pawn Stars show - Bill and I watch it all the time. Reminds me of the Antique Roadshow a little. And on another note - did you all ever think that maybe that smell in the Trump to the Dump was a dead animal in the vent somewhere?? EEEEWWWWW!!!!