Christmas 2018

When our kids were little, and the entire family lived on Long Island between Bayside and Huntington, Christmases were a lot easier.  It was totally expected that we would all be together in part or whole on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the only thing we had to worry about was a forecast of snow, and traffic on the Long Island Expressway!  But times change, kids grow up and head out on their own, parents die, people retire and move, and traditions change.  In other words, life happens.  Take our family, and Christmas, 2018.

Shortly after their October wedding, Kenny and Chris started their Liberty of the Seas contract with 2 1/2 months of rehearsals in Miami.  They had about 10 days off from rehearsals for Christmas/New Year, and they spent part of that time with us in Ocean City, so they were the kids we shared our actual Christmas with this year, and we tried to include just about every D’Elia Family Christmas tradition we could.  One set of kids done!  

This past weekend, it was time to share our second Christmas up in New York with Krissi and Mike. Susie and I haven’t been back to Long Island since mid-September, so it’s been close to 4 months since we’ve had the joy of Long Island traffic, but we made our way safely to Mike and Krissi’s apartment in Astoria. The plan was a low key Christmas, without a lot of the traditions, just enjoying a couple of days together.

In the course of the afternoon, Krissi, with her Mom’s help, put up a picture shelf in their living room, while Mike and I helped with advice and comments on their progress.  Then Mike announced that it was 5 o’clock, and drink time!  The Master Mixer went to their bar, and shook us 4 excellent vodka martinis that just hit the spot!

img_1213

Dinner that night was too many yummy appetizers and wood-fired pizzas at Milkflower, and then we returned to their apartment, drank eggnog, and opened Christmas presents while watching a Christmas movie!  As is usual, Kristen Anne didn’t make it to the end of the movie!

The next day we all enjoyed a great trip to the Museum of Moving Image, which is just a couple of blocks away from their apartment, and across the street from the Kaufman Studios.  Among the many exhibits was one dedicated to the late Jim Henson, and all the wonderful work he did during his too short life.  Of course, well known to our family were his Muppets, and older son Billy’s favorites, the characters from Fraggle Rock!

They also had an exhibit on “ancient” computer games, where we saw our first computer, a Commodore 64, and lots of Nintendo games Susie and I remembered from when our adult children, weren’t!  Krissi and Mike enjoyed going back to the last decade and century.

Mom and Dad Ubered home, and while waiting for Krissi and Mike to arrive, commented on what a gorgeous sunset was in progress.

img_1225

The kids suggested that we visit their building’s roof (where they will get married in June), and we got some wonderful pictures of the New York skyline.  

Also, thanks to Mike’s long arms, a good selfie!

img_1228

Dinner that night, was totally decadent Greek Bowls from Crave, followed by some TV…and another martini!

img_1129

We said our good-byes to the kids before bed, because they’d be up and on their way to work long before Mom and Dad crawled out of bed!  Monday we had an Eye Doctor appointment, so we killed some time driving around Jackson Heights, where I grew up and lived till I was 19, before heading out to Whitestone and our Eye Doctor!

We wrapped up the weekend by visiting one of our favorite old Mineola haunts, the St. James! (after Susie had her nails done!) It was great to visit with our bartender friend Dennis and our waitress friend Mo, and experience one of the things we truly miss from our 31 years in Mineola!

We also passed this very Christmasy house on Roslyn Road, just around the corner from where we used to live.

img_1554

By the way, back when Billy was a little kid, we had church friends that lived in that house, and one morning, Susie delivered our friend’s baby in her bathroom on the second floor.  The house didn’t look like this back then!

Listen to the story of Susie delivering our friend’s baby…courtesy of WABC Radio

Oh, and remember me mentioning traditions back in the opening paragraphs?  Well, after 2 years of living in North Carolina, our oldest misses some of the traditions he grew up with.  Specifically, Billy told us he missed our Christmas Eve tradition of Spicy Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Baked Clam Stuffed Lobsters, so on January 19th, we are heading down to Raleigh for Christmas 2018, #3!  Even though the presents have already been distributed, and the tree will be gone, he wants a taste of our old traditions to go along with their new Christmas Eve tradition of North Carolina Bar-B-Que.  Sounds good to us!!

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

IMG_4840

Christmas in Mineola

On this Christmas Eve, 2018, a little Christmas reflection…..

