Red Rock and The Strip

This morning we woke up early again, made some breakfast at home and got on the road to Red Rock Canyon. It felt a little cooler out today, which was nice but still pretty hot. We opted to do the scenic drive at Red Rock, although it did allow us plenty of opportunities to get out and walk around and take some pretty cool pictures.

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The views were pretty amazing.  We took so many pictures, but pictures really couldn’t do the place justice.

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Once we were finished exploring Red Rock we decided today was the day to try In and Out Burger. Don had already had it before and of course Kelsey had too, so I was the only one who hadn’t tried it. The burger was definitely good. I am still unclear if it it was better than Shake Shack…I’m leaning towards liking Shake Shack more, but In and Out is close behind. I think it is better than Five Guys. I was even surprised that the fries were pretty good at In and Out;  I had read that many people don’t like their fries. I thought they were good.

After lunch we checked out Mount Charleston National Park. It was pretty awesome. The elevation at the park is much higher than Vegas so it was about 20-30 degrees cooler at times. I think the lowest temperature we saw in the car was 65. We wanted to try a short trail here so we chose Robber’s Roost Trail. It was a very short trail that headed up to a rocky cave like structure. After that trail we went to the Desert View Overlook. The views from there were amazing. It was so cool to see the different landscapes at this elevation. From the overlook we could see the Northern part of the Mojave Desert and some of the old bomb test sites.

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We had a busy day and we knew we were about to have a busy night! I had a problem though, my eyes were so dry and painful. Everything was dry: my nose, my skin, and my eyes. My eyes were so painful  I even googled “las vegas painful eyes”, and it’s a thing! It’s called Las Vegas Dry Eye Syndrome. I found so many people on travel forums talking about their eye problems whenever they visit Vegas.  I felt so relieved that other people had experienced this, but I needed it fixed because we were going out to the strip tonight.  It was about 4 pm when we got back and I took out my contacts and pretty much cried in the shower because  my eyes hurt so bad. I can’t remember the last time I cried from physical pain (probably one of my foot injuries in the Philippines). The pain was a 9 out of 10. I laid on the bed with a cold washcloth over my eyes and hoped it would get better, especially because I HATE wearing my glasses. I decided though that I would not be able to wear my contacts this night.

We decided to go to dinner at BJs Brewhouse, before going to the strip. I also picked up some eye drops.  I read online that many people recommended the GenTeal Gel Eye Drops so I decided to get those. I also got regular drops because I was kind of scared of the gel. The gel was amazing though, if you have this problem get the gel!

Now for The Strip. It was crazy! I couldn’t believe how big the casinos were! We started at MGM Grand because one of Kelsey’s friends gave us free tickets to see David Copperfield. That guys is crazy, seriously how does he do that stuff?! Good show, glad we went, it started at 9 and wasn’t done until about 11 or 11:30. After the show we were ready to explore The Strip. We started out by riding the tram around to see the strip, then we got off at Caesar’s Palace. I could not believe how big the strip was. I wanted to see things from Caesar’s to Mandalay Bay and  that was a far walk! When you look at the map it doesn’t look that far, but it is, it’s like  2 miles! We tried some roulette at Caesar’s; I’ve never really gambled. After Caesar’s we tried to watch the fountains at Bellagio but we found out that they stopped at midnight. So from the Bellagio we went to Cosmopolitan. Here we wanted to try a drink that has a flower in it that numbs your face. We went to the chandelier bar but we were told the drink is only available upstairs. We decided to just stay here and have a drink; we were getting tired and we still had a long ways to go. But we did get a second wind here at the Cosmo, we had some fun watching my sister play and win roulette. From the Cosmo we went to New York New York. Here we stopped for some NY style pizza and it was pretty good, or I could have been slightly buzzed. All I know is that I was extremely hungry. From New York New York we trudged on. We made it through Excaliber and finally to the Luxor. If you know me, you know I love Ancient Egypt, which is also why I love pyramids. So the Luxor is definitely my favorite. We didn’t actually go in the Luxor, I just really wanted pictures of the outside. Next time we will go in the Luxor. Around 3:30 in the morning we made it to Mandalay Bay. I wish we could have spent  more time here, but we were exhausted. We got home around 4 am. I couldn’t believe we stayed out that long. Time passes so quickly on the strip! I was pretty amazed by how ginormous the casinos were.

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Las Vegas: Hoover Dam and Fremont Street

We finally made it to Vegas last night around 9:30 pm. My sister has been living here for a little over a year and this is my first time in Las Vegas. Our flight was on time and uneventful so that was good. The minute we stepped outside the airport it was like opening an oven to check on food. So freaken hot! But super dry. It was weird. Kelsey picked us up and we headed back to her apartment and pretty much we just hung out and went to bed.

