Saturday, July 30, 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.

Friday, July 29, 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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer 2016 Trip - Day Nine

July 28th - Thursday

Like I mentioned on the previous post, we rearranged our plans for this day so that we could instead drive back to Ventura to visit JoAnna and Brandon.The main activity I had planned for today, it could wait for the next day when we headed out of state.
We woke up late today, but that was because of the packed evening we had the night before. I do remember that after I got ready for the day, I ran over to the CVS across from the hotel to grab ice for the cooler to keep our bottled water chilled. Well, we loaded up in the car and headed out. Traffic wasn't bad on the way out, but we made it back to Ventura right around lunchtime, then we picked JoAnna up. We were hungry (especially from traveling), so she suggested a sushi restaurant called I Love Sushi nearby her place. I think this place is what the girls would have really loved to have their birthday dinner at.

We ate lunch (well, as much as I could swallow raw fish), and then went shopping at the Vons in the same shopping center. Amanda's eye pain was getting unbearable to her. So we bought some eye drops and Auntie JoAnna bought the girls each a Beanie Baby for their birthday.

We left Vons and headed over to Marina Park (it's a couple miles south of Ventura Pier). JoAnna walked the girls over to the beach to play in the water, over to the boat (that people can climb on) and the playground.

The pain in Amanda's eye was getting much worse, and after discussing it with JoAnna, we decided to let JoAnna watch the girls for an hour at her place while I took Amanda to the closest Urgent Care to have them look at her eye, and to hopefully see if they could see what was causing the pain.

So we dropped the 3 of them off, and we went to the Urgent Care. I'll spare you the details of the whole doctor visit, but they saw that "something" had indeed scratched the eye and that is what was causing the pain. They prescribed her stronger medical eye drops, so we stopped at a CVS next to pick it up and headed back to JoAnna's.

By this time, Brandon was off work and we were starting to get hungry... it had already been 5-6 hours since we had lunch. So we all decided on ordering pizza from a local pizza parlor near her place. I'm not positive, but I think we started to watch Zootopia again while waiting for the pizza. We had the pizza delivered and I'm glad JoAnna and Brandon suggested it, because it tasted as if they had used fresh ingredients, not canned ingredients like the big pizza chains do.

After eating, we wanted to try to visit Ventura Beach again to see the beach one last time before we left California. So we drove over to the pier area and parked in the area where we parked a couple days prior. We walked over the skywalk that goes over the freeway, down to the pier and onto the beach walk.

This was perfect timing because we made it this time, just in time to see the sun set. For some reason, I thought the sun would be setting out in the ocean, but that direction is actually southwest. Trying to comprehend this in my head right now is still not clicking. I was probably was thinking this because when I was in Ocean Beach (San Diego) back in 1999 (the last time I was at a beach), the sun set out in the ocean.

We walked west along the beach walk and got near the end of the beach walk, where we noticed people had made rock art/statues from the big rocks on the beach.

So we started having fun and making our own rock statues as the sun set and nighttime was now here.

After we finished creating our masterpieces, it was now officially dark and we started heading back to the pier… but the girls and JoAnna wanted to play on the playground that is on the beach next to the pier. So we let them play for a few minutes before we finally had to call it a night.

Walked back to our cars, gave our hugs goodbye, then took that 80 minute drive back to LA. The girls had so much fun this day, and I'm glad JoAnna said something, because I did too.