Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Brisvegas (ohh and freezing)

Arrived in sub zero temps of Brisvegas a few hours ago, well it feels like it anyway.  Now waiting, waiting til my flight to Melbourne which isn't leaving til 7.55am.  Am totally overwhelmed by the offers for a pick up at Tulla, glad I didn't overdo, or even do any "gift" shopping, guess I'll keep the excess for Pixie, Chief and me!  Oh well at least I'll fund some students education or curry for the day.  Probably just as well as after nearly 24 hours of travel - I stink and look vile!

Seems Rob is enjoying the golf, will get on line and see who's in the lead in a sec, watched it on the flight from LAX to Dallas, go Adam Scott!  The week before the Bridgestone I said to Rob we should put some $$ on Adam Scott for that tournament and the PGA and he told me no.  We were in Vegas and you can bet on anything and I would have cleaned up on the Bridgestone now wouldn't I.  Oh well shoulda, coulda, woulda!

Good flight back from Dallas to Brisbane, had a couple of nice margaritas at DFW airport, followed by a vino with dinner on the plane and off I went to sleep, tired, tired, tired.  Woke, watched 'Water for Elephants' then breakfast and then we landed.  Had a nice woman next to me, a Spanish scientist coming to Australia for a job interview so some good conversation to pass the time.

Hasta Melbourne (brrrrrr), Viva!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pick up at Tulla?

Anyone free on Sunday to pick me up at Tulla. Scheduled to arrive at 10.20am, if so text me Sunday am cos I won't have net access soon. Xx

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Homeward bound (boo hoo)

Well here we are at LAX, Rob is heading to Atlanta for the PGA and me home. I'm not complaining but I hate when holidays end, as that is what I live for, however I have many hours of travel ahead to plan the next.

Yesterday I did my last minute shopping at the Beverly Centre, a big mall near the hotel, while Rob watched the golf on telly. He picked me up and we went down to Santa Monica beach and pier, where we also had lunch and yep, more shopping. We then swang past Pasadena to pick up something and I also bought a dress at Banana Republic, as yesterday they released the limited edition Janie Bryant Mad Men collection. We then had the most wonderful dinner at El Cholo Mexican restaurant, another LA institution since 1923. Best margarita ever! Then home to pack and omg was there a lot to pack.

What an awesome holiday, stuff dreams are made of. Best I start dreaming of the next. Til then, Viva Las Vacaciones!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Draper residence

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Here we are in LA, and only 24 hours left for moi. Napa was expensive, well anything to do with vino, if Australian vineyards charged like that for tastings, no one would go. We had a bit of a drive around, and we also checked out the town, which was divine, quaint, very old town USA. But as we were a day behind schedule, and cos we are flexible, we decided to skip San Fran and head to LA. We did however stop in at Kermit Lynch, a wine merchant in Berkeley, where Rob was like a kid in a candy store! All French wines at prices never seen in Australia, so another dint was made in our purse.

We then jumped on the 5 and hit LA, well actually decided on Pasadena, a gorgeous part of greater LA, old time route 66, and a current favorite for Mad Men locations. Yes the Maddict I am means I had a list, and we visited the Draper house, well the one used in seasons 1 - 4, with Betty moving out late season 4. We also had breakfast at Andy's, a diner used in the episode where Pete and Peggy organized the fight over the ham. There are tons of locations round LA, I could spend all day checking them out.

The rest of yesterday was spent in Hollyweird, on the boulevard, after lunch at Pinks hotdogs, an LA institution on La Brea since 1939. We dined last night at a place, again on La Brea, called Cube, which was absolutely sensational, very hip, amazing food, great service, chosen as they allow byo and Rob had a grand cru he bought in Berkeley. It was an awesome night.

And today, my last full day. I think we are going to Santa Monica for a swim, maybe to downtown and Venice, a bit of a shop, and back to Pasadena to Banana Republic for the launch of Janie Bryant's Mad Men collection. They are having cocktails at a few of the stores and we got invited as I asked about the collection, thinking it was already out. It's all about Mad Men! And I also have to pack, that should take all night.

