February 2019

The last day of vacation is always full of activity. It is so much nicer to return home with clean clothes rather than a suitcase full of laundry. So the first order of business was to get the laundry done. But first we had to get out of the final bits of dirty clothing and we sat around and talked for way too long instead.

We finally got ourselves motivated and got showered and dressed and then could finally manage to get the laundry started. We were on our way to getting the day going and it was already 9.30. So not an early start to the day.

The one thing I learned from our return trip from Vegas was that Phoenix traffic is insufferable and the rush hour starts a lot earlier than one might think. Therefore, we needed a plan for how to get our happy asses to the airport in time for an 8.30 flight after dropping the rental car back at an off-site place. We didn’t really know when the rush hour started, but we figured if it started before three in the afternoon, it had to start earlier in the morning, too.

We queried our hostess and she was unable to give us a definitive answer, so we needed a better query source. Pam sent Jen a text and she would call us after she was done with a business call.

Pam was hosting a Happy Hour/Block Party in the afternoon and we had gone through all my recipes in Dropbox looking for something different to make and share. We settled on Hot Ham and Cheese Pinwheels and so needed to walk over to Safeway and pick up the few ingredients we needed. We also picked up some other stuff. And I picked up the other two bags of coconut granola cookies that were on the clearance rack. I had looked online and found them available for anywhere from $8 to 12 (shipping not always included). So, the half off $6 for each bag looked good (shipping was included) and then they sold them to me for $5 for both. So I’m set with some low carb tasty snacks for a while.

We had one load of laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away and the second load washed. It was time to go out to eat lunch. We decided we would try Chipotle because Dick and I really liked Jen’s meal the day before and it was a chipotle recipe, so we wanted to see what else was there. We picked up Aunt Babe (who was very unsure of the menu) and took off for lunch. We all found food that we could not only like, but really enjoy.

We did not have enough time to actually shop after lunch because there was still much to do with the day. When we arrived back at the house, Pam noticed she had missed a call and so she called Jen back. We determined that we should leave somewhere between 5 and 5.30 in order to not have to be crazy getting to the airport in time. We settled on 5.15 and were then able to plan accordingly.

We got the other load of laundry in the dryer and began filling up suitcases. I packed the wooden bowl and padded around it and filled it with socks and gloves and whatnot and after getting all my clothes and groceries in, the lid was still going to shut.

Pam had looked at the forecast and it was supposed to be sunny with a high of 68 degrees. But then it changed its mind and was only going to get in the low 60s. She asked her neighbors if she could use their driveway for the party so we didn’t have to park ourselves in the wind tunnel street. They said they would share. We looked out the window and they were cleaning up their yard and putting out tables and got the space heater ready to go. Pam’s party was being set up by them. What wonderful neighbors.

We decided it was time to start cooking and got the sandwiches into the oven. Pam filled a basket with paper plates, plastic utensils, and napkins and took that over along with some chairs. When our stuff came out of the oven, we went over with that, too.

There were somewhere between 30 and 35 people there with each household bringing something to share. We had a Canadian hunter there and he and his wife fixed moose for sandwiches. That was delicious. We had a wonderful time and spent about 1.5 hours there laughing and talking and eating lots and lots of different foods.

Dick and I went back home and left Pam to socialize for a while longer. We needed to finish up the packing process and get ourselves settled. Pam came home and we talked for a much shorter time. We were going to have to get up in the middle of the night for our flight home.

We set alarms for 4.30 and managed to pry our sleepy selves out of bed and get ready for a day of flying. I was having coffee at Pam’s and I ate the last hard boiled egg, too. Dick chose not to fuel up there. He walked to Aunt Babe’s in the cold and dark and got the rental car. We hugged Pam goodbye and left at exactly 5.15.

The Garmin wanted us on the 60 and we wanted to be on the 202 and so I had to be the naggigator until we made it there. I managed and after hitting the right highway, the Garmin decided to play along. We were able to keep the car moving at speed the entire way, but by the end of the journey, we were one of the milling thousands filling up all five lanes and heading west. We returned the car, waited patiently for the shuttle bus, were attacked by rolling suitcases on the ride to the airport, and then were finally at Sky Harbor.

We dropped off the huge luggage and I kept my purse and Dick kept his backpack. We were hands free for the airport, which was really nice. We found our gate and then found some breakfast. We were ridiculously early, but that was better than frantically late. We were Pre-check and so TSA was a breeze and it all went well. We had bacon and eggs while being unrushed and then could board the plane without issue.

