July 29, 2011

Google Earth Porn

It's right up with with food porn and real estate porn. Unfamiliar with Google Earth porn? It when you travel the world with a click of the mouse. You stalk out locations using GPS coordinates. You paint pictures of places you've never been. It's really quite fascinating.

Frank's been seeking out OHV trails and he came across one in Valley of Fire that looks amazing. The flyovers made you feel like you were there. I can't wait to get out to the trails and experience it first hand.

We just made plans for a trip to Brian Head, UT. A co-worker is kind enough to let us use his condo there. Since Frank had Google Earth up and running, I had him take a look at the condo and surrounding areas. Cedar Breaks National Monument looks like a must see.

I'm not sure how, exactly, but from Brain Head we went on to Hawaii. Then, Xpu-ha and down to Tulum and over to Sicily (even stopped to search for any of Frank's family in Gaeta on Facebook, came up empty) then up to the Almalfi Coast, Venice and Rome. Next, we went over to Croatia and Russia since that rounds out where Frank's family is from. I teased that you have to go way up here (imagine me pointing to the top of the monitor) to get to where I come from, up here, where it's cool and the sun rarely shines. Hence, my fair untannable skin... Sweden, Scotland, Ireland and Germany.

Technology sure has come a long way. I can remember sitting in my grandpa's office twirling a globe round and round, realizing that the world was a much bigger place than I ever knew, but I was never able to visualize it like I am able to do today. Kids today probably sit with an iPad and travel the globe by touch. How wild is that?

July 28, 2011

Our DINK Life

I can't recall the first time I heard the phrase "DINK", it must have been six or seven years ago. However long ago doesn't matter as much as identifying with it immediately. Frank and I enjoy our Dual Income No Kids lifestyle quite a bit and we see no reason to mess with it. We have had 14 amazing years together and we love being us. We don't have kids. We have toys and take vacations. I don't think our lives are any less fulfilled because of it. We all have the right to choose our priorities and having a family is just not one of ours. Much to the dismay of our friends and family.

They mean well. They do, but I must admit I cringe a little everytime I hear that dreaded question “So, when are you two going to have a baby?” As I get deeper into my 30's I hear it more and more. I can't help but give it thought, that window of opportunity is getting shorter, afterall. I love kids, I have no doubt Frank and I would be amazing parents, but this does not mean I want to be a mother. Everytime, Frank and I re-evalute our plans for the future. We are firm that we want to continue our DINK life. We never made a list stating reasons why, there was never a need. Then, yesterday I came across this list of The 11 Best Things about Being a DINK and it totally rang true. So true, in fact, I could have written it myself.

Who knows in a few years, I may feel differently? Maybe I won't. In the meantime, we'll be us and you might remember? I love us.

July 27, 2011

Ebb and Flow

Time has actually slowed this week. Monday and Tuesday dragged. It feels like we should be a lot closer to Friday than we are. I suppose I'm just excited for the weekend.

We'll be dining at Border Grill for the first time. I've always been curious, but especially so after watching Top Chef. Travelzoo's $49 dinner for two sealed it. We'll grab dinner there before the Dirty Heads concert at Mandalay Bay Beach.

We've been trying not too spend money this week, since July was a such a costly month. My car needed a new water pump for its 5th birthday. Registration was due, and let's not forget that car payment. We prepaid our hotel stays for San Diego and Anaheim. Bills are at their peak this time of year with high power, water and gas bills. We also bought the RZR. If I were to drop a coin in the piggy bank all I'd hear is an echo.

We need to spend on RZR accessories and Restaurant Week is coming. Tightening of the purse strings is in order, the timing just sucks. Football is right around the corner. Soon, Frank will go back to Mon/Tues off and we'll no longer have a shared day off. Time off is tricky during football season and we've already chosen our days. That's the time it's easier to save our pennies. Not now, I just want to enjoy what little is left of summer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm forever grateful for all that we are able to do. I know how fortunate we are. We work hard to play hard, it's all ebb and flow.