Christmas has always been a big deal in our household.  Early in our relationship, it became obvious that it’s Susie’s favorite holiday, and one that she waits all year for.  Indeed, because of her love of the holiday, it was on Christmas Day in 1978 that I asked her to marry me, and she said yes! Talk about giving…her saying yes was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten!  So from our first Christmas in our apartment on Firwood Road in Port Washington, just months after we were married in 1979, we have always gone all out to decorate and celebrate the holiday!  

Every year, when the kids were small, sometime in early November, we’d journey to Lancaster, PA, for a weekend in Amish Country, and every year, that’s when the D’Elia Family started listening to Christmas music!  Indeed, our selection of Christmas music grew over the years to the point that when we cleaned out our 100 CD changer, close to half the CDs were of Christmas music.  Now we’re all digital, with music stored on the Amazon Cloud, but Christmas music still makes up a large percentage of it!

Our Ocean City house became ours at the end of January 2005, and when the next Christmas rolled around the decision was easy…we were going to decorate two houses!  That first year we got a table top tree and bought ornaments, and house decorations on the cheap from Big Lots.  It wasn’t as grand or beautiful as we did on Long Island, but we even had a small Manger we’d gotten at Big Lots, and lots of outdoor decorations.

Over the years, more and more items were added to both our Mineola house and to the Ocean City house.  A year ago, on November 9th, we sold the Mineola house, and made Ocean City our permanent residence.  That meant we now had to meld two Christmases into one.  Think that wasn’t a hard job?  Well, the fact that we had to make 3 trips with a fully loaded SUV to transport our Long Island Christmas decorations, to the shore, and the fact that our Christmas Decorations then took up fully half of our rented store room, may give you an idea about the scope of the job!  Last year, the consolidation started, and it’s continued this Christmas too!

First things first…the Christmas Tree! 

From our first 1979 Christmas, a live tree was the only way to go for the D’Elia Family.  We did the “cut your own” version, but the kids got kind of tired of that after a couple of years, and after one year of doing it ourselves, Susie and I tired of it too, so it was a yearly trip to Hicks to pick out a tree!  That lasted till we started going to Ocean City and realized when we got home the beginning of January, the tree was severely dead, and we’d missed a lot of it’s life.  The next year the first artificial tree made it’s debut in the D’Elia’s living room! 

dsc_0068

IMG_1556As I said,  for our first Christmas in Ocean City (2005), we bought a 4 foot tree at one of the craft stores, and put it by the front door, on top of our porch table, and we decorated it with ornaments we’d purchased at the Big Lots in Somers Point.   We continued for a number of Christmases in Ocean City with that table top tree and the our Big Lots ornaments.  In 2012 we bought a new artificial tree for Long Island.  It was our 2nd “fake” tree, was much more lifelike and sophisticated, prewired with lights, and all the set up we had to do was pop the three sections together and it was done and wired!  Of course, the next Christmas we decided to get a thinner version of that same tree for Ocean City.  When our last Christmas on Long Island was over in 2016, we decided to take our bigger tree to Ocean City, move some furniture in the living room for the holidays, put the big tree in a new location, and enjoy more room for presents under it!  It was worth it.

 

 

 

Mineola                                   Ocean City  

 

The Manger

Of course, the Mineola Manger won out over the Big Lots version.  The Manger scene that graces our Ocean City home now, has been with us since that first Christmas in Port Washington 39 years ago.  Bought from a long defunct Long Island department store, (A & S), with additional pieces purchased at a 5 & 10 on Plandome Road in Manhasset, it moved from a table near the front door in Mineola, to the top of a book shelf in our living room in Ocean City!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Big Lots Manger

 

 

 

Mineola                                                             Ocean City

 

Snowman Village

For a number of years, Susie put up a huge Department 56 Snow Village display in our Dining Room on Long Island, but furniture and styles changed, and the Snow Village went bye-bye.  Susie has always loved Snowmen (and women), and with a desire to go in a new direction, she did a Snowman display on the top of our entertainment center on Long Island, with a smaller version in Ocean City.  Of course, now her big production has moved to our corner cabinet in the living room, that transforms from a bar to a winter wonderland during the Christmas Season.

