Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yea, I missed one

So here it is.

And I might miss a few more in the next 4 or 5 days.  We start work at our last Festival of the year today.  We will be moving on site this morning and then setting up equipment.  We will be working long shifts..7am til 1130 or so at night each day, so I might be too tired when we get back to the house to do a blog entry.  We'll see.

In a few minutes I will be getting in the shower, getting dressed, fixing breakfast and starting on our leaving routine.

I'll try to get some updates in and maybe a few pictures.  Never been to the Voodoo Experience before so should be interesting!

Until later........

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Travel day to New Orleans

Day 3

Yep! It's late.  Bet you thought I was going to miss a day.  Nope!  Today was a travel day, so we were up and at em early this morning.

Soo, since it was a travel day, that's the subject tonight.  Some have asked me a few questions about our checklist, how many miles we travel in a day and how we pick where we go and where we stay.

Today's travel was a little unusual as we travelled farther in a day than we usually do or like to do.  Usually Dave likes to stick to around 250 miles or less.  Today it was about 340 miles or about 7 hours worth.  Of course that includes a half hour or so for lunch and two bathroom/walking breaks.  But, on our first leg, he drove 3 hours because, apparently, there is only one rest area between Shreveport and Opalousas and it is just OUTSIDE of Opalousas!

Opalousas Rest Area

Anyway, back to the beginning.  Because we were driving farther (longer) than usual, we wanted to get an early start.  Early meaning 8 or 830.

Wait, wait.  Let me go back a little we find places to stay.  Dave starts by looking for Military bases with FamCamps in the area we are going to.  he uses this website.  There doesn't happen to be one close enough in the New Orleans area with a FamCamp, so then he starts looking here.  Also looks in his RVND GPS website for the area we want and then narrows it down by price and by looking at the pictures on the rv park website.  Some places are more expensive than others and some types of campgrounds are more expensive.  KOA's usually always more expensive, but in our case for today it was the best choice.

I'll just say that we are full hookups kind of RVers.  We can do without sewer sometimes, as we did at Benbrook lake and for a night or two without water, but really really hate doing without 50 amps.  So we usually always look for full hookups, unless we want to stay at a Corp of Engineers park and then we are weighing price against hookups.  We have the America the Beautiful pass and that gets us 50% off of camping there.  Most COE campgrounds do not have sewer.

OK, so we settled on the KOA in Kenner, LA just outside of New Orleans.  In this case part of the decision was to get us close enough to position ourselves to moving on site on Thursday at the festival we will be working at, which is IN New Orleans.

So, we decided to set the alarm....don't do that VERY often anymore...for 6:30am.  I'm usually up at 6 or 630, but he didn't trust that I would be..probably right.  Sometimes I don't get up til around 7.  ANYway, I did get up a few minutes before the alarm went off.  My usual morning routine is to take the dogs out for about 20 minutes ooorrrr until Dave gets up, but this morning was the 20 minute routine.  I came back in and jumped in the shower...Dave claims for 40 minutes...I think 20 for the shower and another 20 to brush my teeth, do my hair and hmmmm other things.  Once I get dressed, I make the bed and get the bedroom ready for travel.  While I'm doing that Dave is finishing his 2nd cup of coffee and putting things away in the living room. When I come out of the bedroom, he gets in the shower and I start putting everything in the kitchen away for travel.

Once he is done in the bathroom, he puts away anything laying around, secures the medicine cabinet and the shower and gets dressed.  When he comes down he heads on out to start the outside work.  Putting any yard stuff away, starts draining the tanks, flushing the black tank and then unhooking the black tank hose and the water hose.

In the meantime I am finishing up inside; making sure the sliding door is secured open, running the faucet to get all the water out of the lines, making sure we got everything secured, double check the locks in the bathroom and getting us something to drink for the road.  I collect the dog leashes and the water bowl and take those, our drinks, my purse, our phones and my latest book to the truck.

When Dave is finished outside, except for the electric cord, he moves the chairs to their secure position, brings in the satellite dish and the bikes.  Once he does that we make sure, one more time, that the sliding door is locked open, the medicine cabinet is secured and the fridge is locked.  I then put in all the slides.  As soon as I'm done with that, then we start the trailer hook up process.

