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Hello, friends. As promised, here’s the last installment of my vacation news. We’re back and working, catching up on things that were waiting for us.

Our vacation trip was splendid. We did all the things we wanted to do, ate yummy US food (the food here in Calgary is…well, it’s not a foodie culture), visited with friends from Los Angeles, and relaxed. I think relaxation was the most important thing. The weather in Vegas wasn’t that great, mostly cloudy and gray, but it didn’t matter from our suite on the 36th floor. The view was always fresh and pretty. I highly recommend the Venetian resort.

I don’t have photos to share with you. Although we had some photo-ops, we were forgetful and didn’t take photos as we should have. But I do have a video. I’ve never posted a vid on this blog before, so bear with me if it links funny or something.

The video is of the fireworks that were shot off at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s night, while we were in Las Vegas. Three things I’d like to point out. First, stay through the end to see the grand finale. It’s worth seeing. Second, my husband misspeaks in the soundtrack. The fireworks came from 7 hotels (including the top of ours, right overhead as we were on the top floor). And third, check out the reflection of our hotel’s fireworks off the windows of the Palazzo nearby.

Foodie moment: We ate at a funky restaurant called Sushi Samba, one night. It was a kind of wild, primitive setting, despite being at the Palazzo hotel. There were crazy graffiti pictures on the walls, and a repeating video of tribal dancing projected in several spots. The food was a combination of Brazilian, Portuguese, and Japanese. That sounds pretty weird, huh? But it was remarkably good. Strange, but good. We ordered in the Japanese style: “omakase”, which means “trust.” You set a price point and trust the chef will offer dishes that meet your expectations at that price. They did a superlative job with it. There was more food than we could eat. The cocktails were also unique and delicious. If you want an good foodie experience that leads to stories, try Sushi Samba at the Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas.

Speaking of stories, I have one last trip story to impart. Our return trip was travel hell. The weather was wet (unusual for the desert, even in winter), but we weren’t daunted. It seemed pretty mild to us. And, because it is an international flight, we got to the airport about 3 hours in advance of our 6:40 p.m. flight. Those are always boring hours, but we were armed with our iPads, books, and I had my knitting, so we were prepared. We got through check-in and security with no problems. Both of us hate the “naked body scanners” (body x-ray system) but we persevered and took our radiation dose. Once we got to the gate we got an unpleasant surprise, however: our plane was delayed by 5 hours. The rain had, apparently, prevented a lot of flights from landing at McCarren (Las Vegas’ international airport) because that airport has no Automated Landing System, which is technology used by a great many airports for bad-weather landings. Generally, Las Vegas has good weather, so such an expensive system had never been necessary. So, because of this rainstorm, flights into McCarren were delayed or even canceled.

We dreaded the idea of sitting at the airport gate for 5 extra hours (remember, we were already early by 3 hours, so the total would have been 8), so we cast about for solutions. We have an American Express card, and found out that American Express has a “club” at McCarren. We sought it out and discovered that for a fee, we could utilize their lounge, including free food and cocktails, for our wait time. We jumped at the chance. There were couches, comfy chairs, tables, power sockets, decent food, and ever-flowing alcohol (and other drinks). The place was quite busy owing to all the delayed flights, but it had room for us, and it was a hugely better alternative to the hard chairs at the gate. So we knitted, read, and video’d until it was time for our plane to board. We got to the gate again and saw that the flight was still 5 hours behind, but we were nearing the end goal, so we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually, the plane was ready to board just before midnight. Leaving at midnight meant that we’d be landing at about 3 a.m.

home dog 15377316_sKen and I had not brought parkas with us to Las Vegas. It seemed stupid to drag heavy weather gear on our vacation where it would certainly not be used, so we were woefully unprepared for a middle of the night landing in Calgary. As the pilot was taxiing the plane into Calgary international airport, he said that the temperature outside was “minus 50” (Celcius, which is about -58 F). We thought of what it would be like waiting in the frostbite-inducing outdoors while hailing a cab in the middle of the night, and decided to stay overnight (or over what was left of the night) at the Delta Hotel at the Calgary airport, and embark on our homeward ride right from the taxi stand at the hotel at a reasonably “warm” time of day the next day (Wednesday). So we trudged through the airport, never going outside, until we got to the hotel, checked in–this was about 4:15 a.m. because we had to go through customs at the airport. Turns out, the pilot of the plane had actually said it was “minus 15” not 50 (so about 5 F), and we probably could have braved the cold for just long enough to get home. But c’est la vie; we were tired, and it seemed like a good idea at the time to stay at the airport hotel. The next afternoon, we got a cab and trundled home. Our last day of vacation–intended to be a post-travel rest and recuperation day–was completely lost. But, at least we had that cushion day and didn’t need to worry about going immediately back to work the same day we got home.

That was our “travel hell” experience. Awful as it was, the vacation was worth the travel inconvenience. We had a lovely time and anticipate something equally lovely for our 25th anniversary, just 5 years away.

Thanks for following along my anniversary maunderings. Back to normal now!

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