 

 

                                         Mineola                                                              Ocean City

And that’s but a small part of the Christmas Displays at our home during the holidays.  Over the past couple of years, we have weeded through lots and lots of ornaments, bows, house decorations, Hallmark animated displays, and hundreds of Christmas items, big and small, cheap and expensive.  It hasn’t been easy.  We know that when we unloaded our storage room into our garage this year (2 trips with the CRV fully loaded), we realized we still have too much Christmas “stuff,” and perhaps this year, we will be able to part with some items.  But there are regrets….like the two snow globes we had, one from Susie’s Mom and one from my Mom.  These globes graced our living room in Mineola for many years, but sadly when we decorated in Ocean City last year, they were nowhere to be found.  Did we make a conscious decision after Christmas 2016 to let them go, or did we put them in the wrong box, and it got left behind?  We’ll just never know, but every Christmas, we will think about them, and wonder what happened to them.

There you have the story of our Christmas dilemma and how we tried to solve it.  Let’s just say, it’s a work in progress! 

 

 

As we share our Christmas this year with Family and Friends, near and far, just one last thought.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

IMG_1110

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

img_1488

I’m sure we’ve all heard the 1963 song, made popular by Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  Indeed, during this holiday period, it’s hard to go through a day without hearing it on the radio, in a store while shopping, or around your house.  You know the song…..

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings

When friends come to call,

It’s the hap-happiest season of all….”

 

But is it?

img_1062-1Yesterday, Susie and I spent some time at the Shoprite in Somers Point, and as we were walking out, I commented to her, “Wow…there are some really, crabby unhappy people in this place”.  Sourpuss faces, grumpy dispositions…a generally cranky population!  

As we went back into the parking lot and unloaded the wagon into our Honda, the general theme continued.  Folks were honking horns at each other, attempting to beat fellow shoppers to parking places, demanding that others move faster, and generally acting like they were the most important person on earth!  Wow…”the hap-happiest season of all”?

Then we ventured out of the parking lot and onto Route 9, and believe me, it didn’t improve there!  We saw no “kids jingle belling” and certainly never heard anyone telling us to be “of good cheer”.  What we did see was the usual crappy driving you see this time of the year.  People cutting others off, turning the wrong way down streets, driving while on their phones, and not signaling so you have an idea what their intentions are.  Generally living up to my theory that the state issues thousands of licenses that are only valid from Thanksgiving through New Years, and you best pay double attention to your fellow drivers on the road this time of year, if you want to find out what you are “Doing on New Year’s Eve!” 

How sad is it, that so many at this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” act like it is anything but!  Are there crowds in the stores and traffic on the roads?  Yes, but it’s Christmas, what do you expect?!  I’m reminded of a woman I met standing in line a long time ago at the Fortunoff Department Store back on Long Island.  We were waiting to pick up some merchandise we’d just purchased, and frankly it was a rather long line, as we all were there for the same purpose.  After a few minutes the lady, who was in front of me, turned to me and said, “Why are the lines so long this time of the year?”  Huh?  I wanted to tell her that if she perhaps did her Christmas or Hanukkah shopping in say July, she might find less crowds, but I didn’t.  

I think too many people lose sight of what this holiday is all about.  It’s about family and friends, its about “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow”.  It’s about, “hearts will be glowing when love ones are near, and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”  Like the birth of a little baby in a stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.  Yes, we all have a lot to do, and sometimes the doing becomes stressful, and dealing with people becomes a chore, but please think of the lyrics of this song, and the real reason we celebrate.  Christmas wasn’t created by Macys or Walmart, Target, Costco,  Coca-Cola, or even the Hallmark Channel! 

It’s about that little baby, it’s about family, and friends that are like family, it’s about spending time with the ones you love, and spreading the joy of the season as much as you can, even if it’s just smiling at a stranger in the store, or holding a door for someone, or thinking of those around you.  Yes indeed, it is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and my wish is that we all remember that everyday, and try and make it true.  I know Andy Williams will appreciate it!

img_1063-1

Another Saturday Night in OC

If you read our recent multi-part story about how, why, and when we ended up being retired in Ocean City, you may remember it said, “We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew.  We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbor’s houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fundraisers.”   Those Saturday Night dinners I spoke of,  are an important part of our Ocean City life. While some weeks it will be 3 or 4 of us going out, some weeks it can be as many as 12 or 14.  Some weeks it’s just us, and some weeks, friends will bring friends and relatives and our group expands.  While we do go out a lot, many weeks we will get together at another’s house.  It can be a planned dinner, a pot luck, or an impromptu “order take out” night. All things being equal, just about every Saturday, some members of our group will be together.

