Weekend in Seattle

Vanessa and I drove up to Seattle for the weekend and had a wonderful time. I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from the trip, and will likely write something about the trip in the near future. For now I’m pretty exhausted after spending nine hours in a car. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

My ‘Vegas Vacation’ (of sorts)

11760142_10109132838185954_8899135905771189414_n

My month in Las Vegas comes to a close this weekend, and I’m both incredibly excited to return to Boise ¬†and a bit sad to say goodbye to the wonderful city of Vegas. I jokingly call it a vacation, but in reality I’ve been down here for Red Flag.

I had never visited Vegas before, so a lot of my preconceptions about the city were formed from TV and film. I expected the strip to be extravagant while also wild and lawless. The city ended up being much more tame than I imagined, which was surprising.

First of all I was incredibly surprised by the amount of children I saw on the strip, even late on Friday nights. There are kids everywhere, even in the casinos. I saw a ton of children in their early teens wandering around the casino floors on their own during all parts of the day which I didn’t expect at all. It almost made me feel a little awkward carrying around a 50 oz margarita in a souvenir cup shortly after noon. Almost.

50 oz margarita souvenir cup vegas

It was a bit jarring to see children with their parents pass by the guys on the street corners and pedestrian bridges peddling escort cards. One evening we were walking back behind a family as two young boys trailed their parents gawking at the cards of naked women discarded all over the ground.

The city was not nearly as wild as I had imagined it would be. Sure you can carry drinks up and down the strip at any time of the day, however there were no crazy Hangover like moments to be witnessed. There were groups of scantily clad parading bachelorette parties, and as amusing as it was to watch them drunkenly stumble down the strip, the majority of the foot traffic consisted of families and tourists.

Ultimately, Las Vegas is just another tourist attraction, not unlike Times Square. In fact, the street performers, costumed characters taking ‘tips’ in exchange for pictures and all of the people trying to push their mixtapes on everyone passing by reminded me all too much of the annoying parts of every New York City trip.

It may sound like my Vegas experience was overly negative, but that’s not true at all. My impressions were way off, but I still had a great time!

I didn’t really fall in love with the city until Vanessa visited this past weekend. I’m staying on base for work, so only really experienced the city on the weekends, and this past weekend was the best yet! We stayed at the Luxor Friday and Saturday night and packed a ton of fun into the weekend before she had to fly back Sunday.

I had a great time enjoying drinks by (and in) the pool Friday afternoon. Standing in the water sipping an ice cold margarita in the blistering sun was pretty awesome (though we payed for it with some mild sunburn).

Gambling was fun, but luck certainly wasn’t with me. I played roulette for the first time and failed miserably. I had my mind set on a number (15) and the first table I walked up to it hit my number before I could place a bet. This was frustrating and put the dangerous “I could’ve won big” thought into my mind. After throwing a few $10 minimum bets at 15 on another table I decided to call it quits. Before we left my friend and I bet red and black, figuring one of us would win at least. It hit 0. I decided to try roulette again and Vanessa won money rather quickly at the table. I figured I’d stick to just betting colors, and kept betting red. It hit black six times in a row, which seemed absurd, and on my final bet the game decided to spit in my face by landing on 0. I don’t think I’ll ever play roulette again.

Slot machines were much more fun, and on some machines $20 could last almost an hour and bring in a few free Coronas. Earlier in the trip I made the mistake of buying my own beers in the casinos, while also gambling. Being impatient doesn’t really pay in Vegas.

Friday night we saw Blue Man Group which was a blast. I had seen them in Orlando before, and while much of the show was similar, there were a few new things. We were seated behind a family with something like four kids who kept screaming and talking loudly, which again was annoying (why so many kids in Vegas??) but the worst part was the mom kept taking pictures and posting them to Facebook every few minutes. Nothing ruins a show quite like a phone popping up in your view followed by the bright light emanating from Facebook. Not cool.

11781802_10153452841390610_952295766165419776_n

Saturday was just as exciting. We gambled a bit more and headed to New York, New York to check out the roller coaster. Vanessa had never ridden a roller coaster, and had always been deathly afraid. With a lot of convincing we got day passes and eventually made it onto the ride(with a lot of kicking and screaming from her!). As we were ascending we saw the thick smoke from the pool fire at The Cosmopolitan (well I did, her eyes were shut). The roller coaster was fun, although at times painful because of the sunburn. We rode again awhile later and intended to ride it once at night as well, but the line was absurdly long later that night and we were exhausted so we skipped it.

