Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Back from Vegas

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Las Vegas was awesome. We had a crazy, ill tempered, swearing shuttle driver takes us to San Jose airport. Ed got there at sunrise and was drunk by the time we got to the hotel in the mid-afternoon. The Hotel (part of Mandalay Bay) was nice looking, but dark. Everything was cutely named “The ___” including “the tp” for the toilet paper. And black. The beach at Mandalay Bay with the wave pool is great (except everyone leaves their towel lying around so there are towel mountains every so many feet in the sand). I went to my first strip joint in the states (but left unfortunately early — I, unlike most of the rest of the group, sadly did not smell like strippers in the morning.) I played some Black Jack — not a huge fan of gambling, but I broke even so I did well :) And I got caught trying to steal a fork from House of Blues by the coolest waitress ever.

Restaurants we ate at:

  • Red, White, & Blue (Mandalay Bay): sucked
  • Nine Fine Irishmen (NY, NY) — didn’t eat there, but the food looked awesome. And I love Irish music.
  • House of Blues (Mandalay Bay) — yummy
  • Raffles Cafe (Mandalay Bay) — ok, but wouldn’t go back
  • Pyramid Cafe (Luxor) — yummy breakfast
  • Fiamma (MGM Grand) — pricey, but incredibly yummy

Ghostbar at the Palms (oh my god, the beautiful women at the Palms!!) was interesting. And played decent music (as in music I’ve heard before including Beastie Boys) earlier in the night — pre 2/3am, and the view is amazing. And Club Paradise was the strip club we went to. That was nice — I’d go back, and everyone else enjoyed it way more than I got to.

Headed to Vegas

Friday, September 24th, 2004

I haven’t spent a weekend in Vegas in years. Ed’s birthday…he’s already on his way — he was so excited to drive out tonight. Some of us got together and got him an iPod for his birthday and he loves that thing, loves listening to music and hitting the road. Last weekend it was L.A.; this weekend it’s Vegas. And I’m not a huge fan of Vegas, but I love the idea of going and spending his birthday there because he loves Vegas. And I’ll love it because of that. And because I’ll be with some of my absolute favorite people.

LA traffic

Saturday, July 31st, 2004

I drove down to SoCal with my son this morning. Left at 7:30, made excellent time for the first three hours, got a ticket for going 100 mph in a 70 mph zone, then crawled along at 80 miles an hour until we hit the 405 freeway. And the last 60 miles took us two freaking hours.

The cop who pulled me over asked me why I was in such a hurry and I didn’t have a good response — I wasn’t in a hurry and I didn’t mean to be going that fast. What I wanted to tell him was that I wasn’t used to driving a car that could go that fast and not feel like I was going that fast. Sometimes I’d just be whizzing past cars and only realize how fast I was going when I looked down at the speedometer. My own car just doesn’t go that fast…and if it did, it wouldn’t do it that smoothly. The cop informed me that had I been going 1 mph over that, it would’ve been an automatic 30 day driver’s license suspension and 2500$ fine. When he gave me my ticket I wanted to ask him if he thought I could go to traffic school for it, but I just assumed I couldn’t. I haven’t had a moving violation in too many years for me to even remember. Which sucks because I was just starting to seriously consider buying a motorcycle again.

But I love driving sometimes. The hills were beautiful (even if brown), the sheep were shorn, the baby calves were eating grass, the windmills eternally and patiently spinning, Pyramid Lake had quite a bit of recreation activity on it (I’ve never seen that — I thought for a while that it must’ve been off limits to the public), KROQ on the radio, the 5, 405, 101, 10, 105, 110, 710, 605, 22, 55, Redondo Beach, Seal Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach — years and years of memories spanning a two hour long stretch of the coast. Besides San Francisco, this is the only other place in the world I call home. And I’m always amazed at how much it feels like home as I’m driving in. Though after two hours of sitting in traffic on the 405, I sometimes wish it weren’t.

Traveling through Vegas and back

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

I spent the long weekend in Willow Valley, AZ (just past Laughlin/Bullhead City, near the Colorado River) with my son and his family. I couldn’t find a direct flight out there so I flew into Las Vegas and drove through to Laughlin (which takes less than 2 hours). I haven’t done any traveling in a long time and when you don’t do something for a while, you forget how much you love it. I arrived in Vegas in the evening just after 7, and it took 2 hours to get a rental car and find my way to the highway, but once I got on that highway it felt so damn good. The moon was full (thank god, cause it was would’ve been dark as hell without it), and I didn’t really know how to get to where I was going when I first got on the road, but I worked that all out. Being on a highway I’d never been on before, driving through the occasional small patch of lit up town — I felt like a little girl — so excited, so adventurous. And I remembered again how much I enjoy seeing new places for the first time on my own. Traveling with friends and loved ones is fun, too, but there’s something slightly more raw about going by myself — I process things differently without someone else around to influence my mood or my perceptions.

