Archive for category Travels

Catching up…

I’ve been steady… doing a lot of stuff lately. Even though I’ve been sitting on the 15k word bubble, I’ve been tinkering my way (mentally) through a blocking point, trying to figure out the connection from where I am, to where I see the story going… That’s a hard bridge to find, at the moment… However, I do still see the target date for the first draft as before Thanksgiving…

In other news, starting with the more pressing news/dates… my first night of class will be this Thursday, which will begin spelling out the rest of my work patterns for the semester. Specifically, if it becomes a pressing issue that I cannot use my current work-in-progress, then that will mean juggling two projects at once (which, hopefully, will mean two completed 1st drafts by the end of the semester). If I’m feeling really frisky, I may try doing some of the exercises with two possible projects, anyway – working backwards on the current project, and starting sketches for one of the next projects.

And I have two kinda-big trips planned for next year…
First, in May, a trip out to Denver, where I am thinking of applying to University of Denver for the PhD program, when I finish the Master’s. Still a ways off, but I want to make sure I feel comfortable with my options before I get to the point of filing applications. If I’m going to have to move, I want to make sure I’ll actually enjoy wherever it may be.

Second, will be a trip to Readercon in Boston. As of this writing, it will be my first convention that I am attending (in any capacity)*. Granted, it will be as an attendee, not as a presenter/distinguised guest, but it will be an experience I’m looking forward to.

And lastly, for now, the triggering point for the post, meeting resolutions. There will likely be several that will end the year much like they began… wisps of hope. But there is one that I can safely say will be able to pass into the next year with a sticker, like the kind we used to get in grade school (or now, I guess, with the reading charts… will have to ask my nephews about that)… I have finished my 26th book for the year (and here it is, still August, with four full months to go)! Book number 27 is already underway, and 28 is in the bag now (to be started after work tonight), and at least one other book that will be guaranteed to be read (and possible three more after that, thanks to required reading for my class)… So the 26-30 books for the year – done and then some. We shall see where we’re at when the dust settles at the beginning of January to see how far beyond 30 I’ve been able to get…

* If I play my cards right, and keep my ears open, I may be able to attend something more local before next July. If I can align some of my stars, I may be able to have a paper available or in the drafting stage that might be possible to present. Especially if I want to work towards a PhD… more publications, projects, etc. = better chance of acceptance to a program (and better chances of employment after completion).

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Back from the Mountaintop…

MC and I went to her grandparents’ place in Pennsylvania to take advantage of the long weekend (and we took an extra day off to make it longer!)… and the house is on top of a (smallish) mountain. The Appalachain Trail runs near their place (less than 1/2 mile from it, actually), and it’s quite a nice, quiet place.

And there were some alterior motives with the trip, as well… When I was first taken up there, almost two years ago (a sort of “meet the grandparents” before MC and I officially started dating), along with another of MC’s friends (Melissa), we (Melissa and I) were force-fed some of the history of the area by the grandparents… it’s not a bad thing, as people are always inclined to want to brag or show off some of the landmarks or features of the area, especially if there is some sort of personal connection.

In this particular case, it involves a now-lost luxury hotel (burned to the ground in 1967-ish) that opened for business in 1891. Being a hotel person in a past life (I do have a management degree for just such an occupation), it was something that intrigued me – and as a writer, it’s been something that’s stuck with me. Fueled by some ideas that popped up during my “Research” class, part of my plans for the trip were to gather some research information and ideas from the (now) grandparents-in-law. While I didn’t get as much as I would have liked (abundance of information, not enough time to make notes or get a lot of pictures of other locations – not from lack of resources), I have enough to start some serious story-boarding for a project (including a time-stamp for circa early 1940s to accurately use the sights/locations that I am thinking about blending into the story)…

I’ve got a couple of things bouncing around, that I hope to make some distinct progress on over the summer (to prepare for my class next fall). If things go well this summer, I would like to be well into a couple of works (near 30k words), to be well positioned to take advantage of the semester for workshopping and improving the project of choice.