July 26, 2011

Closer to home

Sunday, we stayed closer to home for our off-road adventures. Without the extras we need, we wanted to stick to trails that we know. Especially, since it was pretty hot outside. You don't see many passerby's in the heat of summer. Only nuts like us (and two others on dirt bikes). Most people head for the hills, mountains really, where temperatures are significantly cooler. Like Lovell Canyon and Indian Springs, locally.

We started out near the southern most foothills in the valley, these trails open up and run along the train tracks and powerlines, they take you out past Sloan and along I-15.

Monsoons chased us home, while there we went for swim to cool down, and when the storms cleared a bit we hit the trails around the Spring Mountains. These trails offer stunning views of the valley and Red Rock. They are among my favorite and the best part? They are just a couple blocks from home.

July 25, 2011


Saturday, we hit the trails at Lovell Canyon. My mom joined us for our maiden voyage. She met us at the Lovell Canyon turn off, it worked out well since it's about the half way point between us.

We set off for the trails about 1 o'clock. It was the hottest part of the day, but I was prepared for being in full sun. I wore long sleeves and jeans to protect as much as my skin as possible. I lathered my exposed skin in 70spf sunblock amd I reapplied a couple times throughout the day. The dirt stuck to me like a magnet, which was gross, but I'm happy to report I did not burn - Way to go Coppertone Sport! We rode the trails for over 3 hours and racked up about 80 miles.

I could not believe how well the RZR handled the trails. I was in awe. I had suspected it would be a fun ride, but nothing could prepare me for how much fun it truly was. I had a grin from ear to ear, until we picked up speed (we got it up to 60 mph). Then, I kept my mouth tightly closed to keep from swallowing any bugs. It got quite buggy in Trout Canyon. The ride was fantastic and the views were spectacular. Our money was well spent and this was just the first of MANY more adventures to come.

July 22, 2011

Let the adventures begin

"It's like the Firebird and Jimmy had a baby." This is what I told Frank when he parked the RZR 4 in the garage. It's so shiny and new, all I want to do is go out and get it dirty.

The sun was already setting when we got it home from the dealer. Frank was tempted to take it out, but I told him to wait since darkness was coming soon. Sure, there are headlights, but it wasn't insured so I'd rather not take any chances.

Today, I got the insurance all set. So, we're ready to ride... the easy trails. We need a few accessories before we really put it to the test. We need a roof, this fair skinned redhead needs all the protection from the sun I can get. We need to install skid plates. We also need helmets. Frank ordered his, it's due in soon. I haven't found one yet. There's a motorcycle helmet I like, and it's a great fit, but I'm concerned about that the visor isn't enough protection from dirt and dust. I think a dirt helmet is the smarter way to go, but I need to find one that fits. I found a couple stores, Sam's Cycle Supply and Cycle Gear, both are known to have a good selection so I'll be checking those out.

All day long I've had that "Bang on the Drum" song stuck in my head.

I don't want to work.
I just want to play in the desert all day.

July 21, 2011

Seeking Yummy Chinese

We are on a quest to find a Chinese restaurant that's tasty enough to be a regular haunt. Have a favorite? Let's have it.

In Chinatown, we've been to Joyful House, Cathay House, Emperor's Garden, a couple others no longer in business, and Ping Pang Pong, nearby. None have fit the bill. Reviews for Harbor Palace have never been great so it really wasn't on my radar. We only stopped in because I've driven by it hundreds of times and curiousity had finally gotten the better of me.

We had eggrolls, sweet & sour chicken, eggplant in garlic sauce and then oranges with fortune cookies followed for dessert.

The eggplant was really good, the veggies were fresh and crisp and the sauce had a bit of kick. The rest of the meal was fine, but far less memorable. Service was lackadaisical, but I suspect the language barrier might have something to do with it. Needless to say, our search continues...

