Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Living Abroad Permanently

It's always reassuring, isn't it, to find someone else whose behavior and habits make your own look moderate?

We therefore enjoyed reading in the Wall Street Journal the account of a couple who sold their house and spend all of their time living in rental properties in various parts of the world.

We use some of the same strategies they do but it appears we have one strong magnet - grandchildren - they don't have that keeps us returning home.

The Let's-Sell-Our-House- And-See-the-World Retirement

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Home Sweet Sehome Again

It's good to be home after stopping off to see 6/8 of our grandchildren between Portland and Birch Bay.

We now have an extra day to make sure we've unpacked our rental car before returning it to the Hertz counter at the Bellingham Airport.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hawthorne NV: The Refinery Restaurant

Driving from Las Vegas to Reno the other day along US Highway 95, we decided to stop for lunch at Hawthorne.

We noticed that cars were parked at The Refinery.

There Brian discovered what must be one of the world's largest Club Sandwiches - complete with a huge order of French Fries for $8.95.

Cut into quarters, each quarter would itself make a perfectly adequate lunch. Brian ate one quarter, built on tasty home-made white bread, foisted one off on Kathy, and tore the third quarter apart to eat some of the tasty bacon. Yes, that still left one lonely quarter.

Should we ever return to these parts, we'll do what we saw two local diners do at an adjacent table - order one to split, and take two quarters home in a box.

Kathy's French Dip sandwich was only a little bit smaller.

After surrendering and paying our check, another local at a nearby table joked "Hope you didn't leave hungry."


Desert Driving: Reno To Las Vegas To Portland

We drove from Las Vegas to Reno in one fairly long day, stayed overnight at a very pleasant Hilton Garden Inn, and dropped in on the Peppermill Casino, a spot we haven't visited it in a few years.

We enjoyed our surprisingly reasonably-priced meal in their new (to us) Asian restaurant, CHI.

Today we drove from Reno up to Portland. The GPS led us along a very scenic route for the first few hours. Ironically, it was only when we hit I-5 around Eugene for the last two hours of our drive that we hit literally stop-and-go traffic. Some of it may have had something to do with all of the cars festooned with symbols revealing that the occupants are fans of the Oregon Ducks.

The Ducks had just whipped Colorado 70-14.

We're now snugly ensconced at the Portland Airport Sheraton, where we visited the Lounge to sample the appetizers and wine before returning to our room.

Over the past few days we have savored some of our favorite country to drive through - desert landscapes, distant mountains, big skies and little traffic - other than on I-5.

It was fun along the way to spot a major flyway for commercial aircraft, with contrails crisscrossing the sky.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kathy And Brian Leaving Las Vegas

We stayed at a Starwood Element Hotel last night - a bargain rate near the airport.

We like it. It's European-modern and we feel like we're in an Accor in Germany or maybe a Scandia in Sweden.

We'll be leaving Vegas in a few minutes and wending our way toward Reno.

Vegas has been fun but it'll be nice to get away from its big-city traffic.

Las Vegas Magician: Jan Rouven

We played the slot machines for awhile in a couple of places and ate a pretty good Asian dinner in the Riviera's Banana Leaf.

The highlight of the day was watching Jan Rouven, a brilliant (and funny) young magician from Germany.

We bought "preferred" seats through Groupon for about $29 each and were seated in the fourth row on one side in a fairly intimate theater.

Rouven's show consists largely of big illusions...

The seamless ride will include acts such as the Bed of Death, Fire Spiker, Hand Stab where a volunteer from the audience will play Russian roulette with a sharp knife, the Water Tank where the thrill level rises even more when the illusionist nearly drowns cuffed and chained under water and many more you just have to see to believe.

He was supported by five high-energy dancer-assistants and it was one heck of a show.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Las Vegas Asian Eats: Lotus Of Siam

We finally took the opportunity to dine at Lotus of Siam, long recommended by Kathy's brothers as well as a number of guides.

We were there when it opened its doors for dinner at 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night and watched as customers streamed in after us.

Between consultation with Tom on our wireless phone, and a terrific young waiter who approved of Tom's recommendations, we enjoyed a rather amazing dinner.

Unlike certain other Las Vegas establishments, the customer who spends some money here is guaranteed to be a winner.

Hoover Dam: What A Site

It may no longer be the highest dam in the world, but Hoover Dam is still extraordinarily impressive.

When we were young, the road twisted and turned and eventually you drove right across the dam. Recently the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge has been completed downstream with walls too high to allow you to see the dam from your car.

You can, however, take an exit, drive a half mile or so down the twisty road, pass through security, park your car, and hike up to walk across this 890 feet-high 1,060 feet-long span for a magnificent view of the dam.

As we drive into Boulder City NV, we can see Lake Mead in the distance.

Fine dam views...

Joshua Forest Scenic Road

Like any other modern husband and wife, we divide duties, even at the gas station. Brian fills the gas tank and Kathy washes the windshield, mainly because she's never completely satisfied with Brian's squeegee technique.

Once the tank was filled, we enjoyed our drive from Surprise AZ to Las Vegas NV, including the Joshua Forest Scenic Road.

Surprise! Arizona

Yes, there is a city in Arizona called Surprise. The city includes the famous Sun City retirement community.

Our friends Wes and Flora just bought a home there to enjoy the area's sunny winters and Sun City's impressive amenities.

We were pleased and honored to be their first house guests and we had a great time with them.

Tuesday evening we all enjoyed dinner at Saigon Kitchen, Trip Advisor's highest rated restaurant and it lived up to our expectations.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Arizona: Saguaro Cactus Spotting

It's not hard to find cacti in Arizona, but the mighty saguaro cactus is particularly impressive, even when seen from a car traveling at 80 mph...

On The Road In Arizona: The Petrified Forest

We visited the Petrified Forest and hoped to see petrified birds sitting in the petrified trees singing petrified songs. While we didn't see that, what we saw was fascinating.

On The Road In New Mexico: The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert is located adjacent to the Petrified Forest and we made a quick visit by driving through a loop road that only added an hour or so to our drive. It was spectacular...

On The Road In New Mexico: Shiprock

"The Ship Rock landform, located in northwestern New Mexico, is the remnant of an explosive volcanic eruption that occurred around 30 million years ago."

That's not the only interesting rock formation in this neighborhood though...

Greg's Fantastic Farmington Flying Prime Rib

We stayed with Greg and June in Farmington NM and enjoyed their great hospitality while spending a couple of days sorting through the boxes of family photos, scrapbooks and other memorabilia that stretch back to the 1800s.

Sunday afternoon was a reunion luncheon at their house for Kathy, her three brothers, and their spouses. It included a distribution of some more of their mother's paintings, some old coins and a delicious prime rib dinner. It was a special occasion to dine with Bentley and Brenda, Tom and Ellyn, and Greg and June.

Greg's soon-to-be-patented Flying Prime Rib...

Riding The Rails To Albuquerque With Tom And Ellyn

Seattle to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight and Los Angeles to Albuquerque on the Southwest Chief after an overnight in L.A.


Riding through Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Maria and spotting a Titan launch site...

The view from our window at the L.A. Sheraton Downtown...

On the Southwest Chief...

The view from our window at the Albuquerque Sheraton...