To the drafting table!

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I’m Back…

Just in time for the new year… well, not really, since we’re almost a week after the ball has dropped… but I (we) have returned from our South American honeymoon. To many things that I would like to try and post, but I am and work, and don’t have everything lined up that I would like to say (including pictures, etc.)… so that will have to be pending….

I also need to make some corrections and updates, with regards to the “movies watched and books read” items, but that will also come in the “recap” post. As will the “2009 Resolutions” be in the works… I’m working on the “To Do” list as I type this, and it is just going to take a bit of time to put it all together…

Right, now it’s off to Flickr, to get a space ready for pictures…

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This will likely be the final “active” post of 2008…  I do have a few entries that will post in my absence, but today is the day that I think was mentioned several months ago… my wedding to Mary Catherine.

I am putting this together in a little bit of the downtime preceding the events this evening…  And tomorrow we leave the country for two weeks, and will not be that close to a computer (rather… blogging will be lower on the priority list during those two weeks…)…
Adios for now… I’ll post again upon the return…

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Traveling notes…

Since I will be gone for a few weeks, I thought it only fair to add the list of books that I will be taking with me. I will be taking four books – two Gaiman titles, a King, and The Painted Veil by Maugham. I don’t know how many of them I will actually get through before the year ends (or, during the trip), but that’s what I’m taking, and what will be the next few books from the queue.

The specific titles: Fragile Things (Gaiman) and Everything’s Eventual (King) are both short story collections, and will be the first books read. I am planning on alternating reads between the two books, and they will be the most likely to be finished (at least one of them). With less than 100 pages to go in Grafton’s “F”, these will be started long before the plane takes off on Sunday night.

After the story collections will be Veil, (originally published in 1925) to give a stark styllistic change from most of the other books that I have been reading for the last year, easily being the oldest (published) work recently read. If things are looking tight, I will probably just wait until January 1st to start this one, ushering in the new year with a clean start.

The other Gaiman book, Anansi Boys, will be the third novel of his that I will tackle, and will most likely not be started until 2009 – on the long flight back, if all goes well with Veil.

Beyond that, I will pull some more books from my shelves, and continue the reading streak.

Speaking of reading, a note on how I pick books…
First and foremost, in terms of getting books, I base on the author. If I like the style and content of a given writer’s work, then I will be more likely to get their books. As long as the content is relevant to my interests. Like Stephen King. I am more interested in his story collections, instead of his novels (I tried Salem’s lot about 20 years ago, but just couldn’t get into it, which probably soured me against most of his novels…) But I do want to try reading the “Dark Tower” series… And I have read his “On Writing”.

If I am looking into a new genre (I grew up mostly reading fantsy, science fiction, or straight fiction), I initially go with author reputation – and if there is a series I start at the beginning. Like Sue Grafton. I had gotten interested in the idea of trying to write several mystery stories – but to write something without reading any is crazy. So I sought out Grafton, initially, and started with “A”. I liked it, both the flow and the story involved (and, the use of a serial character), and have been progressing ever since.

In picking out new books, though, while walking the aisles of the local B&N… I look for interesting title names, or interesting cover art… And I read the back, or jacket description. If it sounds interesting, or looks like it might be in line with a style/genre that I may like, then I will consider it.

I also used the same strategy when going through my dad’s book collection. If there was author recognition or series recognition (Frank G. Slaughter, or the Nick Carter series), then I added it to my collection. If there were some that matched my genre interests (the “Baroness” series, or Ted Mark books), I added them. In most cases,if there was a series involved, I kept almost all of the matching books.

In picking books out of the stack (nay, mountain) to be read, things often go about the same. I pick out books that look interesting, and that I haven’t gotten to yet. If there is a story or style that I have in mind, I may tend towards those sorts of works (short story collections during the middle of the last semester, when I was focusing on short stories for class).