While he is backing the truck into position I bring up the rear jacks and raise or lower the front ones to get the hitch into position.  He backs the truck up, locks it in and then I raise the front jacks.  He pulls the electric cord in and then the last thing is the walk around to lock all the hatches and make sure the running lights work.

Back at about the 2nd  step the dogs have already figured out we are leaving and pace nervously because they are always, ALWAYS afraid they are going to be left behind.  As soon as they see a chance they sneak out the door and head for the this time Dave has already left the truck's back door open and they just hop on in.  No danger of them jumping out and running around because, as already mentioned they are always, ALWAYS afraid they will be left behind.  Silly girls!

Dave tests the trailer breaks and we are off!

Somewhere in the process we have breakfast.  Usually before I get in the shower, but this morning since we wanted to get going earlier than usual we just had a bowl of cereal and a banana as we were working.

Now, this whole process can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on if we had done anything the night before, how long we had stayed there and how much stuff we put out in the yard.  Not sure how long it took this morning, but we didn't make the target of was 845, so still not bad.  On regular travel days when we don't have 7 hours ahead of us, we take it slow, have a nice breakfast and take our time.  On those days we'll usually get on the road somewhere between 930 and 11.  We like to be at our next RV park by 3 in the afternoon.

Dave likes to make reservations ahead of time, unless we are staying at a FamCamp that doesn't take them.  He gets nervous relying on "just showing up".  Hasn't bit us in the butt yet, but only a matter of time I'm sure.  We haven't had any problems the 2 times we had to change the reservations, but it did cost us  $10 to make the change in dates at the last COE park we stayed at, so I guess that's a little "nip".

So there you are.  Maybe a future post will be about arriving and setting up.

SHOUTOUT: to Don Catoe, whom we met at the Barksdale AFB FamCamp.  We both lurk over at and he happened to notice the sticker on the truck and stopped to say hello.  Good luck on your purchase of a motorhome and getting your house sold.  Hope to see you on the road again!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Keeping my commitment...

Day 2
Okay, here is day 2 post of my 21 days to a new habit.

Dave is outside greasing the wheels something or other and checking the lug nuts.  I'm inside taking care of this and that.

We opened a new bank account with Wells Fargo so our paychecks from LOMA can be deposited.  We will then transfer money to our "real" bank or do an online deposit.  I love being able to do all my banking online!

We will be leaving tomorrow to work The Voodoo Experience festival in New Orleans.  Neither one of us has been to New Orleans before, but we didn't plan this trip very well to be able to do any sight seeing.  We will be staying at a KOA just west of town tomorrow night and moving to the festival grounds on Wednesday.  Start setting up that day and Thursday and then work from o dark thirty to way too late on Fri, Sat and Sunday.  We are leaving for San Antonio on Monday, so looks like we didn't plan any time to be able to explore.  I don't know what we were thinking!  Maybe dinner out on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Need to at least experience the food!!

I've been making a list of things I can post about.  Things that may be coming up in the blog - day to day stuff, a day in the life, finding things/services in a strange city, things I forgot to include about Vegas.  I'm still working on the list so I'm sure there will be more "interesting" things to come.  And of course I'll have to blog all about our new and unfamiliar winter job.

So, stay tuned for more!

SHOUTOUT: to my son Sean and my favorite daughter-in-law Jennifer - Happy belated Anniversary.  To daughter Adrienne and favorite son-in-law Jared - also Happy Anniversary and finally to my baby sister Liz - Happy 50th!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catch up, catch up, catch up....

Ok, so I'm not as diligent with this as I should be...hopefully one of these days (weeks) my good intentions will become habit.  They say it takes 21 repetitions for something to become a habit.  Maybe I should try to post something every day, even something short for 21 days and see what happens.......................

Ok, so, catching up...

Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM
This is always a blast for us.  We just love seeing all the balloons floating over the city AND we get to see MOST of the guys we work with all in one place!

We didn't take many pictures this time around, probably because I took soooooo many last year, but here are a few:
Knights of Columbus park n ride volunteers

Air Force park n ride workers from Kirtland AFB

Snow on the mountains

cloud cover over the mountains

And that's not even ALL of them!


