Vegas/Tucson Adult Spring Break 2019

Thanks to Ironman training, I haven’t really traveled much this year. I’d had a couple trips tentatively penciled in (tagging along with the husband), but none managed to pan out.

Then, B and his dad were planning on going to the Wild/Knights game in Las Vegas in late March. I was thinking, hey, I want to go too … why don’t I drive down and bring the bikes? And maybe we can go to Tucson after? Well, the game didn’t pan out, but the trip did.

Thursday, March 28

Since the game didn’t work out, B decided to go up to visit his parents in Minnesota for a few days while I made the drive out to the desert. Instead of doing Denver to Las Vegas in one shot, I decided to split the drive and spend the night in Page, Ariz., hoping for Horseshoe Bend at both sunset and sunrise.

I left Denver pretty early Thursday morning and trucked on through to Fruita. My first planned stop was Colorado National Monument. I was ideally hoping to run there, but the massive death plague (… allergies? bronchitis? still a mystery …) that hit me put the kibosh on that. However, I still stopped in to see it.

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Totally worth the detour.

I also saw a sign for a Dinosaur Hill and I wasn’t not stopping there, either … so I did the small hike at the site.

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From there, I cut down at Crescent Junction/Moab in Utah and moseyed on down that way toward Page. I almost stopped at Arches, but decided to hold off.

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Driving.

I honestly don’t remember what I ended up doing for lunch this day – I think random snacks at a 7-11 somewhere – but dinner was a sushi place in Page that ended up being pretty tasty. Horseshoe Bend was ridiculously busy at sunset, but it was pretty.

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Didn’t get a picture of the dinos last time through.

Friday, March 29

Dawn at Horseshoe Bend was much better. And much quieter as things tend to be.

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After getting some photos, I headed back on the road to Las Vegas. I almost timed it perfectly to get in the same time B’s flight did, but not quite. I picked him up, we grabbed a simple and quick lunch at Chipotle, and then checked in to the Bellagio. Dinner ended up being at the buffet because we couldn’t really think of anything else and it’s an easy way to eat a lot of salad.

From there, we split up – B dropped me off at the Neon Museum, as I was FINALLY going back at night (… thinking that I’d need something to do while he was watching hockey) and he had a few errands to run.

The Neon Museum is awesome regardless of when you go, but I would suggest going both day parts, especially as they continue to restore more signs.

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I also got tickets to see Brilliant!, an art installation in the north gallery (a gallery I didn’t get to see last time I visited back in … 2014?). Brilliant! was AWESOME. In the next few photos, the lights you see are NOT restored; it just looks that way.

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Saturday, March 30

The original plan for this day was wake up, go for an early run, hang out in the spa, maybe by the pool, and gamble. A very low key, chill day.

Actual plan was a bit different. As I was still pretty sick – and coughing to the point that I was sleeping on the bathroom floor away from B so we could both get some z’s – I got forced to urgent care that morning in order for some definitive answers. I had puzzled out bronchitis with a nurse friend of ours … but urgent care people said allergies. I’m still unsure as to which it actually is/was.

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Bellagio conservatory earlier that morning.

Breakfast prior to urgent care was at Blueberry Hill off strip. Coffee post urgent care was, to no one’s surprise, at Cafe Lola.

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The cappuccino was probably the worst I’ve ever had there (booooo) but still pretty good. The pasteis de nada (Portuguese egg pastry) was delicious as always.

Post-coffee, off to pick up my medication, get a car wash, and back to the hotel. B still wanted to run, so he hit up the fitness center while I grabbed a book and hung out by the pool. He joined me after and we both decided against the spa. We ate lunch at the Pool Cafe and then decided to gamble some.

Most all gambling for me was TERRIBLE this trip, btw. After a couple good trips, I finally had another bad one. Booooooo.

Dinner was at In-N-Out, as it is.

Sunday, March 31

We left Las Vegas pretty early to get to Tucson as we had an important detour along the way. Breakfast was just crap at Starbucks, as it’s easy. And stupid.

Our detour was Grand Canyon National Park – somewhere neither of us had ever been to. We didn’t have/take the time to hike, but we will definitely be returning at some point.