I do also consider length, to some degree (if the story is good, the length won’t really matter). Understand, though, that length can vary by edition. My copy of the King book mentioned above runs about 450-ish pages, but entries under Amazon show the same book at 600-ish pages. The trade paperbacks that I have been getting for Grafton’s Alphabet series run about 300-ish pages – but I have seen older paperback versions sitting around 200 pages.

And I try to avoid repeating an author too quickly. Imagine watching a TV series on DVD, or a string of movies starring X, or directed by Y, or all related to Z (like, a specific event – A WWII movie marathon, or a Bond marathon)… before long, the enjoyment would wane. (That’s why I am just now on “F”, when I read Grafton’s “A” back in 2007… and she has written through “T”!)

That’s the nut shell… now it’s time to go do a little more work before I leave for the day…

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Weekend Update: Concert (part 2)

We arrived at the hotel by 4 o’clock, still a little full from lunch at MC’s parents, so we just hung out at the hotel, setting up the fold-out couch, and getting ready for the concert. The room was nice enough – two queen beds and a pull-out sofa, but I was thinking it might actually be two seperate bedroom spaces (like I have had at some other hotels)… oh well…

My sister had not told her boys what the grand plan was for the weekend, but they had picked up that we were going to a concert. The youngest asked, “Mom, are we going to a concert?”

“Yes,” she replied. “And who would you want to go to a concert to see?”

He contemplated this question, tapping his chin in deep thought. “Rush?!” he said, his voice almost asking a question, as well as giving an answer. He’s seven, and likes to rock. His older brother (10) got in on it, “We’re going to see Rush?” And there was much rejoicing by them.

We stopped off at a Bob Evans, right next to the hotel, for dinner on the way to the show, and finalized the seating arrangements. I would be in the closer group of seats, with the two oldest boys.

We tried to use text messages between the sections, during the course of the show, but there just wasn’t the same immediacy as sitting with MC to point out some of the videos, or items on the stage. Also, since they released a live album from last year’s tour, and there are plans for a live DVD to be released this fall, I wasn’t so worried about trying to track down the setlist (like last year… which, by the way, I realized I was wrong with what I thought some of the songs were…).

The main recognition that MC’s nephew had with Rush was “YYZ” from Guitar Hero 2 (which was the last song they played), but he enjoyed himself. Of course, my nephews had fun (even though the youngest fell asleep during the encore, I was told his head was rocking along during the drum solo. MC was actually quite receptive, overall, for her first substantial exposure to them. “They’re obviously very talented,” she said, “but I couldn’t really understand them. And with everyone standing, I couldn’t really see the screens.”

However, one point of humor that has to be pointed out… you know how most of the time the line at the men’s room is usually very non-existent, or moves quickly, while the ladies room will extend 20-30 people from the entrance? Exact opposite… the ladies room was a breeze through while the guys were stuck waiting to go. “And I’ve never seen so many mullets it one place,” MC mentioned (referring to many of the fans).

Another humor point that my sister and I noticed – a guy, driving a black Ferrari… and having to park in a gravel parking lot. What the hell was he thinking?

We returned to the hotel, blessedly by way of a “back route” (the same way we go to the venue, actually – but it did not involve getting on I-85, which was how virtually all of the rest of the traffic was heading), everyone showered, and collapsed onthe beds for a few hours of sleep.

The next morning, we met up with my friend Ben who lives out there, and we all went to breakfast (at Cracker Barrel, again, as it was too early for the lunch-themed restaurants, and we were all hungry). After breakfast, we all went to Concord Mills mall for a little over an hour, to do a little shopping “since we were there”. After dropping Ben off back at the CB, we reversed the route, going back to Winston-Salem before coming back east, and calling it a trip.

