Sunday, June 6, 2010


A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~Lao Tzu

A little late with this post, but many life changes were (and are) underway that have prevented me from focusing on this blog. Plus, this is a looong one with lots of photos for you to enjoy. So without further adieu…

Baby-daddy and I took our daughter on her 3rd and longest road trip so far in her young life, and her first visit into the land of the overgrown id running amuck in what is known as “Disneyland for adults." AKA, Las Vegas! Interesting choice for a toddler…I know.

We didn’t know how well she’d do in the car…5, 6 hours I think? I was worried, but we got off to a good start with plenty of toys and snacks to occupy her time.

I packed enough for us to live for 6 months in the Andes rather than a week in Vegas. Less than a week. A few days really. Baby-daddy grumbled as he packed the car. I told him to get used to it. Especially if we have any more children. It will forever be his job to act as the family ass. Oh, you know what I mean. A donkey. A donkey hauls a lot of crap for people. I wasn't calling my husband-to-be a jackass. Tst tst. Please. Just a large hairy mammal capable of carrying 3 times their body weight.

Here we go!

Please pay no attention to the face devoid of any makeup and the crows feet creaking out of my eyes in the pic above…it was an early morning. Early mornings after 40 should be banned.

Lia was great – in good spirits and entertaining herself even after a few hours. We stopped at a park in Barstow to stretch our legs where Lia enjoyed some swing time.

I made the mistake of thinking her diaper would hold out until we left. I was wrong. While we dodged the sun under a picnic shelter (it was wicked hot), I suddenly felt a warm oozing sensation on my lap. My very relaxed daughter was relieving herself on my leg. I suspect she was getting me back for making her sit in a car seat for 3 hours. While I changed clothes in the cramped back seat, an elderly man sat in the car next to us staring straight ahead. Not moving. I wondered if he was dead. I was about to call 911 but then he started the car and drove away. Weird. I think he was trying to channel some aliens out there. That's where they go to pick up people you know. I don't think I could live in a place like that. I'd be too freaked out every night expecting to see a bald, green misshapen alien face with big black eyes peaking through my window while I'm sleeping.


Need some hand sanitizer Mommy?

And off we went.

Road trips are awesome. Did you know there is a road called “Zzyzx” that runs across the freeway in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve? We’re driving for miles through the middle of the desert and suddenly there’s a sign for "Zzyzx Rd." I mean, come on…that’s just lazy. Somebody was smoking too much peyote out there in the sun.

A little road side attraction that boasted "Old Woman Meteorite" drew my attention. I couldn’t resist. As Baby-daddy often says, I'm a marketer's dream. He pulled over so I could take a look at the gigantic rock inside.

It's over 6,000 pounds and dated at 4 ½ billion years old. That's older than the Earth. Can you imagine? Older than the EARTH. Makes you wonder where the hell in the universe it came from. And if they take road trips in outer space.

Looks like a giant pile of dog poop to me.

We climbed back in the car and a little later made our way across the Nevada border.

If you blink you'll miss this little blop of legalized gambling in the middle of the desert…

Only to discover that we had 41 more miles of nothingness left to drive through before Vegas.

And I mean NOTHING…

You know you're in the southern California desert when Joshua Trees start popping up all over…

Suddenly, Bono's "Where the Streets Have No Name" is bouncing around in my head. Joshua Tree is by far one of the best rock albums EVER.

The stark beauty of the desert is a bit surreal.

Suddenly, Shangri-la rose up like a space ship out of the earth.

We made it! We're in Vegas, baby!

We headed straight into the strip for a few blocks…

Turned the corner and immediately waved bye-bye to the chaos. (Nice family welcome, Ballys…)

And arrived at our sanctuary…the house of Baby-daddy’s business partner. Lia and I tagged along for a "working vacation."

Otherwise, I would have chosen to drive up to Big Sur. Gotta do that before California falls into the ocean.

The boys talked biz while Lia and I spread out in their enormous, very cool, retro style, rock-n-roll house. Apparently, the house where the movie “Casino” was filmed is the next block over.

I mean look at that GIGANTIC TV screen! It’s as big as my kitchen.

Lia made herself at home running from room to room all week.

