Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas, a place where you can travel the world, yet remain on a strip. This past September (which was perfect weather), I accompanied my parents, and their friends, for a four day getaway.

We did NOT rent a car, but we did take advantage of the shuttle services, monorails, lyft or uber (whichever wasn’t surging at the moment…,) and the occasional taxi cabs.

We stayed at the Rio, which wasn’t as I remembered it to be, but it did OK. Every morning, we took advantage of the overpriced coffee at the Starbucks downstairs because there was no free coffee in the room (also, they charge you $0.75 for iced tap water!) The Rio isn’t on the strip…but isn’t too far away either. At that time, Rio provided a free shuttle every 30 minutes that drops you off to the strip. However, we didn’t have the time or the patience to wait each time…so we would either grab a cab or a lyft.

What parts of the world can you reach from the strip? Well, lets start at the U.S. You can go to NYC, and see the Brooklyn Bridge, have a bite of their famous burgers in Shake Shack, ride their roller coaster, and then head over to Europe. You can get a piece of these European cities: Paris, Venice, and Rome. Then head to Africa by going to the Luxor and feeling like you’re in Egypt. By the time you’ve ventured through at least three of these countries, you’ll feel exhausted and would want to retire to the comfort and coolness of your hotel room.

If you desire to venture off the strip, there is the Hoover Dam, that is about 50 minutes away. Hoover Dam has been featured in many movies such as San Andreas, Transformers, and Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry. Definitely worth checking if you’re tired of the same scene.

Another advantage to Vegas is, it’s also not too far off from the West Rim portion of the Grand Canyon. The West Rim belongs to the Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie) tribe, and isn’t part of the national park. That being said, the West Rim is still a beautiful and unique experience. We were able to see Eagle Rock and get on the Skywalk. It was truly a Magnificent experience! (I can share more about the details of the West Rim on a separate blog post.)

Overall, Vegas is a great thrill! You don’t have to be into gambling or casinos to enjoy the place…because no matter what you like, you’ll find something for yourself in Vegas!

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A weekend in a Yurt

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a short trip to Napa Valley and stayed in one of the large yurts in Bothe Napa Valley State Park.

Per Wikipedia: a yurt is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises an angled assembly or latticework of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs (poles, rafters), and a wheel (crown, compression ring) possibly steam-bent. 

I don’t believe our yurt was covered in skins or felt, but rather in canvas. The lattice work was indeed a part of it, however, I don’t recall seeing a wheel.

The Yurt was large enough to fit six people with one full size bed and four cots. At night, it would get really chilly and dark (no electricity!) in the yurt, and during the day it’ll feel hot like a sauna. The sun will hit directly on your face around 6am forcing you to wake from your slumber; it was nature’s nice way of providing you an alarm clock.

We came to love our lil home for the past two days we were there. The only down side to it is that there are no keys given for each yurt. You can lock your door from inside the room before you sleep, but we couldn’t lock it from the outside to protect our personal belongings. So, I suggest not bringing anything of high value and leaving only minimal things in your yurt while everyone goes hiking, swimming,  or wine tasting.

If I happen to be in the Napa area in the future, I would definitely like to stay in a yurt again.

 

4 Nights in NOLA

New Orleans, Louisiana…I have loved you from the start! From the many other places I wanted to visit in the States, New Orleans ranked high on the list. So as not to use up much vacation time, I opted to visit during Thanksgiving Weekend. Thankfully, I was able to find a moderately priced package deal that had airline tickets and hotel for two.

On this blog post, I wanted to share our itinerary and possibly give you some ideas for when you visit NOLA.

We flew in on Tuesday evening after a nightmare of a flight (saving that story for another time…) In time, to catch a dinner reservation at GW Fins. Definitely, had a great experience from start to finish. Food was delectable and service was stellar. Also, our hotel was nearby, so we just walked to and fro. Great way to also catch some action on Bourbon St.

The next day we took the Riverfront Line Streetcar (red one) to the Riverwalk Outlet. The reason for me to even pay this place a visit was to catch sight of the cruise ship and to sit and admire the Mississippi River. There is a Cafè Du Monde there, however, we opted to go to the stand alone 24 hour operation on 800 Decatur St. And yes, I will go there at 12 midnight to indulge in a warm beignet and a cafè au lait. Another noteworthy thing to do is to take the St. Charles Line Streetcar (green one) from Carondelet to the very end of the line. It’ll take you through mansions, the Loyola and Tulane Universities, and Audubon Gardens. On the way back, we hopped off near Magazine St and did some shopping.

On our third day, we did a Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters that we booked through our concierge. A small bus picked us up at our hotel lobby and drove us to Slidell where we began our adventure. We saw alligators, wild boar, raccoons, snakes, owls, egrets, and more. Definitely a great way to experience the Louisiana bayou!

New Orleans is home to Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino so my visit wouldn’t be complete if I did not devote any time to listening to some good live jazz and soulful music on Frenchmen St. And, I can attest to it that Jazz music is so much better live! I might add too, if you’re anything like me, you’d spend more time on Frenchmen St than on Bourbon St. Just sayin…

I’ll be back NOLA…for your poboys, beignets, and live music! This isn’t the last of me.

 

 

 

 

Happy Decade!

Last month, I officially lived a whole ten years off the little rock I once called home. This little rock was the island of Guam. I remember vividly my aspirations of being able to live somewhere far away, on my own, and achieving my goals. I didn’t think I was going to be away this long…yet, it went by so quickly!

I graduated and earned my bachelor’s. I married a good man. I actually like my job and enjoy going to work every day. I can honestly say that I’ve achieved my goals.

