Thursday, June 28, 2007

This girl needs a spanking like there's no freakin' tomorrow.

On second thought, maybe the mom could use one, too!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A New Installment of Animal Pictures!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Today I took Morgan to meet a new friend: Xena. She belongs to our family business' secretary, Sonia. She is a Russian Blue and she's 11 weeks old - and SO cute!

Unfortunately Morgan didn't think too much of her.

What a little pumpkin!

I think Morgan just prefers the company of her sister.

The Vacation Diaries Continued: Friday, June 8th, 2007

Our last day of vacation. We decided to go to Lake Tahoe one last time, and got tickets for a 2:00 lunch cruise on a paddleboat. While we were waiting, we drove a short ways to Heavenly Ski Resort in Stateline, Nevada. We’ve decided that if we ever go out West to snow ski, we’ll go to Heavenly. We wanted to ride the gondola, which we were told runs during the summer for sightseeing; unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance until next week. It seems like everything starts NEXT WEEK! The paddleboat cruise on Lake Tahoe was great; I’m really glad we went. I got some great pictures, and the views were amazing. I just tried to drink it all in and remember exactly what it was like to look on Lake Tahoe.

It was neat to watch the paddle wheels turn

I think that even if I lived in the area and drove by the lake every day, I would still never get used to the awesome sight. On the cruise we saw Vikingsholm Castle, which was built by a wealthy woman in the late 1800s in a Scandinavian style. The woman bought over 200 acres of prime Tahoe real estate for a quarter million dollars. I can’t imagine what that land is worth now!

On the top of the island is a tea house that the owner of Vikingsholm Caste took tea at every day.

After the cruise we took one last drive through the Tahoe National Forest back to Reno and went to a family-owned Italian restaurant for dinner. The place was very nice, with white tablecloths and fabulous food. I had the lasagna and a mixed greens salad, and Mike had something called Saltimbocca, which was chicken with prosciutto and a sherry reduction. It was all very tasty. For dessert we decided to walk on the wild side and try the flourless chocolate cake, which was 80% cocoa. I was worried it would be too rich, but it was just right and melted in my mouth. I wish we didn’t have to leave Reno and Tahoe, but we hope we can come back soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Vacation Diaries Continued: Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Today we decided to drive around Lake Tahoe some more. We went to Sugar Pine Point State Park. The drive was beautiful, and we enjoyed the park, too. The Erhman Mansion is there, and although they weren’t running any tours, but we enjoyed walking around the grounds.

Sixteen rooms - can you imagine having to clean all that?!?

They had a dock with great views of Lake Tahoe, and I got some beautiful pictures.

Look how clear the water is!

We went back to Reno early to go to a Farmer’s Market, but once we got there we found it that the market starts NEXT week. It seems like everything in Reno and Tahoe starts next week. So we went back to our unit and made a pizza instead.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Vacation Diaries Continued: Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

We decided we wanted to see some trees, after the starkness of Virginia City yesterday. That meant going into California, so we decided to go to South Lake Tahoe. We opened the door to our unit and it was cold! It’s been warm so far, but the high today was 55, low 23! On the way to Tahoe we were trying to figure out what was hitting our windshield, and once we stopped we realized it was snow flurries! In June!! By the time we got there it was almost time for lunch, so we found a place called the Fresh Ketch, which advertised itself as being right on the water. Well, it was, but in a marina, not Lake Tahoe like I was expecting. It was neat seeing all the rich-people yachts go by, but not what I was expecting. We both had the fish and chips and weren’t overly impressed. After that we drove around a little and pulled into a public park that was right on the beach. There were lots of Canadian Geese and seagulls there begging food off of the people, and even some squirrels. We saw one climb right up a lady’s leg to get a potato chip.

Mike making friends with the local animals

A ground squirrel. We don't have these in Florida!

Later, we were shopping in an outdoor store, and it started…snowing!! Enough to accumulate on parked cars! We took the long way back to Reno around Lake Tahoe, and we saw snow everywhere! When we got out to take pictures we couldn’t stay out for very long, even though we had jackets. It must have been 20 degrees.

I drove for the first time in snow AND in the mountains. I was very proud of myself. I downshifted like a pro J When we got back to Reno we went to a restaurant called the Black Bear Diner, and the food was good. I had a Belgian waffle with fresh blueberries, and Mike had a French dip sandwich. We were worn out from today! Maybe it was the cold. We really enjoyed all the great views today. I can’t get over how tall the trees are in California!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Vacation Diaries Continued: Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Today we decided to go to Virginia City, an old silver mining city. I still can’t get used to the stark Southwestern landscape. When we were driving there, tumbleweeds would blow across the road in front of us.

Virginia City was on top of a mountain, and it was very WINDY! I was glad I thought to bring our jackets. The city itself was kind of small, just a strip of tourist-type stores and restaurants. We went into an old saloon that gave underground tours of a mine. We walked in the place and all I could concentrate on was how bad I needed to go to the bathroom, and I knew they wouldn’t like it if we just used their bathrooms and walked out - plus we were getting tired of walking the storefronts, so we bought tickets for the mine tour. Once we went underground, I got a little nervous. We were in a mine that dated back to the 1850s, and I didn't know what had been done to the area since then. I had no idea what kind of safety measures the people giving the tour were taking…who ARE those people, anyway? For all we knew, they were serial killers. Luckily nothing bad happened, and it turned out to be pretty interesting. Mike got a little tired of bending over, however. People way back when were much shorter than people today, Mike especially (he’s 6-foot-5). He was glad they provided helmets. We had a picnic lunch after that, then walked around a little more. We got tired of Virginia City in the early afternoon, and decided to try a buffet in Reno for dinner. It was huge, with the most desserts I’ve ever seen in one place, and pretty good. Excellent prime rib. Then we went back to the unit, hung out in the resort’s hot tub, and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Virginia City wasn’t quite what I was expecting; we were hoping to get a little more history, but we still enjoyed being together and being on vacation.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Vacation Diaries Continued: Monday, June 4th, 2007

Today we went to Lake Tahoe. I can sum it all up in one word: B-E-A-YOO-TEE-FUL! We took a scenic route, and we really enjoyed the views. We were struck by how suddenly the trees appeared. It went from stark to stunning in the distance of a quarter mile. We stopped several times along the way to take pictures, and then stopped at a small town that had lots of shops and pretty scenes to take in.