And she quickly learned the artful craft of lounging by the pool…


Yet another cool room…

I'm sorry I didn't take any photos of the Rock n Roll room ~ autographed guitars line the ceiling while shag carpeting and a very cool, curved red velvet sofa frame the big screen TV and martini bar in the corner. I can see Frank Sinatra AND Robert Plant feeling very at home in this room.

Mommy got a bad case of house envy. And then became a bit claustrophobic upon returning to her cramped little condo by the beach. Well…it’s actually a rather large condo considering the neighborhood, but when you have a child, you’re entire outlook on how much space you need to keep sane changes. I now understand why all my Chicago friends fled to the suburbs after having babies. I’m at the point where I’ll gladly trade my beach-side community for S - P - A - C - E (can you hear the echo?).

One random Wednesday night I grabbed some much needed girl-time by the pool with our gracious hostess and this fabulous bottle of "Bitch" wine I found at Whole Foods.

Later a few of our hosts’ international friends randomly dropped by…

That guy sitting on the chair in the back is a famed early rock-n-roll photographer who has worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin…to name drop just a few. (Hey, if I can’t name drop in Hollywood, I can at least name drop in Vegas.) And that's a Kiwi holding Lia :)

So back to Whole Foods…I needed some basic baby supplies when we arrived so Lia and I toured the strip on our way to the new Town Square on the south end of town next to the airport (which is like The Grove on steroids…if you're an Angelino, you’ll understand that reference). I snapped photos with one hand while steering with the other…not the safest, but traffic is slow along the strip so no worries. None of the locals take that route anyway ~ just dumb tourists like me. That was the most interesting drive to a grocery store I’ve ever taken. I’ve been to Vegas many times but never took so many photos of the strip. I guess I thought I was too cool to stop and take photos before. I’m old. I’ve birthed a human. I’ve lost all sense of dignity.

Lia was entranced…

So pedestrian to have a CVS next to these gargantuan casinos.

But Lia quickly became bored with the scene…

Talk about a blast from the past…

Donny & Marie were my idols when I was in grade school. I can't believe they still have an audience. We used to dress up and sing songs from their variety show in the front yard using jump ropes as microphones. I always got stuck playing "Donny" as I was taller than all the other girls in the neighborhood. I hated that. Lia is already in the 90th percentile for height, which means she'll probably follow in my footsteps as the tallest girl in her class. But things have changed. It's cool to be tall now. I was just a geek that the other girls taunted on the playground in the 6th grade. They threw kick-balls at me while I tried to swing as high as possible and fly away…away from that little school playground in my little home town, and away from their small minds. Only to be brought back to earth as they chanted heinous made-up lyrics to popular songs, knowing that eventually the class bell would ring and we'd all have to line up and go back inside…together. That year was my hell on earth. I swear I will rip the hair off of any child that treats my daughter like that.

Ooh. Got a little dark there. Having my own child has brought back memories of all kinds from my childhood…the good and the bad. Still harboring a little resentment I guess to that bratty red-haired girl, the leader of the pack, who basically gang-raped my ego at the tender age of ten years old. Ah, but life goes on. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

Yeah, that's a load of crap.

How do I go off on these tangents?! Drives Baby-daddy nuts.

Anyhoo…in the parking lot of Whole Foods, I actually sat in the lot while Lia snoozed and timed the arriving planes at 3 minutes apart. At one point, I thought mall security was going to come and harass me. I don’t blame them. Who stands on their car and takes pictures of the planes arriving into the Vegas airport with a sleeping toddler strapped in the back seat? I’m sure people thought I was nuts…or a terrorist…or an angry suburban housewife chasing her cheating husband all over the world.

I get obsessed over stupid things like that. Especially when I’m trying to waste time so my sleeping babe can catch a few more Zzz’s in the back seat. Anyway, look how close the planes are to the buildings and trees. The airport is literally right next to the strip. It’s like RIGHT THERE.

Vegas is not a big town. And they want to make it as easy as possible to get people in the casinos and as fast as possible to empty money from their pockets.

Later in the week, we toured my fave hotel…the Bellagio. I love this place…always have to take a peek when I’m in town. So majestic.