I was excited to check out if Vegas had any different Pokemon than Chicago and I found out my sister pretty much lives on an Ekans nest.

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Today we got up early and made breakfast. Then we got on the road for the Hoover Dam. I’ve never thought much about the Hoover Dam until I saw Tom Green visit it on his show. Basically he kept saying over and over “the biggest damned dam, you would think they would make the elevators bigger”. Ever since then I’ve wanted to see if the elevators were small. I would say they were about average. The dam itself was ginormous and it was pretty cool to see and hear about its history.

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After our tour of the Hoover Dam and taking all of our pictures we headed over to Lake Mead. We went to a look out point to take some pictures.

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It looked so crazy. It was like looking at another planet. After checking out Lake Mead we headed back to Boulder City for some lunch. We were going to decide here if we wanted to head back to Vegas or go to the Valley of Fire Park.  We ate at The Chicken Shack in Boulder City. The chicken was great. I had buffalo strips, Don had garlic wings, and Kelsey ordered a cheeseburger. The service was great also.

We decided to head up to Valley of Fire Park.  The drive took a little more than an hour I think and we stopped to take pictures in random spots. It was pretty cool to drive through the desert. I really haven’t seen this type of landscape in real life until now.

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The Valley of Fire gets its name from the red rocks there. It was pretty cool.  We basically drove through the park and took some pictures. It was too hot to hike.

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We got back to Kelsey’s apartment around 5:30 and we got ready to go out in Container Park for dinner. Container Park was pretty cool the restaurants and shops were all in shipping containers. We ate at a place called The Perch. I chose this place because we were looking for Hawaiian food and Yelp told me it was #2 in Las Vegas I think. It seemed more like Asian Fusion but it was still a good place. We had Fried Calamari for an appetizer and drinks. Kelsey and I had beer;  Don ordered this lychee martini that wasn’t on the menu and it was delicious.  For my dinner I had the Chimichurri Chicken Sandwich and it was amazing. Kelsey had the Chicken Quinoa and I can’t remember what Don had but we were all happy with our meals. We were supposed to meet Don’s friend Sam here but we decided to meet up after.

We met Sam at Oak & Ivy. It was basically a whiskey bar.  I ordered some sort of whiskey cocktail and I really wished I would have just stuck to an old fashion. After having a drink we headed over to the Fremont Street Experience because the bar we wanted to try had a crazy, long line. The Fremont Street Experience was basically just walking down a street with tons of crazy bars and casinos. There were a lot of performers and musicians as well. The most famous thing about Fremont Street is the giant, lighted screen on the ceiling. This was pretty cool. Fremont is basically the old strip, so a lot of the casinos and stuff are much older. It was definitely an experience. I mostly felt depressed walking into most of the casinos. It seemed rundown, with old people just gambling away.

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We walked the whole thing and Sam was with us. We watched the special show at midnight. It was music synced with lights and images on the screen. It was pretty cool. The show was about 10 minutes and by then I was tired and pretty much ready to head back but we tried out Banger Brewing.  It was pretty good. I had a watermelon wheat beer that was delicious. We were out here until closing which I think was 1 am. Then we said our goodbyes and got an uber back to Kelsey’s. We had the weirdest uber driver. He talked the whole way home and I was basically sleeping. We did a lot today. I was super tired and my right eye hurt like something was in it. But we got a lot planned for tomorrow so stayed tuned.

Dreaming on the Dock of the Bay

6-25-2016 6:15am

Just woke up from a crazy dream. Needed to write it down.

So Andrea and I are in the Fiesta and we are driving around some unknown city. It must have been during a road trip. There is a storm coming in and we are trying to figure out how to get back on the road and on our way home. There is a sense of us needing to get the heck out of the city and fast. As we are driving none of our GPS devices are working so we are just trying to go by instinct. We end up on what feels like a ramp bridge to cross a body of water – but it ends up to turn into a dead end pier to the water. Above us are bridges that seem to go over the body of water – we are just stuck underneath them.

Unfortunately we are not the only ones that went down the dock so there a few cars behind us as well….

Continue reading Dreaming on the Dock of the Bay

Last Day in Costa Rica.

So today started off weird. We got up and were excited to have a fun last day. Don was sitting on the bed and he picked up a pair of his pants that had been hanging on a chair when something black and pretty big scurried out of the pants and under the bed. I did not see it myself but Kelsey did and immediately she decided she was going out to the lobby to have a coffee. They were pretty sure it was giant spider. Don and I were freaking out. We got a flashlight and looked under the bed we believed the mysterious creature went. I didn’t see anything. Don thought it was size of the palm of my hand. We looked every where under the bed and under the mattress. We couldn’t find it. It was seriously creeping us out. We knew we had to switch rooms tonight so I started packing things up and putting them on Kelsey’s bed. Everything on Kelsey’s bed was safe because it had been packed up and checked. We checked under Kelsey’s bed also and nothing. We even checked the bathroom. We could not find any trace of this “spider”.

