Monday, April 29, 2013

What happens in Vegas....

The year of Chuck is coming to an end. We concluded the celebration of his jubilee in Vegas last week with  Elton John's Million Dollar Piano concert, the Kenny Chesney No Shoes Nation show, a stay at the Bellagio, some great dinners and a visit to the Mob Museum. I wish I could say there was a really big gambling winner, but I avoided the casinos and didn't hear too much bragging from those who tried their luck (skills?)

Here's the photographic evidence of what happened in Vegas...

3 floppy hats at the pool- Note the No Shoes Nation tee shirt from the Kenney Chesney concert

The whole gang at Bellagio Pool

My favorite: the dancing fountains at Bellagio
Not as good as my Texas La Quinta Inn waffle, but pretty, pretty good!
Dinner at Trevi Restaurant at Casear's
Our view of the elaborate Elton John show
The Jubilarian at The Mob Museum
The lineup: wanted for card counting and various other casino tricks
The U of M represented at the Mob Museum for the 50's basketball point shaving scheme
Al and Chuck
At the Neon Museum at 3 pm on a blisteringly hot day
Our tour guide at the Neon Museum
That's all folks!
Well, not quite.

I'll end with a little quiz:
1. Who got upgraded at the Elton John concert to a 6th row orchestra seat?
2. Who traveled on every monorail and visited every major casino?
3. Who played golf at 7 am two days in a row?
4. Whose room faced the parking garage?
5. Whose room had a spectacular view of the strip and the Bellagio fountains?
6. Who rated the guide at The Neon Museum as a C performance? Who gave him a B-?  Who grades tour guides and why?!
7. Who had lunch at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill aka The Red Solo Cup Place?
8. Who spent the most time at the pool?
9. Who continued on to Scottsdale after this trip to Sibling Adventure Part Two--golfing with the K's?
10. Who paid for all this? :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adventurous Weekend

Two weekends ago I visited the shore to see how the restoration of the beach and boardwalk were coming along. At Point Pleasant Beach, the commercial section of the boardwalk is almost all open and the residential sections are under active reconstruction. Good news! Of course, things may look like they are returning to normal on the outside, but inside many homes there is still much work to be done.

boardwalk above Haven's Beach
view from the ocean toward the boardwalk

Houses along the inlet are still in bad shape

I enjoyed the sunny but crisp day and then went to the brick house to stay overnight. Everything there looked fine--I walked around the house and no leaks or problems.  We had survived the winter intact.

As often happens to me when I'm on my own, I got sucked into the computer and ended up working until almost midnight. I collapsed into bed in a restless sleep. Was it too much spice in my dinner from Spike's takeout? Was it the feeling of being in a strange house with unfamiliar noises of the heat turning on and off? I wrestled with my pillow for a while and then sat up, startled by some noise. I peeked out the blinds because it first sounded like birds chirping. It's 1 AM, my rational self scolded me. Were these jet lagged birds just back from a European vacation?

I sat perfectly still. I strained to hear the chirping again, but this time it sounded like heavy breathing. I poked my head cautiously out into the short hallway which connected the smaller bedroom to the master. The hallway seemed eerily long and threatening. It's a small house, I said to myself, yet it seemed like Jack Nicholson might suddenly pop out from the bathroom, wielding a butcher knife. Get hold of yourself, I reasoned. I heard thumping now and peeked out the windows to see if there was anyone outside. Slowly, I crept down the hallway to the master bedroom and jumped into bed. All quiet. I breathed a sigh of relief. Wow. The imagination is a powerful tool.

...And then all hell broke loose. Thumping, banging into walls, running in circles--there was definitely something in the attic. When the sounds momentarily lulled, the chirping, chattering returned and then, as if a whistle had been blown, the running recommenced. Squirrel olympics? rabid raccoons? These sounds registered decibels above the mere skittering of field mice. I wasted no time and threw on my clothes, started up the car, (remembered to open the garage door), and wheels screeching, shattered the quiet of the streets. It was 1:30 AM.

Surprisingly, the parkway was crowded, but I stuck to the right lane all the way home and let the DWI's streak by me. It was 3 AM when I finally exhaled and arrived home sweet home. I fixed myself a snack and heard familiar snoring from upstairs. The next morning I woke at 8 and found my husband sitting at the breakfast table, just finishing up the Sunday sports section before heading off to work. He was surprised. What are you doing home? I pointed to the note I'd left for him on the counter and my coat and bag on the chair.
Oh--I missed them. 
You probably would have missed it, too, if a van pulled up last night at 3 AM and emptied out the entire first floor. 
I married a man who would have slept through the minor annoyance of a squirrel olympics with no problem.

My trapper arrived on Tuesday. You're not allowed to kill wildlife, so Balance of Nature promised to trap and remove whatever animals you were harboring. I was drawn to the ad for Nuke 'em Pest Control, but I figured, despite the oddly comforting image on their trucks of a mushroom cloud surrounded by dead pestilence, that even they would have to follow state regulations.

My main concern was that the trapper might not be able to find the small holes through which the animals had entered. Was I wrong! Stevie Wonder could have found the three big holes in the roof near the gutters. Walking around the house I had missed them because basically I was looking below the gutters. Step back 10 feet and look up again and you can't believe it. They found fresh evidence of squirrels, older signs of raccoons and a bird's nest to boot- a veritable menagerie. Previously I would have loved this picture which a wisecracking friend sent me. Now it just looks sinister.

How can you not love me?