2017’s September Road Trip: Part Two

So, initially, when I started this story (on the trip itself), I figured I’d have three posts – the previous one, one on Santa Cruz/Monterey, and then one on Las Vegas. However, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures in Las Vegas as I thought I would … so we’re wrapping this up in one longer tale. Good? Good.

Friday, September 8:

Friday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast at our hotel, and then drove the few hours from Sacramento to Santa Cruz. We didn’t stop driving until we hit San Jose, when I needed to fill up my tank. I don’t know where we stopped, exactly, but it was not the nicest area and the people driving around seemed batshit crazy … so we snagged a less-than-ideal lunch in Wienerschnitzel (mmm, corn dogs) and got back on the road.

We checked into our hotel, the Ocean Pacific Lodge, which we thought was maybe a few blocks from the race? Well, it was a few blocks from the race start, but literally across the street from transition. Like I could see the bike area from our room window. We wanted to check in for the race right away, so we went ahead and did that, as well as bought a few race items.

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Hotel. Transition would be to the left.

After a short ride to test out the bikes and a shower, we headed out for some dinner. Since lunch was so greasy, we decided on some nice sushi for dinner at I Love Sushi, which hit the spot.

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The Friends Roll, one of the ones we got.

Bellies full of delicious sushi, we walked around a bit to explore.

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Because a.) why not; and b.) he calls me his siren.

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Rides wouldn’t be going until the weekend.

Saturday, September 9:

We woke up fairly early Saturday morning as we had to drive back into San Jose to find a Chick-fil-a so as to get sandwiches for bike food (we eat pickle juice-soaked chicken patties on the bike. don’t ask …) as well as a few extra chicken egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches so as to eat something for breakfast the next day. We also hit up a Target for some bottled water to prep our race bottles with.

Back in Santa Cruz, we dropped our bikes off and went for a short run to shake out our legs, stopping by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, because why not.

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Inside.

It was super simple. Not sure if I’d recommend it.

Post-run, we showered and then went off to drive a bit more of the bike course, grabbing lunch along the way in Davenport, Calif.

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Whale City, our stop.

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I had the North Coast Chicken Sandwich – grilled chicken breast topped with sauteed leeks and mushrooms on a fresh bakery roll. It wasn’t too shabby.

Drove back to the hotel to prep everything for the next day and to just relax. We left around 5ish to get our nails done at The Nail Club (no website; not the best mani/pedi I’ve had, but totally not the worst) before grabbing our typical breakfast-for-dinner at the Santa Cruz Diner. Fantastic meal except for the bacon. Mediocre bacon. Sad, sad day.

Sunday, September 10:

… was race day, so the vast, vast majority of the day was spent doing that.

We did grab dinner at the Seabright Brewery, which was a letdown. I think we just need to realize that neither of us particularly like the food at brewpubs. I might have had the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty terrible.

Monday, September 11:

We woke up, packed up the car, checked out, and headed toward Monterey so we could hit up the Aquarium.

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Roadside fruit/vegetable stand we stopped at. You can sorta see B inside. Some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had in my life.

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Monterey.

We hadn’t been to the Aquarium since our engagement trip back in 2009, so it was nice to revisit.

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Super friendly bat ray we were petting.

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Cuddling up in a giant clam. We have a similar picture from ’09.

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Jellyfish.

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Gorgeous sign in the cafe area.

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Cute little crab.

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B outside.

We ate lunch at the restaurant inside the aquarium, which was actually really tasty. I had mussels while B had a much better fish and chips.

Post-food, we spent a bit of time wandering Cannery Row.

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Pier.

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Kidlets looking out over the water.

We also got a bit of a treat at Ghiradelli.

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Brownie Sundae. *drool*

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B with his hot fudge sundae.

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Spotted this on the way back to the car. Oh Monterey and John Steinbeck …

We took ourselves and our stuffed bellies back on the road. Our original plan was to drive to L.A. to stay at B’s crash pad for the night … but he forgot the keys back at home. So, we decided to give ourselves an easier drive to Las Vegas the next day and made Bakersfield our stop. It was better than Wendover, let’s just say that. It had a Hooters near our hotel, though, and wings and salad made for a great dinner.

Tuesday, September 12:

We took a somewhat leisurely morning in Bakersfield, hopping on the hotel treadmills for a tiny bit and eating breakfast before getting back on the road. The drive from Bakersfield to Las Vegas wasn’t one of the more exciting ones I’ve ever experienced, but it wasn’t Utah, so there’s that.