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Weekend Update: Concert (part 1)

What had started as a plan to go to the concert with my sister and my fiancee morphed into something else… a family trip. As previously recounted here, I took my sister and nephews to see the Rush: Snakes & Arrows tour in 2007. When I heard they were doing another leg, extending the tour into 2008, I planned to go. I had only planned for the three tickets, since the nephews could have been with their other parental unit in Texas for most of the summer (didn’t happen, long story, but the ex-bro-in-law has moved back to NC… and I mention this only because it’s relevant to the story) on the anticipated concert date…

But I am a geek in that respect… I had the three tickets, but wondered, “Is there anything closer?” I checked, and there were (by about 15 rows), and I got another three tickets. But I had time to decide what to do with the other tickets, so I didn’t sweat it. I checked with some other friends (and MC’s family), with no takers. Since the ex-BiL was in the vicinity, I did the nice thing and offered to sell them to him – not because I really wanted to see him, but because it would give him a chance to actually, maybe, be a parent and allow him to spend time with his kids. And that fell through.

So we changed tack, and decided to take my nephews, which left us with one ticket – a little easier to deal with. So we tried the adult rounds again, but with no takers. MC had been considering seeing if her nephew (age: 14) could go, and with everyone else in our area declining, she called “out west” to see if he could go. Which, after some discussions out there, it was decided that he could go.

The weekend came for the concert, and my sister and nephews came up on Saturday – and we went out for dinner at Cracker Barrel, and breakfast at a local bagel shop – before leaving kinda early on Sunday. We drove out to Winston-Salem to pick up MC’s nephew, and switch vehicles (into something that would be more comfortable for six people). From there, we rolled down to Charlotte so we could check in to the hotel, relax a little, and get dinner before the concert.

Next: The details…

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Las Vegas, pt. 3 (The Trip Concludes)

[Originally started on 2/28/08. Photo added on 6/6/08.]

When last we left our weary travellers, here, they had returned to their hotel room after a windy walk back from the Venitian, where they had just seen Blue Man Group.

So, yes, it was a very windy walk back, and Blue Man was cool. And we were tired. And we went to bed.

And we slept late. Thursday, being what it was (birthday & Valentine’s Day), we happily slept in. We got up, went for a late breakfast, wandered around a little, and then returned to the room for an afternoon nap. We had dinner reservations for shortly after 6pm, so we got up around 4 to start getting ready (two showers, taxi in traffic… and allowing a little “fluff” time). We made it to Paris around 5:30-5:45, and killed a little time with some slot machines until presenting ourselves for the reservation.

The Eifel Tower was great. There was a “special” (limited) menu, and we sampled each others meals. Despite the smaller-sized portions (especially compared to the other Vegas meals we had experienced), it was easily enough to fill us up. We were positioned so we could face Bellagio, able to see the tops of the fountains when they would spray high enough. It was in this setting that I “officially” proposed.

After dinner, we were whisked away from France, back to Italy (via cab, from Paris back to the Venitian), where we had other, grander, festivities planned. As I have mentioned before, the trip planning started back in November. In looking at shows that were available, I decided to go on a limb and do something really cool as the icing for the birthday trip. Comedy is fun. Wayne Brady is funny. Put them together, and we had a ball. I got front row tickets (special VIP seating) for the show that night (which, it turns out, included a meet-and-greet after the show). We ended up sitting almost center stage (about two seats off center).

The show itself was awesome. It was set up in two distinct segments. After the initial “welcome to the show” montage, there were a few “Whose Line” style games that were played. After a brief intermission, it was all music – an homage sequence (song & dance) to his various R&B/Soul influences, including James Brown (among others). This is my one true regret about not writing these when I actually wanted to (right after the trip), because the details that were fresh then, are fuzzy now – like Wayne & the male dancers in the show all dressed like Tina Turner for a number, and MC’s comment that the female dancers were “real dancers” (changing styles as easily as the music could change), and how funny & stupid drunk (audience) people can be – especially when associated with improv comedy!