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Such well traveled little dinosaurs.

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Lunch was at a KFC at some Route 66 town nearby (I forget which one) and then we continued the drive down to Tucson. Neither of us were all that hungry, so dinner was Cold Stone and french fries.

Monday, April 1

Since we were staying at the Doubletree Reid Park, we got free breakfast every day at the hotel, so that was food every day.

I think B made me do a virtual visit with another doctor this morning since I was still dying, but I don’t 100% remember.

We tried a new lunch place in Baggins Gourmet Sandwiches and it was really good. Have never tried them in Tucson before but we will definitely return. I tried running at Reid Park – got about a fifth of a mile in before hacking and dying. B continued on … but not me.

Dinner that night was an old Tucson standard – eegee’s and Lucky Wishbone.

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B wanted a bit of pool time so he did that and we both decided on a drink by the fire pit – beer for him and a glass of wine for me.

Tuesday, April 2

After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to forgo Starbucks for coffee (like we did the previous morning) and headed to Le Buzz over by Mt. Lemmon. I had hoped to get some time on the mountain this trip, but alas, that was not to be.

Post-coffee, we spent some time at Bookman’s buying books before heading to Choice Greens for salad for lunch. B got on the bike today while I attempted to blow up my giant T. rex tail pool float I bought the previous year. It took forever, but I was successful!

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I am also ridiculous, but you knew that.

After a couple hours in the pool, we headed off to dinner at our favorite Tucson Mexican food spot, Casa Molina … and ate a ridiculous amount of food. Oops.

Wednesday, April 3

Wednesday was hike around cacti day … which we are realizing needs to be way earlier in the trip. Like first night. It’s where we’re both the happiest.

The first stop of the day was at Saguaro National Park West over by Gates Pass … which we had never actually been to – we always hit up SNP East.

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We saw a snek! I’m pretty well zoomed in on this rattlesnake – they were off trail and still pretty calm. No rattling out of them!

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The desert was nicely in bloom.

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Saguaro blossom!

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Petroglyphs.

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We stopped back by the visitor’s center again after hiking to let them know about the snake and then got lunch since we were both starving. Food ended up being a lot of repeats – lunch at In-N-Out and yes, dinner was at Casa Molina again. Regrets we have? Zero.

I forget what we did most of that afternoon post-lunch – probably mostly packed – but I did want to get some sunset pictures over at SNP East so we did go do that before dinner.

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Desert skies are amazing, man.

Thursday, April 4

We were up super early to drive back home, since we’re in the time of year where Tucson/Arizona is an hour different (silly daylight saving time). Breakfast was at Waffle House since not much else is open that early.

The drive was mostly uneventful, which is nice, but we did get a killer sunrise.

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Lunch was at a Jimmy John’s in Albuquerque (that was highly obnoxious to get to) and dinner was pizza of fail when we got back home … since we didn’t have much food in the house.

*****

I would argue this was one of our worst Las Vegas and worst Tucson trips. Partially because I was sick and partially because we didn’t have the best plan going in. Or the plan got shifted so terribly because I was sick. Still, time in the desert is a good thing and I know I needed to get out of town.

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Disneyland Adventure, Part Two

Back with part two of my Disneyland trip. If you missed part one, click here.

Since we figured out the Starbucks situation the previous day, on Tuesday, February 13, we headed to the park early again, thinking it opened at 8am. Nope, it was at nine. Happily, this meant even more time to get B and I coffee (and we ended up getting my sister-in-law a latte as well). Sweet, beautiful caffeine, how I love you.

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Fountain (with rainbow!) in Downtown Disney.

Apparently, the thing to do with Disney California Adventure, is to gate rush the Radiator Springs Racers (do that as your very first FastPass of the day) and then, get another one for later … since if you do it an hour after you ride, your FP will probably be for sometime that afternoon. Yeah. It’s that popular.

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Decor in the line.

We rode this one with Stefan and Amelia; it was a fun, Cars-themed ride (pseudo-coaster). We won, so woo!

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With a cow tractor.