After about 20 minutes of searching and packing I was ready to go out and talk to the front desk about moving rooms. So I left and Don stayed in the room. We couldn’t stay in our current room tonight because it was already booked by someone else. Kelsey and I had talked that morning and said we should stay at the apartment tonight instead of the room that would share a bathroom. Unfortunately we should have made that decision yesterday because the apartment was booked yesterday. The guy told me I could see the other room that had a shared bathroom and decide so I went back to the room to tell Don. When I got back he said he had found the culprit.

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It was a crab! A freaken crab! How in the world did a crab come in the hotel room and hide in Don’s pants hanging on a chair? We will never know. What we do know is a scared crab falling out of clothing looks insanely close to a giant spider. We also found out that crabs are very good hiders in hotel rooms. I don’t know how this guy got to the other side of the room and behind the night stand without us seeing him but he did. I wanted to take him outside but he would not let us near him so who knows if he is still living in our hotel room at Rancho De La Playa.

I told Don the news about our only option for tonight at Rancho De La Playa was the room with the shared bathroom. He was upset because he thought I told the front desk yesterday that we wanted the apartment. We had a miscommunication and he really didn’t want to stay in the room they were offering. I didn’t really want to either but I also just wanted to relax and enjoy our last day.  We went outside to show Kelsey it wasn’t a spider, it was just a crab. We had a laugh and packed our things into the car. The guy at the front desk said we could see the room now so we did. It was a fine room and the bathroom looked okay but we really didn’t want it, especially since it wasn’t much cheaper than a room with a private bathroom. So we told the guy we were gonna do a walk and see if we could find anything else and we would come back and let him know.

We first stopped at Laconda Hotel, the place we had breakfast at the day before. The woman showed us the only room available. It was very nice but no AC…the windows were the same as the ones at Casa Papaya and Kelsey was not ok with this. I couldn’t imagine sleeping without AC so we declined. The next place we went was Villas Kalimba but they had no vacancies. Next was a place called Samara Tree House Inn and it looked very cool, but we would be staying in a tree house basically. It wasn’t really in a tree, it was just an elevated room that overlooked the beach. The problem was it had a giant window with no screen, so this was a no go. We were about to give up but we tried one more place, Casa Del Mar Hotel. It looked very cute and the woman at the front desk was very nice. She had one room available with AC for only one night. We took a look and we were very happy with it. It was definitely an upgrade and it wasn’t expensive, $80 a night. The stay came with free breakfast and Casa Del Mar has their own beach chairs on the beach. The place was great. We went back to Rancho De La Playa and told the guy we would not be staying and we checked out and moved to our new place.

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Our room at Casa Del Mar Hotel.
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Common area at Casa Del Mar Hotel. There was a small pool that isn’t in view here.

Once we moved we saw we were right across the street from Gusto Beach, the place we had drinks last night. We decided to have breakfast there and we could have those amazing iced coffees with ice cream! The breakfast here was good. I loaded up on iced coffee. During breakfast we discussed the plan for the day. Did we want to attempt the snorkeling? Kelsey and I were okay with it or just staying here and relaxing, so we told Don to decide and we would be okay with whatever. He loves to snorkel so if he really wanted to I didn’t want him to miss out. He said that he really didn’t feel like it though and thought it might be better just to have a relaxing day here. We found out we could come back  in sit in their beach chairs at Gusto Beach if we wanted.

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The amazing iced coffee with ice cream at Gusto Beach.

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After breakfast we went back to our new room. I really liked it. We got ready to go to the beach. Don said he wanted to relax a bit in the room so Kelsey and I went ahead. We decided to just hang out at Gusto Beach.

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After about an hour Don showed up. We all swam and had drinks. It was awesome.

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Around 2 or 3 pm we were getting hungry and nachos sounded good. We knew the place next to us had tacos so we decided to move over there. The place was called Lo Que Hay Bar Taqueria. We got some beers and steak nachos. The bartender brought us over free shots. I think they were just extra pina colada but they were delicious! We really liked the bartender and waiters here, they were much more attentive than those at Gusto Beach.

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We hung out here for awhile and debated if we should just have dinner here and stay all night. Ultimately we decided to go to the place Don saw last night so we went back to the room to get ready. The place was called El Lagarto and it looked pretty cool. The food was great. Kelsey had steak with lobster tail.

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Don had steak with shrimp I believe.

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I had the churrasco, of course.

