Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much, but blogging is trippy.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Woodrow loved Fremont Street -- the old casinos, the street performers, the kiosks of kitschy stuff for sale everywhere. It was all so cool to my oh-so-geeky kid! Posted by Hello


I love this picture -- Amy gazing up at the ceiling, her face washed red with the colors of the show going on over our heads -- gorgeous! Posted by Hello


My favorite part was probably the ceiling light show -- the "Fremont Street Experience" -- the last time I saw it, the show was really lame with dancing cowboy boots and awful music. This time they used excellent techno-pop music and the images were uber-cool, very retro, and so psychedelic. Whales turned into paisley swirls of red and blue and then turned back again. Cool!!! Posted by Hello


When Friday afternoon turned a little too cool for swimming, Woodrow still couldn't resist playing in the pool. Posted by Hello

Friday, Sept. 3rd

After seeing Kathleen Madigan and hearing all about Woodrow's evening at Penn & Teller, we got to bed really late. When I awoke Friday morning, Amy had to go to work (awwwwww!), and I felt like garbage. My ears were driving me absolutely batty; they were completely stopped up. Don't ever go to the desert with a cold. You don't want to know what the dry air does to your sinuses. Trust me on this.

So I didn't want to leave the house. I just wanted to veg in front of the TV, but this was a short trip and Woodrow's only foreseeable opportunity to see the sights, so I pulled myself together and drove the short distance out of town to Red Rock Canyon. This place is very cool -- I'm not sure if it's a state park or a national park, but it's a lot like Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains in that you can check in, tour a visitor's center, and then drive around a one-way loop with lots of overlooks and places to park and go hiking.

The visitor's center was cool. I'm not that fond of indoor exhibits, though, and neither is Woodrow. We went out back and looked at the tortoises in pens. Poor tortoises!!!! On the other hand, they have a cushy life with someone feeding them all the time. They had these incredibly cute little squirrel-chipmunk type animals scurrying all over the place.

Once we started driving the loop, I really started to enjoy and appreciate the desert landscape. It goes for miles and is just utterly untouched and pristine. Not as soft and green as the Smokies, but incredibly colorful nonetheless with all the layers of rock in different shades of red. I think Woodrow and I stopped at almost every place we could. If it had been less windy, perhaps we would have hiked more, but the dust was flying in our eyes, and with my sinuses and ears, I didn't have any tolerance for it.

It sprinkled a little late that afternoon -- the drops of water evaporated within seconds of hitting the pavement.

After everyone was home, we decided to go to the "local" casino for dinner at their buffet. Buffets in Las Vegas are very affordable, you know, and this spot way off the strip was no exception. We kept making Paul say his Vegas litany -- it's a result of the fact that you have to turn left on Las Vegas boulevard to get to their house. You say, "Turn left then on Vegas," and Paul launches into:
"THENNNNNN ONNNNNN VEGAS! DanTannagoesintoacasinowithtwobeautifulwomenand
findshimselfintroublewiththeMOB!"

[Transl: Dan Tanna goes into a casino with two beautiful women and finds himself in trouble with the mob.]

You have to say it *just right*. Paul is an expert at it, and Woodrow never tired of hearing it!

When we finally finished making repeated trips to the buffet, Amy & Paul gambled a little -- a *very* little -- and I took Woodrow to the arcade to play some quarters away. You would think I was letting him gamble, the way he got so excited over some of those video games! That casino has an ice skating rink, which we checked out for whenever I let Emily come out to visit. She goes nowhere without her skates these days!

After that, we decided that the only thing we hadn't done that we would really like to do was to visit the Fremont Street Experience. So we drove allllll the way to old downtown Las Vegas and parked in a garage for $2. TWO BUCKS!!!! Sometimes the prices out there really freak me out. Talk about cheap! We wandered around for a bit, trying to find out when the next show would be. The Fremont Street Experience is the place with the ceiling that ... Oh, c'mon, you already know. I don't have to explain this. Music. Lights. Images on the ceiling. Very cool.