Our next FP wasn’t for a little while, so we split up from my family for a little while and walked around. We did The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure on a whim since there was no wait. The ride was a super loose retelling of the movie and super, super cheesy.

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On Pacific Wharf.

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All dressed up for Lunar New Year.

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We’re both year of the pig/boar.

When they opened up the bridge over to the other side of Paradise Pier, we popped on over. As we were still waiting for the family (we all had FPs together), we popped on King Triton’s Carousel.

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I rode a dolphin.

It’s really funny how much a carousel can make you dizzy … even with the Dramamine. Just made me even more happy I avoided the damn tea cups the day prior.

Our next pass was for Toy Story Midway Mania!, another shooting-type game. We did this with all six of us. My brother got the highest score, then Brandon, then me in a distant, distant third. Jax, our 1.5-year-old, got none. I would have found it hysterical if he had gotten *something*.

B and I split off again to go do some rides on our own. B stopped at a cart for a churro and I hopped into Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe for a croissant/cinnamon roll hybrid that was DELICIOUS as well as a miniature California Adventure Starbucks mug.

Post-snack, our next FP was ready, so we did Soarin’ Around the World. There’s a huge error in Patrick Warburton’s costume in the mini video they show before getting on … which you probably won’t catch unless you’re really familiar with the aviation industry. Like we are. The ride itself was okay. Apparently it was better when it was Soarin’ Over California. I think it would have been better had the trip around the world made better geographical sense (like let’s *actually* go in the correct order guys).

Since it was kind of cold and therefore had no line, we next hit up Grizzly River Run. It’s one of your generic water splash rides (like Disaster Canyon at local park Elitch Gardens), but I like those. We got sufficiently wet – B moreso than I. I got myself some popcorn while he attempted to dry out. I’m thankful I had an extra pair of socks on me, as he soaked his. He had his wet pair hanging out of his bag to dry out … but they became our second and only park casualty (the other being a hair tie I lost on Space Mountain the previous day).

Our next FP was at Goofy’s Sky School (because why not).

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Getting more flight certs.

It was a tiny, short, fun little coaster.

We were trying to be smarter about eating, so we got soup in breadbowls (me clam chowder and B broccoli cheese) at the Pacific Wharf Cafe. The soups were average, but I love good sourdough and this was some of the best.

Food eaten, we strolled over to Hollywood Land and chilled out in the atrium of Disney Animation for a while, sitting down and chilling out to clips from Disney movies. It was quite glorious.

The official reason for sitting around a while was waiting for my brother and family to wander over. Our next FP was for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!. Stefan’s wasn’t until a bit later … but he weaseled his way on saying his FP wasn’t working or something. Apparently this was something they did at Disney World a bit … but. Please don’t do this. The guy let him on, but he clearly knew he was gaming the system. Customer service standards dictated that he couldn’t tell my brother to eff off, but I know he wanted to. People, don’t be assholes. Just wait your damn turn.

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The ride itself, the former Tower of Terror, made me very happy for the Dramamine. I will say that had I been more familiar with GotG I may have enjoyed it more.

Stefan went off for chowder and beer after this while his wife and daughter hit up Frozen – Live at the Hyperion … we wanted to do neither so we actually finally utilized our Park Hopper and escaped back over to Disneyland. Our first stop was at B’s favorite, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters … where he proceeded to destroy me. My forearm also cramped up pretty badly (stupid barista arm).

Since it was Mardi Gras, our next stop was back over to New Orleans Square. B got another frozen Mickey bar of death (well. frozen Mickey ice cream sandwich of death to be accurate), which we ate while watching a jazz band. We also got B another character picture.

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With, as he reminded us, Captain Jack Sparrow.

One of the “rides” I missed the day previous that I really wanted to do was the Enchanted Tiki Room, so that was next.

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So cheesy. But why the eff not?

Then back over to New Orleans Square since I knew Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog was wandering around and since it was Mardi Gras, I wanted a picture with a character from the New Orleans-based movie.

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Success.

Because we could – and, well, Indy – we rode Indiana Jones Adventure again too. It didn’t break down which was wonderful *and* B asked if we could ride so I could be up front at the wheel of the car which was totally kind of fun.

