Coeur d’Alene Trip 2019

I may have said earlier this year that I’m not traveling a lot due to Ironman training … which is still a very true statement, but this trip went along with that … as we were racing a 70.3!

Much like IMChoo three years ago, this race was picked due to time of year as well as for the opportunity to knock off a few states (Idaho and Montana). I won’t go into race details, but I will talk about this trip because we both really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, June 25

Although the race was Sunday, we left several days early in order to play a bit of tourist on the way. Our first day took us to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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Sunrise leaving town.

We grabbed Starbucks in downtown Fort Collins and ate breakfast at some small little local place (original plan was Waffle House, but apparently the Waf in FoCo is closed …?) called the Ever Open Cafe. We’d grabbed (a very mediocre) lunch there before, and breakfast wasn’t too much better. We hopped back on 287 which took us to Wyoming where we caught up with I-80 and then took that to US-191. While on 191, we grabbed lunch at what is probably best described as a permanent food truck off the road in Pinedale, Wyo. – the Burger Barn. Too much pepper on both the burgers and the fries, but hey – eating local is awesome.

From 191 we caught up with US-89 and then to US-26 which would take us to Idaho Falls.

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We did, however, see this place in Alpine, Wyo., which cracked both of us up. An old friend from the USCHO days had Brenthoven as his handle on the message board so to see this??

We got into Idaho Falls and took the bikes out for a quick spin. Dinner was at a cute place we saw while riding, the Sandpiper Restaurant.

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That bread? To die for.

Cute place, would definitely go back. After dinner, we stopped at Chick-fil-a for bike food for Sunday (last time we’d be close to one) and then walked around this Alpine Garden thing that’s on the banks of the river.

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I also wanted to walk over to what we thought were the falls but apparently not. Oops.

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Wednesday, June 26

We didn’t wake up quite as early as hoped, but still definitely too early for hotel breakfast. We grabbed Starbucks leaving Idaho Falls and then drove to West Yellowstone, Montana, as seeing Yellowstone National Park was our agenda for the day. Since our America the Beautiful pass had expired, we quickly popped over to the park to renew that and then headed back into town for breakfast. We ate at the Running Bear Pancake House, which wasn’t too terrible (remember, we have super high breakfast standards).

Food consumed, it was park time!

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Pulled over to see a bison (buffalo?) and mostly missed it, but got this view.

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Dinosaurs and geothermal pools.

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Fountain Paint Pots.

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Good advice.

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Biscuit Basin.

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Waiting for Old Faithful.

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Faithful for us!

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Lady at the entrance gate wasn’t wrong – bison are EVERYWHERE. People were ignoring this one until they stood up. Then OMG LOOOOOOOOK.

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At this point in the day (a little after noon), there were so many people that we were ready to escape after seeing only a small fraction of the park … but the last thing I really wanted to see was the Grand Prismatic Spring … and #worthit.

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Plus we got held up by a Yellowstone traffic jam on the way out. Seriously saw probably over 100 bison. SO COOL!

After we escaped that, we stopped in town for lunch (we did have a simple snack at the park to help tide us over). We were going to try a barbecue place, but couldn’t find a server/anyone to tell us what to do (wait to be seated? seat ourselves?) … so we went a door or so down to the Canyon Street Grill for essentially a diner lunch. It did the trick. After, we grabbed a quick bit of ice cream at the City Creamery before heading out of town.

Our stop for the night (and indeed the next day or so) was Bozeman, Mont. Dinner that night was our first non-Starbucks chain stop … in Olive Garden. We didn’t feel like moving out of the hotel, so we called in an order and I made B go pick it up. It was food.

Thursday, June 27

We ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove over to a local park to get a run in. Run done, it was (surprise, surprise) Starbucks time.

Today was mostly a lazy layover day in Bozeman that we scheduled in … but we did go to the Museum of the Rockies for two reasons:
1. DINOSAURS (duh)
2. free admission thanks to our DMNS membership.

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Humans would look really funny as sauropods.

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Never realized dinos grew so fast. Also: there were apparently burrowing dinosaurs. Which, if you take that modern birds descended from them, it makes sense – we do have burrowing owls.

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Well hello gorgeous.

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Triceratops skulls, from juvenile to adult.

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The museum also had a bit on early Montana history (settlers and whatnot) and also an exhibition on Genghis Khan that was pretty cool. The flow was such that you just went from exhibit to exhibit. Basically, you see everything whether you want to or not!