We bought Basic flights which means we did not pay for a particular seat and let them put us wherever they wanted. We were not sitting together, which was not as traumatic as one might think. I was sandwiched between a guy going to Florida to meet friends and golf and an annoying asshat. The asshat kept getting calls and talking on the phone while in midair, a place that is supposed to be free of that shit. And then … he started to listen to music without headphones. I looked at him. Not a Mean Mother look, but just a unhappy glance over. He turned off the music. Or got out earbuds or somehow made the noise stop.

I played some games on the tablet until they brought coffee and a snack and then did that and then, since I was really tired, I napped or maybe just dozed or did something with my head nodding me awake every so often until asshat had to go to the bathroom and we had to let him out. After that I was wide awake.

We got to Atlanta, I found the same little vegetable tray for lunch. Dick got a sandwich and then we went to Dunkin Donuts for coffees. Dick wanted a donut and I said I would have a single donut hole, since I figured with just the veggie tray, that wasn’t too many carbs. They only sell them in sets of five. I declined. I said I was diabetic and couldn’t do that because I’m being treated like I am in fact already diagnosed.

The other lady stepped in and handed me a single donut hole. I asked how much I needed to pay her and she just gave it to me and said I really shouldn’t be eating any. I showed her my veggie tray. And I savored each of the three bites I got out of that little donut hole.

We got to the gate and made it to the very back of the plane. This time we were sitting together. The flight attendants were bitching about the horrid Basic people who demanded some service after not paying extra for a seat choice and only paying a few hundred dollars or something. How dare they! We sat in the very loud noisy stuff and got home without problem.

Bob graciously offered to pick us up and was there with our drive home. He had already been to the airport once that day, taking Gerry for his flight TO Arizona. Apparently, this is what we do in this neighborhood.

We got home and I got unpacked and ran to the grocery store because there was nothing here to eat. I filled the refrigerator with all manner of food and we are ready to get back to our regularly scheduled lives. I baked eggs so we have breakfast ready. I’m going to the gym and Dick is playing golf and Gned is back on his shelf. We are home. Safely. We had a wonderful time and my sister, as always, was a fabulous hostess.

The day started dark. At least for me. I was awake and out of bed by 4.15. I have no idea why I woke up so early, but I was wide awake and there was little to no hope of me falling back to sleep. So, I got up. Since the other people in the house have more sense than that, they were all still asleep like normal folks.

I wrote up my blog and got the pictures ready and posted it and then started to play some games. I had only been asleep for four hours and my tablet (which conveniently tells me it isn’t charging quickly, no matter what I use to charge it) was not completely topped off. So, after playing games for too long, it was at 25% of it’s battery life. Great.

I was so bored, I did the dishes. The one thing on the tablet that doesn’t take much battery is reading a book, so I went to doing that and finally, after a few hours of already being awake and two cups of coffee, Dick came out to the living room. Shortly after, Pam also appeared. I was about ready for a nap by this time but we had a busy day ahead.

At St. George, the last Sunday of the month is Baptism day. Emery was being baptized and so we had to go to a particular Mass. We picked up Aunt Babe and went to church. Dick and I got Aunt Babe settled while Pam parked the car and then went to save two pews for the baptism family/friends. I blocked one person from sitting there and only obliquely caught the next one coming towards me. I stuck my foot out to tell that person to go away and found that I had nearly tripped Hannah. Whoops.

The family piled into that pew, filling it. I moved back a pew to where Dick was saving more space. Pam joined us there. Mark had come with everyone else, but some guy in a motorized cart picked Mark out of all the people in the church and asked him if he knew anything about cellphones. Mark and the guy went off and Mark fixed this stranger’s phone for him and then came back to sit with us. We still have no idea why he picked Mark out as the tech guy, but Mark is the tech guy.

The Children’s Choir sang and kids did the readings and there was some special hoopla there in the middle for kids to I guess disappear during the sermon or something. I have no idea what was going on with that stuff. After Mass was over, the baptism families were told to wait and Deacon Some Guy would come and do the Baptism. So, that is what we did.

There were five or six kids being baptized and only one of them was a baby. There was also a couple toddler types and then three kids about Emery’s age. Emery was first in the line up which is where we wanted her, but have no idea how it just happened. She is not particularly good at new and strange things and getting water poured over your head in the middle of church while you are all dressed up is particularly strange, so we were hoping she could go first, just in case there was drama from other kids. There wasn’t, so it all worked out nice.