During the “Meet & Greet”, though, as we were near the end of the line waiting for the photo op and autograph, was one ofthe cooler experiences of the show, for me. MC went first, and they were chatting a little about it being her birthday, and that the trip and show were for her. Wayne looked at me, and extended his hand. Now, the specific words are lost, but it was something to the effect of “You are the man.”

[edit: 6/6/08 – click on the picture to get a bigger version.]

We (MC & I) walked back to the hotel, laughing and reliving moments from the show, and prepared to call it a night.

Friday was our “open” day – we had nothing planned, short of using some of the day to shop and pack. We had been debating for most of the week about trying to take in one more show – George Carlin (in town for a couple of nights doing a work through, preparing to film an HBO special). We seriously considered it, but were just too tired to try and go to the show (way off of the strip), and still get ready to fly back the next day.

So we just spent all day shopping, wandering around another mall that was across another street from our hotel. It was in this other mall that we secured a couple of items. MC wanted to get me something, and we wandered into a Cross (pen) store. I had been reading Neil Gaiman’s site (he states that he does a lot of his writing with fountain pens), and I had been thinking about trying one out. So I have a nice, lightly used (now) pen, crying to be put to the page… but that’s for another story…

The other (much more significant) find in the roaming of that “other” mall were the rings. We had been looking all over, here, trying to find just the right rings, and kept coming up short. While walking around the shops in Vegas we were looking, just to see what was around, and came up big in one of the last shops we decided to look into – and we got all of the rings at the same time! We stopped of for a snack before trekking back to the hotel (a stuffed pastry wrap and a “bubble tea” – interesting). We packed some, but still had a few more people “unaccounted for” in the gift area.

We went back to the shops around the Venitian for dinner, and poked around for ideas for the remaining people on our list, finishing off the shopping before it was too late. Back to the hotel to begin the packing adventure, which we eventually finished, and called it a night.

Our shuttle to the airport was scheduled for around 8, so we were up around 6:30, getting dressed and finished packing the “incidentals” that couldn’t be packed away the night before. We ate breakfast at the hotel buffett, and strolled out into the brisk desert morning to wait for the transport to arrive. The ride back to the airport, like the one to the hotel, was cool for the exposure of stuff “behind” the strip.

And it was annoying, because of the nagging old lady that was sitting behind us for the entire ride. She had been out there with a goup of folks, and has been several times before, but she didn’t really seem to have anything nice to say – and her friends really didn’t have a chance to say anything else once they got her started. MC & I looked at each other, and exchanged our comments after they had left the bus.

The flight back was long (direct, so no chance to stretch legs) and full. I did manage to get quite a bit of Grapes read by the end of the week – mostly on the plane (I was down to the last hundred or so pages by the time we landed). We drove home, after calling the hotel shuttle to collect our plane-weary bodies from the airport.

And that was Vegas. With no Elvis. Go, us!

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Las Vegas, pt. 2 (The Trip Continues…)

[This was originally started on 2/28/08.]

When last we left our escapades, we were skirting around on skates, being mindful of the toepicks…. wait, that would be the Icecapades… Let’s get back to Vegas! Right…

We were beat when we went to bed that Monday night. Since our bodies were still on Eastern time, we were awake by 7am onTuesday. (Actually, it took us until Friday, I think, before we even managed to start really functioning in “Vegas” time.) We were up and dressed by about 7:30 – and hungry! We made our way downstairs, trying to decide a) what we wanted for breakfast, and b) what we wanted to spend the day doing.

As the elevator doors opened, and we were walking into the lobby, Mary Catherine was amazed to see folks still perched at the slot machines – not a lot of people, but enough to make one go, “Hmm”. The depressing part, or the image that has stuck with me, was seeing a little old lady, nursing her alcohol – it looked like it might be a scotch or a darker mixed drink – puffing away on a cigarette (holding it between her fingers, a slight trail of smoke snaking away from a half-inch of ash, hanging from the end of the half-burned cigarette), her hands moving between pushing the “bet”and “Spin” buttons on the machine. Part of the Vegas stereotype, for sure, but a bit erie to see it at 7:30 in the morning.

