Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Break 2008: To Phoenix and Beyond!

Greetings to one and all. I am writing this blog in a bit of a bad mood today. Adam and I awoke yesterday morning to a gloriously sunny Phoenix day. When we boarded our plane at 11:40 in the morning, it was more than 80 degrees outside. We spent most of the day on Saturday in the sun and went to the Phoenix Zoo. So, it seems completely unfair that while flying down into the Columbus skies yesterday afternoon it was both gloomy and miserably cold!

Last night I tried desperately to download our video to my computer, only to realize that I didn't have the right connecting cables to make that happen. That, too, was both annoying and disheartening.

Enough complaining though, I will tell you about our adventures and then make myself feel better. We flew out on Saturday March 15. Our flight was delayed by almost 2 hours because of horrible fog, but we finally got under way and made it to Phoenix. We picked up our rental car, headed to Rhian's, picked Rhian and James up (also visited with Mortimer for a bit), checked into the hotel, and headed for dinner. We tried a Japanese place called Sakana. Rhian had been misled to think that this was like the Japanese steakhouses from home where they cook in front of you on big, hot surfaces, but it was really a Sushi restaurant with a very limited grill menu. Obviously I cannot eat sushi right now, so I was left to choose from the grill menu. Fortunately, I had chicken teriyaki and it was very good. After dinner, we returned to Rhian's apartment and Rhian and James taught Adam and I a new card game. It's called King's Corners and is sort of like solitaire except you don't play alone. After several rounds of playing, Adam and I were tuckered out and headed back to our hotel for a good night's sleep. See the picture below of Rhian and I waiting for Sakana to open.

On Sunday morning March 16, Adam and I left very early and headed for the Grand Canyon. We had breakfast at U.S. Egg, a local Phoenix breakfast spot, and then stopped a few hours later for pie at the Rock Springs Cafe. Both places had delicious food! Adam and I were very excited to be on our way to the Grand Canyon and had high hopes of seeing magnificent views never before seen with our eyes. Our wish was granted, but not in the way we had expected.

As it turns out, the Grand Canyon had both record cold temperatures and record snowfall for the day and night we spent there. I told Rhian before we left that I sensed we would be bringing the snow with us. She kept saying that it rarely snows in Arizona and not to worry. It was SO snowy that you couldn't see more than 5 feet in front of you! That's a lot of snow!

On Monday March 17 (St. Patrick's Day), Adam and I gladly left the frozen tundra for lower ground and warmer temperatures. We arrived at Hoover Dam just before noon. I have seen many pictures and watched a few TV specials on the Hoover Dam and none of them really do it justice. I'll go ahead and post our best picture there, but you really need to see it for yourself to appreciate its true magnificence. After taking a tour and eating lunch, Adam and I drove on into Las Vegas. We checked into the MGM Grand and got upgraded to a suite. We were on the 8th floor and had a HUGE room with an extremely comfortable bed. Adam and I both wished we could bring the bed home with us. We could sleep all the time on that thing! Anyways, Monday night we ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and then took the monorail over to the Mirage to see "Love." "Love" is the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show. It was AWESOME! If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend that you go. The music, of course, was great and the theatrics were just amazing. I have no idea how the actors can do all of the things that they can do. After the show we wandered back through the drunken "Irish" crowds and arrived at our hotel room anxious for a good night of rest in our luxurious bed!

On Tuesday March 18, we did some major exploring of the strip. We walked the 2 miles down towards the Mirage and Treasure Island and then part of the two miles back towards our hotel (we eventually hopped on the monorail due to walking exhaustion). We stopped at the Venetian and watched the gondolas on the canal. We also went to Madame Tussaud's and had a very funny time posing with all of the wax sculptures We ate lunch at the buffet at Harrah's. We did some light shopping. We went to the Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Exhibit at the Mirage and saw white and bengal tigers and dolphins. We took a nap. Adam and I ate dinner at Diego, a Mexican restaurant at our hotel. It was delicious. We had table-made guacamole with sundried tomatoes. It was REALLY, REALLY good! After dinner we took the monorail to the Bellagio stop and made our way to the water show. I had only really seen the water show in pictures and on "Ocean's 11," so I was very eager to see the show in person. It was certainly not a let down. It was really quite amazing to see what could be done with water. We decided to walk back after the show and ended up stopping at New York, New York to wander through the casino and shops and see the sights. We ended up buying another cute baby outfit and then going back to the hotel for an early night's rest.