Jen asked Ryan if he would video the Baptism. He claimed he needed a hot spot for this because the church’s Wi-Fi was so severely blocking him, it was nearly useless. All the adults looked at him in wonder. We all work with and around technology, even us old farts, and know that video has nothing to do with internet. Ryan really just wanted to watch some new football league stuff that was streaming. Hannah would video. Maybe.

Next, we went to Jen’s house for a party to celebrate this milestone event. The Godparents and their children were there and we had so much fun all afternoon. There was a feast set out to share and most of the stuff was perfect for my diet restrictions because Jen and Ronnie do a modified keto diet and cooked accordingly. They also had non-keto food for regular people and then there were desserts.

Mostly, we told stories and laughed and shared more stories. And then, for reasons unknown, Ronnie decided to shave off his beard. First he left just a mustache and then that was gone, too. He hadn’t shaved since Emery was born and was not really adept at it. Or maybe Edward Scissorhands was back there helping him. His clotting factors would probably have worked quickly, but he kept wiping and touching and dabbing and wiping again at the nicks. And so he kept bleeding. I don’t think he needs a transfusion – yet.

Ronnie is a bit of a baby faced darling and without the beard, he looks even younger. Everyone (except Aunt Babe) got some flippant comments in. Emery wouldn’t even look at Daddy for over an hour.

Jen, Ronnie, and Albert had all worked at Pinnacle together many years ago and that is how they met. Ronnie and Albert are both ex-Marines, so Dick had some Marine stuff in common with that. All in all, there were lots of stories and over and over again, Ronnie’s clean-shaven face topic would pop up.

It was time to get back home and so we piled into the van and dropped off Aunt Babe. Pam pulled into the driveway from a different angle and it was just a horrid thing. She was too close to the house and Aunt Babe almost couldn’t get out of the car. Then Pam had to back up. We were just mere inches from the house. Pam pulled forward, but not too much because she didn’t want to squish Penelope. Then she backed up again and it looked like we were on a collision course with the house. Tried again. The back was looking good, but the front was going to hit the house. We tried again. And again. And after a very long and stressful time, she got out of the driveway. I’m guessing she is not ever going to pull in from that angle again.

We got home and took up our normal positions in the living room. I have no crochet project to work on since my blanket is finished and I don’t want to start anything new and drag that around the country. So I played games on my tablet, trying to stay awake. I also made a half sandwich on my low carb bread and had a little snack. It was still delicious. It was only 9.30 when I had to finally give up and head off to bed. It took me about 6.37 nanoseconds to fall asleep. I hope my husband and my sister had a lovely evening living like normal people.

It was so nice to not have to spend hours of the day in the car. It was nice to not have to spend any time in rush hour traffic. It was just a nice day.

On the first day I was here, Pam and I went to the flea market near her house. I didn’t buy much but what I did buy was a very small container of Sen Cha dragon fruit mints. They have a green tea base and were nice little mints and they were sugar free (although how much sugar could be in each one is minimal). I offered one to Dick and he liked them. So he kept asking for more. I didn’t have the container anymore and although I could remember what it looked like, I wasn’t going to be able to replace it anywhere else.

As we were driving along on Friday, but before we got into rush hour traffic, I had told him I wanted to get back to the flea market to get some more of the damn things. So the plan was to go to the flea market again and Sunday was busy, so it was now or never. Pam was looking for another of her cute little apron towel things because we couldn’t find the booth where they were sold last time we were there.

Dick thought it would be just Pam and me who were shopping but I dragged him along. He was amazed. It is really an astounding place. There is everything there from the ridiculous to the sublime. There were places full of the most eclectic array of junk to refurbished golf carts and we only did two of the rows.

I found the booth with the mints and bought all they had there. I did come home later and with the can in hand, could search the interwebs and find that they are for sale on Amazon as well as some other places. Now I know I don’t have to run out of them, so that’s also a plus.

Pam noticed that stall over there with “Low Carb” on their bread. The bread was tasty and there are only 7 carbs per thick cut slice. I bought a loaf of that and dreamed all day of a turkey sandwich. More on that later.

There was an aisle display of beautifully worked wood items. There were baskets of wood and tables and bowls of various sizes. We had seen them on our first trip and didn’t notice there was a booth of the stuff, too. This time, we walked into the booth and I fell in love with one of the mid-sized bowls. The thing is about twelve to fourteen inches across and about six inches deep. I bought it and now have to get it home. I’m sure it will fit in my suitcase and I will wrap it safely in my clothes. I hope the airline is kind to my luggage.

