Roadtrip stop #10: Parker, Colorado, then finally home!

ohhh I love Colorado, it wasn't a very eventful week at home with my family, but it was awesome, and so relaxing. We went out to eat at so many restaurants...the 2 best White Chocolate Grill and Cheesecake Factory. We saw Planet of the Apes and loved it, and we went to Jump Street, which was so fun. We celebrated Damon's birthday, and I decorated his cake (bleh). Plus we got to sleep in and watch tv, and just hang out. It was wonderful, and so nice to spend time with them, Oh and of course, we went to Costco, shocker huh!?

I went out with my mom to find outfits for us all for our family portraits next weekend (so excited for it!! I'll be sure to put up pictures!) So we get to see the whole family next weekend in Utah, my mom's side is all going there to be at my baby cousin's blessing, so everyone will be together for the first time in like 6 years!
Well Colorado was the perfect ending to our wonderful vacation, and we are happily back home now, doing just about jack squat. We seriously almost packed up and left for North Carolina a few days ago, but gas was the only issue...haha
My brother is living with us until December and it is great to have him around. We've been playing a lot of frisbee, going on a lot of walks, working out a lot, and we even rented a power kite one day! Other than that it's a lot of book reading and movie watching, and I have been baking up a storm...and having so much fun! So that will continue for the next 2 and a half weeks until school starts (scary!!)


Roadtrip stop #9: Lake Powell

This is definitely a place we will be making a return vacation, we just spent an afternoon here and loved it. We left the Grand Canyon on Wednesday (8/10) and headed to lake Powell. It was sooooo hot once we got there, and the campground was a little bit different than the one we stayed at in the grand canyon. There were no trees, lots of ants and other bugs, and the people camping next to us were like 20 feet from us, but it was fine, we set up our tent and headed to the "swim beach". We really wanted to rent jet skis  but it was $180 for 2 hours, not including gas, PLUS you had to give them a $500 refundable cash deposit. Yeah...we just decided to swim.
At the "beach" we were the only Americans! I guess companies go over to France and Germany and sell package deals for vacations, and give them vouchers and stuff, and Lake Powell was part of the package. Everyone was French! That means lots of speedos and old men with hairy chests...bleh. But Jared, being creative, had us bring our boogie boards out into the lake so we could go further out than anyone and just float around. Brilliant!
After a few hours there we went to the marina and watched the boats and just talked. It was so gorgeous and relaxing. We then headed back to our camp, and chased around lizards and bunnys, and a little later started up the fire and roasted our bratwurst for dinner. After listening to French all day, I heard the people in the next campsite talking, and realized they were speaking some kind of Russian, and they kept looking at us and our fire and our hot dogs haha. So we had 2 brats left and Jared went and asked them if they would like to roast some hot dogs over the fire, oh they loved that. It was a mom and dad with their two preteen girls, and they were on holiday from the czech republic (uhhh awesome). They were so nice! Though I'm not sure how much English the mom spoke haha. They loved cooking the brats and had a real American experience! It was so cool to talk to them, and I think the girls thought it was so cool to be talking to us.
After they went back to their camp we (haha I) made smores, man I am a master at making smores....and then we headed to bed. It was still stinkin hot though, so we took the fly off of our tent and slept pretty much under the stars, it was so pretty!

Roadtrip stop #8: Hoover Dam/The Grand Canyon

We stopped by the Hoover dam outside of Vegas....no story, just pictures!

When you visit the Grand Canyon for anything other than rafting down the Colorado, or hiking the 9 miles into it, it goes like this:
Park the car at one of the pull offs
Walk up to the "scenic overlook"
navigate your way around all of the foreigners there on "holiday"
look at, take some pictures of, and marvel at the Grand canyon
Leave 3 minutes later.
We weren't any different. Jared had never seen the grand canyon and now he has! haha. We were only there one night camping, and honestly, I loved camping more than I loved seeing the Grand canyon! We have never been camping together, and right before the trip we finally acquired a tent, and an air mattress, so we are set to do a ton of camping in the near future! So we set up camp at "Mather Campground" which is absolutely gorgeous. We were expecting it to be so hot and dry, but it was in a forest and it was so cool, like 70 degrees, and there weren't any bugs, and even though the campground was totally full, it was still quiet and no one had rowdy kids running around, it was perfect! I'd go back just to go camping again!