We got to Las Vegas, I dropped B off to check in to the Bellagio while I parked the car (and got the greatest garage parking spot ever so we just decided to stay in it for the entire stint). I met him inside and then we went to get the rest of our stuff and get settled. As soon as the bags were in the room, we went right back out to snag the In-N-Out burger we’d been wanting since the moment the race ended for lunch. It was delicious and totally hit the spot.

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View from the room.

The rest of the evening (since we ate lunch pretty late) was spent mostly relaxing with a little bit of gambling. I had a pretty good night at the slots, actually winning for a change. We did eventually wander back out for a bit more food, which we got at PBR Rockbar. We got a spinach/artichoke dip (meh) and some of the best potato skins I’ve had in a really long time.

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Food consumed, back to the Bellagio for a bit more gambling and watching the fountains from the privacy of our own room.

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Dinosaurs watching out the window.

Wednesday, September 13:

We had maybe thought about waking up early to go ride our bikes in Red Rock Canyon on this day … but that didn’t happen. Instead, the day went a bit more like this:
– Starbucks for coffee.
– Room to change.
– Bellagio Pool Cafe for brunch.
– Bellagio Pool for a few hours, sitting out and playing some cards.
– Room to change and … other things.
– Out and about toward the south end of the Strip, grabbing snacks and booze along the way.
– MGM Grand to play the Sigma Derby horses for a couple hours (and drink).
– Back to the room, grabbing a few more snacks in the process.
– Room for … things.
– Eventually back out to Mon Ami Gabi for a loose dinner, more hooch, and profiteroles.
– Room for the night.

Thursday, September 14:

We weren’t in as rough of shape as we might have feared the next morning – luckily we spaced out the drinking enough. Woo! (we don’t drink much usually. the previous day was abnormal for us.) We were, however, thankful that we had our free breakfast buffet that we were using that day. Oh beautiful delicious salad. I may have been on vacation but I can’t go that long without you anymore.

Post-breakfast, we wandered the other way up the Strip, stopping in the Venetian for coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Post-coffee, it was window shopping time! The Venetian shops are great for that, clearly, as well as they are for loose food (the Lobster Me lobster roll isn’t doing it for me anymore, though, so sad day). We did the same thing over at the Forum Shops over at Caesars, and eventually ended up back at the Bellagio. Where I got myself a crepe at Jean-Philippe Patisserie.

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Nutella crepe, obvs.

A little more gambling was also done before we got ourselves our second In-N-Out of the trip, because it sounded delicious and we were on vacation, damnit!.

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We also decided to do something new in the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.

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No, seriously.

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Ain’t technology grand?

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Actual cupcake? Frosting was better than the cake; cake was a bit dry, actually; and too many sprinkles. I know, I know. I wish I had known about the seasonal pumpkin cupcake on the ATM, as I totally would have gotten that instead.

Friday, September 15:

The greatest thing about driving to and from Las Vegas is that you don’t have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to try to catch a flight out so you can actually have a leisurely breakfast. Whaaaa?

So since we weren’t originally planning on driving straight through back home, we had a nice meal at the Cafe Bellagio and were able to see them putting together the Conservatory (which was actually closed for the duration of our stay. womp womp.).

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Peacock!

We checked out and hit the road. We were thinking of hitting up some national parks in Utah on the way … but we couldn’t figure out which park and how to make the timing work and a place to stay … so we just decided to press on through the whole way. Which was mostly fine, except for the lightning that either hit the car or right next to it just outside of Rifle, Colo. Eek.

All in all, though, it was another great road trip adventure!

Vegas, My Old Friend

Back in mid-May, Brandon and I decided to take another trip to Vegas. We’d been saving money since Christmas for a “Vegas Fund” so we could have a bit more fun and be able to gamble a decent amount for a change (well, definitely for Brandon – he wanted a larger bankroll for craps). The timing worked best for both of us to do May, so May it was. It was also right before IM training officially kicked off so if we slacked a tad in our workouts, it didn’t matter too much.

The trip was fun, as always, but I feel it could have been more so. We stayed at the Luxor this time around, and in the pyramid for the first time ever – something I DON’T recommend. We’re either going to stay at Mandalay next time we go or somewhere completely new. Brandon did a lot better gambling than I did, even winning a poker tournament – I failed horribly at slots (although really, should I be surprised at this?) and only really accomplished a whole hell of a lot of walking around.