We opted to stop shopping after just two rows because 1) it was cold and 2) we had to get back for the next adventure. Also, I had what I had come for. The woodworking group puts on a yearly brat luncheon with a raffle available to win some of their handmade items. We had tickets to the lunch and so needed to get back here to dine with the millions.

I don’t like brats and ordered a hotdog instead. I asked Dick to get me a pickle, but he didn’t hear me and so I didn’t get an extra pickle. I also don’t like sauerkraut and so I didn’t get any. We were getting a to go box for Aunt Babe who opted not to come out in the cold and I could have gotten extra sauerkraut to put in her box (if I had known this in advance) because she loves the stuff. So, we all got what we wanted from the dinner, but none of us got the extras we didn’t eat to share with others because we did not plan well.

Pam took Aunt Babe’s meal to her when we were done eating and Dick and I walked around the rest of the common area. I showed him two of the swimming pools, the many buildings full of activity centers, the tennis courts, the baseball field, croquet field, and the pickle ball area. We watched them playing pickle ball, talked with a couple women who could explain it to us, and decided this was something we could probably learn to play.

The day was warming up and when we met up with Pam again, we decided to go for a walk and see the newer parts of the park where they have built the RV stations. Most of them are drive through and the pads are poured. They still have work to do with the amenities and whatnot and it is hoped it will be open next year for the season. We then stopped at Safeway on the way back home and picked up some extra treats (Dick got some key lime pie and I found some low carb coconut/granola things).

Then we visited the third pool area where the new park model houses have been going up. We decided we wanted to tour some of the model homes, so we dropped off the groceries and came back to tour the open models. Pam got some questions answered about the rest of the current built and we noted on our way home, we really liked Pam’s house better than any of the models open to view.

As I searched for the mints and the cookies (which are way more expensive when not on the clearance rack and not worth as much as the makers believe them to be), Dick was looking up local pickle ball courts. There aren’t any. There are only a few of the things in the whole state of South Carolina and none of them are within reasonable driving distance of our house. The closest is a Del Webb place (so not open to us anyway) and is about 25 to 45 minutes away depending on traffic. So that doesn’t seem like a thing we can do right now.

I have shared the misery of the horrid, hateful baby blanket that took more and more yarn and did not turn out as I had hoped or expected. I have not shared the delight of the baby blanket that went according to plan. However, I finished it. It was a granny square stitch done corner to corner and I had so much extra yarn that I could put a nice border on it and still have leftover yarn to leave for Pam’s future scrap blanket. This one turned out nicer than I had hoped or expected, so I guess it is all even. The unlovely blanket is only unlovely to me. It is soft and some baby will enjoy it, it just didn’t turn out the way I pictured it. Pam’s stack to donate is growing and I don’t have to deliver these two bankies myself.

It was finally time for that turkey sandwich. I had been dreaming of this all day. The low carb, low everything else highly expensive bread was waiting. I bravely made a leftover turkey sandwich and took the first bite with a bit of apprehension. Some of the low carb stuff I’ve tried has been unsuccessful ranging from not very good to totally inedible (I’m looking at your Miracle Noodle Zero Carb, Shirataki Pasta). But this stuff was good. I savored each and every bite of my sandwich.

Pam invited Marsha over to play cards and we got the kitchen cleaned up and ready for the next event. I had one perfect hand, which was really fun to play. I was sitting next to Marsha, who later in the game had her own perfect hand and kept feeding me more and more cards. This hand was not as enjoyable to play. Marsha lost the game when I had the perfect hand. I lost the game when she did. Sometimes you are just stuck with bad cards. Sometimes you get wonderful ones. I had some of both last night.

After we put all the card stuff away, we sat and talked. And talked. And talked some more. We talked about all the times we forgot how to drive and had the wonderful intervention of the police. Little Joey crying “Don’t take my daddy to jail” had saved Dick long ago, and Pam also had a couple crying kids in the back seat saving her, although that was not quite as long ago.

We had lots of stories to tell and stayed up far into the night telling them. Finally, we had to admit defeat and toddle off to bed.