We met up with some of Vanessa’s friends for dinner at Hash House a go go which was delicious, and after the meal I was asked if I wanted a to go cup for my margarita. Only in Vegas! I ended up pouring it into my empty 50 oz souvenir cup and we headed to the High Roller observation wheel. The wheel was wonderful, and we spent an awesome thirty minutes taking in the view of the city after sunset. I highly recommend riding the wheel. We arrived shortly after 8PM and there wasn’t much of a line at all, but as we disembarked half an hour later the line was incredibly long. I definitely recommend heading there just as the sun sets, it’s wonderful.

high roller observation wheel vegas

This ended up being a little long-winded so I’ll simply wrap up by saying it’s been a great month in Vegas, but last weekend was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had anywhere. I can’t wait to make a return trip to Vegas, but until next time, thanks for the memories!

11752643_10109132834912514_152154258564037385_n

Some pics from a great Vegas weekend

I’ve been in Vegas for work and haven’t posted much lately, but thought I’d share a few of my favorite pictures from this past weekend when Vanessa came down. It was a blast!

Back from vacation..so much to blog about!

I landed back in Boise late Saturday night after spending a wonderful three weeks back in York Pennsylvania with my family. The weather didn’t quite cooperate most of the time, but overall it was a great trip! I enjoyed hanging out with my dad, playing Minecraft with my brother and seeing the rest of my friends and family. I certainly miss them a lot the rest of the year!

I also enjoyed the two weeks Vanessa spent with me during her second trip to the East Coast. We had a blast in New York City, touring the Yuengling factory in Pottsville, visiting the National Aquarium in Baltimore and enjoying all of the fun at Chocolate World in Hershey! The time went by so quickly and I’m quite sad I won’t get to visit again until next year.

On the upside, I’m glad to be back in a city again. My dad lives in the middle of rural (nowhere) Pennsylvania, and while the scenery is nice (you can see so many stars at night!) I’m glad to have broadband internet and all of the convenience of city life again. I still have some unpacking and housework to do, and I went back to work last night (working the night shift again), but I’d like to get back to blogging more regularly as soon as possible.

I have so much I’d like to write about. I’d like to share some photos and experiences from vacation (Drunk Shakespeare off broadway in NYC was an absolute blast!) and there’s plenty of topics I want to talk to you about. I’d like to try out Sling TV on the Xbox One (though I already subscribe to DISH and don’t see myself “cutting the cable” anytime soon. I enjoy having a traditional TV service). I’m also looking forward to picking up the Borderlands Handsome Jack Collection tomorrow as well as playing through episode two of Tales from the Borderlands.

I’m hoping to tell you about how much I’m enjoying the new Modest Mouse album (my vinyl copy will arrive Wednesday) and also the latest comedy album from Trevor Moore (whom you may know from Whitest Kids U Know). There’s so much I’ve wanted to write about, but ultimately I’m glad I spent most of my time enjoying the company of friends and family instead of worrying about my blog. I hope you haven’t minded the silence! I promise, you’ll hear more from me soon!

‘Going Up?’ falling for the Skyride tourist trap at the Empire State

I’ll be writing about my more enjoyable experiences in New York soon. I also have more to write about, but hey I’m on vacation, so please excuse the lack of content lately!

This week Vanessa and I spent a lovely two days in New York City, and one of the last attractions we planned to attend before leaving the city was the Empire State Building. Neither of us have ever been, however we did Top of the Rock last year which was an enjoyable experience. We figured visiting the Empire State would be a great conclusion to our trip.

I had glanced at various Trip Advisor pages before making our trip, and I recall reading through a post that strongly advised against buying Empire State tickets from the vendors outside the building. During most of my New York trips I’ve easily avoided all the various street vendors selling tours and such, however a few years ago I bought comedy club tickets on a whim from a street promoter and had an absolutely wonderful time.

As we approached the Empire State building we were met with the infamous “going up?” question from one of the venders on the corner. Against my better judgement I replied that we were indeed ‘going up’ and before I knew it the vendor had begun his sales pitch. He asked if we were planning to visit the 102nd floor, and I said we were and he said he could get us up there for $52 while including the Skyride attraction free. He assured me he was an authorized seller, displaying a badge and all (albeit a Skyride badge), and even asked a security guard how long the wait was. “Forty-five minutes” was the reply, so then the vendor promised we’d skip that wait for $7 more.