For the Kids
The Balloon Fiesta provides 5 park n rides throughout the city.  That's where we worked, making sure the technology worked and supported the volunteers.  The Knights of Columbus (Kiwanis at Dave's lot) were responsible for scanning tickets and selling tickets.  The Air Force volunteers from Kirtland AFB were responsible for getting the buses loaded and on their way.  I was at a parking lot at Intel and Dave was at the Sagebrush church.

The Balloon Fiesta ran from October 1st to Oct 9th.  We spent the Thursday and Friday before it started setting up our equipment and training people how to use it.

On Saturday's and Sundays the first buses left at 4:30AM, so we had to be there at 4AM.  On Thursday and Friday the first buses left at 5AM.  Last buses to leave each morning at 630AM and 7AM on Thurs and Fri.  So, that means we were up at 230AM on weekends.  Since my lot was farther away, I dropped Dave off and then headed to Intel.  When the last bus left I would hop back into the truck, pick Dave up and we would go have breakfast, head back to the house and hit the bed. That's because they also had an afternoon park n ride and we had to be back out at 3pm to start that shift.  We would get back in the evening about 630 or 7pm, fix some dinner, watch a little TV, make phone calls or whatever, then hit the bed about 9 or 930pm......then back up at 230AM to start it all over again!!

A couple of those mornings were quite cold, 38 with rain and wind, so that made us even more tired.

Fortunately we had NO park n rides Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday so we had time to catch our breath.  We probably should have done some sightseeing or drove out of the city, but Monday we just slept until we woke up and then lazed around all day....whew!  Tuesday was laundry and household chores and then Wednesday was grocery shopping and .... I don't even remember...we just relaxed I think.

Anyway, we do love working the Balloon Fiesta, but man is it ever exhausting!

In between working we met some very nice people.  Also retired Army and fulltiming in their Excel 5th wheel.  Lee and Beth Holt.  We discovered that we were heading in the same direction on the same day.  We had already decided to stop in Amarillo for a few days and since Lee and Beth were originally from Amarillo, they recommended a GREAT RV Park, Oasis RV Resort.  The staff was very friendly, onsite restaurant, lovely clubhouse, pool, hot tub, 5 bathroom/laundry buildings, but the BEST thing was if you stay two nights the 3rd was free!

We arrived there mid afternoon, but Lee and Beth didn't arrive until late evening.  We were also leaving on the same day from there, but we were headed to Ft. Worth and they were headed towards Arkansas via Oklahoma city.

While we were in Amarillo Dave called a local RV repairman to finally get our water heater looked at.  We had been having trouble with it for awhile getting heated up while on electric.  We had been just using the propane to heat it up.  Well, turns out a wire had shorted out and burned through!  Soooo lucky we didn't have a fire!  All fixed now and we are so relieved it wasn't worse.

Also while in Amarillo, we went to the Discovery Center.  Geared more towards children, in fact:

Preschool Class at the Discover Center
there was a preschool class there when we were.  Certainly made it more interesting with the kids exploring everywhere!

Had to leave in the middle of our exploring to go meet the water heater guy, but went back that afternoon to finish.  They have one of those IMAX theaters there and we wanted to see at least one film.  It just happened to be one called "Light show".  Talk about psychedelic!  Lots of lights, designs and graphically produced roller coasters!  Reminded be a little of the 70's!

From Amarillo we were heading out to Ft. Worth to take a test and do the paperwork for our winter job.  We decided to stay at Holiday Park on Benbrook Lake just outside the city.  It's a Corp of Engineers park, so was our first opportunity to use Dave's America the Beautiful pass to get 1/2 price camping.  We didn't do much while we were there...walks and explored the nearby area, went to our bank, looked at laptops at Best Buy, got my glasses adjusted and did a bunch of nothing.

It took just a couple of hours to get our testing, fingerprinting and paperwork done for our winter job and everyone associated with this company are very nice.  We will be working for LOMA Flowbacks as gate guards at a natural gas or oilfield site.  We found this work through a couple of blogs I follow and called a few of the companies that were recommended.  Doug from LOMA was the only one to call me back and what a nice guy he is!  We chatted for about 20 minutes and he asked me to send him a short resume and a picture of us and our rig and to include any questions we had.  He answered almost immediately with answers to all our questions and gave us the info on where to go in Ft. Worth to get our tests and paperwork done.

