Summer of 2015: Hot, Hot, Hot

June has been horribly hot here in Las Vegas – it feels more like July weather. Last year, we enjoyed a cooler than normal June. Of course, we’re hoping that we’ll have June weather in July but I fear July will be as hot as ever.

Still, when the sun goes down, we slip into the hot tub, soak for awhile, and with our bodies cooled by water, we relax on our lounge chairs and it’s absolutely perfect. In the desert, it’s all about the sun. If you’re in the shade, or under a cloud cover, or out after dark, it’s quite comfortable.

And the hot season is relatively short – June, July, and August is about it. Unlike Florida where summer lasts for 6-7 months and the shade or even the A/C doesn’t fight the humidity all that well. When we attended orientation for the new house we’d bought, they instructed the “northerners” (Florida always assumes you’re from the north – not the west) that you can only cool off the house so much – the humidity will fight you no matter how low you turn down the thermostat.

Friday night is cigar and martinis under the stars night and we’ll stay out later than usual, enjoying our hot desert nights.

Summer of 2015: New Chef at Artist Point

Rich sent mewl_dock the link to an article about the new chef at Artist Point. So I can’t help but think about the last time we were at Artist Point. It was for my birthday 3 years ago. Whoa! We were staying at Wilderness Lodge for the birthday weekend before we moved back from Florida the second time. The shortsightedness on my part whenever we move back west is the reality that it’ll be awhile before we can get back to WDW.

Wilderness Lodge is the resort we’ve chosen to celebrate our birthdays more than any other resort. We love the atmosphere, the water, the boat dock, the pool, the bars, the restaurants, the gift shop, and the service. So we can’t help but think about it during our summer birthday season. (I’ll be celebrating this year at Napa Rose in the Grand Californian, so similar to Wilderness Lodge in architecture.)

Browsing the menu items on the new Artist Point menu, I’m also reminded of the last time the Artist Point menu had changed. We wrote about that in Artist Point Mini Vacay. That meal was a night to remember. Thankfully, some of our favorites will still be on the Artist Point menu. But I did have to chuckle when I read this:

Every dish on the menu gets a wine pairing from sommelier Alvin Burrill, with each selection from Washington or Oregon. But Alvin also might recommend a Pacific Northwest ale if you ask, like the handcrafted Rogue Ales made in partnership with Voodoo Donuts (strange but true).

Actually, not strange at all. I learned to drink beer by pairing it with donuts when I was a teen-ager living in the Pacific Northwest. You must drink beer when you live in Oregon. :)

Unfortunately, now beer triggers a bit of a wheat allergy and then I can’t eat bread either. As long as I avoid beer, I can also eat bread. And as a bread addict, I’ll gladly give up beer.

Summer of 2015: Desert Mornings and Desert Nights

I don’t know which is better – relaxing out on a chaise in the morning or after soaking in the hot tub at night. The mornings are magical, but I swear, I could sleep out there all night long.

It all started as a kid, road trips through the southwest, stopping for the night in a motel, swimming in the pool – glorious at night.

HiltonPoolIn the ’80s when I started taking trips to Las Vegas as an adult, I often stayed at what was then known as the Las Vegas Hilton. We were often there for trade shows and I would relax out by the pool. I’d flip up my umbrella for a cocktail and pretend I was on a cruise ship. For lunch, I’d have a hamburger at the poolside grill, race up to my room to watch my soaps, and then back down for some tanning and relaxation out by the pool. This is the pool where they filmed Elvis and Me, which I was able to watch from my room.

In the ’80s, I also traveled to Reno and Tahoe from my condo in San Bruno. In fact, the ’80s were a great time to travel. Unlike some parts of the country, I was well-employed, had generous vacation, and travel prices were low. And the types of trips I took back then were mostly for adults. Cruises were not the family vacation they are now. I traveled when kids were in school and you rarely saw kids on a ship. Even Walt Disney World, during the school year, consisted mostly of retirees.

In fact, my whole adult life was very adult-oriented. Most of my friends in the Bay Area did not have kids. And life was so hectic for those who did, well, I just couldn’t imagine that for me. Places we traveled, ate, drank, did not have kids there. I remember this one couple at a Japanese restaurant in Reno saying, “This is why we don’t have kids – so we can do things like this.”

