The Richest Place on Earth

On Saturday, we said goodbye to Tahoe. Sad times.

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We drove to Virginia City which is about 45 minutes south of Reno. It was five degrees when we left Lake Tahoe and 15 when we arrived in Virginia City. The cold is real here.

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Virginia City started as a boomtown during the 1859 discovery of silver as part of the Comstock Lode. The three most interesting things I learned are as follows:

  1. The Comstock Lode is responsible for the rejuvenation of San Francisco. Apparently, it was a crappy little town, but most of the profits from the Comstock mines were invested in real estate and development in San Francisco.
  2. In Virginia City in 1863, a little-known writer named Samuel Clemons first used his pen name – Mark Twain.
  3. I’ve been pronouncing Nevada wrong my entire life. It’s “Nev-AD-a” and not “Nev-AH-da.” Sorry, Nev-AD-a.

We started our morning at the St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church.

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Ugh I need to learn Photoshop. That power line is ruining EVERYTHING.

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It had really gorgeous stained glass windows.

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We walked up to the main street to piddle around until our mine tour at 11. We started at the Crystal Bar which has been around since the 1860s.

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Virginia City is the home to some fantastic lighting fixtures. I wanted them all.

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The Crystal Bar also had really nice public toilets.

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We also met Santa and I asked him for Taylor Kitsch for Christmas. I told him that I had written him several times and received no response, so now that my request had been filed in person, I expected results. Please ignore all of the crap in my pocket. I didn’t take a purse with me and had nowhere to store all of the gifts I bought for Taylor.

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Up next was the mine tour at the Ponderosa Saloon. You walked through a door at the back of the saloon and right into a mine. Efficient. It also had nice lighting.

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Mining seems like one of the worst jobs on the planet. I am so appreciative of my indoor job where I sit all day in an expensive chair.

We had lunch at the Palace Restaurant and Saloon where I had a fantastic burger on sourdough. After lunch, we wandered around the town checking out the little shops.

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I found a great candy store where I spent too much money.

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They even had a dedicated licorice section. That never happens! The woman at the counter let me try several of them, so I left with way more licorice than I need. I also bought some to send home with my parents for my Mamaw since she’s had about 80 years of licorice-finding struggles.

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I wish I had some friends living outside the United States that I could take there. It so perfectly captures to feel of all of the Old West stereotypes. They even had a band playing in mid-nineteenth century gear and a fake shoot out.

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????????????????????????????????????Virginia City also has good jokes:

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More lights! I want a saloon of my own now.

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For your viewing pleasure:

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Our last stop of the day was at the Silver Terrace CemeteriesThe crematorium is the first thing you see when you enter, and it had an appropriately creepy look. It was very Walking Dead with the spray painting on it.

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Many of the burial plots had incredible scroll work fencing. If I wasn’t planning to be cremated, then stored in an large gold heart to be carried by Taylor or Idris Elba (they will be fighting over me, I just know it) at all times, then I would want this.

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In all seriousness, it was quite sad to read the tombstones. So many of the people buried there were in their twenties or younger and there were so many babies. It was certainly a hard life up there.

We left Virginia City in late afternoon and spent the night in Reno.

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We loved Virginia City and I hope to go there again with it’s slightly less frigid. My parents headed back to Texas at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning (CRAZY PEOPLE) and arrived there Monday night. Sari and I left Sunday morning and spent most of our day napping and eating leftovers. We were exhausted from sleeping in and driving a couple of hours home. I am so glad my parents were able to come out and it was definitely one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever.

Black Jackie

We were moving pretty slowly on Sunday morning, so by the time we made it out of the hotel for food, it was already lunchtime. Last time Laura and I were in Vegas we ate at Hash House a go go and LOVED it, so we really wanted to hit that again. Sadly, there was a one hundred year wait, and since we weren’t getting any younger or less hungry, we moved on. The closest restaurant with the shortest wait was Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen. While I find him completely obnoxious, I was too hungry to care at that point. While we waited we enjoyed some drinks in the sports betting recliners.

IMG_6351 IMG_6354Once seated, we started our meal off with some Triple T Fries which were tossed with black truffles and truffle infused Gouda cheese, then served with a white truffle dip.

IMG_6362I’ve enjoyed a lot of fantastic fries in my day, but those might just take the prize. I want to be embalmed with that dipping sauce. I ate so many fries, that I was extremely thankful that Jenifer and I were sharing a burger. Because we had not already had enough cheese with the fries, we ordered the Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Burger. IMG_6357 IMG_6361 I don’t think I need to tell you that bacon and macaroni and cheese on a burger is not a combination that will disappoint you. It was the best kind of ridiculous.

After lunch, we waddled back to the Venetian to enjoy some classy gambling.