July 19, 2011

I Forgot

I had planned to share photos of Mt. Charleston today, but I forgot my camera... For the second day in a row. I guess I have Breaking Bad on the brain I have no other excuse. We were at a party on Sunday so we didn't tune into the Season Premiere until yesterday when I got home from work. Let me tell you it was one long ass day, I couldn't wait to get home. I haven't felt that sort of anticipation since I was a kid waiting for Santa to come. I'm happy to report "Box Cutter" did not disappoint in fact it exceeded my expectations. It's going to be another good season. I can feel it.

Day to day has been quite busy lately. I wish it'd slow down a bit. We're flying through summer. I see all these fall decorations and things in stores and it kinda depresses me. I don't want summer to end.

We do have some fun stuff coming up so there are perks to these days zipping by like minutes.

It looks like we might be getting our new toy this weekend. We just need confirm with the Polaris dealer that our RZR 4 is ready to come home. If not this weekend, it will be soon. I can't wait to get out and play in the desert.

Dirty Heads booked a Las Vegas show. I couldn't believe it, after months and months of checking dates there it was "Dirty Heads and The Wailers" at Mandalay Bay Beach on July 30. I booked tickets right away.

The following week we'll see Weezer at Red Rock. Our friend Shane will come in from Phoenix for it, I'm sure we'll have some good times during his visit.

We booked another trip to San Diego. We'll visit friends, bet ponies at Del Mar and check out the food truck fest, see a Padres game and hit up our favorite haunts. Then, the second leg of our trip will be spent in Anaheim, where we'll catch a couple White Sox games.

While we're away, my brother comes in for an extended, possibly permanent vacation. I'm really not sure of his plans. I don't think he is either. But he's coming, my mom needs surgery and he'll be here to help her out. He hasn't had luck finding employment in Chicago so it sounds like he's gonna give life out here another go. It's been a year since he's been out, and I haven't seen him since I went there in February. It'll be good to see him. I'm sure fun will be had.

Labor day we could have a full house. We have at least one friend coming in from Texas and our friends from San Diego might be joining us, as well.

October brings cooler weather and also our trip to New Orleans. I'm very excited to experience a new city.

We return to San Francisco for our annual trip in November. I'm sure we'll stuff ourselves silly.

That will be our last trip for the year. I'm sure I'll be counting down until January, anxious for my vacation days to be renewed. But if all goes according to plan, we'll be banking those for my dream vacation to Italy. Work needs to pick back up, I'm counting on my end of year bonus to make that trip happen. Our Italy fund has accumulated savings, but not enough to cover the whole shebang. If, for whatever reason, it's not meant to be, we'll wait. We'll dash off to Xpu-ha to drown our sorrows in Mexican beer, the Caribean Sea and white powdery sand beach. Oh, and we'll eat our weight in tacos from El Fogon. Ok, maybe not, but many will be enjoyed.

July 18, 2011

This Marks the End

Saturday, we cruised up to Mount Charleston. On the way, we stopped at Retro Bakery. We've been eager to try it after hearing its praises, it's much further than a hop, skip and jump away so this was the first time we were in the area during business hours. We figured a cupcake picnic was in order.

The girls behind the counter were warm and friendly. We looked over our options and selected four cupcakes and a cookie for the road. The damage came to 12 bucks and some change.

We tucked the cupcakes away for later and dug into the cookie as soon as we pulled away. This cookie was loaded with a variety of chocolate and butterscotch morsels. It was tender and chewy, but WAY to sweet. We each had a bite, we couldn't finish the rest.

Later, we dug into the cupcakes. The Glazed Donut cupcake was the first we tried. It was pretty good. The cake was nice and moist and the glaze was on the verge of being too sweet. Frank tried the Red Carpet next. He found the almond buttercream overly sweet and complained that the cake was a bit dry. I was most excited about the Maple Bacon cupcake. My teeth ached from one bite, I scraped the buttercream off and enjoyed the cupcake itself. It was pleasantly moist from the maple syrup center. Lastly, we had the Drumstick. I loved the ganache and nut topping, just not the buttercream frosting beneath it. This cake was too dry without it.