It's hard to believe it's nearly all over, what a time we have had, and it really feels like we have been away forever. I will have to start planning the next one now!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Movin' on!

We arrived in Napa last night after spending the afternoon with my old friends Fred, Laura, and Bill from my days in LA circa '86 and '88. I stayed with them for extended periods on both trips, and it was the first time I'd seen them since. It was a nice catch up, albeit short, but better than nothing.

We finally left Vegas at about 1pm Sunday after extending another night. Another very old friend, who I hadn't seen since '86, but have talked to on the phone and corresponded with (both snail mail and the modern contraption email/FB) over the years was flying into Vegas on Sunday for business so we stayed another night so to meet up. I can assure you it was great to stay another, in fact I could have stayed the rest of the trip there I was having such a great time and loving the Vegas vibe. So we did some extra shopping, visited the sign in civis, more eating, drinking, and chilling until the meet up Sunday. We organized a late check out on Sunday and Mary came by with her boss and picked us up and we went out for Sunday brunch buffet at the Mirage. Again a short but sweet time was had, great to see Mary after all these years, and such a coincidence that we would be in the same place at the same time! My fortune cookie did say everything was coming my way.

We then moved on heading to Reno deciding against the route through Death Valley, going for the easier and direct road, albeit boring desert landscape. We hit Reno about 9 hours later and holed up at the El Dorado Hotel and Casino, scoring an upgrade cos we were 'newly weds'! Another buffet yesterday morning now means the diet is imminent, these things are dangerous!

We are now in Napa, it's a cute little town, but the valley has yet to be explored. We are running one day behind schedule now, and will now miss the Beach Boys at Ventura County Fair, but hell, it's good to be flexible. We have two nights booked in LA but other than that we can do as we please. So San Fran may get bypassed and we might head to the beach instead. Hey you can't do everything, although it feels like we have. Although I have only been gone less than 3 weeks it feels like months, it has been so action packed, I will need a holiday when I return. Only 4 days til I jump on that plane at LA international airport, 'where the big jet engines roar' and Rob heads to Atlanta for the US PGA. Viva!

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Location:Napa California

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The big day

What an awesome, fun, wonderful day we had yesterday. From go to woe it was just action pack, so enjoyable, totally perfect. For those of you not in the know, we tied the knot yesterday, under the 'Welcome to Las Vegas sign'. We always said the only way we'd ever get married was in Las Vegas with Elvis, so that's what we did. I have not had so much fun in ages, everything was just fantastic.

The day had been in the planning for some time, though I had my pessimistic feelings that things would be just so so given the entire thing was just booked over the Internet with Scenic Las Vegas Weddings. The only time I spoke to anyone was on Thursday afternoon and that was a 5 minute conversation. They hadn't used an Elvis for a while so I didn't even know what era he would be and given my dress was 50s - 60s style I was hoping for one related to that era vs fat 70s Elvis. And oh my god - Elvis was hot and in gold and a fantastic guy. In fact he was our witness also, Chad being his real name. And he sang 3 songs for our ceremony, under the sign in the searing Las Vegas summer heat of 106 degrees. And I got to sing back up harmonies (maybe I sounded more like a crying cat who knows but it was my wedding). He sang 'Love Me', 'Burning Love', and 'Blue Suede Shoes', one at the start, one in the middle, one after the ceremony. Chad Givens (Elvis) - you were awesome!

Anyway back to the before. A big thanks and much gratitude goes out to my friend Marie Smyth, who helped me with my dress, made me a garter with a 'borrowed' 5 of hearts on it, and managed to keep a big secret for a couple of months. I loved my dress, the fabric divine (at $250 a metre it would want to be), and the style fantastic 60s. Marie meticulously placed the pattern for cutting so as to get the flowers central and the patten even. And despite her desire for us to dress 'carni' she really was instrumental in making me feel and look fabulous. THANKS!

I had my ring made in India by my jewellers, again all organized by email, using my nana's diamonds and a nice blue sapphire, to match my dress, something blue (even though I had blue undies on and blue in the dress), and it is also my birthstone. I wore my mum's pearls and carried the same horseshoe she carried at her wedding. It was special!