Superstition Mountains, covered in snow, as seen from Monte Vista

Pam is looking for a companion apron for this cute thing

Breakfast is my hardest meal to figure out. At home, I have hard boiled eggs ready so I get some protein and no carbs. My preferred cereal is granola but I don’t eat just a serving, I eat two and then the carbs pile up. When dining out, I have always preferred Belgian waffles covered in fresh fruit and whipped cream or French toast floating in a sea of syrup. I like a nice stack of pancakes drenched in melting butter and fruit syrup. I like carbs. Lots and lots of carbs. I guess that explains how I got into this situation.

I’m stuck with this low carb stuff now and so, I don’t like eating breakfast out. I can have bacon and eggs. By the time they helpfully add the toast and hash browns, I have 60 carbs on the plate and when they put the jelly down next to it, it is even more. It is also depressing. And expensive. That was the one thing I noticed most about Las Vegas, it was expensive. I know that all big cities are more expensive than my suburban existence, so this wasn’t odd at all.

While looking for a low carb alternative to snacking, I found a perfect breakfast for me. We were at CVS inside the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino and there was a bunch of premade sandwiches and salads and right there in the corner was a package with two hard boiled eggs, an ounce of cheese, and two saltine crackers. It proudly proclaimed “230 calories” right on the front. I don’t really care about the calories, but it was definitely low carb. I picked one up and then Dick decided it would make a perfect breakfast for him, too.

So my day started with me prepared. I rode the elevator down 35 floors, walked 2 to 3 football fields off to the left, rode the escalator up to the next floor, walked another half football field, and there was the coffee. None of the Vegas hotels now keep coffeepots in the rooms because they don’t have to so there!!! And we, the poor uncaffeinated guests just have to wander around like Moses in the Desert looking for our morning fix. I got mine, headed back retracing those same steps, and got my eggs out of the refrigerator in the room stored right where a coffeepot and/or microwave could have been.

I got the package open. I couldn’t get the cheese open. Dick managed. I tried the package containing the eggs. I couldn’t get it open. Dick couldn’t get it open. We struggled and still, there were the eggs, tantalizingly close, but wrapped up in plastic. Dick went on his hike to get coffee and I struggled some more with the damn eggs. I finally got a stone nail file out of my purse, poked it through the plastic which made a big enough hole to get my finger in, and then struggled some more to rip the package open and get the eggs out. There was a bit of water in there, too, and it was important to get the eggs out without getting the water on me or my stuff.

I think I burned 250 calories trying to get the damn 230 calories of food out of the wrapper. But it did taste good and by the time Dick returned from his travels to get coffee, I could tell him how to get into the eggs. We were now fed and caffeinated and could make our way out to the car and head for home.

We left just a few minutes after 9 which meant that in a very short time, it was going to be after 10 as we crossed the border into Arizona. I was worried about Vegas rush hour traffic, but we essentially missed all that and were able to get onto the first major route to Phoenix.

We had looked ahead to see where the most snow had fallen. We knew the Vegas airport was again open because we could hear the planes landing. Where we were, there was no snow on the roads and only a dusting on some of the colder ground level things. But we had heard that parts of 40 and 93 had been closed the day before. Luckily, all routes were open for our travel. Flagstaff had gotten dumped on the day before we went to the Grand Canyon, and they got really hammered the day after we left. But we didn’t have to go near Flagstaff to get home and we had smooth sailing.

We stopped for lunch at Kingman (the place we didn’t stop at on the way up) and south of that, there was no more snow even close to the roads. The mountaintops were covered and it was very pretty, but our entire trip was done without driving on snow (except for in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box where we ate lunch).

I had spoken briefly with Pam and she mentioned that it had rained for the previous 24 hours in Phoenix and they had some roads shut from flooding, so we were going to have to worry about that. But not yet, water comes and goes quickly in the desert.

According to the Garmin, we were going to arrive at Pam’s house at 4.11. We figured that would get us there before rush hour in Phoenix. And if we had been in Cleveland or Charleston, that would have been true. But not quite in Phoenix. With the bazillion people travelling into and out of the city, many have a stagger start and stop time so the roads can have a longer, but less clogged up, rush hour. That meant we were in the early stages of it as we tried to get across Phoenix. We came in on the west side and Pam lives on the east side.

It took us an hour to get there via (as they say here) the 10 and the 60. I have no idea why they put the “the” in there, but it is ubiquitous here. And here is where we are and now it sounds funny if I don’t add it to the route number while I’m out here. That nonsense stops as soon as I get back to 26 or 95.

By the time we got to Pam’s, I was a nervous wreck. Dick managed to drive in that crap without knowing where he was going and crossing three or four lanes in this direction or that. I just kept trying not to scream. I watched the red and yellow lines on the Garmin and was immensely relieved when they all went away.