Lunch was cobbled together from a local grocery store, Heebs, and the rest of the afternoon was super chill. We ventured out that evening, grabbing sushi/teriyaki at Wasabi Japanese Steak House and then to Genuine Ice Cream Company downtown.

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Friday, June 28

One of my former SMASH teammates (and pro triathlete) Haley Chura lives in Bozeman and offered to swim “with” us (she’s way faster … it’s more like “share a pool with five lanes down”). I had hoped for Thursday, but Friday was when it could happen. So, we woke up early and headed to the Bozeman Swim Center where we got to swim in their gorgeous 50m pool (first time I’ve ever been in a 50m pool!). I didn’t get in much (didn’t eat prior), but it was still awesome. We talked to Haley, left to go pack up the car (and grab a small bite at the hotel), and then rejoined up with her and a few friends at the Feed.

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That’s how I like my cappuccino foam.

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After eating and chatting for a while, it was back on the road to head to Coeur d’Alene.

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The hotel was very athlete friendly.

We checked in to the race and grabbed lunch downtown at San Francisco Sourdough. Back to the hotel to digest and go for a shakeout run.

I had gotten a food suggestion from my friend Katie on Fire Pizza, but the wait there was INSANE for dinner, so we ended up at Cricket’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar which … well, it did the trick.

Saturday, June 29

At this point, the super fun part of our trip turned into race prep. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then drove down to get in a practice swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene. That lake? I miss it. So much.

We went back to the hotel to get on our bikes for one last shakeout spin.

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We stopped at Terre Coffee on our way to drop off our bikes/go to the athlete briefing. I highly recommend them – great homemade cinnamon rolls. Cappuccino was good, not great, but that cinnamon roll? So good.

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At the finish line!

Lunch was finally at Fire Pizza, and the recommendation was definitely worth it. We split a caprese salad and then each got our own pizza. I think B did a pepperoni and sausage. I did the pesto chicken with added mushrooms.

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So delicious. We saved the leftovers and ate them on our drive two days later.

Dinner was our standard breakfast-for-dinner, which we got at a local place called Elmer’s Restaurant. Sure, you can mostly find an IHOP, or Village Inn, or Denny’s anywhere, but to be able to find a local place like this? So much better, and Elmer’s did the trick. I’d recommend them, too.

Sunday, June 30

For the purposes of this story, Sunday was race day. Early wake up, breakfast at the hotel (thank you so much Hampton Inn for putting it out early for us athletes!), “lunch” eaten while on the bike and at the post-race athlete feed.

We did venture out again for dinner post-race and got burgers at Coeur d’Alene Taphouse Unchained (… I think?), which did the trick.

Monday, July 1

We got a bit of a lazy start … mostly because we were actually able to sleep and sleep well post-race. Breakfast was at the hotel and coffee was back at Terre Coffee as we met up with a friend of mine to finally be able to have the time to sit and chat. We left Betsy, grabbed more coffee at Starbucks (… one of those days), and then headed out of town with Billings, Mont., our destination for the night.

Besides snacking on all the other random food we had on us (watermelon leftover from our lunch in Bozeman, leftover pizza), lunch was a small bite at a Taco Bell in Butte. We stopped in Bozeman again to hopefully find some of the most delicious root beer known to man (Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Old Faithful Root Beer). We picked up a few cans at Genuine Ice Cream – yes, we went back. I got a root beer float – but that was the only place we got it as we called around to five different places and nothing.

Dinner was another chain in Texas Roadhouse … mostly because it was next door to our hotel in Billings and we didn’t have to venture too far.

Tuesday, July 2

We woke up decently early in Billings to be able to hit the road. As much as we loved our trip … it was time to get home.

Stopped at Starbucks for coffee (go figure) and then to Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery in downtown Billings for breakfast. B had eaten there on a layover and said they had dino pancakes … which dude.

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They were good … but the waitress made me feel like a complete idiot for ordering them. It’s not what she said (nothing), but the look that she gave me throughout my order, making me try to justify getting them. I’m sorry, but that’s rude, and made both of us never want to go back there. B had loved that place and they put a very sour taste in both our mouths.

Then it was just I-90 east to I-25 south to home (with a stop at Waffle House in Frederick for lunch).

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On Ultimate Dinosaurs at DMNS

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has an exhibit on Ultimate Dinosaurs (that is, newer dinosaurs unearthed in recent years) that’s actually ending in a few days – Monday is the final day – and we had been delaying forever on going. So, on January 4, we finally went.