On Thursday we picked up Rob's tux, shoes, etc. from the hire place, I had a spray tan to help even me out after my roasting in Mexico, and I organized my make-up by MAC, Towns Square, Las Vegas. We also bought some Moet, some Elvis sunglasses (even though they were 70s Elvis with sideburns attached), and I had my nails done - which was almost the highlight of the week, particularly for Rob cos it was almost the same as the Angela Johnson comedy routine (google it - it's hilarious), and we have been talking in that manner ever since! Oh and we also went power shopping to the premium outlets, and to Sephora, Bettie Page, and Fredrick's of Hollywood! What a day (plus breakfast at Tiffany's - the diner used in the Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore film, Lucky You, then Neon Museum - best thing in Vegas - love, love, love it).

So the big day arrived, showered, set my hair, off to MAC for my make-up (was gonna do it myself but I was scared I muck up the false lashes and MAC is so cheap and always good). Michael Ruff did my make-up, it was just perfect just what I wanted, and he was awesome! Back to the Signature and I scoffed down some fried rice and a couple of glasses of Riesling and then teased my coif into a birds nest (unintentional), put on my frock and black birds net veil (matched the hair), got Rob polished, and off we went to our waiting limo, a big black limo, how fab! Michael our driver was great, we headed to the sign where we met up with Elvis, Paula our minister, and Steven our photographer, and the show was on the road. It was sooooooooooooooooooooo much fun, I was laughing so much, I cannot tell you what a good time was had, no nerves, no dramas, just how it should be FUN! People kept pushing in front of us, but we finally got our turn which was good as they were all in shorts, us all in suits, dresses with flowers, hot hot hot!

The ceremony was nice, Elvis and his songs, reference to the history and longevity of the sign, used as a parallel for marriage! It was really noisy as Las Vegas boulevard travels each side of the little island with the sign, and given this Rob nearly messed up his vows - he thought she said 'love and sport' (how convenient given his love of sport), though the word was support. But it was all really nice but best of all fun, after 18 years it was worth the wait, though getting married has never been that important to us.

Champagne followed after the ceremony in the limo on the way to our photos. We had a photo shot at the Neon Museum which again was fun and again hot. Back to the hotel for beer, then off for dinner at the 'Top of the World' restaurant 85 floors up in the Stratosphere tower. And what a view of Vegas from this revolving restaurant, the food and wine capping off the day.

So if you ever want a Vegas wedding, I totally recommend Las Vegas Scenic Weddings, Chad, our Elvis, Michael at MAC, and the lovely Betty Willis designed sign. What a day!

(ps I did chuck in a few Muriel's wedding references i.e. Sophie Lee's (Tania Degano's) cry, 'Iiiom a Brioide!'

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Location:Las Vegas Nevada USA

Friday, August 5, 2011

Las Vegas day 2

Exhausted but having so much fun, eating, shopping, checking things out etc. Highlight of today was tour of the Neon Graveyard/Museum - sensational. Lucky for you I'm too tired to rabbit on, it's late and my lovely bed in my divine suite beckons. More detail tomorrow.

Viva Las Vegas

Well here we are in hot and sunny Vegas. We drove in yesterday afternoon, a little ahead of schedule so we stayed downtown at the El Cortez, a hotel casino that's been around a long time and seen some notorious and famous faces. It is a really cheap hotel compared to the digs we are moving to today, the MGM Signature, but we chose a cabana, one of the new retro style rooms, great for the price, and fantastic for exploring downtown.

So yesterday afternoon after checking in we went to In N Out burger, the much famed and much loved Souther Californian fast food burger institution (obviously now here in Vegas). Also attached to this branch, which was going off I must say, was one of their stores, where Rob went crazy after consuming his first ever In N Out meal. Then on for some quick retail therapy, Sephora and MAC got their first visit and money out of me, and I haven't even scratched the tip of the iceberg!