Roadtrip stop #7: Las Vegas

Well I think this will be our one and only time we go to Vegas. I have never liked Vegas, but it is something you have to see once, and Jared had never been, so happily, I complied. However, I am going to rant for a second here....
the first hotel we stayed at (on Saturday night 8/6) was off the strip like 10 miles, because it was so expensive to stay on the strip on a Saturday. They charge us about $20 more than the price given to us by priceline...annoying. Then they take us to our nonsmoking room, and the place REEKS of cigarettes, oh it was disgusting both Jared and I were gagging. So we move rooms, to one that doesn't smell, but is just pretty nasty. I had to walk around in my shoes because it just gave me the heebie jeebies. Anyway that night we just hung out, and took a drive down the strip. By the way, don't drive down the strip, traffic is a nightmare.
Sunday (8/7) we checked out of our hotel and headed to the strip to check into our new hotel the Imperial Palace, located right next to the Flamingo, right in the middle of the strip. We parked, left our bags in the car and went into the casino to get to the front desk, thinking we'd check in and get our bags later. The line, however was so long to check in, there were like 50 people in front of us, so we decided we'd go pick up our tickets for our show at Planet Hollywood that night, and come check in later. So we ventured out onto the strip in the 114 degree heat. Excuse my language here, but Vegas is hotter than hell, oh my word I hate it. The 5 or 6 blocks down to Planet Hollywood seemed to last forever, but we finally got to it, and had to go into the mall next to the casino where the "V Theater" was, because that's where our show was going to be. We walked around the mall and had a lot of fun, the inside was like a domed ceiling and painted like the sky (like Hogwarts! haha) it was really cool. They even have a movie test center there where you watch movie previews and answer survey questions and they pay you to do it, so we did, and got our checks for $2 each haha. Hey, we got paid to watch movie previews!

So we head back to our hotel in the unbearable heat, and get to the front desk and the line is twice as long as it was when we left earlier. It was 2:40 when we got in line. After watching someone pass out, talking to the Australian couple "on holiday" behind us, and TWO HOURS LATER we finally got checked in. Ugh. So we venture up to our room, that doesn't have a mini fridge, has 10 channels on the "cable" tv (the other 10 were channels all about Vegas!) and doesn't even have a comforter on the bed, just sheets. They didn't even have free wifi! But happy to finally be in our room, and knowing we had to leave to our show in just an hour or so, we went and got all the bags all the way in the parking garage. That took us probably 30 minutes because the car was so far away and navigating the dumb hotel was terrible. So at 5ish we finally get our stuff back to the room and start getting ready for our show, which we have to leave for at 5:45. I hadn't showered, I was not anticipating a 2 hour wait to get to our room! But we got ready, and headed back to Planet Hollywood to get in line for our seats.

We saw "V The Ultimate Variety Show" and it was really cute! They had like 8 different acts in the hour. A balancer, a gymnist, a comedian (my favorite, involving 4 volunteers from the audience and hilarious masks) a juggler, some tap dancers, and another comedian. Oh and these "strong men" who like squn over the audience on big tethers. The best part though were the hosts, the "Gauchos" these two spanish guys who played the drums and had these ropes the swung and hit on the floor, and they were hilarious! I'm so glad we went to the show, and I thought it was awesome. After that we just headed back, we were both so exhausted we just wanted to get to bed.
The next morning we woke up around 9 and ate breakfast, then we were laying in bed watching tv, and I told Jared I was tired and going back to sleep, so I rolled over and next thing I know it was 1:30 in the afternoon, and Jared had been sleeping the whole time too! I guess our vacation had worn us out! But we woke up starving and went out in search of some lunch. We headed over the Venetian, and there was a mall kind of like the one at Planet Hollywood, but soooo much cooler. They had a river running through the middle of it and had guys rowing gondolas and singing to their passengers, just like in Italy! So we walked around, went in a few art galleries, and Jared bought me gelato, my favorite! We then just wandered around the different casinos for a little while.

Later that night it was our night to go out and explore the strip. The first thing we head over to is the Bellagio to see the water show. We loved the first one so much we stayed and watch another! They were amazing!! Even though I loved our show, the Bellagio show was my absolute favorite thing about Vegas. We even filmed them both!

We just walked up and down and took pictures and just saw Vegas. It was very pretty, though very educational. Literally everyone (minus the two married mormons walking around haha) was drunk. Seriously every British person we passed was swearing like a sailor, and apparently you can't tell which girls are the hookers anymore because every single woman was dressed like one. The fashion has officially caught on. Oh and who needs hookers when you have 50 people up and down the strip handing, no shoving these "calling cards" into your hands that have just lovely naked pictures of "girl escorts"
 So amongst all the irritation, we did end up having fun in Vegas, but I was very excited to leave the next day.


