Monday, January 30, 2012

denver airport

Thursday morning I left the hotel early. I was happy to find the perfect gift shop for the boys at the Las Vegas airport, Harley Davidson. Had plenty of time to browse before the plane left for Denver.

My lay over there was five hours, but it went quickly. The Denver airport is out in the high planes. I stepped outside and couldn't believe how it felt like Spring.

I stood outside for almost an hour writing, then went back through security, wandered around, took pictures of big planes going to fun places. Had Chinese food for late lunch, more writing, chatted with a cute six year old and her mom, then it was time to board.

I flew in to the Provo airport, the smallest one ever, greeted by Granddad. Went back to Granddad's and Judith's house. Talked about the trip and things for a couple of hours. Strange to be staying there without the kids, but nice to have a chance to talk.
I was grateful for my week of travel, and grateful to be home safely.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

las Vegas

I landed in Las Vegas not entirely sure what I was doing there, kind of enjoying the fact that I had never walked off an airplane before with no where inparticular to go and no one expecting me. I took my time, wandered to the baggage claim and then sat down with the iPhone and started to sort through the hotels on Travelocity. I thought about something fancy that I wouldn't do with kids, but chose Circus Circus. It was cheaper and I thought it would make a good site visit in preparation for future trips west. I was happy to find that it was easy to get ground transportation from the airport to my hotel on the strip, just about twelve dollars round trip.

The hotel wasn't crowded. I checked in, then went to the buffet. The staff was so friendly, I returned for three more meals over the course of my stay. They started to feel like family. The pleasant atmosphere made up for the so-so food. The options were plentiful and I couldn't resist the kid friendly macaroni and cheese and corn dogs.

Thursday morning I redeemed my free buffet coupon at breakfast. While I was eating I got a call from my good friend and college roommate who I had hoped to visit in Las Vegas. She had the flu so we were unable to meet, but we got caught up on the phone and I was grateful for the chance to talk without interruption.

I stayed at the buffet for about two hours, talking and writing. When I left I wandered around the hotel, to preview the Circus Circus adventure dome. I sent pictures of the indoor roller coaster to Sam. He approved.

In the afternoon I set out to wander up the strip. At that point I remembered that Sam had told me that the Bodies exhibit was showing at the Luxor hotel. I walked pretty much the length of the strip, thoroughly enjoying the people watching as I went.

I got to the Luxor after about two hours of walking, just as it was getting dark. I was happy to find the Bodies exhibit still open, and happy I had encountered it on my own as the 35 dollar ticket would have been too much to pay had all the kids been with me.

As soon as I saw the first exhibit I knew that was the reason for my stop in Vegas. I stood peering up into the cavities at kidneys, diaphragm, spleen.
I felt like I had travelled to a different universe. We think so often about exploring things, places outside of ourselves, but to go inside sometimes can feel as foreign and fascinating.
The bodies exhibits are both scientific and artistic. The accompanying information was engaging, inspiring, and educational.

I left, sorry I had come to the end. I wandered back out onto the strip that was now a city of lights. Back at the hotel I went to up to the mall where I had seen a Beijing style foot massage
shop. Ordered the forty minute, got talked into the sixty minute. It was great to make new friends in Chinese again.

I ended the day back at the buffet. It just seemed like a returning place.
In the morning I was back on the shuttle and on my way home.

los angeles

Tuesday morning Amy was nice enough to drive me forty-five minutes south. I had planned to meet my mother's sister, Aunt Lois, at the ihop in Agoura Hills.

I hadn't seen Aunt Lois since right before we left for Guangzhou, almost nine years ago. That seems impossible. We drove together to Uncle Ted's house in Agoura. Uncle Ted is the brother of my Grandmother. It was amazing to be in his presence since he reminded me so much of her. She passed away about twenty years ago.

Uncle Ted is in his nineties, but still sharp and quite opinionated. He told us stories about his mother, particularly about her conversion to the LDS church in Samoa, and later, how she became minister to a Pentecostal congregation in Hawaii.

After pictures and throwing the ball for Uncle Ted's massive Lab, we drove to Los Angeles, to our old favorite,Tito's Tacos in Culver City.

Auntie Lois was always great about giving tours of the area. She has lived in Los Angeles since the fifties. We drove around to family and historical landmarks, then back to her home where we spent an hour or more looking through a photo album that my cousin Debbie made for her for Christmas.

It was great to spend the day with my aunt. In the evening Auntie Lois drove me to LAX. I flew on to Las Vegas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

hendry's beach

Monday afternoon we drove up Foothill road on our way to visit Amy's parents. I couldn't pass that way without thinking about Stacie, my voice teacher for many years. I felt blessed that we were able to catch her on a surprise visit. We sat for almost hour reminiscing about high school days.

Later we helped Amy's parents put away Christmas decorations. It was wonderful to see them again too. Then to lunch at the Santa Barbara pier.

We made it to Hendry's beach, my absolute favorite place, the place I think about to clear my thoughts, the place that I imagine when I'm trying to find my zen, just in time for sunset.

For dinner we drove to the Padaro Beach Grill on Santa Claus Lane in Carpenteria. We shared some delicious fried sweet potatoes and onion rings.

What an incredible day. I was grateful for Amy, my amazing tour guide.