Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Salt Lake Comic Con

So, a couple weeks after I dropped the girls back home for summer, they were now back in school. But the first Monday in September was Labor Day, which was a plus because that Labor Day weekend was the 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con. When I bought my ticket the first day tickets went on sale before the girls even came up for the summer, one adult ticket came with two bonus children admission wristbands. So I asked the girls if they would like to go, they said Yes with excitement, and so I was able to work it out with their mom so that we could pick up the girls to be able to bring them up to Salt Lake for their first Comic Con. It would be Amanda's first time too. I went last year.

So on Thursday the 1st, Amanda and I planned to drive down to Mesquite and stay at the Virgin River hotel. With it being the day before payday for both of us, we had just enough to get down there. So we packed up a couple sandwiches to eat on the drive down and Hamburger Helper to heat up at the gas station across the street to eat that night. This was a whole new experience. I mean, I've done this before... drive down the day before payday with little/no funds, but this was different since Amanda was with me and we wanted to have some relaxing pool and hot tub fun while down there.

So we arrived and checked in around 3 Pacific time, and immediately played the $10's I get each month on the casinos players card. I gave Amanda a couple bucks to play too. But soon, that was gone, and we headed to the room to relax since we had been driving since noontime. Since we had no money for a few hours, we walked around the hotel playing Pokémon Go!, went swimming and relaxed in the hot tub.

Well, dinner time was now here and we took the Hamburger Helper I made and walked over to the gas station to heat them up. We walked back to eat out dinner, but ate it by the water fountain instead to pass the time.

Well, with it finally passing midnight in Mesquite, we walked down to the Smith's to wait a few minutes before our money was deposited so we could get a few snacks. While there, our we now had money to get snacks and to pull a few $20's to play. Walked back to the casino and played. I made a little money, but since we had to be up to pick up the girls, we called it a night.

The next morning, we cleaned up and left for St. George. Turns out, the girls were not feeling well good, so they stayed home from school. I was planning on picking them up from school, but this made it so we could get a few hours head start.

We picked up the girls, and with it being lunch time, I took everyone to Honolulu Grill. I love that place!!! After lunch, we then headed on the road to Salt Lake and was immediately caught in traffic because a camping trailer flipped over on the freeway after the Hurricane exit. So this delayed us a good hour.

Once they cleared the trailer out of the way, traffic picked up and we had to stop at the gas station at Exit 42 to get a couple gallons to get to Cedar City. The price in Cedar was a huge difference in price. Made it to the gas station in Cedar, filled up and continued on the road. Made it to Scipio to use the restrooms and fill up at Chevron, but the place was closed for the day. So we drove over the freeway overpass to the Flying J to use the restrooms, and walked around to catch some Pokémon.

After catching a few Pokémon, we headed back on the road to Nephi to fill up and get dinner for Amanda and I at Burger King, and Wendy's for the girls... and to catch some more Pokémon.

Headed back on the road and arrived at my parents place. Unpacked and let the girls play and have fun. I later took Amanda home because we would have to be up early for Comic Con.

Saturday morning, we got up and went down to say Hi to Grandma Sheila at her work. Then headed downtown to find a spot to park, which we did near Gateway. We walked right across the street to the TRAX Planetarium Station and took TRAX to Temple Square Station, where we walked the rest to the Salt Palace.

We found Amanda at the front of the building, gave everyone their wristbands and went inside. I'm sure the girls were amazed by all the cool costumes people dressed up in. We walked in the doors on the main level and into the showroom to look around. We headed back to the area where celebrities and their signing booths are, to see if we could see anyone famous. We saw Henry Winkler and a few others. But while looking around, we would ask people if we could take pictures of them with the girls. Did this quite a bit, but slowly headed over to the food court.

Yes, we should have eaten before, but I didn't think. While waiting in line for food, whatever the girls had the day before, I was starting to feel it wearing me down. But we grabbed our lunches and ate in one of the hallways outside the main floor. Finished eating and continued looking around, while taking more photos of the girls having fun.

While there, I contacted an old schoolmate (whom I'm friends with on FB) if we could meet up with them to take a group photo since they were there dressed up as The Incredible's. They were at lunch at City Creek (which is what we should have done), but would text me when they were back. So in the meantime, we continued looking around and letting the girls having fun.

They wrote me back and we met up with her and her family at the bottom of the elevators.

Since we looked around at the north side of the hall, we then looked around at the east side of the hall where all the artists booths were at.

I know we were not at Comic Con very long, but whatever we had caught was draining us. So we called it a day, walked back to TRAX to get to my car, and headed back to our place to take a nap.