Anyway, when we leave New Orleans we will give the gate manager, Ken, a call and let him know we are heading towards Texas.  He will let us know at that time what they have for us and where we will be.  It will probably be somewhere around Catulla, TX.  This is SW of San Antonio TX.  It will most likely be out in the middle of nowhere, because most of these jobs are on ranches.  We will park our rig just inside a gate and they provide a water tank, a waste tank and a generator for us.  They will come once a week to empty the waste and fill up the water and gas for the generator. 

This is a 24/7 job that involves signing in and out everyone that comes through the gate.  We will probably split the shifts by me working at night (being the night person I am) and Dave will take the day.  Haven't decided what hours yet - 7 to 7, 8 to 8, 9 to 9?  We got a little taste of what it could be like..there was a site just over the hill from our campground that was putting in a well for something..Natural gas I think.  Anyway it was LOUD.

Here are a few pictures from Benbrook Lake campground.
The view across the lake at night from our campsite.
That's Fort Worth over there.

The view during the day.  That equipment is part of
the drilling site.  The actual site is to the left
and over the hill (not in the picture).
You can see how low the lake is from the drought.  The water should be all the way up to where we took the picture from.

In any case, stay tuned to learn all about what we are doing and what things we encounter.

When we left we headed for Shreveport Louisiana.  We are staying at Barksdale AFB FamCamp.  We arrived here last Wednesday and haven't really done much.  I went into town to do laundry and we cleaned out all our clothes we haven't used in the last year.  Took those down to the Goodwill and stopped at walmart for supplies for gate guarding.  Bug spray, snakebite kit, water filters...that kind of stuff.

Barksdale is the home of the 2d Global Air wing with B2's and A10's stationed here.  We are right under the flight path of these very loud and very big aircraft, but they are so cool to watch flying so low.  Being from Army aviation background this bothers neither of us.  Dave tried to take some pictures the other night, but none of them turned's one attempt
That's a B2 getting ready to land...can't you tell? :)
Today is cloudy with off and on rain so we are spending it watching the race in Talledaga and blogging.  We bought new laptops at Best Buy in Bossier, LA, so I am also spending the day getting all our programs, links and other stuff set up.

So now I am all caught up!  Stay tuned for my 21 days of blogging..we'll see what I can come up with.

SHOUTOUT: to Lee and Beth - It was great meeting you and swapping stories and hints for fulltiming!  Safe travels.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas!

Never saw that movie...but it seemed a good title.

We left Vegas via the new REALLY high bridge over the Hoover dam, down into Arizona and stopped just outside of Flagstaff.  Camp Navajo is an old Army Depot.  Not sure what they do there now...some national guard and reserves I think.  Wasn't much activity when we were there.

As I mentioned before, we like to try to stay in Military Fam Camps and we are finding some we normally wouldn't run across.  Camp Navajo is one of them.  When we were in Phoenix last year and looking for somewhere to stay around Flagstaff, we found this little place.  Unfortunately it was closed in the Spring as they had a tornado come through in the Fall.  We called ahead to make sure they had some sites available.  The very nice camp host told us there were 4 open.  This is one of those first come first serve famcamps.

We arrived around 1:00 and there were still 4 spots available.  We set up in one on the end...our preference.  Wooded area out the back and side windows...very nice, AND very much cooler than Las Vegas!

See that flag pole?  Our last neighbors at Nellis had one and they gave Dave the instructions to make one.  Works really well AND now I'm trying to talk him into a double one to hang twirlies and wind chimes on.  I'll let you know if that ever happens. :)

We stayed at Camp Navajo for 3 days.  Our second day we drove down 89A to Sedona.  What a beautiful drive!

Yes, that's the road down there.  Can't quite see the switchback, but there were quite a few of them.