To add to the delight of the urban drive time, just north of Phoenix it started to rain. It would sprinkle and then rain and then pour for ninety seconds and then rain and then sprinkle and then rain and then stop and then rain some more. There was no set speed that was correct for the windshield wipers, either. It was just not a nice drive. But then, at the very end, we got a rainbow. I guess that was supposed to make up for the rest of it.

We got home (around 4.30) and Pam had a turkey breast in the Crockpot. When we were ready to eat, we fleshed that out with some sides. It was delicious and didn’t have us in another damn restaurant. I’m not the biggest fan of dining out and doing so for meal after meal for days has been exhausting. I would rather just cook. For me, it is easier and far less time consuming. And usually tastes better.

We sat around and relaxed. Pam and I crocheted. Dick did not. We talked and laughed and then finally all tumbled off to bed. And so went another day of vacation.

There was snow up around the 35th floor but when it reached the ground it was just rain. However, out in the suburbs there were eight inches of snow. The kids made snowmen and threw snowballs and made it to the evening news.

Looking at the news also let us know that our route home had places where the roads were closed. We tried not to dwell on this fact and instead just ignored it. Hopefully, that is going to work. We looked at maps, both on Google and on paper and hope we can find a way home that is safe and clear. This is just delightful. At home, the high was 82 degrees. In Las Vegas, the high was 44 degrees, the coldest on record for this date. It was also twenty degrees lower than the average for this date. Wonderful.

Rather than dwell on this type of stuff, we decided to go out into the world. It wasn’t as cold here as it had been at the Grand Canyon, so that was a plus. We walked up and down the roads and found fabulous sights to see. We walked a mile of stores (according to the sign) and it certainly seemed like it.

I figured it was going to be less troublesome if I didn’t eat breakfast, therefore making it necessary to worry about carbs twice instead of three times. The plan worked. But that meant I was getting hungry as we walked the mile of mall stuff. We began to read each and every menu as we walked past restaurant after restaurant.

There was nothing that looked good for carbs and was something we both wanted to eat. We walked up over the road this way and we were in front of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. There was a touch screen outside with options of different types of food inside. There were no prices except on the steak dinners. If you wanted a regular steak dinner, it was a mere $68. I have no idea if the menu was a la carte or if you got the potato and/or salad with it. But if you wanted the Kobe steak, it was a bit higher. A hundred dollars different.

We opted to go elsewhere for our lunch. So we had to go up on the over the road bridge again. We figured the cold or wet was messing with all the escalators and elevators. All of them were blocked off with signs saying they were out of order. We also followed a woman in a wheelchair. We couldn’t figure out how she was going to get down. She got up inside a hotel where it was dry, but the other ends were all outdoors.

We wandered on and the flashing billboards yelled at us and then flashed something else and made different noises including what one might assume was music. It was delightful.

We finally found a place to eat. Guy Fieri’s Vegas Restaurant and we both opted for the pulled pork. It was delicious and yet … there was way too much. We could have gotten one meal and shared the single sandwich. Instead, we got a to go box and brought the rest of the food home. Well, we didn’t bring the bottom of the pretzel roll because it was soggy. And we didn’t we bring the fries home because they aren’t all that good leftover and cold.

I bought a TI Las Vegas 16 ounce cup and can get a $1 refill up to five times a day. I’ve gotten my money’s worth on the cup and coffee deal. Dick said he wasn’t going to get enough refills to make it a deal for him. However, he has already gotten more then enough cups of coffee to have made it a deal for him, too. And when I get home, I will still have my cute little cup.

We have looked for a show to attend for days now and couldn’t really find anything we wanted to see and was worth freezing on the way back to the hotel. So we opted to not go out to a show. We did enjoy our leftovers instead.

This trip was quite a bit of fun but it would have been better if it wasn’t quite so cold. And it would have been nice without the snow and the cold and the warning of black ice on the roadways. And worrying about blocked roads. The good part is that we aren’t flying since there were hundreds of flights cancelled yesterday and the airport, while functional, is a mess.

Our plan is to wait for a while and hope all the roads are ice free. We hope to find a way to get back to Mesa in one piece.

It was five degrees yesterday morning. We are not used to five degrees. Ninety-five with unreasonable humidity – that we are used to, but freezing cold we are not. Luckily, we did not have to really go out much into the frozen tundra.

