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Oct 17, 2006 (A)

Las Vegas, Baby!

Amy & Jessica
It had been far too long since my sis (Jess) and I had had some girlie time together, so we decided to remedy the situation.  What better a place, we thought to ourselves, than Vegas?  Where we would be able to shop, dine, and indulge in all those cosmopolitan things that the girlie-girl in each of us love so much!

Thursday, October 5, 2006
Amy at airport
Thursday mid-morning, we took flew out of Salt Lake and arrived in Las Vegas in time for lunch.  The flight itself was a little nauseating and bumpy, either that pilot was out to lunch, or we had rough winds aloft.  Actually, I think that it was a bit of both.

Luxor Sphinx
We checked into the Luxor, near the Southern end of the strip.  The choice of hotels had been between the Luxor, MGM, and Mandalay Bay, to name a few.  We ended up choosing the Luxor it fit our two requirements which were: within budget, and something new (a hotel that we hadn’t stayed at before).  And let me just now mention the candy drawer – can’t have a sleep over without a proper junk drawer.  And ours was stocked.
Cany Drawer

We didn’t have much planned for Thursday afternoon, so we lunched and rested up for the evening – seeing as how neither of us cared a lick for gambling…  How un-Asian of us, huh?  Ah, well.  That evening, we got all dolled up to go clubbing.  It was my choice for venue and so I picked “theHotel” (aka “in the Mix”) at Mandalay Bay, since it came recommended in the Fodor travel guide.  That will be the last time that I ever trust Fodor’s. 
Amy Jessica

Amy and Jessica

As Jessica had so brilliantly concluded at the end our short evening clubbing, the DJ at “the Mix” as retarded.  Let’s just say that the music was uninspired and poorly mixed.  The club itself, located at the top of a tall tower, was chic, with great views of the strip, but the very first thing that Jess and I noticed was that we were young’uns in the crowd.  Apparently it was AARP night at “theHotel”.  It was kind of gross.  And we really should have left right away, especially since we weren’t charged a cover. Nevertheless, I felt that we should make the most of our evening (and not to mention our make-up!) and see if conditions would improve.  We stayed on, hoping against hope that the DJ would either die and be replaced by Winamp or grow a rudimentary brain.  I think Jessica danced for one song.  She preferred having at least a small crowd on the dance floor before taking a turn.  I, on the other hand went for (and suffered through) more songs, with merely one or two other dancers on the floor.  Next time though, I’m leaving to find a better club, instead of wasting precious clubbing time (and talent) on an un-deserving DJ.  “Never trust a free cover (for good music)”, had historically been my motto.  So why, oh why, hadn’t I listened to myself that evening? 

I think Jessica and I together got hit on three times that night, with the first hit being the most promising.  He was kind of nice, would have been an okay guy to party with, not too slimy.

Friday, October 6, 2006
Woke up late and hit the Spa/Gym, the Oasis at the Luxor.  The norm in the hotels on the strip is to charge a hefty fee for access to their gyms.  However this fee would be waived if one decided to indulge in one of the Spa services.  And Jess and I were definitely there for spa time, Baby!  We checked in an hour early so that we could workout, and get all our cardio’s in.  Afterwards, we both opted with the 50 minute deep tissue massage service.  It was so worth it!  The best!  After the massage, we soaked in the hot tubs, did the sauna and then went for the showers.  All in all, they had pretty nice facilities.

By the time we had finished with the Oasis, we had to start thinking about and lunch. 

We ordered lunch at the Atrium Café in the Luxor.  As we sat chatting, salivating, and waiting for our food, we decided that we wanted to take a photo of us together.  Hmmm.  Right then, a nice Asian fellow came over, introduced himself as Wayne and offered to help take the photo.  We started talking and it came up that he too was a physician, namely a plastic surgeon.  So Jessica and Wayne got into Doc-Talk, and then since our food came, I offered that he sit with us. 
Lunch Lunch

Wayne was in Vegas for a bachelor’s party and he indicated a table several spaces away, where his buddies were sitting.  In a short while, one of his buddies brought over Wayne’s lunch order – with great flourish.  We chatted over our meals and then, again with great flourish, his same friend came over and offered the desert menu “for our viewing pleasure”.  We giggled.  And Wayne ended up buying us a big slice of chocolate cake to share.  And it was good cake too!  Mmmm, nothing like the taste of Chocolate Cake – especially the flirty kind.

After a brief siesta back in our hotel room, we decided to hoof it over to the Wynn (yes, the one and only famously posh Wynn), to see “Le Reve”.  We gave ourselves plenty of time, which was good, because it took us nearly an hour to walk from Luxor to Wynn. 