We stopped in a Hospice Attic Thrift Store and I found a Lake Tahoe souvenir t-shirt. Thrift stores are a great way to get cheap souvenirs! We had lunch at a place called the Log Cabin, which is famous for their breakfasts. Mike ordered off the lunch menu, but I got an omelet with fresh garlic, ham, and cheddar cheese. It came with an apple muffin and potatoes, and was delicious. Garlic in eggs…genius. Then we spent a little time on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and two Canadian Geese and a Mallard Duck came right up to us, probably hoping to get a handout. After lunch we did some more driving and picture-taking, then headed back to Reno to visit San Rafael State Park. They had an arboretum and botanical garden that was absolutely beautiful. There were rabbits everywhere, and we also saw a woodchuck who let me get close enough to take good pictures.Quite possibly my favorite picture of the whole trip.

Once we were done with that it was too late to head back to our unit, but too early for dinner, so we went to a guitar store to kill some time. They had a wood-paneled acoustic guitar room that Mike enjoyed drooling over. Then we went to a little barbeque place for dinner. It was the first time I wasn’t absolutely blown away by the food here in Reno. It was good, just not great. Overall, it was a great day with breathtaking views.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

We're back!!

We made it back from Reno just fine at about 12:15 this morning. The plane ride was okay, and thanks to Dramamine and a powerful decongestant I managed to avoid a recurrence of my ear infection as well as motion sickness. I kept a daily journal of our vacation, and I'll be posting each day, along with pictures, in installments. So, without further ado, here's our vacation:

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

I awoke early, almost fully recovered from the jet lag. We had breakfast in the unit, then headed out to the National Museum of Automobiles in Reno. It was very interesting; the very first cars from the early 1900s intrigued me the most. One thing that amazed me was the sheer size of some of the cars, especially from the 30’s. I can’t imagine driving one of those things in the days before power steering! The museum was very well put together and had many rare and one-of-a-kind autos.

A Winton Phaeton from 1899. It cost $1000, had one cylinder, and went an average of 15 mph. Yee-haw!

A 1908 Frayer-Miller. Cost: $2750. It got 18 miles per gallon.

This car was built in 1914 and was electric! It used 40 batteries and got 50-85 miles per charge. In 1900, one third of all cars in New York city were electric.

A beautiful hood ornament from a 1931 LaSalle.

The museum also had some family heirlooms, like this mother-of-the-bride outfit from 1908. Apparently in 1908 the bride wasn't the only one wearing white.

Close-up. I couldn't believe the handiwork.

I find this picture funny because Mike couldn't get himself all the way in the car.

After we finished with the museum it was time for lunch, so we stopped in the Great Basin Brewery. It was SO good! I had the fish and chips, and Mike had a sandwich with Italian sausage. I’m not usually much of a fried fish type of person, but I’m glad I tried it. They use fresh fish and a beer batter that is so good it doesn’t even need to be dipped. And the fries – oh the fries! They were garlic fries, with chunks of garlic right in with the potatoes. Totally worth breaking a diet for. Not that I’ve been keeping a diet since we’ve been in Reno J

After lunch we drove to the outskirts of Reno to the Animal Ark, a sanctuary for non-releasable wild animals. It was really neat.

The landscape around it was very southwestern, with sagebrush and very little green.

They had wolves, bears, cheetahs (one of which they brought out on a leash while we were there), and lots more. I really felt like they were respectful of the animals and their inherent wildness, and the animals were well kept.

The entire place tries to be eco-friendly, running on solar and wind power, and most of the workers were volunteers. The elevation was very high; Mike and I were huffing and puffing to get up the hills!

A cougar, aka puma, aka mountain lion, aka big kitty.

Some pretty flowers at the Animal Ark.

The directors of the Animal Ark live here. What a view.

After that we went back to the unit to put some chili on the stove for dinner and relaxed. It was nice to have a meal that I cooked myself, even though the food in Reno has been phenomenal so far. After dinner and a load of laundry we went to a bar called Chocolate Bar and had the best fondue ever. The atmosphere in the place was great. Then we went to the Atlantis Hotel and Casino and watched people blow money at the blackjack table. We also rode a glass elevator up to the 18th floor and got a great view of the city at night. On the way out Mike found a Star Wars penny slot and just HAD to play. I decided not to play, for two reasons:

1) I’m afraid if I gamble, even a little bit, it will release my dark side and next thing I know I’ve put up my car, house and firstborn as collateral.

2) The whole casino scene kind of repulses me. We walked through and most of the people at the slot machines were these little old ladies with a bucket of quarters who seem to be trying to medicate their dissatisfaction with their lives by playing video poker. I do NOT want to turn into one of the women!

Today was a great day. So far my favorite part of Reno has been the FOOD! They’re going to have to book me an extra seat on the plane on way home for all the weight I’m going to gain. Tomorrow we’re going to venture in Tahoe.