And we paid TWO BUCKS for parking!!!!!! I love Las Vegas.

Woodrow got thirsty, so we bought a bottle of water for him at a store. Then we bought a dice shirt for him from a street vendor -- that shirt is *way* too cheezy for words, and I love it!!!

The show finally started, and I don't know what I loved more, watching the ceiling myself or taking pics of Amy and Woodrow and the ceiling during the show. I nearly cried, it was so pretty!!!!!

There was a rock band on a side street, and they had go-go dancers bopping on top of their speakers for a big, rowdy crowd, so I was kinda ready to leave just because... well, it was Las Vegas and Woodrow is *so* young and innocent. So we left.

On the way back to Amy's house, we stopped at Fat Burger for one last, perfect chocolate milk shake. I love Fat Burger. But I love the milkshakes *more*.

We fired up the spa and all put on our swimsuits to soak in the hot tub for a while before bed.

All in all, it was a perfect ending to a lovely visit with my sister in her new house.




I'd like to see someone growing English roses out here... wouldn't you? OK, no, that would be obscene. I hope that Red Rock Canyon will always be this unspoiled and gorgeous! Posted by Hello


Woodrow and I took Friday to run out to Red Rock Canyon to see the desert. Yeah, I know, the whole place is a desert! But Red Rock is unspoiled and *gorgeous*. This a desert tortoise that Woodrow's watching -- they move faster than I would have expected. Posted by Hello

Thursday night, Sept. 2nd

Last night Amy & I saw Kathleen Madigan at Harrah's (which is a lot nicer than I expected). If you don't know who she is, you're missing out. I've been a big fan for years -- she's *faaaaaaaabulous*. This summer, when Amy & I were addicted to Last Comic Standing, Kathleen was our favorite to win, and she was totally robbed.

Anyway, Amy bought the tix for her & Paul the moment they went on sale, and then when she found out that I would be here, Paul said I should go because I was a bigger fan. We had the best seats in the house!!!!!!!! Front row center!!!!!!!! It was an *amazing* show, and I laughed so hard for so long that I regretted not owning waterproof mascara. She was *hilarious*. OMG. I laughed so hard!!!

Now, Wesley is a big fan, too, and all he wanted was a big, white t-shirt with her signature, and as it happens, this club sold t-shirts for the comics to sign!!!!!!! I got in line and waited for a while -- in fact, I wanted to be at the end of the line so I could spend more time with her, but two other fans had the same idea, so we all stood there waiting and talking about how fabulous Kathleen is. I ended up talking with her for several minutes, ranting about how misogynistic NBC is, how the contest was rigged, and with Last Comic Standing 3, I'm going to steal cell phones so I can vote for her even more than last time.LOL!!!!!!

She was *so* nice and gracious, and *so* funny during her show.
After the show, we stopped by Fat Burger for a milkshake. Just a milkshake. What else do I need? YUM!!!


Kathleen Madigan is my new best friend!!! Amy & I saw her show at Harrah’s, and she was hilarious. (The best joke was about Celine Dion!) I waited in line afterward to ask her to sign a t-shirt for Wesley - she was so nice, real, & chatty. This night was probably the best part of the whole trip! Posted by Hello


Hobnobbing with celebrities....... Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005

Hoover Dam side trip

Well, we piled into my rental car and drove out to the Hoover Dam!!!!! It was closer than I remembered it being, and the drive was lovely. We saw a couple of dust devils on the way. And it’s really easy to forget how big Lake Mead is, and yet how it doesn’t look like a real lake. I mean, it’s water in the middle of all these barren rocks and desert terrain. Why doesn’t it look like a real lake?

Woodrow started acting up, and I was getting *really* irritated with him. There were several moments when I wanted say, “Quit acting like a brat.” But then we got to the dam and paid to get into the museum/tour and he started behaving better just because he was interested. Also, we started making the “dam” puns. Woodrow is very sensitive about cursing, and he thought these were the cleverest puns *ever*. He’s easy. ROFL!!!!! At least it made him stop whining.