‘Oh, why not?’ I replied. I love the indoor “rides” in Orlando, so figured the Skyride might be worth checking out. Before long we had out receipt and three sets of printed tickets, one for Skyride, one for the Empire State and a free “bonus” ticket for a one hour cruise that would allow us to checkout the Statue of Liberty (via Hornblower Cruises).

Once we got inside the building and up to the Skyride attraction the attendant took our slips of paper and gave us actual tickets. I took the tickets, still excited for the adventure ahead. As we got shuffled into the Skyride attraction by employees who were entirely unenthused, I noticed our Empire state tickets not only were ONLY for the 86th floor, but they also had “not EXPRESS tickets” printed on them. So two of the things I was promised (the 102nd floor and express passes) were not given to me.

At this point I was already in a declining mood, and then I realized just how pointless the Skyride attraction is. The seats are old and falling apart and once the “ride” started it was apparent how terrible the attraction was. The screen was blurry, shaky and straight out of the 90’s. The display was so terrible it was sickening. The Skyride tickets are $42, but honestly the experience is NOT worthwhile at all.

So what exactly did I get for the $64 a ticket I paid to the street vendor? If you take out the $42 for Skyride I paid $24 for a standard 86th floor ticket. My stomach sank when I realized how much cheaper it would’ve been had I just headed inside and bough standard tickets.

I realize the Skyride people aren’t associated with the Empire State Building in anything other than they operate out of the building, but their presence really hampered our enjoyment of the entire experience.

The view from the Empire State was enjoyable, and we did end up spending an extra $40 ($20 each) to visit the 102nd floor (which also wasn’t quite worth the money) but the fact that we spent $160 at one attraction was disturbing.

We were pretty annoyed about the entire experience we decided not to bother checking out the “bonus” cruise. Maybe it would’ve made up for the cost, but I was more afraid it would be another subpar experience that would further my displeasure.

Moral of the story? Don’t be like me. Don’t listen to anyone selling you something on the street, even if they’re just a few feet away from the attraction. Just don’t do it.

And screw the Skyride people.

A few of my favorite things: Starbucks FVL and the NYT

15376739382_3c9d7054c8_o

This afternoon I enjoyed a few of my favorite things on a Sunday in Korea. Enjoying coffee and the New York Times became a weekly tradition last spring, and I’ve managed to continue to enjoy the tradition through my travels in Hawaii and Korea this summer.

15377052352_44b48f6ea0_o

 

The setting sun glows in the hazy sky above the dorms.

Unfortunately the Fall favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte hasn’t arrived at the Osan Starbucks yet, but the French Vanilla Latte is just as tasty. I love¬†reading the ‘paper’ (in digital form of course) while enjoying a wonderful Starbucks beverage, especially while sitting outside. I miss sitting out and watching the trees and the cars back home, but it’s been nice to enjoy a relaxing hour each Sunday as I’ve counted down the days until I return (soon!).

10372345_10106550452652264_3289065068778479485_n

Enjoying the NYT and hotel coffee in Hawaii.

 

 

10382629_10106498540779074_1670527015928610101_n

 

Coffee in one of my favorite mugs on the steps back in Boise.

Spent a day touring Korea’s DMZ

I spent most of today touring the DMZ (demilitarized zone that separates South and North Korea) and I have to say if you ever happen to be in Korea it definitely needs to be on your to do list. It was quite powerful to see everything. Despite its name, the DMZ is one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world, and it’s crazy to be there and see it all. Down here at Osan it still feels very distant and I honestly can’t say I give North Korea much thought ever, but you can tell the people who work in the DMZ area take it quite seriously, and I have all the respect in the world for those who work there. I have to say I was especially impressed by the South Korean soldiers I saw, they have more discipline than I could ever hope for.

I have a ton of photos, but the two I’m sharing below are two of my favorites. In the JSA (Joint Security Area) it’s quite powerful to watch the South and North Korean soldiers standing watch, constantly watching the other. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to stand there always looking at each other and never communicating. Pretty powerful stuff.

South Korean soldiers standing guard.

984209_10107147597579044_173509565107699374_n

A lone North Korean soldier stares back at us.

 

 

 

10672181_10107147597613974_2270415500940237169_n