Roadtrip stop #6: San Diego

I love San Diego. I would love to live there, yes please! It is far enough from Los Angeles, right on the beach, and has absolutely perfect weather. The only hitch in the plan is cost of living in California...
Anyway, we left Coto de Caza Thursday (8/4) and headed straight down to Sea World!! This is one thing I had been looking forward to so much since we booked this trip. It was AMAZING!! I loved it more than Jared, mostly because I love animals more than he does, but he had fun too! We saw all the shows they had and both got nice sunburns...My favorite show was the sea lion show, with the tiny sea otter. They have a guy who does a pre show and is in the show and he was hilarious! We got great seats for all the shows and rode the Atlantis roller coaster.  Look at these great pictures!

This was so funny, you could buy fish to feed the sea lions, and they sea lions would bark at you to get your attention so you would throw them your fish. Sometimes the seagulls would snatch people's fish out of their fingers before they could throw it, and there was one sea lion who was laying on a rock in the middle of this pool, not barking, but literally screaming to get people's attention, it was hilarious!

yes...this would be the cutest thing ever, they were dancing the tango.

That would be a polar bear...
I love beluga whales...reminds of the "baby beluga" song I learned in like 1st grade...
After 8 long hours we called it quits and even got Chipotle for dinner...yes, best day ever...and it got even better when our cheap-o $40 a night hotel ended up being super nice, and gave us a free upgrade to a king bed! Score! The next day (Friday 8/5) we went to the beach. This was tricky, because we were actually staying in Escondito, which is like 20 miles inland, but we found one, and even though there were about 3 million people there we had a lot of fun. We got to use our boogie boards, and did a lot of people watching.  I wasn't feeling great though, so sadly we got pretty much no pictures from that beach trip, and we were only there for about half a day, I wish now that we would have stayed longer! I Love San Diego!!


Roadtrip stop #5: LA/Coto De Caza

I learned a few things about LA on this stop. 1. motorcyclists are NUTS....it is legal for them to ride between cars on the freeway, and also drive in the HOV lane. 2. Bel Air and Beverly Hills have a few cool houses, but honestly....I would never want to live there, and most of the houses are as big as the ones in the Timbers back home. 3. Cliche I know...but traffic is the worst, and sooo dangerous. 4. Hollywood is so overrated. 5. It was so busy and crazy we had planned to go to Santa Monica and go to the beach, but we just didn't even want to deal with it, so we didn't go!
Regardless of all the aforementioned problems however, we had a ton of fun in Los Angeles. We left Ridgecrest Wednesday (8/3) and headed over. It was only a 2 hour drive, and coming in was really pretty and we saw a lot of big homes. We got into Hollywood and parked on "Vine" street. Then we walked the walk of fame all the way up Hollywood Blvd to the Graumman Chinese theater. It was a long walk, and there were SOOO many people there! It was a Wednesday for goodness sakes! We were only there for about an hour and a half, and we ate lunch at Johnny Rockets (so good) in the mall they have next to the theater. Here are a few pictures from that journey.

Hollywood Sign!

On the way back to the car I convinced Jared that we should get a "Map of the Stars" where they show you a map of where all the movie stars live, and we could drive around and see their houses. It was only $5 so we did it, and headed over to Beverly Hills. There were 2 issues with this plan. 1. I remembered after driving around for a while that movie stars like their privacy, and put up 30 foot hedges around their houses for the exact purpose of keeping annoying tourists from looking in their houses all day, and 2. Jared was driving, which means I was in charge of the map. I am a woman... therefore maps are about 10000 times harder for me to read than a man. We had to pull over quite a few times because I had lost track of where we were haha. In my defense though, on top of being female and near map-illiterate, I get carsick! So I couldn't just study the map! Anyway, we did end up seeing Sylvester Stallone's house, though I didn't get a picture. And we saw a lot of other cool houses. Lots of athletes, oh and I got a picture of Elvis' LA home...well the front gate that is haha.
So we left Los Angeles at 3:30 and headed south to Coto De Caza, where Jared's Great Uncle and Aunt, Paul and Sheri live. We were in traffic for 2 hours!! Thankfully Jared is an exceptional driver, and got us there safe. Now I don't know how they could ever read this blog, but if they do, I will be so embarassed because I am going to absolutely gush for a second.
First of HOLY MOLY their house is huge!! Coto de Caza has to be the most high end city I've ever seen, and we had just driven through Beverly Hills! All the houses were HUGE and had big yards, and they lived in a gated community, it was so cool. Their house was beautiful and had so many nice things, and they took such good care of us. It was so fun because we weren't expecting to stay in a half mansion, and we were so surprised! They were so great to meet and get to know, and play card games with, I wish we could have stayed longer! But we got there that evening and took off the next morning.