Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Epic Road Trip: Journey to the Storage Unit

My last day of work was Saturday, October 10th. *Cheers all around* On Sunday, we packed and on Monday, October 12th, we started our epic road trip!

I was able to sleep in a bit Monday morning, but not too long since I had an appointment to get my hair straightened. Right after I finished, we threw everything in the truck and headed to Iowa. 

[These signs were all over the freeway in Iowa. It says, "Is this heaven? No this is Iowa. Please drive carefully."]

We drove for 5.5 hours before arriving at our first hotel in Des Moines. We didn't stick around the hotel too long because it was Monday night and the Chargers were playing! We ended up eating dinner and watching the game at the local BWW. The game was a lot of fun, but we lost :-(

The next day (Tuesday, October 13th) we drove all the way to Fort Morgan, Colorado! It was only an 8 hour drive (~580 miles) but the day just WOULD NOT END! The Great Plains do not offer much as far as scenery goes!

[Omaha, NE]

When we arrived in Fort Morgan we went over to check on the storage unit that we haven't seen in three years. It was still there and I even had the key!

The next day (October 14) was the longest of the trip: 12 hours and 830 miles from Fort Morgan to Las Vegas! 

We headed into the mountains where the temperature dropped significantly (below freezing) so we stopped and got some Starbucks.

I had a short list of places I wanted to eat at when I got back to the Western states: Cafe Rio and In-n-Out. We stopped in Grand Junction, CO and got some delicious grub at Cafe Rio before heading into Utah. 

The drive was long but it didn't seem like it. The western side of Colorado and the eastern side of Utah are so pretty! We also passed by signs to the National and State Parks and I saw some of my old archaeology project areas. It made me really miss Utah.

We arrived in Vegas and went straight to the Bellagio Buffet. I've never been there for dinner but it was INSANE! People everywhere with their plates FULL of crab legs! I got a few but there were so many other delicious things to eat! 

[Plug on the lamps. Simple, but genius!]

The next morning (October 15th) I had lunch at In-n-Out with one of my favorite archaeology friends, Malorie (and her adorable baby too!).

It was so great to just catch up and talk! Mal and I were always roommates on the various excavation projects that we were on together. Her husband Nate couldn't make it so I left Josh behind at the hotel and we just had some much needed girl time!

When I got back to the hotel Josh and I went on a walk to find out where Absinthe was. It's not hard to miss a huge tent that is outside Caesar's Palace! We then grabbed a drink before going back to the room to get ready for our early dinner a Le Cirque!

We had 5:00 reservations at Le Cirque so that we could make it to our 8:00 show. We were the first ones in the restaurant and they sat us facing the Bellagio Fountains with a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

Dinner was AMAZING! We didn't have time to do their full 10 course meal (since it takes more then 3 hours) so we got the 5 Course Summer Degustation Dinner.

I got the Tasting of Summer Tomatoes: Gazpacho, Gelee, Merengue, Confit and a la Grecque; the Risotto with black truffles; the Seared Scallops; the Japanese A5 Wagyu Kobe Beef Striploin; and the creme brulee. Josh got the Maryland Blue Crab and Russian Osetra Caviar, the Burgundy snails in black garlic herb butter, the Atlantic cod, the lamb, and a chocolate souffle. 

I can not even begin to describe to you how delicious each dish was. The portions were small, the presentation was spot on, and the food was unlike anything that I've ever had! I think my favorite dish was the risotto with the black truffles. That sauce! Those truffles! YUM! But the Kobe was also delicious. The meat literally melt in your mouth! How?!

At the end of the meal I was given this cute box which contained two chocolates. Also very tasty!

After dinner we walked over to Caesars Palace and entered this tiny tent to watch Absinthe.

The venue was tiny, the stage was just a circular platform in the middle, and the chairs were metal. 

I'll be honest, the show was great! The acts were entertaining (trapeze acts, balancing acts, rollerblades of death, tap dancers, etc.) and the Gazillionaire (the host) and his assistant were hilarious, but crude. Like, so crude! They picked on the guest in the first five rows a lot, they were not politically correct, there were a lot of references to sex, and there was a lot of swearing. Do not go to this show if you a sensitive to those things! I was offended and amused at the same time. 

The main reason why I came to Vegas was to see Emily and Katey. We timed it perfectly so that Katey (who lives in Arizona) would be there at the same time as me!

On October 16th, Josh and I met up with Emily, Kenny, baby E, Katey, and baby S at Emily's house for brunch. We had pancakes and peanut butter (taking us back to our college days) and then the girls and the babies went and got pedis! That night we went to the Great America Foodie Fest! You pay $10 to get in and there are rides (which I would not go near!) and a ton of food trucks from all over the country! 

[Baby E, Emily, baby S, and Katey... why don't babies EVER look at the camera?!]

We walked around the Fest and got a bunch of great food including waffles, corn dogs, and lobster tacos!

[The girls with baby S (who is eyeing my giant corn dog!)]

Baby E hates beards! Hates them! Apparently he cries whenever he sees a man with a beard. He was fine around Josh and so we gave E to Josh and he didn't cry at all! He grabbed the beard a few times (just curious :-)) and he was perfectly fine!

The next day (October 17) we got up and went back to the Great America Foodie Fest.
[View from our room]

[Classic "getting ready" photo]

This time the group got various treats like lobster tacos, corn dogs, mac-n-cheese-pulled-pork-grilled cheese sandwich, lemonade, waffles, ice cream sandwiches, and fancy hot dogs. 

[The lobster tacos were amazing!]