I don't remember much as to what we did that night, but i know we took it easy and had dinner that night with the family.

On Sunday, I was scheduled Sunday night. I was not happy when I requested it off and still had to work. There was another reason why I was upset, it was also Amanda's birthday on Sunday, and we couldn't all get together and celebrate.

Before I had to get ready and head to work, my mom and I took the girls up to Silver Lake to go for a hike around the lake. After the hike, we were finally able to go inside the visitors center next to the parking lot. All the times we have been up here, we never have been able to go in because of bad timing.

After work, I kissed my kiddos goodnight.

The next morning, my mom would be taking the girls back home.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Summer 2016 Trip - Day Eleven and Twelve

July 30th - Saturday

Today was a simply day, to try and do a couple things in Vegas on The Strip before heading home to St. George later that evening to drop off the girls.

It was a hot day already, but we took our time getting up and ready. We had been traveling most of the day before, and we over did it. But once we were ready, the four of us and Heidi headed to The Flamingo to have lunch (Brian was at work). We made it to the multi-level parking lot and walked to the un/loading zone to enter the Flamingo, and walked through the casino over to the food court to grab us something to eat.

After eating, we all walked over to the gift shop area of Margaritaville.

We looked around a while before then walking back over to The Wildlife Habitat at The Flamingo. The girls enjoyed spending time with their Aunt Heidi looking at the flamingos and fish in the ponds. Amanda and I walked around by ourselves.

With us all dying of heat, and it getting later in the day, I knew we better call it an afternoon and get back to their house to pack up to head out. We drove back to the house we packed up the car of all our belongings and then said our goodbyes... especially to Ginger.

For those of you who don't know, Ginger was the dog that the girls mom adopted from the Santa Clara Animal Shelter a couple years prior to the girls being born. She was a very good dog around the girls and everyone else loved her too. Well, when the girls and their mom moved into the girls grandma's house, they let Heidi and Brian take Ginger. She was well taken care of by The Glicken's. Then a few weeks prior to leaving on the trip, they found out that Ginger had cancer on the lungs and that she didn't have much time left. I was afraid that we wouldn't have been able to say goodbye and that the trip would have been a somber one. Luckily, the vet gave them steroids to help her be able to eat her food and be a little active... But it would only help for so long. After talking with Heidi, they planned to put her to sleep a few days after the trip.
We gave hugs to everyone goodbye, and headed on the road to get to St. George by dinnertime.

We made it just in time because Rachel had made dinner for everyone, including Amanda and I. That was nice of her. After eating, we hugged and said our goodbyes. Amanda and I headed over to the nearest Home Depot so I could get my schedule (via computer), then headed down to Mesquite to spend the night. While at Home Depot, the wind picked up very strong, and on the way down we stopped at Black Rock Road in Arizona to try taking pictures/video of the lightning.

When we arrived, we checked in to get our room and then drove over to Smith's to get some snacks. We walked in the store dry, but left the store running to the car because it was really coming down. We made it back to the room on the 3rd floor, but because of the strong wind, it blew the rain onto that floors walkway and made it look like it was flooding up to that floor.

When we decided to go to the casino, we had to run a few hundred feet. When we walked in the doors, everyone was looking at us because we were drenched. But played a few dollars and then called it a night.

July 31st - Sunday
Normally I would start a new blog entry for each day of the trip, but today, Amanda and I packed up our stuff from the hotel room and drove home. When we arrived in Salt Lake, I dropped Amanda off her place and then I headed home. I had to unpack my car and start a load of laundry. It had been a busy 12 days, but the girls were back home and I had to still continue to upload the photos I had taken to the trip website... and start writing the blog post for our trip.

And that my friends, is the story of our trip... I hope you have enjoyed reading it as I did writing it and we did living it.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Summer Trip 2016 - Day Ten

July 29, 2016 - Day Ten
Well, today was the last day we would be in California, and be heading back home from our super packed vacation.

So when we finally woke up, we got ready, packed up all our belongings in our suitcases, handed back our room key and then packed up the car so we could head out. Our first stop out of Los Angeles would be in Long Beach. Anyone and everyone who knows me, knows my favorite band is Sublime-- the original band, not Sublime with Rome... and I am not leaving California without paying my respects to the late singer Brad.

So we headed to Long Beach and stopped at Floyd's 99 Barber Shop. Someone had actually painted a mural on the brick wall next to the barbershop for the band that represents Long Beach.

After taking pictures, we walked across the street to the gas station to use their restrooms, but they didn't have public bathrooms due to the homeless near the beach. Since the next stop would be Brad's grave site, we drove a few miles in that direction until the next available Chevron came along and filled up with gas (or we were not going to make it to Cabazon) and to use their restrooms. After our little pit stop, we continued on to Brad's grave site in Westminster Park Memorial.