Let me first start out by describing “Le Reve” as the most beautiful and technically virtuousic piece that I have ever seen.  (Mind you, most of what I’ve seen in terms of shows has been Modern Dance, Ballet, and Le Cirque du Soleil on tape.  I was blown away.  The first piece, which I remember best, was about love and lost and the thrill and poignancy of new love.  There was trapeze work above, and below a pool and synchronized swimming.  There were amazing feats of arm balance work all choreographed to take every advantage of stunning set (that was to die for).  I was on the edge of my seat and smiling the whole time.  It was a delight! 

I could help also thinking of my dancer friend Erica, in France.  Erica, you need to come back to the states to work on this set!  Anyhow, I can’t really do justice to the show with any words, so I won’t.  Read the reviews if you please.  Just go see the show.  Oh yeah, and Jessica wanted to see the 10 PM showing right after we finished with the 7:30.  That about illustrates the level exquisite beauty we witnessed.

Saturday, October 7, 2006
What a beautiful morning!  Shopping was the order of the day.  And boy did we have a healthy serving of it!  Piled high, complete with all the trimmings!  After a quick breakfast, we walked part way and caught a couple of trams over to Caesar’s Palace to start our shopping tour.
Shopping in "Paris"

Candy man!
On our way to catch the tram leaving from MGM, we passed a kid’s clothing/toy store.  And what to our very eyes should come into view but Candy-Man!  He was such a cute stuffed animal that we just HAD to stop and give him a good hug!  What can I say?  We are Asian after all!  Adhering to yet another typical Asian female stereotype – grown Asian – we love our animals stuffed and our men wrapped around our fingers!  Teehee!

Amy at FAO
The $10 Shooooz!
We walked into one of many prohibitively expensive clothing stores to browse, expecting nothing.  As we made to leave, I thought that I’d just check to see what the prices were on the shoes that were piled high in an island in the center of the store (since there had been no tags to be found).  I actually asked twice, to make sure that I got it right – $9.95 for some nice shoes.  I bought two pairs of 3” leather heels, one black and one tan.  I had actually been hoping to get a third of the same style in pink, but unfortunately they ran out of my size. (The clubbing shoes that I had brought hadn’t been providing sufficient arch support.) 

That’s the thing about being a smaller person, with smaller feet – it’s either feast or famine when it comes to sizing.  More often than not, it’s famine.  So, when you find grown-up shoes, or pants that fit and make you look good – you hoard – like a good little mammal.  And Jessica brought a pretty pair of sandals, as well.

Victoria’s Secret
We popped into VS to see what we could find.  The way I see it, VS has really neglected me and my cohorts (us smaller gals) for at the past 2 years now.  I know this because I have be returning to VS time and again for the past 2 years, hoping to find that one model that really fit nicely.  As with most great things, they discontinued my favorite model.  So I’ve been hoping that they would come to their senses.  And it appears that they might have come around, at long last!  I dropped what amounted to the price of 2 ½ tickets to see “Le Reve” on “stuff”.  ‘Nuff said.

We also dropped by Sephora at the Venetian to look at pretty-girl stuff.  (Make-up!)

Clubbing at the MGM, Studio 54
I think that it was a $10 cover for ladies, and $20 for men.  The cover was worth it just to see the paid dancers.  Granted, their first 2 pairs of dancers – I could have easily have out danced.  But it was the great variety of dancers that was the main appeal.  The club was about 2 ½ floors, with one main floor and two smaller auxiliary floors.  The main floor was pretty sparse when Jessica and I first got there.  As is always the case, they had less than optimal warm-up music.  But so far as warm-up music went, it wasn’t all too bad.  The paid dancers were up on their little platforms, putting out their moves.  The paid dancers changed guard about every hour, complete with new sexy matching outfits.  At some point, they also had some girls lowered over the crowd on trapeze.  Their job looked to be the most fun and easy – just holding on, swinging, posing and for-the-love-gravy not letting go!

Like I said, the warm-up music wasn’t bad.  And since we had had a relatively mediocre evening on Thursday, I was eager to make up for lost time!  Jessica wanted to wait until the floor got more populated.  So I decided to hit the floor “dancing by myself”.  A relatively empty floor is what I normally prefer anyways – I like to be seen, and I love to move.  When the dance floor packs – it gets too crowded for inventive, creative, and wild improvisation.  The wilder, the better!  It was a bit difficult stepping onto the floor cold, to spend first 30 minutes dancing by myself, threading among mini-clusters of other strangers warming the dance floor.  It did get easier as I got more warmed-up and as the music got better – faster.

Eventually Jessica came down to the floor and joined me to boogie!

I kind of lost track of how many solicitations to dance that Jessica and I received.  There was this old Korean dude – super skanky, could have been easily older than my dad.  He came to hit on us both as we were taking a break, during one of the less-interesting songs.  He came up to me and put his hand on my ass, as he told me I was a good dancer.  (I knew that!)  Anyhoo, I always have a plan for just such an annoyance.  But it seemed that some other part of me already had an “anti-yucky-slime” plan of action.  I just spanked him right back and loudly told him – “No touchy”.  It seemed to work.  I think that a gal’s confidence, partnered with the fact that she exudes signals to “back-off” go a long way to keep the “creepies” at bay.