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The food was amazing. We were very glad that we stopped being lazy and came out for our last night. After dinner we wanted to go out for our last night so we went back to Lo Que Hay. We really liked the atmosphere and service here. We did have a spider incident here but it turned out okay. Kelsey didn’t even scream, must have been the drinks.

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Next we went to a small bar that had caught my eye the night before.

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The place was called Microbar Samara. It was much different from anywhere we had been so far in Costa Rica. They had many different Costa Rican craft beers, so that was cool. It also had a hipster feel to it. Kelsey and I enjoyed it, Don was done though so after one drink he went back to the hotel. We were determined to stay up past 10 pm and have fun on our last night in Costa Rica. I think we accomplished that.

 

Playa Samara is Amazing.

Last night was crazy. Kelsey and I didn’t fall asleep until about 3 am and I woke up around 7 because it was so sunny. I didn’t feel tired. We all got out and about around 930 or 10. I had to do a full luggage check on Kelsey’s stuff because she was concerned spiders might have gotten in it last night. This entailed me taking out each piece of clothing and whatever out of her luggage and inspecting it and shaking it out haha. Luckily, I found nothing.

I talked to the woman at the front desk about if we could stay here for the remainder of our trip. She told me that we could stay in our room tonight again but tomorrow it is rented out and we could either move to a room that shares a bathroom with other guests or an apartment that was upstairs with 2 bedrooms. I told her we wanted to think about it and see the rooms later. In the meantime I worked on an email to Sharon the owner of Casa Papaya to explain why we left and what happened. I am hoping we can get some sort of refund but who knows. Before leaving for breakfast we were able to see the apartment we could have for tomorrow night but we made no decision yet.

We decided to have breakfast at a hotel by the beach called Locanda Hotel. The view was amazing and the food was pretty good too.

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We had the traditional Costa Rican breakfast; it came with fruit, rice, beans, and eggs. Sitting here was so relaxing compared to what we went through last night with the spiders. I was surprised to see that during breakfast Sharon had emailed me back about Casa Papaya and it sounds like she is going to be okay with giving us some sort of refund. Her reply sounded very sympathetic as to what we went through and I really didn’t expect that.

The beach was beautiful and we couldn’t wait to relax there. After eating we went to get some water and Kelsey wanted to look for some water shoes. We walked around a bit looking for some when she found some crocs. It was so hot! I was pouring sweat and couldn’t wait to get in the water.

We went back to the beach and found some chairs to relax in. We saw some horses walk by the water, one of them even laid down in the water. It was so cool. Then we all got in the water.

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We enjoyed drinks by the beach and discussed what we were going to do tomorrow, our last day.

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It was sad to think this trip was coming to an end. It has been awesome and I am going to miss my sister since she will be going back to Vegas and us back to Chicago. We discussed going snorkeling tomorrow. I had a detailed description of where the best snorkeling in Playa Samara was. You can see in the picture that the beach wraps around to this point and then there is a small channel and then a small island, called Isla Chora. You can walk to the point and swim in the channel and snorkel there and around the island. There is also a beach at Isla Chora. I had read the snorkeling isn’t the greatest, but it is the best you can find at Playa Samara. All of the snorkeling tours go here, but many people say if you have own snorkel stuff  (which we did) you can do it on your own. We thought maybe we could drive down as far as we could and then park and walk. So far this seems like the plan for tomorrow.

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We went back to the hotel in the afternoon and got cleaned up. Kelsey said her ear was hurting and she thinks she has an ear infection. We knew we could buy antibiotic ear drops at a pharmacy so we asked the front desk where one was. It was around about 5:30 so we had to hurry. We drove to the pharmacy that was a few blocks away and luckily we were able to get ear drops. Then we walked around to look for a place for dinner.  I cannot remember the name of the place we ate but it was very good. After dinner Don wanted to drive around a bit. We drove around and saw a restaurant on the other side of town that Don thinks will be a good place for our last night. On our way back to the hotel Don saw a place that was lit up very nicely and thought we should go.

We parked the car at the hotel and walked over to the place Don saw. It was called Gusto Beach. The atmosphere was very cool. There were little gazebos that had couches in them that people could lounge in. There was even a ladder that went up to your own little elevated table. It was very cool looking. I had a pina colada. Kelsey had sangria, which was ginormous. Don had an iced coffee with ice cream in it and it was so delicious  I was jealous I hadn’t ordered it. We chilled out here for awhile and decided we really liked it and we should probably come back tomorrow at some point. Today was really awesome despite how everything began here at Playa Samara.

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Cool cat at Gusto Beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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The decor was really pretty here at Gusto Beach.
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Don’s amazing iced coffee with ice cream.
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Kelsey with her ginormous sangria.
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Pina Colada at Gusto Beach.

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