The first year was admittedly the toughest. I had no friends. I didn’t know how to take care of my skin. I broke out so bad because I didn’t know how much I needed to moisturize during the dry and cold winter months. I didn’t like my job, but I did it anyways. I had no idea how to dress in cold weather, so I always looked awkward and would either be too cold or too hot.

Over the years, I met people who filled the void that I once felt as a newcomer. I made close and lasting friendships. I sought the help of a dermatologist to help me get my skin back to the way it was. And, I started browsing Japanese fashion magazines and watching Youtube for Winter Fashion ideas…that really helped! It made me realize that my cowboy boots had to go as they were not winter fashion friendly, as I thought they were (Imagine…I  wore those to field service and meetings!)

As a former newcomer, these are things that helped me plant roots in a new place:

Make new friends. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people. Spend time with those whom you gravitate to the most and have common interest with.  Invest time and feelings. If you do so, you will make friendships that will prove its strength through good and bad times.

Try a new job. I always worked in Hospitality when I was in Guam and never thought I’d go into a different industry. When I moved to California, I went straight into Banking. Later, I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for and found a decent job in a whole different industry.

Explore your city. I found all my local favorites in the area. My favorite Persian restaurant, my favorite Crepe place, my favorite Nail Salon, etc. Also, check out the local hiking trails and any outdoor activities your area offers. You’ll be sure to have a good time!

What are things that you did to make you feel more at home in a new place?

Training Tips that Worked for Us

Update: I drafted this post a few weeks back and just this past weekend Brutus was attacked by a Pit Bull while he was about to go on his walk. The Pit Bull broke free from his home and came at Brutus while my husband and him were about to go for their morning walk in the in-law’s neighborhood. We are observing Brutus and he is scheduled to see his vet this Friday.

Tip #1: Be consistent.

This is key for potty training and any type of training in general. When he was a pup, we had made sure that he always went outside right after a meal, before we went to bed, and right when we woke up. He knew that this was the routine and, although he had a few accidents, he quickly learned to potty outside. Also, we taught him to “ring the bell.” We made sure that before we opened the door for him to go outside and potty, he had to ring the bell. This, in turn, taught him that to get our attention to bring him outside…he had to ring the bell. And, it still works until now. He no longer has his bell, but paws the door stopper or anything near the door, to get our attention.

Tip #2: Be firm and let him know who is boss.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a tyrant. But, when he’s bad, You have to give a firm,”NO!” Don’t be giggling or laughing or smiling…because they will definitely think you’re playing with them, and not giving them a command.

Tip# 3: Praise him when he’s good.

Reward good behavior. Don’t emphasize so much on the bad behavior but know that when he makes you happy and proud…say the words, “Good Boy/Girl!” or even a gentle pet on his head or a treat.

Tip #4: Have play time.

This is part of being consistent, but when your dog knows he gets to have play time, he doesn’t get too crazy. For instance, he won’t run away from you or try to escape the house because he knows there’s no better place than being home with great masters.

These are the tips that worked for us…there are great dog trainers out there, haven’t tried any of them yet, but the way I see it…most of the dog’s behavior is a result of how the owner handles them. How much time we spend with them, how much love we show them, and the interaction we provide for them.

 

Camping Survival Guide (for the Women)

So, as you know, we spent our Memorial Day weekend camping in Truckee, California. While planning it months before, we thought that it would be a great weekend to go camping. Since it’s in late May, we figured it would be Not too hot and Not too cold. Boy, were we wrong! It rained the entire weekend. We did have glimpses of the sun, and for one whole afternoon we were blessed with sunshine. However, hours later we had a torrential downpour. And at night, we were cold. Not bone-chilling cold but still pretty cold. Upon returning home, I did appreciate having a few items with me that helped make camping life easy. Here they are:

  • Travel John. It’s basically a disposable urinal. You cup it below you and you pee into it. Immediately the liquid turns into gel, so nothing spills out. It claims to be re-usable…meaning you can use it more than one pee session, but I didn’t do that because I was worried my liquids would be too much and overflow. I rather not risk it. A pack came with six disposable urinals, so I had more than enough for three nights. The Travel John saved me from having to walk out in the rain to relieve myself in the port-a-potty. (The Travel John site.)
  • Wipes. Bath Wipes, Hand Wipes, Face Wipes, and Flushable Wipes. They all came in handy and useful in keeping us clean. This was a must, considering we had no showers in our campground.
  • HeadLamp. When the sun sets and darkness starts to loom around you, the headlamp was an awesome option for providing light. Its hands free so you can cook, wash dishes, and do anything else freely with your two hands.
  • Self-inflating sleeping pads. Easy to set up and provides cushion for your back and insulation from the cold.
  • Sleeping Bags. Keeps you warm in the cold.
  • Tarp. Provides shade from sun and shelter from the rain. It can also be used underneath your tent so that the bottom doesn’t get soaked from the rain. Very multipurpose.
  • Layers. Bring layers and a change of clothes. This helps you feel warmer and cleaner.
  • FaceWash, Acne meds, and Moisturizer with SPF. I broke out on Day 2 of camping. Skincare is still important.
  • Rain Gear. I had my snowboarding jacket which kept me warm and dry. I wish I had packed rain boots because I brought my Uggs wannabe shoes that kept me warm but they weren’t waterproof.
  • First Aid Kit. A must especially if children are there.
  • Carabiners. They are so useful for camping..to hang your lantern, to let your dog run freely, and other useful things.
  • And hopefully your man brings the rest: Tent, Lantern, Camp Stove, Cooler, Lighter Fluid plus Lighter, Fire Starter, Cooking Supplies, Clean Up Supplies, Plates, Cups, Cutlery, Food, and Bug Spray.

We only camp once or twice a year, but it is a fun activity if you do it with the right group and with the right weather. Happy Camping!