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Entrance.

We all know the usual suspects – Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, our personal favorite T. rex – but this exhibit had other, lesser-known dinosaurs (as mentioned above, because they’re fairly new discoveries). Pretty cool to learn about.

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Three smaller new ones. They also had the fossils/casts of the fossils.

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Husband and dinosaur.

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Nigersaurus head. It has a funny mouth.

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Love the fin-type spines on this one.

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This leg bone is a lot taller than I.

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Our three dinosaurs got in on the diorama action.

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Gigantosaurus, a theropod relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

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SO COOL.

If you’re in Denver and like dinosaurs (and need something to do this weekend), check it out!

Fall Activities 2017

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but fall is probably my favorite season. Sweaters and baking and the weather and THE SMELL (seriously, fall smells awesome). I love it.

I also love all of the harvest festivals and autumnal activities that are included … and particularly in October. I was a bit busy this month – I did some of the following with B, but a lot by myself, too.

Littleton Harvest Festival

Every year, the town of Littleton puts on a free harvest festival at the Littleton Museum (which also has an old-timey farm). In past years, we’ve enjoyed pie and fresh pressed apple cider and delicious roast pig. Lately, though … it’s gotten more and more disappointing. I honestly don’t think I’ll even bother with it next year.

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Turkey on the farm.

Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms Pumpkin Festival

While the Pumpkin Festival is only one weekend, DBG Chatfield Farms has other fall-related events throughout most of September and October – corn maze, haunted corn maze, a pumpkin hauling race. We were only interested in the straight up festival. We didn’t buy a pumpkin, but we enjoyed wandering around.

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The story behind the “haunted” maze.

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Us.

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Photo op hay bales.

Dinos at the Denver Zoo

Okay, so this isn’t a yearly thing, but the Denver Zoo has had a dinosaur exhibit all summer that ends today, actually. In October, however, they made it into a “Dinos after Dark” thing that we didn’t go to, but all the decor was still up when we went in the morning a few weeks ago. For the purposes of this post, I’m mostly sharing the fall/Halloween-related stuff, but the actual animatronic dinosaurs were pretty dang awesome.

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Baby T. rex egg. True story – they sell this at Home Depot. We bought one for the house.

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It’s the Headless Horseman … oh … wait …

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Pumpkin triceratops.

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T. rex. Our buddy.

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Photo op dinosaur.

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Pumpkin T. rex.

Rock Creek Farm

We’ve gone to Rock Creek Farm in the past as it’s one of the best u-pick-pumpkin patches around … but three of the four pumpkins we bought (on the 20th that have been sitting in our garage) have started rotting. Not helpful if we want to carve all of them! Usually I would recommend this place, and maybe I still would, but maybe not for pumpkins.

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But aren’t the kidlets cute with their baby pumpkin?

Denver Botanic Gardens Glow at the Gardens

I was lucky with weather for pretty much all of these events, so I’m not terribly surprised that I ran into snow on the final one (it is Colorado, after all). The Denver Botanic Gardens did a Halloween-themed event this year and I really wanted to go … so I went on my own. Chunks of it are staying up for another few days as there is some Dia de los Muertos stuff as well. This, despite the snow and cold, was actually really enjoyable.

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I did the earlier of the two entry times … mostly for parking and traffic, but also for more crowd-avoidance. Problem was, sun hadn’t gone down yet.

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Pumpkin horse.

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The Chihuly got photobombed.

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Entrance display.

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Part of the Dia de los Muertos altar.

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My favorite of the many Dia de los Muertos sculptures.

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This would have been better if it hadn’t been so damn cold.

Boston 2016, Day One

Okay, technically Day Two as we got in super late on the first day, but we’ll call it Day One as it was our first full day in Beantown.

April 14th, we woke up at our Holiday Inn Express down by TD Banknorth Garden, ate pancakes from the awesome pancake machine, grabbed coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, ensured we had a late checkout, and headed over to the Museum of Science. Not your typical tourist destination, I get it, but it was FREE with our DMNS membership. We’ve talked about this reciprocity. It’s awesome.

Outside was our first taste of the Marathon, and a dinosaur.
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The evolution on how people have thought T. rexes to have stood/walked.

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We built our own fish.

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Because who doesn’t remember/like playing with these?

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In a space capsule!

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Second T. rex with a bib.

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Our own baby T. rexes in a T. rex footprint.

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Street art just outside the MoS.