A beer back at the hotel, and a quick shower to cool down - it's 105F here (love it), and we headed out down Fremont street, the downtown area. For those of you that know Rob, and that he walks to the city all the time down Smith st, Collingwood, will know that he calls it 'Freak Street', due to all the characters you meet on that patch of turf. Well he thinks that Fremont street is just one huge 'Freak Street', man oh man what a bunch of characters, bogans, you name it. And we actually thought that it must be law or something that you have to smoke, as nearly everyone we saw had a cigarette, both inside and out. The good news is we had a few margaritas in a casino - 99 cents each - bless! We had a good walk around, even saw the Colin Hay (of Men at Work fame), has or is playing soon - guess he has to raise $$ to pay for the royalty sting of Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree...

The best thing about last night is we got to see many of the old restored neons that have been placed round the Fremont street precinct. And this morning we are off to the Neon Museum to see the relics of Vegas' past, the salvaged signs from the hay day of Vegas, many that I saw when I visited in '86 and '88, like my favourite, the Stardust. Looking forward to it, though glad it's early due to the heat. Then some more retail therapy before we move on to our luxury hotel, and adventures on the Strip in Viva Las Vegas,

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Location:Las Vegas Nevada USA

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Greetings from the Grand Canyon

Yesterday 2/8/11
More piles of rocks and dirt, yes our third day of canyons, mesas, monumental valleys and Navajo Indian country. And we are loving it. We arrived this afternoon at the north rim, very different from the much visited south rim. I have visited the south rim twice, once in '86 when so much snow at the top prevented me hiking, and the second time in '88, where I scrambled down the Kaibab trail, and huffed and puffed my way up the Bright Angel, down taking about 2.5 - 3 hours, up about 8 unrelenting hours. Anyway back to now. We just got back from a short hike, the north differs as there are lovely trees - pines and shrubs everywhere at the rim making the hot summer sun tolerable. It is just over 8000ft which has made me huff and puff again. We also did another short walk, and in the morning we will head to some of the other shorter hikes. I don't think it's worth busting our balls on a full day hike as we would not get to the bottom and having done it previously things start to look pretty much the same on the way down. And up is he'll and I did it in winter! We finished off our hike with a beverage at the lodge on the vast balcony - very civilised. The present lodge was built in 1938 and is a gorgeous example of wilderness-lodge architecture. We are also in for dinner later and fortunately booked a while back so we are staying here too.

Yesterday after leaving Chinle headed to northern Arizona and parts of southern Utah where we visited the Valley of the Gods, the Goosenecks, and the sublime Monument Valley. All being absolutely breathtaking. I also tried Navajo fry bread - yummmm, it came with my delicious green chile stew, while Rob had Navajo style tacos, too big for him to finish - something I rarely see.

The natural wonders of this country are truly spectacular, and sometimes overlooked for the Disneyland's, shopping malls and cities. So I'm glad we chose the north rim of the Canyon for this trip, the crowds are smaller due to it's location, and it is so beautiful. Put it on your map if you plan visiting stunning Arizona any time soon.

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Location:Grand Canyon (north rim), Arizona USA

Monday, August 1, 2011

Navajo Nation

Yesterday we drove from Gallup, New Mexico, to Chinle, Arizona to visit Canyon de Chelly. The canyon is on the Navajo reservation and is controlled by the Navajo nation. We had organized a guide as this is the only way you can enter the canyon, other than just doing the rim drive, as Navajo families live and farm on the canyon floor. We met our guide, Francine at 9am and spent the next 5 hours traveling and visiting the ancient Anastazi and Navajo ruins and paintings in the canyon, as well as hearing about the Navajo people. It was fantastic and we later did the rim drive, which other than Spider Rock and the vast vista panoramas, does not really do the ruins justice. The rest of the day was for relaxing and laundry.

Today we are heading to Monument Valley, scene of many old Westerns. We are staying in a new luxury hotel called The View, right in the park, each room with a view of the iconic Mittens and other rock formations. I also hope we get to do a bit of walking, depending on the heat out here in the desert.

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Location:Arizona USA