We had a wonderful breakfast there with a view of the canyon. We thought it was beautiful and we weren’t cold at all. We got ourselves all packed up and checked Google Maps against the Garmin for our next part of the trip. We looked at the weather and it might rain in Las Vegas tomorrow and so we opted to visit Hoover Dam on the way up rather than wait and backtrack tomorrow, possibly in rain.

The first stumbling block to getting out of Dodge (as it were) was actually getting the car. Dick had parked up again a snow bank and during the day, some of the snow had melted. During the night, it had refroze and his tires were now one with the snow. The rental car is four wheel drive and so he was eventually able to get the car free. He was not the happiest person in the world when he arrived at the hotel to get me and the huge suitcase.

The Garmin did a piss poor job of getting us into the Park and to our hotel and so we did not trust it to get us back out of the Park. We had it set to get us to Hoover Dam but did not listen to the directions for leaving the Grand Canyon. Instead, we followed the signs and it kept recalculating and nagging us until it finally gave up and let us make our way by signs. The roads were a sheet of ice until we got a bit farther away from the big hole in the ground, but not yet out of the National Park. I’m unsure about the plowing, but once the roads themselves were better, the plowing was better, too.

We left the Grand Canyon behind us and had a four hour drive to Hoover Dam. There was less snow as we got out of the National Park. We were told to watch for ice, but apparently snow could just come and go as it pleased. We had to watch for moose and deer and then elk were added to the mix. Eventually, we were just told to watch for wildlife. We didn’t see any although we did see a few horses and some cattle.

It was getting close to noon and we came upon a huge sprawling metropolis, at least as far as desert cities are rated. There were three exits, all with lots of signs with lots of things there. I mentioned we should stop for both lunch and gas and then we would be able to tour the Dam without being hungry and getting to Vegas all fueled up.

Dick kept driving anyway because we were going to get off this particular road and get onto that other road in just a few more miles. We did that and we stopped for gas. I was told to look for something to eat and Subway was the only thing there and it isn’t low carb. So I was supposed to keep looking. Lo and behold, we were in the freaking desert and there is nothing in the desert. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

We were now to turn off the road and there would be the Hoover Dam. We instead were going to go to Boulder City and get something to eat, but there was a casino with something perhaps to eat inside and we stopped there a mere one and a half hours after I had first mentioned eating might be a good idea. No one would have been able to guess that there wouldn’t be anything around, even though there had been nothing at all but watch for animal signs between the Grand Canyon and whatever oasis we had passed way back there.

Amazingly enough, this caused a bit of friction.

We got something to eat and then, because the Garmin was a bit iffy on finding the hotel, we weren’t sure it would really find the Dam and so I used Google Maps as a backup. Both pieces of technology agreed on the route to get to the dam and we made it without a problem.

It was freaking amazing. The size and scope of the thing is awe inspiring. We walked around and opted not to go and look at the turbines. We were able to see Nevada time and Arizona time and they don’t match. We were nearly blown away by the fierce winds and were grateful that the temperature was in the low 50s and it wasn’t raining. The clouds were, however, starting to pile up.

We left there and headed for Las Vegas. I am not a fan of large highways with a multitudinous amount of lanes and traffic here, there, and everywhere. I hate to drive in that stuff and I’m not much fonder of being the passenger. The Garmin did an excellent job of getting us to this hotel and the driver was able to maneuver in that type of traffic.

We got checked in and looked out the room’s window. We are on the 35th floor and right across the street is the bright gold Trump Hotel.

We looked around the place. I don’t particularly wish to gamble. It’s not something I like to do. There are several places to eat inside the Treasure Island hotel/casino. None of them are low carb. Eating really shouldn’t be this hard. Having to cope with something as absurd as this diagnosis is galling. I did all the things I was supposed to do in order to remain healthy and instead, I have to worry about eating each and every time I put something in my mouth. I’m already sick of being not quite sick and I have the rest of my life to hate it. I had pizza for dinner. I hope my toes stay on.

A very busy day. First, we had to partially pack up our stuff. We opted to take just one suitcase on our smaller trip because it is for fewer days and we figured we could fit everything we needed into one large one. We picked out what to pack and having looked at the weather, opted to take everything that would keep us warm.

We weren’t in any hurry to leave because we didn’t really need to drive in rush hour traffic. We were still at Pam’s house when Jen and Emery arrived. We got to talk to Jen for a while but Emery wasn’t quite sure of the strange guy and was leery of speaking to him.