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Because I didn’t get a good picture of the sign the day previous.

We split up afterward – I hit up the French Market Restaurant to purchase some beignets for everyone as a Mardi Gras treat while B got in line for the Astro Orbiter. Thankfully I made it over to him right as he got on the ride.

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We did some more Astro Blasters afterward (because why not) where I destroyed B – therefore winning the best-of-three series – and went back to the Market House so I could get a full-sized Disneyland Starbucks mug for my sister-in-law and a mini one for us before heading back over to California Adventure.

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I delivered beignets to the fam, we all walked back to Cars Land. From here, we all split. Nicole took Amelia and Jax to “meet” Lightning McQueen and a few rides, my brother absconded with B for another ride on Radiator Springs Racers … and I peeled off to get some sunset photos.

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Magical sunset in a magical place.

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Got super lucky with a break in the people for this one.

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Cars Land is magical at night.

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B said that if you weren’t familiar with the movie, you could easily think this was taken on the actual Route 66.

We all met up to do Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. B and I took Amelia while Stefan and Nicole rode with Jax.

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In line, straight out of the movie.

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In line. My brother bought Star Wars ears.

The ride itself was okay. Definitely more fun for smaller kids. B bought a Dinoco shirt at a shop dressed up as the Radiator Springs Curio shop and I took a few more photos on the way to dinner.

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As someone who loves neon, I loved Flo’s at night.

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Nicole made reservations for all of us at Wine Country Trattoria. The pinot noir I had was okay (I think B’s was better). The caprese salad we split was delicious (and photogenic).

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Between the four adults, we ate about half the menu. Nicole had the shrimp fettuccine alfredo (I had a bite of noodle. It was okay), my brother had osso buco (did not try), B got chicken parm (average), and I got the ribeye (because it came with sprouts and mmm, plants)
(not my most favorite meal, but also not the worst I’ve had).

Post-dinner, the park was unfortunately closed (or closing) – 8pm. Shorter hours that day at California Adventure, maybe?

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We popped into the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney on our way out and got me a shirt and a few more ornaments for the tree.

It was a long, exhausting day. As you can see, we fit in a LOT of rides and attractions. The Park Hopper was definitely worth it as it was nice to get out of CA for a little while. It might have possibly been a bit too much time around my brother (I love him, but I don’t always like him) and his cute, but energy-sucking kids (this introvert was dying).

We had a lazy morning on Wednesday, February 14, and we unfortunately weren’t able to do anything together for Valentine’s Day, but we did hit up the beach for a few minutes before B had to drop me back off at the airport.

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Perfect, peaceful way to end the trip.

Disney was fun for my first time back in damn near 30 years. We’re discussing doing Walt Disney World in a year or two. Will I be back to Disneyland? Probably … but I don’t honestly think I need to for at least five years.

On The Neon Boneyard Park

One thing that I read about when researching Las Vegas was the Neon Boneyard Park (also found as the Neon Museum). I love the aesthetics of neon and own a neon light myself (custom made Avs logo – 16th birthday present) so when I found out about this place, I decided we had to go.

They do both day and night tours, but unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow for a night tour. Pity; just means we’ll have to come back and do the tour again at night. And again during the day for better lighting. Tours are $18/adult during the day, and $25 at night. You can also do a package bundle with the Mob Museum (something Brandon wants to go see, so for next time) as long as you visit the two places within a week of each other.

You see the signs only via a guided tour. The tour lasts about an hour long and is awesome in that you not only learn about the signs, but about Las Vegas history, too. For the history nerd in both of us, that alone made the tour worth it.

Obviously I took photos – over 70 of them – and narrowed it down to the 18 you see here. Enjoy, and decide to go next time you’re in Las Vegas (place is located on Las Vegas Blvd., north of the strip by a few miles).

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Sign.

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City Center Motel. Sign designed by the same woman who did the Welcome to Las Vegas sign (Betty Willis).

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Neon cactus!

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Pieces of the Desert Rose sign. This is their next restoration project.

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Brandon under one of the Binion’s horseshoes.

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Visitor Center – the lobby of the old La Concha.