[Josh with his mac-n-cheese-pulled-pork-grilled cheese sandwich]

[Emily and Kenny]

[Katey and baby S with a huge corn dog]

[Baby S, Katey, baby E, and Emily]

[Katey's brother and Toddler J]

[He was mostly eating the breading. I can't blame him! It was delicious!]

The Foodie Fest was a blast! So glad we could go! Now if we could only find some of these trucks in Indiana!

After the Fest we went to the M&M and Coca-Cola Factories. 

[The group eating our root beer floats and M&Ms]

I had posted on Facebook that I was going to be in Vegas this weekend and my college roommate Lacey said she would be in town from SLC too! We just had to meet up!

That night Lacey, Emily, Katey and I went to BLT Burger in the Mirage. It was so much fun to catch up with my college girls! 

[Me and Lacey - friends and roommates Freshman and Sophomore year]

[Me, Lacey, and Emily - friends and roommates Sophomore year]

[Me, Lacey, Emily, and Katey]

The next morning (October 18th), we got up, watched some football, and ordered pizza from Room Service. The Packers were playing the Chargers, but we kept it civil. Packer won :-/

That night we went to Joe's for dinner. We got their famous Stone Crab as an appetizer and then I got the filet (with fresh Alaskan King Crab) and Josh got the Ahi steak. The food was delicious and I can not stop thinking about that Stone Crab! I think King Crab is still my favorite but not by much!

After dinner we caught a cab to the Rio where we saw Penn and Teller. They have been preforming together for 40 years and doing the show at the Rio for for 15. The show was a lot of fun and the illusions were very clever! 

After the show we caught a ride back to the Bellagio where we got gelato and hit the sack!

The next morning (October 19th) we slept in, got In-n-Out for lunch and then drove north to Cedar City, Utah.

That night we had dinner with our great friends Sam and Laura. We ended up staying at the restaurant for 3 hours just chatting and catching up. I miss those girls already!

The next morning (Tuesday, October 20) we got up early and headed back to Fort Morgan, CO. It was cold so we had to stop and get my (first of the year) hazel nut hot chocolate from Starbucks.

The leaves are changing colors which made the dive so beautiful!

While we were at dinner in Fort Morgan we got a call from Uhaul. They told us that the trailer we were supposed to pick up the next morning in Fort Morgan was broken and that we would have to drive to Greeley (an hour away) to get another trailer! I was so mad! Two hours out of our way?! All they would do is comp us an extra day. We didn't need an extra day. Oh well!

So the next morning (Wednesday, October 23) we went to Greeley to get the trailer and then went to the storage unit to start unloading. Of course it was raining the whole time so we set up a canopy. I really wanted to go through each box and decided what was coming back with us to the Raptor, what was going in the trash, what was going to Goodwill, and what was going in my parents basement. Since it was too wet and muddy we decided to just throw everything in the trailer and deal with it at my parents house. 

I finally got rid of my snowboards and boots (something on my 30 Before 30 List).

And thanks so much to Josh's cousin, Brandon, who came out to Fort Morgan and helped us pack up the trailer! That's once nice thing about having family scattered across the country on the pipeline!

I decided to take us through a few new states on our way home (who wants to dive through Nebraska and Iowa again?!). So on October 22 we left Fort Morgan and headed to Lawrence, Kansas. The drive was pretty terrible. It rained almost the whole time and there was some really heavy fog patches. But it's Kansas so we were not really missing out on too much pretty scenery. 

I was checking the weather and of course it was going to be raining in St Louis the next day. I convinced Josh to leave Kansas at 5:00 AM so that we could make it to the Cahokia Mounds site by 9:30 AM since the rain was supposed to be coming in in the afternoon. 

So, we did!

We arrived in St Louis at 9:30 AM so some clouds and a little rain. We drove through the city, saw the Gateway Arch, and crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois.

We arrived at the Cahokia Mounds site just as it started sprinkling. I was worried the rain would get worse so we decided to walked around the mounds first before going into the Visitors Center.

[Monks Mound - the largest earthern structure north of Mexico]

[Josh hiking up the modern stairs to the top]

[Trails on top of the mound]

[View of other mounds from the top]

[Selfie on the top while the wind was blowing and it was sprinkling]


After walking around the site we headed inside to see some artifacts and watch a movie about the site.

The rain didn't come so we went back outside and walked around the site some more. 

[Monks Mound from the other side of the Plaza]

I know it's not Mesa Verde or Chaco but this is such a great site! I think that people who aren't that interested in archaeology and history may not find it to be very entertaining but I really loved it!

After visiting the site (I miss archaeology even more!) we headed to our hotel in Pontoon Beach to take a nap.

The next morning (Saturday, October 24th), we left the St Louis area and headed to Mainville, OH where my parents live. 

BUT... we decided to take a detour to Louisville, Kentucky!!

I calculated that wit would only be 30 minutes (or so) out of our way to run over and see the Churchill Downs. 

[All the leaves where changing! I love Fall!]

[Crossing over the Ohio River]

[Louisville - the town was empty because everyone was at the college football game]

My friend Susan breeds horses and she has one that may be entered to race at the Kentucky Derby next year. If that happens then we are going to get big hats and go to the race!

Finally after driving over 60 hours and 4000 miles we made it to my parents house!

It was such a great trip and I am glad that we were able to see so many friends and have a ton of fun! We made it with very little emotional and physical damage... to the truck that is...

While we were in Vegas we went into a very tight parking garage and on the way out we hit both the front bumper and the side fender trim. Luckily the damage is not too bad. It's hard having a huge truck with an extended cab and an 8 ft bed.

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