Our Christmas has been a bit different this year, but has been great! A2 and I decided to come out west to see and spend time with the family! While this is great, it isn’t exactly the quiet, home-based Christmas we enjoyed last year, with the surprise white Christmas and enjoying our first quiet Christmas married.
This year, to try to preserve a bit of our-family-ness we decided to spend Christmas eve with just us, then come join other family on Christmas day. We went with Ben to McCormick and Schmick’s for Christmas Eve dinner. I enjoyed a Texas redfish, Ben had the sea scallops, and A2 enjoyed plate envy as her parmesan crusted tilapia left wanting. Other than that, it was a fantastic meal!
We went home and to bed early, setting the alarms for a 4am departure Christmas morning. We got up and out the door by 5, with Ben taking us to catch our 6:30am flights to Vegas. We arrived, and as we got to the rental car facility (around 8am pacific time), we passed a man who had clearly been out playing santa all night. He had a long white beard and hair, and was wearing a red t-shirt, trousers, and boots – and clearly exhausted from being out all night. I had to bite my tongue to not say “You’ve had a busy night, huh…” – instead I just shot him an understanding smile.
When we got to the rental parking lot, we were disappointed to find the lot empty of the car class we had pricelined for 50% off! The attendant promised they’d have a car up soon, so we waited and along she came…
A Cadillac DTS.
This was a nice car – don’t get me wrong – but it was also a bit of a granny car. The plusses were that it was whisper quiet on the inside (a far cry from my Civic) and just glid down the pavement. It was a nice ride! The minuses – too much wood glued to the dashboard, and more of a loose suspension.
We hopped on the freeway to St George and made it to my parent’s house at 11am Mountain time. They had just finished opening up their presents and had cleaned up breakfast – only my parents and my little brother – so we gave the presents we had brought, and then went to my brother’s house to watch his girls open some presents.
Mom had made some fabric ‘quiet books’ for the younger nieces this year, and she spilled the beans that she also made one for our little bun in the oven. We were quite thrilled.
We enjoyed a great Christmas afternoon dinner with Tio and his family, and puzzled and played games into the evening. I was introduced to a new game called Blockus while we were there that I soon became family champ on. Must be those ‘spatial reasoning’ skills shining through…
Monday, we did our obligatory run to Cafe Rio for lunch (yum!), then got on the road back to Vegas to meet up with A2’s family. Her parents reserved several suites at the Wyndham a year in advance so we could all get together in the week between Christmas and New Years. It all worked out like we planned, and everyone was able to make it in! Hooray!
Monday night, we just stayed in, had dinner together, and caught up with everyone; enjoying the two new kids we hadn’t even met yet in the family.
Tuesday we decided to venture out. GG and I were dead set on a visit to Hoover Dam.
It was a beautiful day, and we thought we couldn’t go wrong. GG lived in Boulder City in the 1950’s, so she was familiar with the community and everything that went into the construction of the dam. After a morning full of “dam” jokes, we ventured toward the dam. The 30-45 minute drive turned into a 2:30 minute drive to the dam. The dam traffic was horrible, the dam roads were packed, and all the dam tourists were itching (as were we) to just get there. Good thing we had our sweet ride to enjoy the entire way there!
On the way, we lost half of our family entourage. The ones with kids just couldn’t take the traffic and waiting, and bailed (for the better).
We finally made it to the dam, but couldn’t find parking to save our lives! We drove all the way across the dam, then flipped a U turn and came back. By the time we had made it back, they had reopened the parking garage for more cars. We got in and found a great parking spot (thanks to GG’s handicap sticker). By the time we got down the dam, all visions of going on the dam extended tour flew out the window. We were all tired, hungry, and irritable, and yet the last thing we wanted to do was get back into that car. So we decided to do the visitor’s center and observation deck and forego the tour.
Half of the group got through security, but then *someone* had to have brought three of the prohibited items: a pocket knife, a fork, and a granola bar. *NO DAM FOR YOU* He had to run back to the parking lot to deposit his bag of terrorist paraphernalia so we could get to the dam visitors center.
At this point, even I, the most committed of the dam visitors, was beginning to falter. Would I ever be able to successfully consume the dam experience?
We ran through the visitors center and then up to the overlook, got a few photos and a little info on the dam, then called it quits. Getting back to the car we screamed in unison “get us the hell out of this dam!”
We sped back to Boulder City where we enjoyed a visit to the A&W drive in, with the freshly brewed root beer on tap. YUMMMMM! Best part of the day, bar none!
On our way back to Vegas we got to try out the handling on the DTS as well. As we sped through traffic, a pink super-jeep stopped on a dime in front of us, and I had to quickly respond by merging into the other lane. Though we all wet our pants, we made it out alive.
Today (Wednesday) we re-tried doing something together as a family; we loaded up the cars and went to the Mandalay Bay’s Shark exhibit. This time we were successful! We all enjoyed the aquarium, in spite of a few meltdowns along the way. It was similar to the Dallas Aquarium (though a bit smaller). Proving you always meet someone from St George when you’re in Vegas, I ran into the Reids from my parent’s neighborhood in the exhibit. (I can’t go anywhere in these western United States!)
After the promised trip to McDonalds was complete and the incapable front-of-house staff at McDonalds had messed up our simple order, we came back to the resort and took it easy for a few hours. I’ve been playing chauffer to those who wanted to go to The Strip or run an errand, but other than that we’ve been just doing a puzzle and staring at each other.
Three more days of vacation bliss to go!