IMG_6335 One day we will be able to afford a swanky room there. One day. We gambled the afternoon away then headed to the airport to drop Jenifer and Laura off for their flight. Sari and I had a few more hours to kill before ours, so we went to MGM to gamble.

IMG_6381There was an IBM convention at the hotel, so it was a really fun crowd to gamble with. Our flight got delayed a couple of hours, so we dashed over to M&M’s World to get some dinner.

IMG_6379Sari and I finally headed to the airport around eight. Whenever we are in Vegas we have a competition to see who can get the most blackjacks and earn the distinguished title of “Black Jackie Queen of the Blackjack” The loser also owes the winner a pretzel at the airport. Tragically, as usual, I was said loser and Sari had her just and carby reward.

IMG_6382We finally made it home around three a.m. on Monday morning; just in time to sleep a few hours and then head to work. Although I was somewhat brain dead on Monday, it was one of the best trips and I’m so thankful I got to go and have such a fantastic time with such fabulous friends. I’ll gladly take exhaustion every time if it means I get to do that.

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Bringing the Thunder

On Saturday we headed to Caesar’s Palace for the infamous Bacchanal Buffet for brunch. We arrived around 11 and waited in line for about an hour to get in. It was a good thing it was a buffet, because once we got a table, were were hangry lady beasts. We immediately attacked all the things. I had a Nutella crêpe, a variety of amazing cheeses, crab legs with butter, macaroni and cheese, french toast, a woefully undersized waffle, a cronut (did not care for that at all), chocolate cake, crème brûlée, some sort of disgusting mystery gummy square, dark chocolate, a strawberry cupcake, more crab legs, pork dumplings and shrimp, tuna, and salmon nigiri. Just a light little breakfast.

PicMonkey CollageI ate almost everything and between that and the bottomless mimosas, I think I got my money’s worth. We were there for several hours and had a great time.

IMG_6295IMG_6282They gave us little tiny finger silicone hot pads for holding the hot plates. I forgot to use them every time and my index finger is still burned. My ability to learn from my mistakes is not really as developed as I would like it to be after 30 years.IMG_6289 We rolled out of there mid-afternooon and since it was Jen’s first time in Vegas we planned to explore the strip. Unfortunately, we were so full that we only made it next door to the Bellagio. We parked it at a blackjack table and didn’t move for several hours.

As we headed back to the car through Caesar’s Palace, we enjoyed the Chinese New Year decor. It was beautiful.

PicMonkey Collage4Laura and I posed with Caesar. Sadly we were not on the page at all. Sari was quite exasperated because Laura was being sexy and I was “being weird.” RUDE.

IMG_6392[1]We eventually made it back to our hotel to get ready to go out again. We wanted to eat dinner somewhere that wasn’t terribly expensive and wouldn’t take forever, so we headed back to Caesar’s Palace to Serendipity 3. I had a triple layer grilled cheese sandwich that was crafted with several kinds of wonderfully melted cheese. It was so delicious. We also shared their infamous “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” and it too was totally fabulous.

PicMonkey Collage8After dinner we headed to the endlessly sketchy Excalibur to see Thunder from Down Under. Since Laura is getting hitched for all eternity in two weeks, we figured it was only appropriate to subject her to a bunch of men in thongs for a couple of hours. To make things even better, her awesome fiancé sent us some fabulous light-up glasses to party in.

IMG_6322 While Thunder from Down Under is beyond tacky and absurd, it’s a ridiculously fun time. You will never laugh so hard while simultaneously cringing more than you ever have in your life.

Sweet Thangs

For my 30th birthday gift last May, my sister very generously gave me a trip to Vegas to see Britney. Since we were already planning to go to Europe at that time, we pushed the Vegas trip back to be both fiscally and professionally responsible. So, last Thursday, we woke up at 4 and headed to the airport to finally see the Queen of Cheetos. IMG_6183We slept the entire trip and landed in Vegas just in time for breakfast. Because Sari is significantly more intelligent than I am, she realized that renting a car would be far more economical than taking taxis all over the place. So, once we landed, we picked up our sweet Mazda and hit the city.

IMG_6389Because we love all things donuts, we immediately headed to Pink Box Doughnuts for breakfast.

PicMonkey Collage6IMG_6189 From the top right going clockwise, we tried the Cocoa Krispies, chocolate cake, Bavarian creme, s’mores, and glazed donuts. They were all fabulous, but the s’mores was my favorite with its marshmallow filling and chocolate icing.

Despite our sugar coma we somehow survived the journey to our hotel. We stayed at the Golden Nugget downtown and while this is the third time we’ve stayed there, we still love it. The rooms are much less expensive and the table games have lower minimum bets. Wins all around. Sari and I spent all of Thursday and Thursday night playing blackjack and went to bed mostly even with what we started with. On Friday we woke up and walked a few blocks to O Face Doughnuts for breakfast. Lots of sexual donuts in LV.