Here’s a selection of some past Saturdays!

Having said that, let me tell you about a recent Saturday, where a number of us headed out to Carmen’s in Sea Isle City, for their last night of the season, and what they call their “Carmen’s Belly Buster”.  We’d been there only once, earlier in the year, and our waitress made a point of telling us about the Belly Buster night, and it peaked our interest.    Our good friend Denise called and made a reservation, and worked out transportation, and on Saturday October 20th, it was indeed Another Saturday Night…but this time in Sea Isle City! 

img_1030

The funny thing is that the Saturday before, we’d also been with Denise and her husband Chris, and our friends Patti and Meade, but that was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada!  It was great having some of our Ocean City Family with us at Kenny and Chris’ wedding, and it was a Saturday night, and yes, we did end up in our room after the close of the wedding!  On the side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the shore of Lake Tahoe, a Saturday is a Saturday for our Ocean City Family!!

But let me get back to Carmen’s and The Belly Buster!  The place seemed very festive when we got there with large groups of folks at tables on the outside deck.  It was a little chilly (Denise wore my jacket) but they did have side curtains and most of us were fine.  We started at a tight table, but then asked, and they moved us to a great octagonal table, where we had lots of room and we all could see each other!  Lucky they did!

The meal started with a hot crab chowder and a nice salad.  Then pass-around fried sea food (shrimp, scallops, clams, etc).  Dale and Denise are not seafood eaters, but there were several Chicken dishes in the next round of pass-arounds.  Then they lowered the boom on us with the Main Attraction of the evening!!

 

While we’d seen other tables with big disposable pans of mixed sea food, we somehow got the mother lode, pilled high in a huge fancy bowl!  Not quite sure why we got singled out, but we did end up on their web site, so I’m thinking we got the “display” portion!  Here’s that picture!

img_1373

It was loaded with clams, mussels, crab legs, and at least 4 lobsters!  Oh My God!  By no means did we eat it all, but we tried!

There was lots of laughs that night as we ate and drank our way through dinner (it is a BYOB), but there was still about half left (mostly mussels and clams) when we’d had our fill, and they wanted us to take it with us.  Nobody at our table was interested, so we passed it off to a lady at the table behind us!  She may still be dining on our leftovers!

It really doesn’t matter what we do, or where we do it.  What matters is that we are together, having fun.  Family Chosen is a Great Thing!

Wednesday and Thursday – 10/17-18/2018

Putting these last two days together, as there really isn’t much to tell.  

If you’ve read the rest of the blog posts about the Kenny and Chris Wedding Trip, you realize that we’ve done a lot, seen a lot, but not slept a lot, so right after we checked into Red Rock, I suggested to Susie that Wednesday be a total relaxing day.  She agreed.  Had the temperature been a little warmer, we might have sat by the pool for a bit, but it was a little cold, in our humble option to do that.  So we found things to keep us busy and never left the resort.

I told you yesterday that our trip to Red Rock Canyon was like no other trip, as rather than being HOT, the temperature was cool and the sky partly overcast.  Well, our desire to stay put, and not venture out of the hotel led to another change from our usual Vegas trips…In and Out.  For the first time on a trip to the West Coast, since we originally discovered In and Out Burger, we did not partake this year!  No Double Double Animal Style, No Animal Style Fries, not even a drink cup with red palm trees on it!  Nope, our trip was In and Out free!  The closest we got, was the lady who brought an In and Out bag into the Noodle Bar the night before, and sat there eating a burger!  A little different from the year we were in Vegas for 3 days on the way to Hawaii, and ended up at In and Out 3 times!

We started our relaxing Wednesday when we woke without an alarm between 8 and 9 AM.  We got ourselves together in a leisurely fashion, and went down and had a lovely breakfast in the Garden Cafe.  Not only was it lovely and relaxing, but ended up being free when Susie went to the cashier and they looked at her comp points!  Perfect!

A little time in the casino was next, where we played a Video Poker machine that had been very nice to us a number of years ago.  It was nice, but not very nice.  Oh well.  