Now life is all about kids, kids, kids. I like kids just fine. Some I really adore – especially at Disney! Some I’d like to have for my own. I’ll be the first to stick up for kids. The problem for me is that there seems to be very few adult-only places anymore. There used to be a bigger separation. But it’s like there’s this new focus on having kids and life is all about kids as if we’re back in the ’50s and ’60s in a bad housewife reality show.

And for those without kids, well, it becomes rather tedious. Like reading the cruise boards and everybody’s talking about kid activities. Or women competitors on a cooking show playing up the mom role and talking about cooking for their kids. What happened to cooking for her husband or for her family? Why is it all about mom and kids? This is an example of something good and natural becoming unbalanced.

What’s nice about living in Las Vegas is that you can do so many things without kids. When we want to see kids, we go to Disney and like I said, I adore them there – I’m tempted to borrow one just for that – lol! I used to take my niece to Disney and that was a heck of a lot of fun. But it would be nice if the internet wasn’t so focused on kids and moms, kids and moms. I think it’s more about the internet than the reality of moms and kids. After all, my life is changed now and Rich and I are the proud parents of 3 furry kids.

But with the way the internet sometimes distorts reality, well, no wonder I sometimes want to disconnect and relax out by the “pool,” as if I’m somewhere in the ’80s and ’90s. My backyard oasis is calling me now…

Summer of 2015: Alaska Cruises, Salmon, and Fishing Shacks

1219fishingshack4The Alaska cruise season is in full swing and as much as I love cruising and the beauty of Alaska, I’m thinking one cruise to Alaska is enough. We took our cruise in 2001 when we were living in the Pacific Northwest. I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have because it was just too much like Oregon.

It’s somewhat more appealing now that we’re living in Las Vegas, but I don’t think we’re up for another Alaska cruise. And when people start posting pics of Salmon, well, I think about my mother and step dad’s creek house on the Oregon Coast. They learned very early that the salmon spawning in their backyard creek were protected, and it was strictly hands off.

So either it’s friends cruising Alaska or the fact that today is my step dad’s first birthday since he passed away last August, but I’m thinking about him and about one of my early songs, Fishing Shack. My step dad, supportive of my music til the end of his life, inspired this song. I think it captures his spirit, but it is not biographical.

The lyrics, by the way, were called “seductive” by a Nashville mentor, which is appropriate since he was used to women falling all over him, being seduced by his good looks and charm.

Fishing Shack

Kathy Holmes, C. 2014

Verse 1

On the back deck of his fishing shack where the salmon run every fall
He grinds out his cigarette and tosses it in the creek
He commits some kind of offense – it wouldn’t be the first, ya’ll
With the secrets he keeps down by that old fishing stream

Chorus

Innocent or guilty or was it a crime
Was he an accomplice or the real master mind?
The answer lies between the cracks
Down by the old Fishing Shack

Verse 2

In her fancy hilltop house, she keeps him in the dark
After so many years of marriage, she refuses to talk
Like his daddy before him, he’s an ornery cuss
An afternoon of fishing, tending to his lusts

Chorus

Innocent or guilty or was it a crime
Was he an accomplice or the real master mind?
The answer lies between the cracks
Down by the old Fishing Shack

Verse 3

The one thing he is guilty of, she never lets him forget
Seducing her from another, he’s the first to admit
He’s always liked the ladies, that’s his biggest flaw
So he pleads the fifth as he drinks a fifth and hides out from the law

Chorus

Innocent or guilty or was it a crime
Was he an accomplice or the real master mind?
The answer lies between the cracks
Down by the old Fishing Shack

(A work tape is on SoundCloud)

Summer of 2015: Hot Tubbing and Disney Dreaming

Ever since the hot tub arrived, we’ve been so enjoying ourselves in our backyard that I’m not really thinking about the past all that much – lol! But I do want to share another story from those days in the Bay Area with my condo and pool and walking trips.

One of the places I used to walk was a path along Crystal Springs Reservoir – sometimes with a friend and sometimes by myself. And when I was solo, I’d listen to my first Disneyland soundtrack cassette and dream of my next trip to Disneyland. And that led to my first trip to WDW in 1982.

crystal920x920Catching up with Disney World trip reports on Passporter, well, I’m so craving a trip. It doesn’t look good for this year, especially since we bought the hot tub.

The birthday trip will be interesting because either we’ll feel like we celebrated Disneyland’s 60th already or we’ll be craving a fall trip.

