Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegas, Baby!!!

My baby turned 21 on Friday August 27.  Sadly, most of that day was spent in the car driving from Oklahoma, thru the Texas panhandle, across New Mexico, over a corner of Arizona and onto LAS VEGAS, Nevada.  17 hours of total travel time. Argh. But it went smoothly!
We are staying at the Summer Bay Desert Club and it is sooooo nice! It’s beautiful! And it’s only 2 blocks from the strip!
Brendon’s roommate, Erik, had to check the bed to make sure it was comfy….
Full kitchen, Dining area, Living room, Fireplace, Bedroom, Walk-in Closet, huge Bathroom with a HUGE tub!
Saturday morning, we took the free shuttle over to the Circus Circus on the strip.
102_6002 I bought Brendon his first legal drink at Rock N Rita’s in Circus Circus; it was called a Toilet Bowl.
I am so blessed to have such a great son.  I am grateful to have the life I have, so that I can take my son to Vegas for a week long 21st birthday celebration.
It’s nice to be able to walk down the strip on a hot day with a cold drink in hand.
Vegas is so amazing!! It’s one huge themed hotel after another!  The palm trees, the stores, the gambling, the drinks, the shows, the FUN!!!
The Mardi Gras spirit of Harrah’s is always fun!
Shopping in Caesar’s Palace is AMAZING! It feels like it’s an outdoor shopping mall.  The domed sky changes from night to day in an hour. 
Margaritaville at the Flamigo hotel.
Planet Hollywood also has a sky on the ceiling and it rains!!

We had a great lunch at Planet Hollywood before going to see Zen Magic. 

It was a great show combining a Japanese theme with magic, aerial acrobats, comedy and drama!  The stars Ai and YuKi were kind enough to take a photo with Brendon after the show!
We walked down the strip passed the Harley Davidson Cafe to M&M World!
M&M’s in every color imaginable!!! Brendon bought M&M’s and I bought pajamas and pens (of course!)
We are truly enjoying our vacation in Las Vegas just wandering the strip, gambling, eating, sightseeing, etc. 
Of course all this fun does come at a price.  I’ve had a headache everyday and I need to rest more frequently than the boys do. But we have been keeping the pace light and the mood fun.  In the evening we either enjoy a leisurely swim followed by the jacuzzi or I will take a long, long bath in the tub big enough for four! I couldn’t ask for two better kids to go with!
We had a great bartender at Circus Circus…he served Brendon his first drink with style!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crazy Colorado Weekend

My sister, Tammy, my niece, Kaitlyn, and I decided to go to Colorado for a few days so I could pick up some of my things.  We left Friday morning but not before we stopped at the bank to make a deposit, at the grocery store for medicine and drinks, the gas station for gas and air (which they didn’t have), Sonic for breakfast and another gas station for that air! In total the trip from Oklahoma City to Salida is 625 miles and travels through four states including Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. 


Once on the road, our first official stop (this doesn’t include a potty stop for Miss Kaitlyn) was the Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere at Groom, Texas.

This now includes the stations of the cross which tell the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
It includes some wonderful scenes to include the last supper, the tomb where he lay for three days and a replica of the Shroud of Turin.
There is also a very nice gift shop and bathrooms that are both clean and cute!! A huge plus on a 10 hour car trip.
While driving through Colorado we discovered some patches of rain, which made for excellent photo ops!
The soft rolling hills of Texas and New Mexico gave way to rocky crags of the mountains. As we got deeper into the mountains of Colorado Kaitlyn found herself bouncing across the backseat like a ping pong ball as the car hugged the curves at the base of the mountains.
The patchy clouds allowed excellent opportunities for the sun to shoot some beams of light onto the mountainside. Since I was driving I must say that the photos were shot by my niece.  THANK YOU KAITLYN!!
There is something about the majesty of the mountains, the blue of the sky, and the green pastures that just thrilled and amazed three simple Oklahoma girls.  As a matter of fact, this was the farthest west my sister and my niece had ever driven. 
The picturesque town of Salida, Colorado sits along the banks of the Arkansas River.  We took this opportunity and the recommendation of our B&B owner to dine at a restaurant overlooking the river! The owners, Steve and Tammy are wonderful, warm people and their B&B is located in Salida’s historic Thomas House built in 1848.  There was one suite left which fit us perfectly with a daybed for Kaitlyn and a queen bed for my sis and I.
After dinner we made our way across the street to Riverside Park.  We strolled along the banks of the Arkansas and enjoyed the cooler climate since it’s been triple digits in Oklahoma.  The above photo was shot under the bridge which crosses the Arkansas.  Kaitlyn was sad that she had no chalk with which to write on the underside of the bridge.  