Red Rock is a full service resort that includes, among other things, a bowling alley AND a 12 screen movie theater.  After gambling for a couple of hours, we got on line at the movie theater to get tickets to see A Star is Born.  First off, Wednesday was Senior Day at Red Rock, and our movie tickets cost us $4 each!  Second, something we’d never seen before at a movie theater…we had to pick our seats from a screen at the box office, and got tickets for those specific seats!  Don’t know if that’s something that just they are doing, or if it’s a new trend, but it was strange to us.

As to the movie, if you haven’t seen a Star is Born, you owe it to yourself to go to a theater and see it!  Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were brilliant in the movie.  Lady Gaga is going to be her generation’s Barbara Streisand, and as well as starring in the movie, Bradley Cooper directed it, so I’m gonna say he’s the next Clint Eastwood.  A great movie, and an enjoyable way to spend some time, and for $4????  A WIN WIN WIN!

We then went back to the room to relax a bit and read our Kindles.

Then we got a surprise…the newlyweds, Chris and Kenny, joined us for the night at Red Rock!!  We played some in the casino together, and had a wonderful dinner at the Yard House, and it was an early night for everybody!

Thursday, the boys slept in, while Susie and I returned to the Garden Cafe for another nice, and free breakfast!  We checked out at 11 AM, met the boys in the lobby to say goodbye (they were moving on to another hotel), and drove the Hertz car back to the Las Vegas Airport Consolidated Car Rental Center.

We’d driven the Ford Explorer a total of 1318 miles since we’d picked it up at Los Angeles’ Union Station on October 6th.  We started in Los Angeles, transported a lot of the boy’s apartment stuff to to Reno, drove for almost a week around Reno, gone to the California side of Lake Tahoe, and then traveled back to Nevada and down the state to Las Vegas.  As hard as it was to pick up the car at the beginning of the trip at Union Station following our train journey, it was as easy as could be in Vegas…they didn’t even question the fact that we brought it back with a 1/4 of a tank of gas, which was good, since that was more than Hertz gave us to begin with!  In minutes we were on the shuttle bus to the airport, and our American Airlines flight home!

img_1003We did something this trip home, that I think we are going to be hard pressed not to do every time we fly!  We flew First Class!  I’m sorry, but if you are of a certain age, and lord knows Susie and I are, you remember when flying was an elegant experience.  Women dressed up, men wore ties, and you were treated like a human being.  Today, it’s like riding on a bus!  A cheap bus!   From the moment we showed our First Class boarding passes when we checked in our bag, through security, including boarding the plane, and our pre-takeoff glass of wine, we were treated like valued customers rather than cattle.  Seeing some of the people in the gate area, and how they dressed, it appears I’m not the only one who thinks it’s like riding a bus!  We were in seats 2D and 2E, and had a very nice flight home to Philadelphia International Airport, including a couple of vodkas and a very nice lunch.  

Honestly, I said to Susie, that if we cant drive someplace, and we have to fly, I want to go First Class, or just forget about going.

It was very interesting to think that what took us the better part of 3 days, two weeks ago, we accomplished in under 5 hours on the way home!  While on the way west, we changed time zones once a day, tonight we crossed 3 time zones in the blink of an eye!  We left Las Vegas at 2:20 in the afternoon, and before we knew it, it was before 10 PM on the East Coast, and we were landing in Philly a full 30 minutes early!!   There is a lot to be said for flying, I must admit!

After we walked about 12 miles from the gate to baggage claim (Oh My God… you have to walk a lot in airports!!), our luggage came quickly, and in less than 20 minutes we’d had the Honda delivered to us, and we were heading to the Atlantic City Expressway, and home!