It's a shame we missed their tagline "It's all about the buttercream." It is indeed all about that buttercream. This is only a good thing if you love buttercream.

This concludes our cupcake adventures. We're officially done seeking out cupcakeries. We found Mad Hatter first, and it is by far the best we've had in Las Vegas and other major cities we've visited. It may be pricey, but their cupcakes are damn good. The cake is always moist and since they are made to order, too much frosting is rarely a problem. I know what I like and know where to get it. Why go anywhere else?

Retro Bakery on Urbanspoon

July 15, 2011

If I could just find the pot of gold

Normally when we drive to California it is as dry as can be until the Cajon pass. And then, the humidity begins to climb and it continues to rise as we head to the coast. This recent trip was a bit different.

The monsoons cloaked Las Vegas in a thick blanket of clouds and humidity. I felt like I had to chew the air before I could breathe it in. The weather had been muggy as can be since July 3rd and it didn't let up until this week, by late Monday the clouds finally cleared out. Cooler temps rolled in and let me tell you it's been Gorgeous is Sin City.

This was not the case last weekend. While we were enjoying the upper 70's in San Diego. Those back in Vegas were dealing with triple digits, high humidity and flash floods. I thought the storms would pass by the time we made it back. We did dodge them on our drive, but we caught dozens of rainbows from the showers in the distance. It was a lovely sight. As we drove by Baker, CA. The humidity climbed. We were icky sticky and it continued the whole way home. It was so odd, usually by then you've driven the desert long enough to dry up any residual dampness from the coast.

Here's a look at jsut a few of the rainbows we spotted between Baker and Primm.

July 14, 2011


Some things change and other don't. Some changes are welcomed and others are dreaded. I'm a glass half full kinda girl so let's talk of those changes I was happy to see.

Mom has come over the hump from Pahrump for a visit. She suggested we go to Casa Don Juan for dinner last night. Who could argue with that? We all had carnitas, the plate for two took care of Frank and I, and mom had a few tacos a la carte. We also threw in a pork tamale for good measure. Our feast was delicious, as always. But they switched up their salsa and guacamole... for the better. Both were down right tasty. The salsa was chunky and it had a nice kick. The guacamole was fresh and wonderfully seasoned, it even had chunks of avocado. Which is how I prefer it. Everything about our meal was top notch, including the service. I hope this is the new standard. I will be thrilled.

After dinner, we drove down to Fremont Street. Mom cashed in two comped nights at Las Vegas Club. We eventually met her over there, but first we had to find a place to park. It proves to be a difficult task when we drive the Avalanche. The Plaza charges $5 to park, so we only fork over the cash when we run out of options. They are working on the exterior now, by the way. I can't wait to see what the F'bleau Plaza looks like (for anyone who might not know, Plaza picked up decor for its remodel for a steal from the defunct Fountainbleau project), but I digress. We thought we'd park at Binion's but the garage was full. On a Wednesday night? Really? We learned we were too big Golden Nugget's garage along with Vegas Club's. We just made the cut over at the California. They offer free parking with validation, too.

It was the first time ever parking in their garage. We were taken aback how nice the garage elevator was, nicer than the hotel elevators at the Plaza (at least, during my last stay). We entered the casino and it was bright and it smelled of new carpeting. It was nothing like what I remembered. It's been a couple years since I've stepped foot inside the California. Last time I choked on smoke so thick, I doubted I'd ever return, but here I was, and I liked what I saw. The carpet was indeed new. It was soft and squishy. The rear of the casino was really comfortable. As we approached the front, it became more familiar... worn out filthy carpet that reeks of cigarettes, the casino in the bordello glow from the red florescent light above, ahh, this is the California I recall. Fortunately, it was being sectioned off for repairs and more lipstick. It, too, should be fresher and more appealing in the near future. It's not only the Plaza that's gotten a much needed sprucing.