In any case, we saw some new things, saw some old things and decided that we’re probably not going there again until, hopefully, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and 1/2 in November 2014.

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Cool art installation in the new terminal at McCarran.

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The former Key Largo casino.

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Looking down the center of the pyramid.

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Outside the Mirage.

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My first time walking around Vegas with booze in my hands. I am SO not the typical visitor to this town …

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After running the strip, with my buffet at MORE at Luxor, free thanks to the wonderful facebook game that is MyVEGAS.

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World’s largest chocolate fountain at Jean-Philippe Patisserie in the Bellagio.

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Crepe, delicious crepe.

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So the … courtyard? … at the Shops at the Palazzo changes its theme regularly, kind of like the conservatory at the Bellagio. This time when we visited, it had this very cool blossom display. I fell in absolute love, thus the plethora of photos.

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Paris.

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Bellagio fountains.

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Mirage volcano show, a Vegas first for us.

Honeymoon Trip: Post Two

(As I mentioned previously, this is in a series of posts about my September honeymoon/first anniversary trip to Paris and London, taken from the journal I kept on the trip.)

12 Sept. 2012
8:48 pm Paris time

France! We just wrapped up our first day here … though it was really more of a half-day, really. But let’s pick up where I left off …

Last time I wrote I was still on the flight to London. I didn’t end up watching anything else. I went through my 680 pg. InStyle (nice stuff in there, but $75 is not affordable, sorry. Not for all of us at least). So I went through that, listened to my iPod and then just read my nook.

Near the end of the flight, we got a small breakfast of a bread (chose a croissant), yogurt, fruit and meat and cheese. It was pretty good, actually.

We landed about 7 am, took no time to clear customs, got our bag to recheck it … and then had five hours to wait. We had two to wait before we could even check our bag again. So, we sat in an airport cafe wasting time (Brandon had an americano; me, a blueberry muffin). It was finally time to check in the bag – great! Let’s go through security! And now let’s sit … for another three hours. We seriously started running out of gas at this point.

During all this, we had no idea what gate we were going out of. They said that we’d find out at 12:15 … helpful, because our flight was at 12:35. But it got delayed until 1:05, so y’know.

After what seemed like FOREVER, we finally got on our flight to Paris. The flight was very uneventful because we slept through absolutely all of it.

After the flight, we collected our bag, got a few euros out of an ATM, paid a ridiculous amount of money for metro passes and got on a train from Orly into the city. While waiting for the train, I started to feel like passing out …probably because I hadn’t eaten anything in damn near 12 hours at that point (well, anything substantial). Therefore, I snarfed one of the emergency granola bars I had.

Once into the city, I got us off on the correct metro stop and almost got us to our hotel – I was just on the wrong side of the Champs-Elysees. We checked in to the Hotel Mayflower (ironically the same hotel we stayed in during the great Spisak family vacation of 1998), freshened up, changed and went right back out.

Dinner was at Leon de Bruxelles, a mussel joint I ate at with Genevieve last time I was in Paris back in 2001. Brandon had steak-frites (which were tasty) and I had moules (and frites), which were also good.

After dinner, we strolled down the Champs-Elysees for a while, rolling our eyes at a snazzy Abercrombie and Fitch

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before hopping the metro again near the Tuileries. We took it up to essentially near Montmartre or Paris’s true red light district – the Moulin Rouge … like, eleventy-billion sex shops were right off the metro stop.

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The reason we came up that way was to check out the Musee l’Erotisme. It was a seven-story building that essentially housed an erotic art collection – think erotic art museum. The first three floors were full of sexual/erotic artifacts, the middle floor was essentially a history of Parisian brothels, which was super cool and the last three floors were exhibits of more current work (which was … meh).

It was kind of cool, but not sure if it was ultimately worth the price of admission.

Afterwards, we wandered into one of the sex shops … and saw actual bestiality DVDs. Which I’m pretty sure are illegal stateside, as I’ve never seen them. Which I’m fine with.

To cleanse ourselves, we hit up a crepe stand – me for nutella and Brandon for nutella and bananas. Crepes in hand,

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we walked to the next metro stop, hopped on, got off near l’Arc de Triomphe, took some pictures,

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and went back to the hotel, where you find me now.

Sleepy time fo’ realz now, homies. Be back later.