We made our way around the lobby, grateful for the lighter traffic (and lighter cigarette-smoke cloud), and decided to have breakfast at Kahunaville. It was still early (they did not open until 8am), so we walked around a little more. Up a flight of stairs (or an escalator ride), there was a “$10 or Less” shop, and a tram to the Mirage, located next door. The tram didn’t start running until almost 10am, but we figured it would be a good thing “for later”. We went back downstairs, and had a very good breakfast at Kahunaville – and the interior setup (with a fountain wall, etc.) gave us a great vibe to start the day.

After breakfast we returned to the room, and got ready to go out for the day – getting cameras, etc. We made our way back to the tram, and shuttled over to the Mirage, where we toured through the “Sigfried & Roy: Secret Garden and Wildlife Habitat”. We spent a couple of hours hanging out, watching the few dolphins that they have swimming, or walking through and seeing all of the cats (white tigers, a panther, etc.).

From the Mirage, we made our way over the Caeser’s Palace, where we wandered around the Forum shops. The detail work was cool to see, and was very interesting when thinking that most of it was probably done almost 30 years ago! After wandering the shops, we headed back to our room, os we could get ready for dinner and our show – tickets to Cirque de Soleil: Mystere. Dinner was excellent food from the Steak House (inside the hotel) – we ordered a “skewer” meal (a meat skewer, packaged with two sides), with an extra side, and a dessert. Splitting the meal between the two of us, we still had some left over (but no fridge to keep it with, ach!) We then went around to the theatre for the show. Overall, it was pretty good, as an experience (and to watch some of the technical elements, putting on my “Theatre D&P” hat, were just plain awesome!), but not a style of storytelling that I felt comfortable following (in otherwords – no discernable plot, or through story, that was easy to follow). But it was a cool experience, nonetheless.

We called it a night after the show, and preparedfor the next morning…

We woke the next morning, still close to 7am, and prepared to do everything over again. We decided we would try something different for breakfast, so we walked down the strip, heading back towards Ceasar’s. We wandered through, checking out the interiors, and seeing what they may have to offer, but we were not really impressed until we were in Bellagio. During the planning of our trip, one of the doctors that Mary Catherine works with had suggested a place in Bellagio called “Noodles”… which is where we ended up having “brunch” when it opened around 11am. The food was good, and fuelled us through our walk and explorations of other properties, as we made our way back towards our hotel from the other side of the street.

We journied through a large, indoor mall near Paris. We strolled through Paris to findout where we needed to go to get to the Eifel Tower restaurant. We checked out the Venitian, to both pick up the tickets for our shows, and just to explore a little. In the process, we wandered through some of the shops at the Venetian – it was, honestly, a neat property to walk through.

We went back to our hotel and got ready for our evening out. Since we were going to be seeing Blue Man Group at the Venetian (hence, our explorations earlier), we decided to go for dinner over there, to make it a little easier on getting to the theatre. Blue Man was a great show – very different from what I was expecting, but a great show overall. I was a bit confused in the beginning, when they were passing out streamers of paper to everyone, pulling them from spools at the end of a row, and feeding them all the way across. I would recommend checking them out if you are into rhythm/drum based music.