There was some Hispanic dude, some other Asian dude – Eck, I forget…  Then at some point, we were joined by an older Asian woman.  She looked really shy, nervous, and uncomfortable.  She remarked that I was a great dancer and asked if she could join us.  Naturally we said yes – safety, or at least less-annoyances in numbers, as I always say.  I kind of felt bad for her though, even after she joined our circle, it still felt to me like she wanted more, wanted to cling to Jessica and me.  What I mean is that, when our circle moved the tiniest bit – she would hurry in to be as close as possible to the both of us.  I didn’t really care for clingy, but I wasn’t about to make an issue.  Then when Jess and I left the dance floor, she would follow like a sad lost puppy.  Eventually, some guy asked her to dance (like the partnery-stuff) and she seemed much happier – relieved even, to accept.

All in all, this evening of clubbing was a smashing success.  Jessica and I both really got into the music.  I had a chance to enjoy some open dance floor, and really bust some moves.  (To the point of exhaustion – yay!)  Plenty of folks enjoyed my dancing, including myself.  It’s nice to get the edge off.  We were hot and we totally made a great power-pair!  Like Scott Adam’s Dilbert states “Hotness is like a super power”.

Sunday, October 8, 2006
It was our last morning in Vegas we decided to have lunch at a relatively nice brunch.  One thing led to another and pretty soon, we had dueling cameras.  Too many piccies to show. 
Jessica Amy

Then with our extra time, we decided to go on a “rescue mission”.  Jessica had been contemplating going back to pick up that neat stuffed puppy.  So we made the trek to get him.  And it was fortunate that we chose to do it when we did.  All three of the puppies in the window were sold by the time we left MGM with Jessica’s new puppy – Candy Man!
Candy Man Candy Man

After three wonderful nights, great partying, great shopping, and a great show we took an evening flight back to Salt Lake City.  Truly, our trip itself was itself like “un beau reve”, a beautiful dream.


Oct 20, 2006 (E)

On Tuesday the 10th I drove from Baker back to SLC to join up with Amy. It gave me my first long drive with the new tires, and a first sampling of any mileage change. Since I had only increased the size of the tires, but not changed the gearing in the differentials, the engine RPM was somewhat reduced at highway speed, reducing cabin noise significantly. The ride was smoother, with the larger softer tires aleviating a lot of the bumps I ususally felt. Overall I was quite happy with the on-road performance.

After a few days in SLC, hanging out with Amy's sister, we headed out on Saturday morning with a rough destination of Seattle around end of month.

Since we had a couple weeks of freedom, and were sick of the freeway, we decided to see Great Basin National Park, some of Northern Nevada, and Southern Oregon on our route back.

The first night just around 50 miles south of SLC. Near a closed wildlife area behind an abandoned railroad track. The evening presented the first of a number of beautiful sunsets we have enjoyed over the last week.

Apparently some bird hunters awoke before us, and we were woken up in the morning by nearby shotgun blasts, and a bit later a bunch of shot raining down on our roof. We vacated the area fairly quick after that.
South of Salt Lake

The next afternoon, after passing through Delta, UT and approaching the Nevada border we found a nice pull off from the road that led up a hill and gave us a grand view of one of the desert's evaporative basins, punctuated by rocky hills.
Great Basin Desert

The next day we headed a few miles east, and passed through Garisson, UT (a very very small town) and had lunch at Pruess Lake. Following lunch we headed on back-roads into Humbolt National Forrest towards the Lexington Arch trail into Great Basin National Park.
Pruess Lake, Garisson, UT

The road passed by some very interesting bubbly rock formations that were rather unlike anything we had seen before. A few miles later we found the trail head and begain a hike to the arch.
Rock Formations

After a short but strenuous hike Lexington Arch was revealed finally from the vantage point of a cliff across a gully from it. The arch was much larger than most we had seen in the Moab area, and constructed of Limestone rather than softer sand-stone.
Lexington Arch

After a snack while observing the clouds racing overhead we continued on the trail up to and through the arch itself. A few minutes climbing about and we decided to head down and find a camping site before sun-set.
Lexington Arch

We followed a forest service road up a nearby hill, which petered out on the peak of the hill with a view across the valley of Lexington Arch a mile or two away. The evening was clear and sunny while we setup camp and hiked about the hill enjoying the view.
Camping Spot

The next morning we awoke to about 4" of new snow all around. We didn't seem to be in any danger of getting permanently stuck, and the weather report did not call for much more snow, so we decided to enjoy our first snow of the season and stay for another day.
Next morning in the snow

A bit after noon the clouds let up and we started getting some sun.
Snow hike

We left the next morning and headed generally north though Ely, NV and camped an hour or so north in the Curey Hills. More on that later.

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