I bought a “Little Dam Shotglass” for Wesley and an embossed metal postcard for Emily.

On the way back to Amy’s house, we stopped in Carson City and ate a late lunch at a darling little non-touristy diner. Kim called me and we chatted a bit.

Woodrow is playing in the pool again; I’m going to take a nap, and tonight we’re all going out to see a show! Amy and I are gonna see Kathleen Madigan, and Paul & Woodrow are going to see Penn & Teller. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! Very excited, very much looking forward to it…


Amy shows Woodrow where support lines stretch all the way across the Colorado River, downstream from the dam itself. Woodrow's favorites parts were our bad "dam" puns, like, "Let's take the dam tour," "All this dam walking is exhausting," and "Where's the dam souvenir shop? I need a dam postcard!" Posted by Hello

Las Vegas, Day 1 - Sept 1st

Hey, y'all!!!! I'm in VEGAS!!! I really cannot type on a laptop, so please forgive my brevity and any typos, please, OK?

First things first --Rebekah and her family are *so* nice and cool.I love meeting other homeschoolers... her kids were *so* nice!!!!! Iloved that Wendell has a cool W name -- like Woodrow and Warren andWesley. LOL!!!! I did read her report. She left out the parts about how sniffly I was and how Woodrow behaved like a wild child.

By the way, Rebekah, the watermelon was all that the birds ate beforethey got to the house and started settling in. I really think yousaved their stressed-out little lives!!! The birds were *very* freakedout by the trip.

In the way of a trip report, I still have a cold, which is making mepretty darned uncomfortable. I thought my head would explode on theplanes. Ouch!!! DFW -- HUGE!!!! Thank heaven Rebekah andWarren drove me to our terminal.

I had to go back through securitywith birds. (In Knoxville, they made me take birds out of carriers;Kito flew and freaked everyone out.) In DFW, they let me just reach my hand into the carriers and lift the towels, but that scared Noah and he made the most terrifying pteradactyl noise, which scared the wubba out of the TSA agents. They thought Noah was ripping my armoff. But the really weird thing was that there was some kind of party going on in the A concourse -- there was a jazz combo playing and women were putting leis on everyone that passed. I Have No IdeaWhy!!!!!!!!!!!! I've never seen anything like that. I kept expecting someone to say, "Can you give a dollar to [insert weird religion here]?"

Amy met us in the baggage claim area at the Las Vegas airport, where I observed that horrid behavior of people crowding right up to the carousel so you can’t get to your bags when they pass by the first three times. Trying to wrestle the huge box of cage parts off was dangerous; I nearly injured a man who refused to step back an inch. Amy took us to the rental car counter first, then she took the birds to her car and I took Woodrow to the rental car shuttle. Things are very spread out at that airport, and I was already worried. So, of course….I got lost the moment I left the rental car lot, and yes, I cried. Hard. I wanted to curse. I finally just pulled offthe road and called Amy and told her to come find me. She did. But not before a wrecker came and asked gleefully, "Didja breakdown????" Stinker. It was well over 100 degrees yesterday, although there is some disagreement about just how hot it did get.

It was stinkin' hot, though. Everyone agrees on that, and the locals have rules about when you can comment on the heat. It has to be in the 90's before you can say it's warm. Even the locals were commenting on the heat yesterday, and I *think* one of the TV stations said it was the hottest day so far this year.

Woodrow LOVES Amy's pool. (He's in it right now, and it's just 8:07 a.m.!!!) After Paul got home, I made sandwiches for me and the boy, and then decided I wasn't too tired to go see the Bellagio fountain show. I have *always* wanted to see it, and I have never before made time to see it. So we drove downtown (not a far trip from anywhere, apparently!), and we ended up seeing three shows.