It was time for Jen to get to work (even though she had worked 27 hours already this week) and time for Emery and Pam to get to preschool. Dick walked to Aunt Babe’s house to retrieve the car so we could pack up. We were the last ones out of the house and therefore needed a key to lock up the joint. Luckily, I thought of that before we were in the house alone.

We took off right around 9 AM and missed most of the rush hour traffic. There were still some patches of lots and lots of cars but we were able to make decent time on the route the Garmin chose for us. The passing scenery was nice to look at. The mountains in the distance look like black papier machet but when you get close to them, they are covered with greenery. Eventually, we noticed the tops of the distant mountains were covered with snow.

The farther north we went, the higher the elevation became, and the colder the temperature reading on the car. The lowest I saw was 25 degrees but we were inside and warm. At first there was just a dusting of snow on the ground. Then there was more snow. Then the landscape turned to pine forests with the trees covered in blankets of snow.

The roads were perfectly clear. We were told to watch for ice. Watch for plows. Watch for moose. Watch for deer. There is a winter storm warning beginning Wednesday and ending Friday. We looked and it supposed to begin snowing in earnest around 7 PM and we will be long gone by that time.

We stopped for gas and there was this funny stuff on the ground. Snow! Of all the things I expected to see in Arizona, snow was not on the list. But here it was. We were getting closer to the Grand Canyon and opted to eat lunch before we got to the Park. We selected The Chicken Kitchen. They had just opened February 15. I’m not sure how long they will stay in business.

There were seven things on the menu and I chose chicken fingers and they would substitute cole slaw for the fries. I got a dipping sauce and there were several options. I prefer honey mustard but this was chipotle. I figured if it was too spicy, I just wouldn’t dip much. Instead of being a dip, it was a glaze. It was too hot. I had a complete mess peeling all the outside stuff off in order to eat the chicken. The chicken itself was pretty good. I was a complete mess. Dick got chicken and waffles and said it was pretty good although it was not a cornbread waffle.

We got to the park and waited for the two cars ahead of us to get through and then used our Senior Pass to enter the National Park for free. What a nice thing to have. This was the first roadway we were on that was not plowed completely dry. To be fair, they had plowed, but there was several inches of snow and it was blowing across the plowed roads.

The Garmin had been wonderful in getting us here telling us to “turn at the light” or “turn at the stop sign” so we figured it knew what it was doing and where it was going and how to get us to our final destination. This was an error.

Instead of taking us to the Village Circle thing, it took us into the residential area and we were going away from the hotel with the little black and white flag over there, nearly off the screen. We got headed back in the right direction and then it told us to turn there and we did because why not? And we were in the wrong place again, only this time there was a lot of ice and snow and the car was sliding on an incline and drifting sideways. The driver was cussing and swearing and promising he wasn’t yelling at me although I was the only other person in the car.

We opted to stop listening to the Garmin and being an experience Grand Canyon visitor, I told the driver to follow signs to the Village and there was a sign to the hotel and we were miraculously in the parking lot without ever having to go around the circle eight to ten times. It was a miracle!

We got checked in and got our luggage to the room and dug out every piece of warm clothing we could find. We then went out and looked at the beautiful scenery. There were a light dusting (at least it looks like that) on each layer or ridge of the canyon sides. We looked up to see and the annual snowfall for the South Rim is 58 inches, so having snow here isn’t odd. The vistas were different looking with the snow and without the heat shimmer.

We walked around outside until we were fairly frozen and then came back. We went to the bar and got a hot chocolate. I got mine without whipped cream and felt quite virtuous. We ordered a cheese and cracker tray. It came with three different types of fancy ass cheeses, some dried fruit and nuts, salami, crackers, a pot of fig jam, and a pot of honeycomb. They whole thing was delicious.

The bar was filling up and space was limited. We were waiting for our bill when two women were hoping for a table. There were two more people joining their group. We invited them to sit in the two empty chairs and then they could have our table when we left after paying our bill. They were from Minnesota and so they did not find the temperatures to be quite as chilling as we did. They were staying in the Phoenix area and came to see the Grand Canyon. It was nice to be able to share our space with them for a few minutes.

We had dinner reservations and enjoyed a wonderful meal in the hotel dining room. There was a picture window and if there hadn’t been so many clouds out there, we would have been able to see the sunset, but the weather was not cooperating. On the bright side, that meant that we didn’t have to feel bad about not going back out into the bitter cold to see what could not be seen.

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