And I had so much fun hanging out with the family. That part of my family is something of an anomaly in my life. Everyone they know seems to think it’s weird that I’m such a part of their lives (ex old lady hanging out with the new wife). And from an outsider’s view, I don’t quite fit in (just look at the photos :), but I have so much fun with them — I don’t get to do it very often so every time I do it’s like realizing for the first time (again) how much I enjoy being with them. We had a giant brawl on Saturday night, but by Sunday afternoon were sitting on the beach again, by the river, enjoying ourselves (almost) as though nothing happened. And I love that we can do that — talk through the worst shit and still be friends. And that my son gets to see that — not that I want him to see that — but I like that he sees that we work through our crap together because of him. Because if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be a part of my life in any way.

Josh is getting so mature. We had our little sex talk. And we talked about drugs and alcohol and smoking (I’ve been hearing so many commercials lately about how kids whose parents talk about it are less likely to do it :). He told me about a friend of his who’s fucked up beyond anything I can even imagine — at 11 years old his father kicked him out of the house one night and he slept in the driveway of a dairy by Josh’s house cause he couldn’t wake anyone up at 2 in the morning. How can you do that to an 11 year old child? It breaks my heart.

But besides all that seriousness, we had fun in the water, chasing uncle Casey around on the Seadoo, playing games in the sand, throwing rocks. It was hotter than anything I’ve experienced for a while, but even that was novel and enjoyable.

And on the way back — I couldn’t drive through Vegas without at least stopping once and playing roulette so I spent 20 bucks in New York New York after having a nice breakfast on Monday morning. There’s something about Vegas, too, that’s so exciting — leaving there on Friday night, the lights got to me. It’s not so impressive during the day, but the hotels are so big, there’re so many people wandering around — you can’t help but be drawn in a little. It took me over 12 hours to finally get back to my house from the time I started out in the morning. That breakfast and the really sweet old dealer at the roulette table flirting with me, was the best thing that happened all day.

Americans leave Haiti

Friday, February 20th, 2004

I’ve been keeping an eye on Haiti news lately because it’s been on the front pages every day recently. Americans are being urged to leave Haiti as tension and violence between pro- and anti-Aristide groups increase. I spent 10 days there as a teenager and somehow that small country has planted roots in my heart. Even when I went there (with a church youth group) Haiti was a volatile country — not a place highly recommended for travelling.

What I remember from my short visit to Haiti: sleeping under mosquito netting in a large room with other girls listening late at night to the drums beating and the chanting of voodoo ceremonies. Coming home and thinking I had scabies (just a heat rash). A tour of a small voodoo hut – a dead chicken and a small goat hanging from the ceiling. A beautiful dark skinned girl who made a lunch with tiny fish for me. Fear of the rumors that Haitians get violent and angry when photographed. The smell of Port Au Prince.

At fourteen, I was deeply religious and was frightened by this thing called voodoo. Older, I was enthralled by it. Haiti planted roots because it was a real source of my imaginative curiosities — my religious grapplings and experimentation. Because at one time the supernatural was immensely seductive — the magic of voodoo and witchcraft, just like prayers, except prayers were mundane because I grew up with prayers – dead chickens and goat’s blood — that was new, exotic, and sensual in a way that inaudible words could never be.

I could never fully believe, but at one time I felt a great deal of enthusiasm for such colorful subject matter.

But going back to Haiti…it’s a country that seems plagued by militant violence — even now in a democratic environment, it’s been unable to shake itself free of scandal and corruption. It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. It’s in continual political turmoil. It fuels our imaginations plenty, but not enough our hearts.

Tahoe weekend

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

This past weekend was perfect in Tahoe! We rented a cozy little place in South Lake Tahoe, skied on Saturday, cross country skied on Sunday, and enjoyed the large 12 person hot tub whenever we got the chance.

For my third time skiing (first time using a lift – fell on my ass quite a few times just coming off the lift :), I don’t think I did too badly. Unfortunately, there are no pictures to prove it. The album is rather meager, but up.