After the Museum, we headed off to our actual hotel, the Holiday Inn Brookline, to check in. We dumped our stuff and headed back downtown to meet our friend Lindsey for lunch. Lindsey works for adidas and was in town to work the Marathon expo. Lunch, as you might remember from my food series, was at Union Oyster House.

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Brandon trying oysters.

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Hey, trick lobster! It can hold stuff!

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Me: Presenting, lobster.
Lobster: Presenting, human.
(The guys were very impressed with how much the lobster liked me. I am the lobster whisperer. It’s a thing.)

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Trying oysters.

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Lindsey getting on the oyster bandwagon.

After lunch, we dropped Lindsey back off at her hotel in Copley, randomly ran into our friend Nic (who, to be more accurate, literally almost ran into us; she also works for adidas), and checked out the Boston Public Library.

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The lights outside the BPL are the best.

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I am a sucker for spiral staircases.

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The main hall.

After the library, we headed back toward Brookline and Boston University (campus! home!) for our hotel and dinner.

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Oh Brown Sugar Cafe, I miss you.

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Ivan with the Oreo Angora and Gustave with the coffee Angora.

Day one, in the books …

Creativity Corner: Dino Pillow

A good friend of mine had a baby back in December and I had wanted to give her something dinosaur-related for the kid, since that’s what we do. I was out of the typical dino stuffed animals we keep on hand and I didn’t have time to try and make one (she had to move back to Canada), so I made a cute applique dinosaur pillow.

I would have done a T-Rex, but they’re not so easy to do in silhouette. Dinosaur outline found online and hand-sketched on to fabric; cut out and sewn on before making pillow. All hand-sewn.

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I forgot how quick and easy it is to make pillows … and how much I enjoy doing it.

November Vegas Trip: Part Two

Friday morning dawned and we were ready for another day of adventures – most of which I’ll put here, except for the Neon Museum, which deserves its own post.

The day, in photos.

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Blueberry Hill, a local diner chain we hit up for breakfast. Very good.

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Brandon looking down at his breakfast. You get a sense of the decor here, too.

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Nelson hates “Pawn Stars,” and therefore is cranky we’re driving past the pawn shop.

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Dinosaurs in a dinosaur footprint outside the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.

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Dinosaur sculpture.

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Buffalo. Pretty sure all the animals in this museum were real and taxidermied …

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Sting ray. We are the ray whisperers, it’s kind of awesome.

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“Carrying” “water” like an Egyptian. It’s heavy.

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Brandon made a design. He’s proud.

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Tribal hut.

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Picture taken for the Englestad name (also associated with Fighting Sioux hockey).

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T-Rexes and a sign about themselves.

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Nelson and the T-Rex.

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On a shell seat, in a submarine.

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Brandon in the sub.

From the LVNHM, we checked in to the Bellagio where we’d be staying most of our visit.

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Room at the Bellagio.

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View.

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Oh yeah, race expo.

After the expo, we took our realtor and local TV/radio personality Susie Wargin around to grab a bite and then help her get to a studio so she could do her radio show from Vegas (she was out running the full marathon). From there, it was off to the Neon Museum (next blog!) and after that, dinner at the Peppermill.

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Just like I remembered …

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Me at the Peppermill.
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Fountain view with the fountains going.

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Ceiling between Bally’s and Paris. Never knew this was there …

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Hey thanks, Planet Hollywood/Miracle Mile Shops!

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Bellagio conservatory.

We also went to Tao Nightclub that night, but no pictures. Honestly, it was kind of a disappointing experience …

Morrison Natural History Museum

On one of our mutual off days in June, we went hiking in the morning and then, since we were in the area, decided to do a nerdy dinosaur day at the Morrison Natural History Museum. We had heard about it, but had never gone, so we decided “screw it,” and went.

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It’s certainly small, but explores paleontology in the region – Dinosaur Ridge is essentially a stone’s throw away, after all. They also have an active paleontology lab on the top floor to work on specimens. Below is a smattering of the stuff we found the coolest there.

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Cast of a T-Rex head that was found in Golden, Colo.

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Our own baby dinosaur, Gustave, next to a life-size replica of a Stegosaurus hatchling.

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Herkimer, a monitor lizard who lives upstairs. They also have a few live snakes.

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Baby T-Rexes in the back of a Triceratops skull.

If you (or your kids, if you have them) like dinosaurs, I would recommend this place for sure. Small, quick and easy to do – especially if small attention spans are involved. You could easily make a day out of it by seeing Red Rocks and the aforementioned Dinosaur Ridge as well.