The drive down was beautiful, we made a couple of stops to get out and look at the river that runs through the canyon and just to look around.  One stop we made was at the national forest info center.  The very nice host there told us we should have lunch at the Sedona Airport and go see the Church in the Rock.  We also drove a loop through the redrock canyon.   Lunch was good and we watched small planes come and go.  They also had helicopter rides leaving from next to the restaurant.

Sedona Airport

The Church in the Rock is reached by driving through a residential area and directly across from it was this HUGE house with a beautiful fountain in their yard.
And look at that view!!
And here's me in the church:
Nope.  No lightening strike!

Here is the view from the outside.  It IS an architectural wonder.

From there we headed back up to Camp Navajo and just hung out until we left the next day.

BREAK**(October 10th....OMG we are SOOOOO tired!  More in next post)

We headed out about 10 am for our too long drive (4 hours) to Acoma, NM.  It is just East of Grants, NM and about 55 miles from Albuquerque.  No sightseeing reason to stop there, we just wanted to be able to reach Kirtland AFB Famcamp on Monday.  There is a truck stop and a casino here and the price was right so we stayed there Fri, Sat and Sun night.  We did find somewhere to visit. The Acoma Sky City Pueblo on top of a Mesa. It is the oldest inhabited Pueblo in the US as the Acoma people have lived there since 1150 AD.  It was an interesting tour.  You arrive at the Museum at the foot of the Mesa and then they bus you up for the tour.  No camera's are allowed unless you pay an extra fee to take pictures.  We knew this before we left, so didn't even bring the camera along.  Sorry no pictures.  

We did take advantage of the free coupon for breakfast from the Sky City casino, played the $15 in free slot play and that was it for the casino.

Now, back to the staging for Kirtland AFB Famcamp.  It is a first come, first serve, no reservations camp.  You can only stay 14 days at a time and we wanted to be able to stay the entire time we were working the balloon fiesta.  We wanted to leave Sky City so that we would be at the Famcamp right about 11 am in order to be first in line for an open space....check out time is at 11 there.  

We arrived about 1130, noticing on our way in there were at least 4 empty spaces.  When I went in the office I was told there were none available and 3 already on the waiting list.  Apparently a military affiliated RV group had "reserved" 25 spaces for the balloon fiesta.  WHAT?!  We thought there was a NO reservation policy.  Well there is a no reservation policy, unless you know the General on post, your the leader of a military affiliated RV group AND you pay an extra fee to the post MWR fund!  What a crock of shit!  Dave was extremely pissed, called the MWR office and complained and then filed an IG complaint.  NO reservations means NO reservations.  No retiree should have any preference over another. Can you believe he was told that if he joined the group, he could have had a spot...OK, Dave even MORE pissed.

We were told we could stay in their dry camp and see if enough spots opened up the next day to move to a hookup site.   Had to be at the office at 9 am.  Well, with the dogs and having to do running around that day, we decided we needed at least electric, so we stayed in an RV park west of town.  

This is actually a nice looking famcamp and the host is very nice, but what with the reservation screw up, 1 of the 3 washers and 2 of the 4 dryers broke and $1.50 to wash, it could use some work.  Anyway, we paid for 14 nights to cover the fiesta and a day extra to rest up, clean up and get ready to go.

Ok, enough for now.  Next post will be Balloon Fiesta and catch us up to present day.

SHOUTOUT:  To Alice and's so nice to meet new friends on the road!  Safe travels.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, Part II

The 12th brought us our friends Cindy and Ernie from Kansas.
Cindy and Ernie

They were on their way to California to visit other good friends for about a month.  They stayed with us Mon and Tues night.  We went down to the strip to find a place for dinner, so we loaded up into the Caliber, valet parked at the MGM Grand and went looking for food.  The MGM apparently had a great buffet for $32 but Dave didn't want to pay that much, so we decided to head over to the Hard Rock Cafe and eat.  The food was ok, but we went mostly to say we ate there.  The music was loud, but most of it was 70's rock, so we enjoyed it.

After dinner we headed out to the strip to sightsee.  I wanted to see the fountain at the Bellagio and Cindy and I both wanted to look inside the hotel/casinos just to see.  I won't go through the whole night ... suffice it to say that by the time we went from one end of the strip to the other, I was NOT walking back to the MGM.  I hailed a cab at Treasure Island and "forced" them all to ride back with me. :)
All of us were worn out by the time we got back to the house.  I think it was after 11pm.