According to Kaitlyn, 70 degrees is cold when you have been living in triple digits. As one can tell by the look on her face 70 degrees is downright frigid.

Despite the freezing temperatures Kaitlyn enjoyed some time on the swings!

Although the sign says NO PETS, they made an exception and allowed Kaitlyn and I to stay and play at the park.
Saturday, we drove an hour east to visit Royal Gorge Bridge.  It’s a suspension bridge, located 1,078 feet above the Arkansas River.  As you can see it affords some FANTASTIC scenery!
We rode the Aerial Tram from one side of the gorge to another. The journey takes over 2 minutes at 11 mph.  The car holds up to 35 people and has a counterweight of 58,000 lbs.
This shot gives a better perspective of the Aerial Tram’s journey across the gorge.  If you look very, very closely you can see a red spot to the right of center.  That is the tram making it’s way across the cables.
We also rode the incline railway to the bottom of the gorge and down to the Arkansas River. It is an amazing experience to gently slide along this steeply inclined track more than 1,000 feet down!
We also learned a very valuable lesson during our trip on the incline railway.  My niece is claustrophobic and had a mini meltdown when they locked us in a cab that’s only two persons deep. 
But as you can see the daunting journey in a tightly enclosed cage did not dampen her spirits.  She enjoyed being down by the river and looking up at the tiny bridge 1,000 feet above her.
I love this shot of the bridge, shot from the cables’ perspective. It’s an amazing structure and standing on the bridge one can feel the slight sway of the bridge.

Standing in the middle of the bridge if one looks to their left they can see they profile of John F. Kennedy Jr. lying on the mountains and looking up to the sky.
Some of the retaining walls in the park are made of Colorado quartz. It certainly gives them great character and color!
We had a great trip to the Royal Gorge Bridge where we walked a little, laughed a lot and enjoyed the majestic beauty of the Colorado Rockies.
I am typing this post as my sister drives a portion of the way back to Oklahoma.  Kaitlyn needed to obtain the charger for her cell phone during our journey home.  Instead of stopping the car to get her charger out of the trunk, we decided to go through the back seat to the trunk.
As you can see, it was an interesting feat to climb into the trunk at 70 mph. Luckily, my cheerleader niece is very slim and very athletic; this allowed her to crawl right into that trunk like a champ!
All in all it was an amazing short trip which allowed us to enjoy spending time together, laugh the way only family can at each other and to enjoy the beauty of the USA through each others eyes.  Thank you Tammy and Kaitlyn for making this such a memorable journey.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lovin’ Oklahoma

Today as I drove to my sister’s house an AWACS plane directly overhead at a distance some would find a bit too close for comfort.  For me, it was reassuring and heartwarming that once again I was ‘home.’  This started me thinking about all the reasons I love Oklahoma and all the reasons I find Oklahoma a place of comfort. 
Tinker AFB is located just outside of Oklahoma City and just a few miles from the house I grew up in.  These big birds could frequently be seen in the skies above and around my house.  There are only a few bases world wide which these babies call home.  I am proud to say that Tinker is one such base.
Just in case you were wondering, the drive in restaurants were started in Oklahoma.  Just watch Diners, Drive In, and Dives on the food network, they know all about the history of these things.  Sonic Drive In is an Oklahoma staple and is headquartered here as well.  One of the greatest reasons to love Sonic is the drinks!!!!!! 44 ounces of Sweet Tea, cherry or vanilla flavored Coke, Cherry Limeades, Lemon-Berry Slushes, and so on and so on!!!!cid__0803002015
Only in Oklahoma can you find a shopping mall that is dying but the oil pump in the parking lot is still happily pumping oil!!! Gotta love it!
One can easily determine when they have arrived in Oklahoma by merely looking at the ground under their feet.  Here, we lack soil.  It’s been replaced with red clay which stains our children’s clothing and does not come out in the wash!! I have even had red clay stain the engine of my car making the mechanics in San Antonio wonder if I painted my engine!
Another Oklahoma staple is Braum’s dairy.  They produce all sorts of dairy products but the milk and the ice cream are to die for.  Braum’s alone is enough to make someone want to move to the Sooner State!
I could keep going indefinitely about all the reasons I love Oklahoma and why you will never be able to take the Okie out of me.  But I will spare you all the details and tell you that I can’t imagine growing up without these things in my life.  I can, however, tell you that I miss them terribly as an adult and find all of these things (and more) a comforting part of coming home!
P.S. Christmas isn’t complete until any Okie has heard the B.C. Clark jingle.