We walked over to Las Vegas Club. It's the same as it's been the last year or two. I think the addition of the Bingo room and Jerky shop have been the latest changes. This wasn't a bad thing. Occasionally, you can take comfort in those things that stay the same. We did just that.

We had loads of fun playing quarter slots with actual quarters. We ran around the casino, dropping in the max coin hoping for the jackpot. We had no large wins, but we were able to collect a cup full of coins to help offset our losses (lost in the newer sparkly slots). We walked by the bank of old quarter keno machines, y'know the ones with a pen? I like keno it's the one game that doesn't routinely rob me. I've never played these old machines, usually they're taken. This was my chance. Frank played along, too. Mom even joined in for a short bit before getting bored. I ended up winning $35 when a few of my numbers rolled in. I took that as my sign to cash out and soon the quarters plinked out of the machine. I love that sound, the sound of winning. Sure, TITO keeps your hands clean - trust me, this germaphobe appreciates them - and they avoid those lengthy hopper fills and other nonsense, but winning is just not as fun with those. For little wins, anyway. I hope there are always a few casinos around, like Vegas Club that hold onto that little blast from the past. As much as I enjoy changes, I take pleasure in those few things that stay the same.

July 13, 2011

Restaurant Week!

Coming off the week of gluttony I've had it's hard to think about caloric delight that is Restaurant Week... Who am I kidding? I am totally stoked! What is usually the most glorious week of the year, will be a two week celebration this year. That's right, Three Square's Restaurant Week is August 29 - September 11.

There are about 20 participating restaurant menus already posted and more are to come.

We won't be able to keep our traditon of one restaurant each day of Restaurant Week, but we will dine at our fair share of places. I'm excited to try new places and return to old favorites.

Speaking of favorites, we had dinner at Circo last week with a friend. We first discovered Circo during Restaurant Week and we quickly fell head over heels for it. Frank and I agree it's our favorite place to fine dine. In Spring, I got word that the Chef left (for Lavo, I think) so I was curious if the food would continue to meet our expectations. I'm happy to report it has, our dinner was fantastic. It was only service that was a bit lacking. It was slow, I suspect due to a large party of 20 that sat minutes before us. Fortunately, the good company and the lovely view and fountain shows kept us entertained.

July 12, 2011

A Quickie

We made a quick jaunt to San Diego and I did not want to come home. That's right, I wanted to stay there and soak up more of the California sun. Yes, it shined. The sun shined the whole time. Truth be told I soaked up too much sun (while trying to dry out after getting hit by a wave). I got the worst burn of the year while in La Jolla. Anyway, the weather has been so hot and muggy, here at home, thanks to the monsoons it was nice to getaway for a bit. We caught the tail end of San Diego's heat wave so I never caught a chill like I usually do. It was sunny and 80, perfection, really.

We went down to see the Dirty Heads at the Liquid Aloha Festival. They haven't had a show here since last year so we had to go to them. I'm so glad we did. As luck would have it, the venue was at the park that is across the street from our favorite bakery, Con Pane. Home to the best sandwich I ever ate, the Italian. Kona Brewing Company sponsored the event so it was $5 Firerock, Longboard and Wailua Wheat. A show with good beer! And all the proceeds were donated to protect the coastal waters. All the bands were enjoyable and the Dirty Heads did not disappoint.

We stuffed ourselves silly squeezing in as many eats as we could in such a short time. We got our fill of Mexican food and enjoyed another great meal at Whisknladle. I can't wait until next month when we return.

La Jolla

Where we were when I got soaked, one big wave is all it took.

The beach was insanely crowded!

All nice and calm...

Until birds attack, this would freak me out if I was in the water.

I bet the bird whisperer wouldn't mind, "watch it, lady. Incoming."

So SoCal