PicMonkey Collage7We had the glazed, chocolate old fashioned, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and the Mexican chocolate. The glazed were the best I’ve ever had. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch was unique but tasty, and the Mexican chocolate was crazy delicious. It was a fabulous start to the day.

Sari and spent the remainder of the morning and the afternoon gambling. Just before dinner, we drove to the airport to pick up the Jenifer and Laura. We loaded those crazies up and headed straight to Planet Hollywood to grab some dinner.

IMG_6232 IMG_6237After dinner, it was time for BRITNEY.

IMG_6262IMG_6251 IMG_6263We had a great time because any time you’re screaming along to “Lucky” it’s a good day. But, poor Brit, the mighty have fallen. Hard. While no Britney fan has ever expected live singing, I do expect someone to dance hard if they are going to be lip-syncing. Where there was once a pretty fabulously sexy dancer, there is now the most dedicated strutter you’ve ever seen. Stomp it out, girl.

I think our only major disappointment was that they never showed her on the large screens. And while I understand that may be hard to do with someone who may or may not be mouthing the words on time, it would have been at least nice to see her up close just once. Also, her voice when she speaks is completely different than I remember. I don’t know if it’s because she was projecting it to be loud or she was nervous about having to actually use it, but she sounded like a very high-pitched Minnie Mouse. They also showed a lot of clips from old music videos and performances and while it was great to see Britney at her best, it was also a sad reminder of how things have changed so drastically. Anyway, despite the lack of actual singing and dancing, it was still great fun and we would all totally go again in a heartbeat.

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Big Money

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister and I made a mad dash to catch a plane.

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Four hours later, the two tired and sweaty (that plane could not have been steamier) ladies arrived just as the sun set over the desert.

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Sari and I had about 14 hours in Vegas to live it up before our parents picked us up yesterday for a family vacation in California. So, we decided to try to make it as late as we could into the night. Anything past 11 is pretty exciting for me.

I decided to generously donate about 80 dollars to the Golden Nugget over the course of eight really tragic Blackjack hands in a  four minute period. Rough. I was quickly done with that sham of a game and found Sari over at the Craps table. Craps has always intimidated me because there is just a lot going on on that table and my brain just never functions as well as I think it should. Surprisingly, it turns out that it was quite fun and I was able to recoup my losses over the next few hours.

Sometime around 2 am, we realized that we were starving. The sketchy slice of airport pizza we had eaten about 10 hours earlier had not stuck around as long as we had expected (which is especially surprising since we paid a king’s ransom for each slice). The only options were restaurants that featured twenty dollar appetizers (no), fried Twinkies (even I find those disgusting), or Dunkin’ Donuts. Obviously, we chose donuts.

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I was super excited that they had chocolate cake donut holes (or “munchkins”… whatever), so we decided to split a box. Unfortunately, I think they were made in 1947. So stale, so sad.

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Don’t think we didn’t eat every last one of them though. We got our $5 worth (also, highway robbery for donut holes, but the big city is expensive).

 

Clearly, I don’t yet have a grasp on the Instagram video function. “Hold down to film” is obviously too complicated for me.

We eventually decided to wrap up the night around 3 am and I was thrilled to only be one dollar down for the night.

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Yes, just one, in case that wasn’t clear. I was very very excited. Thanks to the evils of time zones, we were back up around 7 am Vegas time. Not awesome. Thankfully, our parents had yet to make it out of Arizona, so we had a few hours of fun left. We put on our finest t-shirts, and hit the casino. For future reference, wearing a t-shirt in a casino will cause you to get carded every 3 minutes by every person who works there. So, dress like an adult. We also stopped at Starbucks where Sari procured the most massive cheese Danish that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if she was more excited about winning the night before or that damn pastry.

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This time around, Craps were not my friend and I lost about $150 dollars over the course of a couple hours. So, I ventured back to Blackjack. Blackjack treated me right and by the time my parents arrived, I was up a couple hundred dollars, so I didn’t have to go drown myself in the bathroom.

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My parents were finally able to drag us out of there around lunchtime and we headed west into the desert.

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I will take 116 degrees in Vegas over 87 degrees in Corpus Christi every single day for the rest of my life. After a couple of hours we made it into California where my sister and I celebrated with this:

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My parents were thrilled to listen to us wailing to that classic hit. Along with stellar music, arriving in California also brought mountains and cool air. It was 51 degrees last night. I now know why people pay all those taxes to live here. FIFTY-ONE.

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I didn’t even sweat yesterday. I might be the happiest person on Earth right now.