We first saw it while we were sitting in traffic trying to get to the hotel. ROFL!!!! It was*gorgeous* that time -- a Celine Dion song, and was that Julio singing the duet? I don't know -- I'm not a Celine fan. The second time was from the hotel side of the fountain, and it was a Placido aria... I cried. It was truly stunning. Then we walked down to the front side of the fountain and saw "Proud to be an American." I'm probably the only American who doesn't like that song. I can't stand Lee Greenwood. I am a patriot, I just can't stand that song. But the *fountains* were *gorgeous*!!!!!!! Whoever programmed that bit really pulled out all the stops for that song.

It was getting late -- and for me and Woodrow, it was well after midnight -- so we started to leave. Woodrow was claiming that he was dying of thirst, and I promised him some ice cream before the third fountain show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any ice cream. Paul and Amy said that was OK, they knew the perfect place to go, so we went to a place called Fat Burger. OMG. You guys. The Fat Burger is AWESOME!!!! But!!! The chocolate shake is a *religious experience*!!!!! I'm *so* not exaggerating!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't get to bed until almost 1:00 Vegas time, which was almost4:00 my time. Poor Woodrow wouldn't go to sleep until I was there. But the up side is, I got up at 6:30 Vegas time.

Today we're going to the Hoover Dam, and I just got a call from Amy. The servers are down at her workplace, and she can't program withoutservers, so She Might Come Home!!!! Aaaaaeeeeeiiiii!!!! I would really love it if she could come with us to the Dam. I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Las Vegas Pre-trip

Pre-trip September 1st to 4th

I don’t usually travel a lot. I don’t like airplanes, and I’m something of a homebody. However, when I do get on a travel kick, I go on a *major* travel kick. That’s what happened in August & September of 2004.

But the last trip is really a last-minute addition to the itinerary, caused by my sister’s incredibly snarky move across the continent. She’s lived within half an hour of me for more than 14 years (except for those nine wretched months in 1991 when I lived in Illinois). However, her husband’s work took him west 5 years ago, and it was time for her to live in the same time zone as him. So the day I returned from Edisto Island, she took off for Las Vegas, leaving her parrots Noah and Kito with me.

I always birdsit for Amy when she goes out of town, and she always birdsits for me, but we really needed to get her parrots out west. Because of airline restrictions, we needed two humans traveling with the birds, and I chose Woodrow because he had never been on an airplane. Amy paid for the travel, because really, I was just a courier. Heck, Amy paid for everything. And I got to go to Las Vegas to see Amy’s gorgeous new house… and the rest of the town, too, insofar as it was permissible to do so with a 12-year-old in tow.

The plan: The flights would go from Knoxville to Dallas-Fort Worth to Las Vegas, and back again. I had one boy and two birds with me, and I boxed up the travel cages (really very large dog crates) for the birds and checked them through as luggage. During our three-hour layover in Dallas, a scrapbooking friend and her family were going to come meet me.

When we first started making these plans, I suggested going out there and coming straight back the next day, but then we started adding plans. Amy & her husband had tickets to see Kathleen Madigan in the middle of the trip, and I was (and am) a HUGE fan of hers. So Paul gave up his ticket and instead made plans to take Woodrow to a suitable show. We also discussed going to see Hoover Dam. We talked about the free things in Las Vegas – the fountains at Bellagio, Fremont Street, etc. – and soon we had a full itinerary for several days.

The only hiccup in the plans was the cold I caught the day I left Orlando. I was predominantly snotty for the entirety of the trip – colds and airplanes and deserts do not mix.

To say I was looking forward to this trip is a massive understatement. I adore Amy; she’s my best friend. I really wanted to meet Rebekah in Dallas. I really wanted to see Woodrow’s face as he took in the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. It turned out to exceed my expectations, and it was really mostly very cheap. And I didn’t even gamble the whole time I was there! Amazing.