On Wednesday March 19, we were up very early in the morning. We had to be at the parking lot of the Tropicana (across the street from our hotel) by 6:30 am. We were there by 6:15 am, but the bus did not actually show up until 7:00 am. (Those of you who know me well know how very irritated I was by this - this was our first impression of the company and they were 30 minutes late!). Anyways, we were headed for our second Grand Canyon adventure of the week. This time we had very high hopes of actually seeing the canyon and we were not disappointed. We flew on an 8 passenger plane from Henderson, Nevada to the Hualapai Indian Reservation. At the reservation, we boarded a helicopter. The helicopter flew us down inside the canyon to the Colorado River. We boarded a float boat and took a mini tour of the canyon and the river. Then we got back on the helicopter and flew back up to the top. Next we boarded some buses that took us to Eagle Point (where the Grand Canyon Sky Bridge is) and then Guano Point where we ate lunch (no, we did not have bat poop for lunch). Then were got back on the buses to head back to our original point, boarded our mini-plane, and flew back to Henderson. The ride back was rather bumpy and uncomfortable, but we managed to make it safely to the ground. When we arrived back at the hotel we took a well deserved nap and then headed over to Excalibur to see the Tournament of the Kings. (This is like a Medival Times restaurant and show place). We sat in the France section and cheered on our king. We had tomato soup, chicken, french fries, broccoli and a desert and we ate the whole meal with no silverware. Our king did quite well in the competition and we left the whole event quite happy. We did a little gambling when we arrived back at our hotel. I won 12 cents! I decided to stop while I was ahead! :) Then we turned in for the night.

On Thursday March 20 we ventured down to our hotel's buffet for breakfast. All Las Vegas buffets are massively huge and packed with people. Our buffet was quite typical but it did have good food. As soon as we were finished, I headed off to the spa for a prenatal massage. My wonderful and fantastic husband promised me a massage with the whole Las Vegas package and with all of the walking and general pregnancy crampiness I had been experiencing, I was very excited for the opportunity. I had a great female masseuse who I learned had given Marie Osmond a prenatal massage during her last pregnancy. She had this technique where I stacked myself up on towels and could then lay on my stomach. It was fantastic because I really miss being able to lay on my stomach AND because on my stomach she could really work on my lower back. It was great! After the massage Adam and I again ventured out onto the strip. We walked through Planet Hollywood and the Bellagio. Adam and I ate lunch at Magaritaville. We then headed back towards Excalibur and took the tram over to Mandalay Bay. At Mandalay Bay we went to the Shark Reef and saw sharks as well as many other aquatic creatures. After taking the tram back to Excalibur and walking over to the MGM, we quickly had to change for dinner and our show, Ka. We went to Fiamma, and Italian restaurant at the hotel. It was expensive, but it was delicious. We had these delicate raviolis in this amazing red sauce. Yummy! After dinner, we headed to Ka. Ka is another Cirque du Soleil show. This one is about two imperial twins who get separated and the struggles they face trying to get back to each other. It was another amazing show with a stage that I am confident cannot be equalled anywhere else. With a somewhat sad heart, we headed up to bed knowing that this was our last night in Vegas.

On Friday March 21, we began by stuffing ourselves again at the MGM buffet and then hitting the road to drive back down to Phoenix. This time we did not encounter any snow and actually arrived in Phoenix and to our hotel in under 6 hours. We went to Phoenicia (a Mediterranean restaurant) for lunch and then met up with my whole family at Rhian's new rental house. At the house we got caught up with my parents and their adventures seeing my cousin Amanda in San Francisco and filling them in on our adventures in Las Vegas. Eventually we ordered some great pizza from Oregano's (a local Chicago-style pizza place) and then we all taught my parents how to play King's Corners. Eventually we left Rhian's, dropped my parents off at their bed and breakfast, and then gladly got into our own bed at the Best Western Papago Inn.

On Saturday March 22, we began our day by eating at U.S. Egg again. They have these delicious protein pancakes with all sorts of yummy things inside. Then Adam and I went to the Phoenix Zoo. We saw giraffes, orangutans, squirrel monkeys, zebras, and even some bald eagles. Eventually we got hungry again and met up with my whole family at Phoenicia. Yes, it was the second day in a row of eating there, but it's very good food. After lunch, Adam and I drove around Phoenix with my mom and my sister. Adam's parents lived and were married in Phoenix so we drove around looking for their old residence and church. The residence no longer existed and we're hopeful that we found the church. After our drive, we took Rhian to Sam's Club and then headed to Nordstrom Rack. We bought some more adorable baby clothes and then headed back to my parents bed and breakfast so that they could change for dinner. We went to King's Fish house for dinner. Adam and I both ordered coconut curry shrimp, which was delicious but extremely filling. After dinner we headed back to Rhian's for a bit to gather our chocolate Easter bunnies from my parents and to do some final visiting with Mortimer and the whole family. The night wrapped up by dropping off my parents and then heading back to our hotel.

On Sunday March 23, we again ate breakfast at U.S. Egg. We had our final taste of protein pancakes and then quickly raced to the airport. After dropping off our rental car and checking our bags, we learned our flight was slighly delayed. However, Adam was kind enough to let me play games on his laptop while we waited for our flight to arrive and then board. Adam and I actually managed to sleep for a majority of the flight, which made time pass much faster. And I think that pretty much brings everyone up to speed.

We had a great time and now we are home in cold, often sun-less Columbus weather. Here's to hoping that the sun starts to shine more and the weather gets warmer quickly!


amypfan said...

I am wildly jealous of this vacation. It sounds like you had such an incredible time! Not to mention a lot of good food. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel the need to defend myself. As I recall it, you kept threating me that it better not snow while you were here and I was the wise one who said that I couldn't promise anything because the Grand Canyon is at a much higher altitude than Phoenix. I never ever promised that it wasn't going to snow. It snows all the time in Flagstaff. The state of Arizona has some of the best skiing around!!!