After Blue Man, and a stop in the gift shop, we made our way back across to our hotel. It had gotten very cool, and there was a heavy wind blowing, which made crossing part of the street very interesting. We have since joked that it felt like we could have easily been blown over if we had baggier clothes on! Once we were safe (and wind-free) inside our room, we called it a night, for the next day was V-Day (and her birthday)…

But that’s another story…

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Las Vegas, part 1 (The Trip West)

[Originally started on 2/28/08]
Las Vegas. The trip origins go back to the early fall, when the collective “we” (me, Mary Catherine, and her friend Melissa) had talked about taking a trip to New York. The timing didn’t work out to try and go to New York (before it would be to friggin’ cold for southerners to by in the City), and at the same time, there was the Stage Hand’s strike putting a damper on a lot of shows. So, I just randomly said, “What about Vegas?” and Mary Catherine was excited. She had never been before, and I had only been way back in a former life (for a conference when I was the manager for an ice cream franchise – but I pretty much stayed in the Bellagio the whole time – about 3-4 days – and didn’t explore too much).

So, I planned the trip around Thanksgiving, for a February travel window. Mary Catherine’s birthday is in February, and I figured it would be a great way to celebrate it. Go me. We went out for a week (through a travel agent, the pricing was very reasonable, and included tickets to a show), and we stayed at Treasure Island – what better place for two Pirate alumni to stay?

We drove out to Raleigh on Sunday (2/10/08), so we could relax, and actually sleep, before catching the flight out. There is also the added benefit of using the hotel’s “Park and Ride” service to make the return that much easier. After a visit to Waffle House (right down from the hotel at about 7-ish AM on Monday, we hung out in the lobby, waiting for our 8-ish shuttle. And we waited. And waited. We had signed up the evening before, when checking in, to make sure we would have plenty of time to get to the airport and through security before our flight. I finally talk to a person standing behind the desk to ask about the shuttle – and it turns out to be the shuttle driver. He claimed to have done the route – but we had arrived in the lobby about 5-10 minutes before 8am, and never saw the shuttle out front…

I digress, though, since we did get taken to the airport, and we did make it through everything with plenty of time to spare. In order to get a later flight out, we had to do a connecting flight, instead of non-stop. Our connector? Through Chicago! I had been a little nervous with the way the weather had been (cold, and lots of snow flurries), but everything was fine when we landed – but yes, there was snow on the ground, but the sky was clear while we were there. We had lunch from McDonald’s – after debating how much overpriced airport food we wanted to get for a somewhat reasonable price. And we ate our food, sitting in the airport terminal, and watching the weather forecast on a television, and waited for our plane to be ready. At this point, it was almost 12 o’clock – but that was now Chicago time.

We flew out of Chicago for Vegas, and settled in for a slightly longer flight. Again, the flight went rather smoothly, and we landed without any issues. Mary Catherine watched our arrival through the window of the plane, and commented on our arrival when talking to her folks later, “It was like it came out of nowhere. We were flying over lots of open desert, and then we were flying over Vegas.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s basically what she said. As I am writing this, the trip was three months ago, and I think it’s pretty good that I’m remembering what I AM writing down, but I digress again.

An added benefit of going through a travel agent are some of the little “extras” that come with buying the packages through them. Our round-trip shuttle service from the airport was included, but I didn’t really realize it until we were standing in line, waiting for the shuttles. I saw a couple of people ahead of us in line with their forms, which prompted me to look closer at mine. We got our vouchers for the shuttle, “Just make sure to ask for return vouchers, and ask about scheduling the return trip” (call the day before to schedule, since it’s based on a timed route). The cool thing about riding the shuttle, since it was a multi-property run, was that we were able to see some of the “behind the scenes” areas – places that we otherwise wouldn’t have gone.

By the time we got to the hotel, checked in and settled, it was only about 4pm – but that is Vegas time! We had been up, easily, over 12 hours, and we were tired. We went downstairs for dinner, and ate at Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant inside the hotel. The food was great, and we tried Vietnemese tea (not so much… interesting flavor, but the tea itself was orange colored, and would definitely be an acquired taste). Over dinner, we talked about what we wanted to do during the week – during the days, anyway. After dinner, we went back up to the room, and slept. It was only about 7:30-ish, Vegas time, but after 10pm Eastern, and were easily beyond beat.

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