It was a great trip, mainly because we’d seen our baby  (he’s 2 minutes younger than Krissi) get married, had been surrounded by all 3 of our kids, traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast via Sleeper Train (we continue to get questions about that anytime we mention it), gotten to know Kenny’s, and by extention, our new family.  We’d gambled, lost some money, gotten a handpay win in Reno, ate a lot of great food, celebrated with friends old and new, and had a hell of a good time, but Thursday night (or early Friday morning), when we put our heads down on our pillows in Ocean City, it was good to be home!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Since the beginning of it’s run on the Food Network, Susie and I have always been fans of the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  About 10 years ago, we enjoyed an episode where Guy featured the World Famous Coffee Cup Cafe in Boulder City, Nevada, a family run locals place, featuring great food and warm friendly surroundings.  Of particular interest was their Pork Chili Verde which was featured on the show.  Susie and I made note of the place, and on our visit to Vegas the next year, we made our first visit to the Coffee Cup.  Since then it has been a staple of our Vegas visits, and we have gone for breakfast every year.

img_1001Tuesday morning, we checked out of the Rio, and drove the half hour or so to Boulder City and the World Famous Coffee Cup!  The drive takes a lot less time these days than it did on our first visit 9 years ago, because more of both the 215 and the 515 Interstates have been completed.  The Coffee Cup and Old Town Boulder City, however, look exactly the same!  As per our usual routine, Susie ordered the Huevos Rancheros, and I had the Papa Con Chili Verde.  As usual, they were very good, but Susie thinks the portions may have shrunk just a tad, which is fine, as they were still huge!  

An added bonus this year….there was some kind of film crew wrapping up their shoot at the restaurant as we sat down, and Susie asked our waitress what was up.  We thought it was a kind of Kismet when she said that the crew was there to film an episode of Guy’s Show, Triple D Nation, where they go back and take a look at some of the restaurants that have been featured on the program over the years!  No Guy this time, but we are looking forward to seeing this episode on the TV in the future!  If you’d like to take a look at the place and their menu, here’s their web site.      http://www.worldfamouscoffeecup.com

After a great breakfast, we used Boulder City to do some tasks we needed to do.  First, we stopped at the Wells Fargo bank to get some funds, then we stopped at the Post Office to mail some boxes home.   A brief stop at the self service car wash was next to wash off some of the bugs on the windshield that had given their life during our trip to Las Vegas, and finally a couple of minutes at CVS to pick up a couple of things Susie needed.  Jobs done, it was time to move on to our next stop of the day, Red Rock Canyon!

img_0999The first time we ever came to Las Vegas was in 1999 to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.  We came in August, and I’ll always remember the flight attendant’s announcement as we landed, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport where the local time is 6:23 PM and the temperature is 106 degrees”.  WOW…what was it like at noon, I wondered!?   Well, we found out as we did a lot of exploring that first year, not content just to spend every hour in a casino, and one of the places we visited was Red Rock Canyon!  We were so taken with Red Rock, that every time we’ve come to Las Vegas (including when we’ve come multiple times a year), we drive the 13 mile scenic loop in the Canyon, and this year was no different.  One difference this year was that usually it is HOT at Red Rock…even if we’ve come in the fall.  This year, there were clouds, and the temperature was hovering in the high 60s.  Quite the change for us.

Susie also reminded me that Red Rock Canyon is indirectly responsible for our living in Ocean City.  It was many years ago, sitting on a wall at the Red Rock Visitor Center in the dry heat, looking out at the canyon, that I said to her, “I could retire here.”  Those words, started a chain of events that led to us buying a house in Las Vegas to get into the expanding real estate market.  After picking out the lot, and the house style, and having it built, we spent 3 nights in it, and then rented it out for the next 18+ months.  Towards the end of those 18+ months, our focus changed to owning something in Ocean City, and it was the substantial profit we made on selling the Las Vegas house, that provided the downpayment for 854 Pennlyn in Ocean City. So ultimately, no Red Rock Canyon, no retirement in Ocean City.  You really never know where life will lead you, do you?

img_2074After finishing our drive around the scenic loop, we went down the road to the Red Rock Resort and Casino, where we had a reservation for a comped room for the next two nights.  This resort, a the Station Casino, has only been open a few years, and it has always been someplace we’ve liked to go to eat and gamble.  Last year we stayed here one night, and this year we’d hoped to spend 3 nights, but they were booked Monday night, and we ended up at the Rio.  The rooms are very nice, and the view of the mountains and Red Rock Canyon are incredible.  See for your self.

We had a great dinner at the Noodle Bar (sorry…can only provide pics of already eaten food) and a couple of Lychee Martinis (yum), and then gambled a bit.  