We slept in late the next morning...8 am...Cindy and Ernie even later...we gave them our bedroom and with the shades closed it stays pretty dark in there.  They woke up to the smell of coffee.  We decided to go to the breakfast buffet at the Cannery, but when we got there...about 11, we found out they only have a brunch on weekends, but the lunch buffet was open, so we ate lunch.  It was pretty good.  We then hung around and played some slots and decided we would come back for the 8pm bingo.

Ernie had never gotten his America the Beautiful pass, so Dave looked it up and there was a place in town he could purchase it, so off we went.
Found out while he was there that he could actually get the pass that disabled vets are eligible for and it was free instead of the $10 golden age pass.  Cindy got her golden age pass and then we were outta there.  The young lady that helped us was ex army and very friendly...she knew just how to handle Ernie and Dave and their rather "different" sense of humor.  It's always nice to find a woman that can give their shit right back to them :)).

On the way back we stopped at the Fremont Street Experience and visited the Harley shop there...Cindy bought some gifts there, but I won't say who for or what she bought as to not give away the surprise.  After that we tried to talk Dave and Ernie into dropping me and Cindy off at the Cannery while they went back and took a nap, but they decided not to, so we back to the Cannery and played some more slots...losers, all of us.  Then hung around for the Bingo...Dave was STARVING, so he had a piece of pizza while we waited.  Finally got into Bingo, bought our cards and scoped out a table.  I was a little too ambitious and got too many cards...should have stuck with the 6 cards like the guys...all too rushed for me....and....once again we were all losers!

Cindy and Ernie were leaving the next day, so we stayed up a little later sitting outside and talking....very nice.  The next morning it was time to see them off.  We hated that they couldn't stay longer and I think they hated it too.  Missed them as soon as they rounded the corner......

This brought us to the extra days we decided to stay in order to see our friends Sandy and Jessica.

We work with them at a couple of the festivals we work, so we were looking forward to seeing them outside of that arena.  They were staying with Beth while they were in Vegas, so we were happy we would get to see her again too.

We met Sandy and Jess Friday night at a Casino just outside of the strip.  They were late getting going, so we ended up meeting them in the bar.  We just sat and BS'd for 2 enjoyable hours and agreed to get together again before they left.  I think they stayed out pretty late, as when I called Beth about 10 am they were all still in bed. :)  We all made plans to meet at Beth's and just hang out, but decided when we got there that we would drive up to Mt. Charleston to a lodge there and have lunch.   Very beautiful place with lovely gardens just perfect for the wedding taking place right outside our window.  Just so happened that the groom was our waitresses ex-boyfriend....hmmmm....made for an interesting lunch.

After our rather long and enjoyable lunch we all headed back to Beth's.  We said our goodbye's....hugs and hopes to see each other soon and we headed for home.

Sunday morning we headed out to that brunch at The Cannery we missed earlier in the week. Monday and Tuesday we went through our "getting ready to travel" the dust out, laundry and putting assorted things in their travel places.  Wednesday we got ourselves going and left for Camp Navajo, AZ.

Here's some links for all the pictures on Picasa Web.  Enjoy!

Shoutout:  to Beth Mohr...sure had a great time in Vegas!  Loved spending time with you and see you in April for Country Thunder!

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

Well sort of.  We were there for 3 weeks and got together with 3 sets of friends.

We had made reservations on Nellis AFB at the Desert Eagle Famcamp for two weeks and then had to extend through the 19th so we could get together with Jessica and Sandy who drove up from Phoenix.

We arrived at the Nellis FamCamp and got set up.  VERY nice military RV park...large spaces, about half of them are pull thru, cement pads, picnic table and very nice landscaping.  We were one of the lucky ones and had shade on our site.  We have gotten in the habit of asking to have a site where our door faces either North or East...this one face Northeast.  Perfect!
We started our stay with a visit to the Thunderbird Museum on the base.  Unfortunately, because of 9/11 the base was at level Bravo and we couldn't get a tour of the hanger, and the Thunderbirds weren't in town anyway.  But we did enjoy the museum and picked up a few freeby stickers for the grandkids.

