May 102012
 

I forgot to tell you guys how my first evening at the beach ended: with a trip to the Arctic Circle. We were driving through Newport and I spotted an Arctic Circle and told Michael about a childhood memory of mine. When I was a little kid and my mom would take me and my brother to the nearby community pool for swim lessons (and later my synchronized swimming team meets), we usually stopped at the Arctic Circle for an ice cream cone afterward. It was one of those small cones with vanilla soft serve ice cream that was dipped in chocolate that hardens. It’s a fond memory and I hadn’t seen one of those spots since I was a kid. So Saturday night on our way back to the hotel, we stopped by and got one. It was just as good as I remembered it!

Sunday morning I awoke to the chill of the ocean breeze wafting into the hotel room and decided to go for a swim in the big indoor pool before breakfast. I only did about 30 minutes in the pool because I knew we’d either be hiking later, or walking on the beach. The swim was good and felt good on more sore hips. But the pool was also about 10 degrees hotter than what I’m used to in a lap pool!

We went to breakfast in the hotel and were thoroughly disappointed. I mean, how do you screw up breakfast? It’s so simple. But the waitress disappeared and never brought my coffee or Michael’s drink, I had to flag down another waiter to get it, then flag him again for cream. Then my French toast arrived and it was cold AND the syrup arrived in a pre-packed serving. Also cold. What the hell? It was so disappointing!

After that disaster, we checked out and then drove up the coast a bit. It was a gorgeous sunny day, clear blue skies and just the hint of wind. The temperature was also higher, too.

We stopped at a few places along the way to take pictures, and then stopped at the Otter Rock/Devil’s Punchbowl park.

Do you recognize the graffiti art? :) If not, it’s a reference to The Goonies–a movie that was filmed in Astoria, Oregon. I’d love to spend a weekend in Astoria and do a “Goonies” trip!

It was really windy up there! Next, back in the car and we drove to Lincoln City. It’s the next big town about 20 miles north of Newport. I am much more familiar with that town. Michael and I spent over an hour walking on the beach, holding hands, talking, enjoying the nice weather and almost getting swept away by the waves.

My legs were pretty sore from the beach walking. I forget just how much work is involved in walking the beach. One of these days, I need to remember to bring an old pair of running shoes and giving beach running a try. I think it would be fun and about ten times harder than a treadmill!

My calves were aching a little bit and it was getting close to lunch time so we turned around and headed back.  I saw this skeleton on the beach and it was both disturbing and beautiful at the same time. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was just too odd not to share:

For lunch we went to Kyllo’s. It was a cute, very big, restaurant right on the beach. We both enjoyed one Ninkasi Tricerahops beer (one of my favorites) and had a really good lunch.

I started with a small cup of clam chowder. My goal for the weekend had been getting chowder at Mo’s (super popular place on the Oregon Coast) but we never got there. This chowder was still pretty good.

I also got a grilled halibut fish taco entree. The fish tacos were good but not as good as my favorite in Hood River. Nothing has compared to those tacos, yet, anyways.

Michael ordered the burger. It was on a kaiser roll with onions and blue cheese. He said the burger was fantastic. I took his word for it because I was stuffed after my lunch.

We chilled out for awhile, did some sightseeing and then headed back to Portland. It was a really nice drive, scenic and sunny.

Goodbye Beach! You were lovely!

QUESTION: Did you like Goonies as a kid? Are you a clam chowder fan?

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Apr 202012
 
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On Saturday morning I woke up at an ungodly hour for Las Vegas–like 8 a.m. But I was rested and excited to start my day. Michael, the poor boy having crawled into bed at 4 a.m., was still asleep so I snuck out and went to the gym in the Monte Carlo. The gym was small and crowded when I got there. My plan was to run on the treadmill or use the elliptical but they were all full so I hopped on the exercise bike instead. It was that new fancy Tour de France spin bike and it was super nice.

I got in a fantastic bike workout in about an hour and then headed back to the room to get cleaned up.

Michael was becoming one of the living around that time and we showered and went downstairs to the Cafe in the Monte Carlo. I’d eaten there once before with my friend Robyn but we split a huge piece of chocolate cake, so I had no idea if the meals were actually decent. ;) I ordered a boring breakfast–two fried eggs with bacon, sourdough toast and hashbrowns (I ate a few bites only of those) and lots and lots of coffee.

The food turned out to be really good at the Cafe. After breakfast we played tourist. This is the fourth vacation to Vegas so I’ve seen most of the touristy things but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy doing them every time! Vegas is seriously what you make it. You can have a blast–AND save money–or you can live decadently and indulge. Either way, you can have fun.

So tourists! We walked around the Strip for most of the day. It was pretty overcast but muggy and warm. Neither Michael nor I had ever been to Aria or City Center (they were still building it last time) so that was first on the list. It looked like a really nice place but nothing really stood out as amazing to either of us. But, if you want, you can buy a humongous dragon made entirely out of chocolate.

Next, Michael wanted to check out the poker room at Caesar’s Palace and then I wanted to see the Bellagio atriums because there are always cool flowers and art there.

Finally, it was lunch time. We’d ended up at the MGM so we got sandwiches at Tom Collichio’s ‘Wichcraft restaurant. I ordered the gruyere and caramelized onion panini on rye bread and it was delicious. The rye bread was a bit overpowering; I felt like a sourdough bread would have been better, but I was famished and starting to feel cranky from low blood sugar and fatigue.

Michael says this picture says “Lisa’s cranky, feed her.” And I concur.

After lunch we split up and Michael played poker while I did some shopping and gambling on my own. He had a surprise for me for that evening, but I didn’t know what it was yet. After a few hours, we met up at the hotel room to get changed for dinner and the surprise!

For dinner we went to Wolfgang Puck’s at the MGM. We split an order of the cheeseburger and it was to die for–one of the best burgers I’ve ever had–far surpassing anything that I thought was great in Portland. It had a caramelized onion JAM on it and avocado. Every messy bite was totally worth every single calorie I ate. LOVED it.

We also split the mac n’ cheese, which was just ok (not as good as Martha’s) and the Brussels sprouts.

We ordered too much food. Period. There was no way we could have eaten all of that, which was a shame because it was all delicious. The Brussels sprouts were cooked in oil, garlic and I think the juice of a lemon or orange. I definitely saw orange zest on them.

I had a hard time stopping eating, they were so good. After dinner we went to The Mirage to see the Beatles Love show! That was Michael’s surprise and it was a fantastic one! I’ve never seen a Cirque show in Vegas and that was the one I really wanted to see. We had some time to kill before the show started so I played some roulette (and quadrupled my money).

The show was absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how much I am gushing over my weekend in Vegas, but truly it was one great time after another. We were seated in the 5th row of the theatre and every single moment of Love was mesmerizing and exciting. The music was great and there were too many moments to count that I had tears in my eyes. What an amazing, wonderful, spellbinding evening.

Needless to say, we both collapsed into bed as soon as we got back to the Monte Carlo and I wasn’t conscious until 10 a.m. the next day!

QUESTION: Have you seen any Cirque shows? What was your favorite?

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