Lia and Daddy pose in the lobby alongside the beautiful artistry of Dale Chihuly’s hand-blown glass poppies on the ceiling.

(Sorry big guy…I know you would prefer if I didn’t post photos of you in my little blog experiment, but considering the fact that I am the family photographer, approximately 99.999% of the photos I take of our precious daughter have YOUR face in the way. So get over it. Besides…I think you’re cute.)



That was Lia’s handiwork above. I walk away from my desk (aka the dining room table) for 10 seconds and she’s already trying to hack my computer. Loosely translated, it means, “Yes Father. You should always listen to Mother. She knows best.”

Playing in the whimsical garden area of the hotel…a la Alice in Wonderland.

On our way to see the giant water fountain show outside…my favorite part!!

The Paris hotel is in the background here – it’s across the street from the Bellagio.

We’ve taken our places and are waiting for the show to begin.

I love this…makes me feel like I’m one of those cool guys from the Oceans 11-12-13 movies. I wonder if we’re standing in the exact same place they ended the first movie. Great scene. They make thievery look glamorous.

If I were reincarnated as a man, I’d want to be Brad Pitt so I could look at myself all day in the mirror. Seriously. What a GORGEOUS human being. He and George Clooney are ridiculously hot. HOT. Yes Baby-daddy…I said it out loud. They are both on my “list”. That same list you put Milla Jovovich on. Yeah, that list.

Although, I don’t think I could handle as big a brood as Brad. My God, they’d have to put me in a straight jacket. Of course, Brangelina’s combined net income could afford them a small country. I can’t imagine their staff of nannies. They must work round the clock. So I’ll rephrase that…if…IF…I made as much money as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt combined, I’d gladly birth the soccer team Baby-daddy wanted us to have when we originally discussed the idea of children. We’d call ourselves, THE SPARTANS…and I’d lounge on the sidelines under the shade of a giant, sweet-smelling Magnolia tree sipping pomegranate mimosas while servants massage my feet with essential oils and lightly spray me with cool lavender water as I cheer my team on to victory.

Can you hear the angels sing?

But then the fountain show ends and I come back to earth realizing {duh} that I have to navigate through masses of human beings with a stroller burdened with touristy crap and an oversized toddler, find a public restroom and change a poopy diaper.


The next day, Lia watched as the pool people went to work…

And as Daddy went to work out by the pool…

Then SHE went to work on terrorizing the two Himalayan cats…

You’ll notice I didn’t post a pic of the cats standing anywhere near Lia because they would never allow her to be in close proximity.

Playing with Mommy at a restaurant on our last night…

And behaving very well considering how late it was…

Finally it was time to go. I really didn’t rest much (even though Baby-daddy somehow thought that packing a toddler for a long road trip and a week’s stay somewhere other than home would be a vacation for me)… but it was NICE to be in a different environment for a week. And I do love road trips…the adventure of taking off in a car with a map gives me a renewed sense of freedom. Freedom is good.

Lia loved the cats, though they didn’t love her. And I loved the house…although after spilling water on the floor in the bathroom and mopping it up with a white bath towel only to set a basket on top of it causing the dye from the reeds to bleed out all over the beautiful white towel…I think our hosts did not love me so much. I’ll just never be the cool kid.

Here's the back side of the Bellagio on our way out of Dodge…

Adios Vegas!

Onward and upward to new and exciting adventures with my little family of three…

Can you spot Lia in this photo?

Soon our little adventurer was fast asleep.

But not for long. Wakey wakey, time for lunch!

We stopped at the infamous Mad Greek Cafe in Baker for some yummy gyros.

Such a crazy, touristy truck stop of a town in the middle of Death Valley.

Love the kitsch…

Later we visited the same park where the peeing-on-Mommy's-leg incident occurred.

And then some more nothingness for a few hours.

But getting closer to the beautiful San Gabriel range…LA is on the other side!

Soon enough, we are back in the smog-infested town of eternal traffic we call home…

The 405. Our public parking lot.

Home stretch!

Almost there baby…

Finally… Home Sweet Home.

Ahhh…so nice to be back at the beach.

Til next time…

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves, in finding themselves. ~Andre Gide