But you never know what we might do – I’m interviewing for a part-time remote contract and here’s hoping this is the one that’ll fund some fun. :)

Summer of 2015: Countdown to the Birthday / Beach / Napa Rose / Wine Weekend: The Plan

For my birthday weekend next month, we’re going to stay at the beach (2 free nights with breakfast included), play at the beach, and do a bit of wine tasting at the beach. And, oh yeah, birthday dinner at the Napa Rose Chef’s Counter at the Grand Californian at Disneyland Resort.

We’ve got our beach chairs, beach umbrella, and beach blanket ready to pack and, yeah, some Coppertone, which smells like our childhood beaches growing up.

Here’s how my birthday weekend is shaping up, but you never know with us. The only thing we know is that we have a ressie for the Chef’s Counter iat Napa Rose.

Saturday:

Morning: Drive to Huntington Beach from Las Vegas
Afternoon: Check into hotel, unpack mini wine bottles, cheese, crackers, etc.
Late afternoon/evening: relax at the beach/sunset/bonfires at the beach
Dinner: Surf City Tacos
Evening: Wine/cheese/crackers in room

Sunday:

Morning: Whittier church (scoping out Orlando’s sister church) or Anaheim church / lunch with Rich’s aunt
Late morning/early afternoon: Wine tasting
Afternoon: Rest/nap
Evening: Drive to Disneyland Resort, shop at Downtown Disney, soak up the atmosphere, listen to some music, grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Dinner: Cocktails/snacks at Trader Sam’s

Monday:

Morning: Stake out place on beach at Corona del Mar
Lunch: Picnic sandwiches
Afternoon: Rest/nap
Evening: Birthday dinner at Napa Rose

Tuesday:

Morning: After breakfast, drive home to Las Vegas
Afternoon: Rest with kitties

There’s always more to do than we can possibly do on our short weekends but that just means we’ll have to make a trip back.

Summer of 2015: Dennylicious

Oh my goodness – Denny is back in the OC! This is another case of the summer of 2015 connecting with the past – this time the 1990s and 2011.

I was living across from Lake Elizabeth during my single days in the 1990s (I wrote about Lake Elizabeth in the Summer of 2015: Sunset Park post). When I moved from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment, my mother decided she should move in with me temporarily. Oh boy, let’s not go there – lol! But suffice it to say, it only lasted a month. :)

Anyway, the weekend before she moved out, my step dad came down from Oregon, and I remember them frolicking in the pool together. Those are fun memories.

A friend would fly down from Seattle via Alaska Airlines (her husband was an employee) and she and I and another friend would go out together. I had a lot of fun in that apartment.

aptMy apartment in Fremont

poolView of the pool from my apartment!

A co-worker and I used to travel to the OC and stay at Embassy Suites. The first time, on the trip to celebrate my divorce, we stumbled into the bar and discovered Denny. What a master entertainer! He sang everything and never seemed to take a break. What a night – this was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.

One year, my mother came down with me. She was probably just a few years younger than I am now. Later, she told me she felt so old that night. :)

Anyway, we were having a blast. We stayed in the bar listening to Denny until the wee hours of the morning – so late that we didn’t get to Disneyland until the afternoon the next day. This was something I never did – I always arrived at park opening. But Denny was that compelling.

Another friend in the Bay Area and I used to get together and bemoan the lack of entertainment in the SFO hotel area – at least at that time. As a hotel director, she recalled the days when the Peninsula was hopping with entertainment. Anyway, we’d sip wine and she’d tell stories about her favorite singer in Palm Springs and I told her about Denny.

By the time Rich and I stayed at Embassy Suites, Denny was no longer there and I lost track of him. Soon after we moved to Florida this last time (November 2011), Rich tracked him down – Denny and his wife had just moved to Florida and he was performing in the Ft. Myers, Florida area. Oh my goodness – what a surprise! I couldn’t believe it. We exchanged a couple of emails and he put us on his “Dennylicious” email list.

denny

When we left Florida the following summer, I was sorry we hadn’t made it to Ft. Myers to see Denny. Well, no need to be sorry any longer. Denny is back in the OC – or at least is on his way. His last Facebook sighting was a few days ago and he was in Vegas.

Looks like my birthday trip is timed just right – he’ll be performing in a new place (to me) in the OC the night before my birthday. I hope we get to see him.

Just one more way the past is connecting with the present this summer of 2015. Woo hoo! I feel good!