Inside the observation deck -- out of the wind -- I didn't look down to keep the vertigo at bay.... Posted by Hello


When Las Vegas weather people say "breezy," they really mean "gale-force winds." I clung to my shirt to keep it from flying over my face, but my purse was still about to blow away, which is why the straps are obscuring Woodrow's face. Posted by Hello


This photo does no justice whatsoever to the size of the turbines inside the Hoover Dam, but I have to include it nonetheless. These things are *huge*. This is way down inside the dam. That tiny American flag is big enough to cover most of my house. I mean, honestly, this place is indescribably big. Posted by Hello


I'm a complete sucker for fountain shows, and this one does not disappoint. You can barely see Woodrow's head in this shot -- I had to bribe him to let me stay for a third show. Right after this one, we left the Bellagio and headed off to FatBurger. What a perfect night!!! Posted by Hello


That first night, after getting the birds settled at Amy's house, we went to the Bellagio to see the fountain shows. The night views there are gorgeous!!!! Woodrow enjoyed seeing the faux-Eiffel Tower across the street at the Paris hotel, but he was about to get hungry... Posted by Hello


We made it!!!! The Las Vegas airport is much prettier than I remembered (even with the yellow safety barriers, ugh), and much bigger, too. This was right before I got my rental car and got lost within three blocks of the airport. ROFL!!! Posted by Hello


We were heading to Las Vegas to take Amy's parrots to her -- traveling with two parrots is very interesting -- they make noises and scare people who are expecting to see an ordinary cat or dog! Here Woodrow checks on Kito while we were waiting at DFW for our connection to LV. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 03, 2005

A few loose ends

I've gotten some notes and comments -- not many on this blog, but in my email -- and I thought I'd clear them up before moving along to a new old trip report. (Hey, they're all old until I start blogging in real time in mid-February!)

First of all, to answer KBH's question, posted waaaaaaaaay below the very first post, yes, I've been back to Motion since August, and it is definitely for the *older* beautiful crowd such as herself and myself. KBH, tell me, does that middle initial stand for "Bad" or "Beautiful"?

Moving right along --

I've received some questions about the Orlando trip. I'm sorry I didn't post a pre-trip itinerary. I went to Orlando mostly for the Scrapbooking Expo, and the sidetrips to Disney were just a big, honkin' bonus. A scrapbooking expo is a show at which vendors allow attendees to purchase goods. It usually also has classes and workshops in conjunction with the show, and let me tell you, these things can be lots of fun to attend. I went to the one in Orlando to work in the Club Scrap booth, so I didn't attend any classes, and I'm afraid I was too busy to shop. When I go to CHA in February, I plan to do a lot of looking and drooling. (CHA is a huge trade show for the crafts industry, and you can't buy unless you're a retailer. And I'm not a retailer.)

If you are interested in attending a scrapbooking expo or event, you can probably find one in your part of the country by checking here:
http://www.scrap-source.com

Scrap-Source is a website that lists all upcoming events for the calendar year on the left side of the page. Look to the middle, and you'll see all the current "calls" for submitting your work to magazines and design teams. The right hand side is reserved for goods and services links.

That leads to another question -- what is Club Scrap? Club Scrap is the Nirvana of scrapbooking supply clubs. Club Scrap is heaven in a pizza box, delivered directly to your door once a month with the most indescribably luscious cardstock, rubberstamps, and artistic goodies ever invented by mankind. (My personal opinion only, of course.) I love Club Scrap.

You can visit the Club Scrap website at:
http://www.clubscrap.com

Lots of people want to know what I do in the scrapbook industry. I'm a big nobody. Paraphrasing Chaucer, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, write about it." You can see the proof of that in my listing at the ScrapbookResumes website:
http://www.scrapbookresumes.com/BayLoftis

And finally, don't be afraid to leave comments!!!! You can say whatever you want, up to and including "Get a life." I reserve the right not to listen to you, of course, but with about 350 hits on this blog since I added the counter, I'd really like to see more comments from those hits. I promise I don't bite. Unless you ask nicely.

Thanks for reading! I'll be uploading another trip report soon, I promise!

--Bay