After driving away feeling emotional, I knew lunch was needed soon since it was already 1PM. Back on the day we had the surfing lessons, I looked up where the very first In-N-Out was built since I knew it all started in California. It turns out that the very first location was in Baldwin Park, about an 40 minute drive from the gravesite, so we headed in that direction to get lunch. We arrived just in time after dealing with traffic, because we were starving.

I had it planned out so that on our way out of California, we could stop and see the "World's Largest Dinosaurs" in Cabazon, California... the place seen in multiple movies such as "Pee Wee's Big Adventure ". So we ate our lunch in the car around 2PM as we continued on our way out to see the dinosaurs.

With traffic from the construction, our drive turned from 1 hour 15 minutes to almost 2 hours. It wasn't fun because the closer we got to Cabazon, the hotter it became. So just like what happened on Day 2 in Vegas, we had to turn off the A/C and roll down the windows to prevent the  car from over heating all while keeping us cooled down. Also, with the heat and for driving so long, we were now starting to run out of bottled waters we filled up prior to leaving L.A.. Luckily we were almost to our destination as we found a Chevron just before the dinosaurs. We went inside and filled up about 20 empty water bottles after I filled up with gas. During that time, all the girls used the single women's restroom, and then I bought everyone a snack (that wouldn't melt or be eaten right away). We loaded back up in the car and headed out to drive the remaining 3 miles until we made it to The World's Largest Dinosaurs. It was still hot when we arrived, but walked up to the entrance of the gift shop to pay the fee to look around behind the fenced area. We cooled off inside the gift shop before heading back outside to look around.

Once outside, we found a little sand pit area near the gift shop, that allowed people to dig for a rock that had a species of dinosaur name written on it so that that person could turn it in for a prize. The girls held onto their rocks until later.

Right around the corner, they have a rock sifter where water flows through (almost like you are panning for gold) to pick out the tiny rocks that you want to keep in the tiny bag they give you as you walk in the gift shop. We sifted for a while, before I realized we hadn't checked out the rest of the area because it was getting too warm for us and late in the afternoon. So I told the girls to follow me to the T-Rex (I named him Tim after The Ziggen's song). We made it to the dinosaur and started up the multiple spiral staircase to the mouth to look out towards the freeway. Oh, important movie fact... The dinosaur mouth does not face towards the east like in the movie, and as you can see due to limited space, it does not have seats to look at said sunrise. One more thing, the restaurant that Pee Wee stops at is permanently closed. It closed months before this trip was even an idea.

So I took a picture of the girls in the mouth of the dinosaur, and as they were heading down, they started complaining to being very thirsty. Almost to the point of crying. So Amanda and I did the best we could to encourage them to walk back to the gift shop to cool off and trade in their dinosaur rocks for a prize, as I walked back to the car to grab bottles of water for everyone. I met them back inside the gift shop and made them drink water. The girls wanted to use their birthday money to buy something in the gift shop, so I let them. I had to get me a post card. Once we were done cooling off, we went back out to sift some more. After a short while while outside, I realized that afternoon was already evening (6PM), and we still had to drive into Vegas to spend the night. If we kept looking around, it was going to be seriously late when we arrived.

As much as I too wanted to stay like the twins did, I knew we had to go. So we loaded back up in the car, and drove for an hour until I suddenly took a side road just north of San Bernardino to try to find or see anything involving Route 66... When I suddenly saw painted in white on the road that we were on, the iconic Route 66 sign image. We were traveling on Route 66! I pulled to the side of the road to get a picture of the road, a selfie and the sunset. (7PM)

We were getting hungry again (it was dinnertime of course), so we hoped off Route 66 and continued driving on the modern freeway until we arrived in Victorville. We just had burgers earlier, so we all wanted something else... Subway would have to do. Ordered and grabbed our sandwiches to go, and like our lunch, ate our dinner in the car as we continued driving on the road. (8PM)

With it now dark, we pulled into Baker to have a quick pit stop. What blew my mind was that it not only dark, but the wind was blowing hard, and the World's Largest Thermometer was showing the temperature at 113° (112° when I took the picture) at 9PM... The day we arrived on our way to Ventura, it read 111° around 1-2PM.

Anyways, we continued on the road to The Glicken's house in Vegas. With the girls and Amanda asleep, we pulled into their neighborhood around midnight. Woke the girls so they could walk to their bed in the house and let them fall back to sleep. I unloaded a few things, and crashed in the bed myself. It had been a long day of driving in the hot sun.