There were jets flying above and around the area.  I don't know if they were back up Thunderbird pilots or other's practicing, but it was exciting to watch them from our front porch.  Dave got the camera out and tried to capture some good shots.  Here's two of his best.

Our next outing was to Hoover Dam.  Dave had seen it from the air when he was crewing on helicopters in the Army and also driven over it when he was a truck driver, but since he had not been able to ever stop and I had never even been in this part of the country we drove on out.  We drove via Lake Mead, which was very very low.  Lots of people out enjoying the water.

Can't really tell from this picture, but silly me never got a picture that showed all the activity.

We didn't pay to go in the Museum or inside the dam tour.  Parking in the parking garage was $10 and then you paid to get in the museum.  We just didn't feel it was worth it.  Here's a few more pictures:
 This is the new bridge....too high for me to walk on!!

Beth suggested we should drive up to Mt. Charleston and enjoy the views, so we did.  Nice drive out of town and even nicer to leave the 100 degree heat and walk around in some nice 70 degree weather.  Nothing too interesting up there, just nice to get into cooler weather.

One other thing we did this first week was go to the Pinball Hall of Fame.  What a BLAST!  Rows and rows of new, old and very old machines.  They also had old video games; pacman, asteroids, shooting games.  We got $20 in quarters and off we went...before we knew it 2 1/2 hours had slid by.  Best $20 we ever spent!

Dinner with Beth Mohr on Friday the 9th of Sept, picked up our tickets, that she so graciously got a good deal for us, for The Blue Man Group at the Venetian.  She had us meet her at a locals favorite mexican restaurant, Don Juan's on Main street.  It was a very nice place and the food was great. The wait staff were all very friendly and for those of you who know Beth, they all loved her!  We so enjoyed our time with her and had a chance to spend more time with her, but more on that later.

Since we had made plans to meet our niece Nicki and her two boys in Barstow, CA on the 11th, we had decided to rent a small car for the weekend.  With the price of the rental and the higher gas mileage than the truck, we actually saved money.  We ended up getting it for a week instead of only the weekend because Dave took the truck into a Ford dealer on the previous Tuesday to have the cruise control checked out.  It stopped working completely on our way from Grand Junction, Co.  Anyway, they also found something else (under warranty) and they were going to have the truck for a minimum of all day Wednesday, so he just rented the car for the week.  A Dodge Caliber...reminded me of a smaller, less equipped version of my Dodge Journey!

Back to The Blue Man Group.  We valet parked and headed through the casino/hotel to the theater....a 10 minute fast walk (all these hotel/casinos are HUGE) as we thought we were running a little late.  We had an AWESOME time.  Our seats were AWESOME!  The show was AWESOME!  the venue was AWESOME!  If you ever get a chance to see their show, do it.  It's a complete sight, sound and physical experience.  We sat just above the "wet" seats and Dave was even selected as a virtue of the seat he was sitting in :).  A tube of Tobelrone on his lap that one of the Blue men picked up and had another guy in the audience try to get some in his mouth.  He then set it back in Dave's lap.  doesn't sound too thrilling, but was pretty fun at the time. We then headed out to drive down the strip and back to our home.

We left early on  Sunday morning for Barstow, excited to see Nicole, Jeffrey and Keegan!  It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get there and we met at a restaurant for lunch.  Sorry, can't remember the name....CoCo's or something like that.  We then went to the Barstow Railroad museum and then over to the Route 66 musuem..both on opposite ends of the same restored railway station and Harvey House.  The Route 66 museum was actually more interesting than the railroad musuem, but the boys had fun climbing on the old trains outside for a while.  We then headed over to "the best ice cream in town" for some ice cream and sat around and talked some more.  About 4:00 we had to say goodbye and hit the road.  LOVED spending time with Nicki and the boys.....we haven't seen her in about 5 years and had never met Teagan!  Loved our time with them and hope we can work out something for Phoenix or Albuquerque next year.

Jeffrey, Keegan and me playing checkers

This entry is a bit long and I've left out some other activities we did and some other observations.  So, I have decided to split it up and do another entry later for the rest.  Hang on for Part two.