We were a little disappointed because the machines didn’t seem as nice to us as they had been in past years.  Perhaps they are joining some of the Strip Casinos in making it harder to win.  We hope not, as we do love this casino, but who knows.  I’m sure we’ll try them again the next time we are here and see what happens.  We’ve always said that it’s not just the slot machine, but a combination of the person and the slot machine that have to be on the same wavelength.  Perhaps it was us this year!

Still dragging our asses, we headed to bed and made it another early night!

Monday, October 15, 2018

It’s Over!

img_1002-1Monday dawned sunny, but colder, and as we woke this last morning in Lake Tahoe, the Wedding Weekend was officially over.  We’d spent most of Sunday saying goodbye to folks.  Starting about 9:30 in the morning when our friends Denise, Chris, Patti, and Meade headed out, continuing a couple of hours later when our oldest Billy headed back to North Carolina, and ending that night when our daughter Krissi and future Son-in -Law Mike, along with several other New Yorkers who were on the Jet Blue red eye to JFK , said their goodbyes.  Most of us headed to bed early, and after another visit from Mr. Bear, we hunkered down for the best sleep we’d had in several days.  Susie and I knew we had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us, so we were up, had the car packed, and we were on the road, after saying goodbye to the boys and David and Lexi, a little after 9:30.  Grandma and Aunt Kim slept in that morning, so unfortunately, we didn’t get to say goodbye to them in person. 

1471BE4B-AFEE-4EA6-A244-8B899C345BE0

Our trip out of Tahoe Vista was very picturesque, as we traveled around the lake and back into Nevada from California.

One would think that between two major cities in Nevada like Reno and Las Vegas, there would be a 4-6 lane Interstate Highway, but the reality is the route is US 95, and for most of the distance between these two cities, it’s a 2 lane road.  It’s a quiet, lonely trip, and what you pass along the way is interesting.  One of the first things you pass heading south towards Las Vegas is the US Army Hawthorne Ammo Depot.  Covering 147,000 acres or 226 sq. mi, the depot is where the US stockpiles ammunition to be used after the first 30 days of a conflict.  The depot has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers, most of which are underground, so there is not a heck of a lot left to see, beyond the entrance sign.

img_0964

Susie and I agreed, that this road has a certain Route 66 feel to it, as many of the buildings you pass, and the towns you go through, are leftovers from the days of active mining in the area.  You’re traveling along at the 70 MPH speed limit, when suddenly the speed drops to 50, then 45, then 35, and then 25, and they are serious.  Not this time, but when we did this drive the other direction last year, we did see folks run afoul of the law, when they thought the 25 MPH speed limit was just a suggestion.  Some of these towns still seem to be making a go of it, but others are just abandoned buildings, rusted-out cars and trucks, and visible remnants of mining activity.  Take a look.

As I said, it’s about 7-8 hours from Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas, and the road just keeps going on and on.  As it’s a 2 lane road, there’s always the fun of trying to pass a slow moving truck, or a truck pulling a travel trailer.  

One of the last things you pass of interest, as you get near Las Vegas is the Creech Air Force Base in Clark County.  On first look, you’d assume that it’s no longer an active Air Force base, as you see no planes as you drive by.  But when we researched it last year, you discover that Creech is the main headquarters for all the remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions around the world!  Drones that are currently flying in  Afghanistan and Iraq, are piloted from Creech.  We certainly do live in a video game world!

img_0977

Not a great picture, but that is Creech’s Entrance Gate!

img_0997-1And then, before you know it, we were in fabulous Las Vegas!  We had one free night at the Rio Hotel and Casino, a Caesar’s property we’ve stayed at lots of times.  We were tired and hungry, and shortly after checking in, we were down at Guy Fieri’s restaurant, El Burro Borracho, which I believe means the drunken donkey!  We’d eaten here a couple of years ago, and were in the mood for some good Mexican food. Their table side Guacamole and their Margaritas are second to none!  The food was good too, but sorry, no before pictures!

After dinner, we headed into the casino.  The Rio has a lot of old machines that you no longer see in many casinos, and we headed to a couple that have disappeared from Atlantic City!  We had very good luck at a Top Dollar machine, hitting the bonus 20 times and racking up Tier Credits equivalent to putting $1500 through the machine, and all we contributed was a 100 dollar bill.  It was a successful stay in the casino.  Even though we didn’t walk away with money, we played for close to 90 minutes, and for us, that’s almost as good as winning!

Then we slept like dead people!!