The reality of the new road kill laws

When we got off the plane I found that my vaguely sore throat had become a volcano of burning fire that had crept into my ears.

Kaety wanted to stop in Albany to do a little late Black Friday shopping for the Foster Kids Association. While she did that I opted for a visit to Urgent Care – Noble came with me as my medical advocate.

He wasn’t much use as my advocate – as I got my throat swabbed he covered his eyes. While we waited for the culture to finish baking and heard about all the different types of strep I could possibly have, he recreated all the gagging sounds I had made while getting swabbed.

We were released a few minutes later, strep free, to search for mommy in the Black Friday madness.

Even with the shopping interlude the kids had been cooped up for way too long and had turned to constant and vigorous bickering. I was in the co-pilot seat for the drive home, and in charge of telling everyone to knock it off and delivering ‘looks’. After threat-laden speech two-thousand I turned back around to hear Kaety say, “shit, shit, shit” as she clipped a huge deer with the right side of the van. The deer limped off, and we drove on intact. We spent the next few minutes sticking all our scared parts back into their places and breathing. During the whole life threatening event the kids never missed a beat in their bickering.

We spent the rest of the drive home talking about the logistics of the upcoming road kill take laws. If we’d had a road kill permit, we would have pulled over on the dark and foggy road with screaming kids in the car, found and tagged the animal. Put it out of its misery with our TSA approved set of tweezers, gutted it with the same set of tweezers and then hefted the carcass onto the roof rack of the mini van. The rest of the ride home would have been fun for the kids as they played “what’s that look like” as the blood drained down the side windows of van and made cool patterns.

We are joining the church of SkyCap

The process of departing started the night before. As we feared we had gathered more things than we had come with and neglected to bring a duffle bag. To be totally clear Kaety had suggested that we bring an extra suitcase – I had glanced at the mountain we already had amassed and gave the idea a thumbs down.

We remedied the situation with a Black Friday drive-by on a Ross. Kaety was so magnanimous, or distracted, that she did not give me a ‘told you so’.

The luggage, the car seats, the backpacks, the shuttles, the airport carts, and the mobile humans made the 20 min trek to the airport…challenging.

The SkyCap was our savior. He calmly processed 7 people and our small rural towns worth of luggage with good humor and calm. His calm became our calm.

As we walked away we decided that if SkyCap ever starts a religion we’d join up right away.

Love!

Love! Love! The Beatles. Cirque Du Soleil.

We split up – Grammy and Kaety went one night and Symone and I went to the next nights show.

Symone had little to no idea who the Beatles were – which gave us all pause. We weren’t sure if it was the natural evolution of the next generation or a fatal flaw in our parenting – like not showing her how to use a fork.

The show was stunning. I was blown away by the beauty and the artistry. It was a combination of dance, acrobatics, projection art, light, fantastical props and atmospheric effects.

The interpretations around the songs were layered, sophisticated and often moved me to tears. Symone and I had a lovely time together – at some point in the show both of us sat with our mouths open in wonder.

Real life with Uber

Great experience with our Uber driver on the way to the Love Beatles show. An Iraqi immigrant who had worked with US Troops as a translator – great guy. Good life vibe and very circumspect about the Mandalay Bay shooting. He said, “It was a terrible event. It happened everyday in my country. I’m so glad it wasn’t a Muslim who did it. America is naive about the destination that the path of violence takes you all.”

Symone had a lot of questions for me when we got out of the car.

The Thanksgiving miracle

After several memorable/traumatic buffet outings we were getting a bit twitchy thinking about going to a Thanksgiving buffet with all the kids. I started asking every local I could get my hands on for a buffet recommendation that was non-smoking, would tolerate flopping and crying and was affordable. The unanimous answer was Excalibur!

We headed over after some swimming and as soon as we hit the door we heard multiple children crying. We smiled. We were among our people!

The buffet food was set low, perfect for the kids and had all their favorites front and center.

The hostess made a special point to mention that beer and wine were free and unlimited.

A huge bump in our growing love for the place was the inclusion of crawfish on the seafood island. Noble loved them. Not to eat of course, but to play with. The crawfish had many adventures at our table while we ate in relative peace.

Another big bonus was that after last nights sleepless misery Oscar finally fell asleep. Kaety and I got to enjoy the use all four of our hands as he slept like a rock in the stroller. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!!

Desperate strollering

The cone of silence did not work. He took the cone, threw it on the ground and used it to climb to new levels of hysteria. Kaety crashed in the boy’s room while they were next door at Grammy’s and I took the baby out for a long walk in the stroller hoping he’d fall asleep. We travelled far but slept little. We did talk to lots of interesting people along the way. Yikes.

Happy Thanksgiving…?

Last night was horrible.

Oscar has had trouble sleeping in the hotel room and was coming down with a cold which coalesced into the perfect storm at 3 am. He was awake, he wasn’t happy and he had some weird crazy energy fueling him. We were up with him trying to get him back to sleep. We gave up on the sleep scenario about an hour later and turned on ‘Alaska Bush People’ which should be renamed ‘the borderline intellectual functioning family goes into the woods’. Yikes.

As the baby cried and walked on our faces I pointed to the TV and said, “Look honey, we could be living with 7 of our adult children in a 100 sq foot sod house in the middle of Alaska – things could be worse!”

She was not buying my comfort.

About an hour later, the sun was up and so were the other boys. For various reasons they also got wound up and upset so that we then had three kids crying hysterically at a volume setting of 11.

Kaety came over to me and said something I couldn’t hear over the trio of screamers, I looked at her and said, “WHAT?”

She yelled, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING! LETS GET BREAKFAST DELIVERED!”

When you are standing in an endless tornado of hysterical children sometimes hope can become an UberEATS delivered waffle. We grabbed that hope like a drowning man grabs a floating log.

As Noble and I headed down to meet Laticia in her Jeep Cherokee the Bush People on TV were off the town to ‘get some women’. God help those women.

Breakfast came and the tornado of crying was still going on. The reasons for the crying had morphed into who got more strawberries and who got to eat in their bed and who didn’t. We shipped everyone off to Grammy’s room to create a cone of silence so that the overly tired drippy-nosed mess of a baby could sleep. The Bush People got turned off – it had stopped being entertaining and was now just a re-enactment of all the family court sessions we’d been to.

Just as he fell asleep one of the kids knocked on the door. Somebody’s something had been left behind and was required to sustain life as we knew it in Grammy’s room. The knocking messenger woke up the baby of course. Against all advice to the contrary, we shot the messenger.

We had finally lost it in Las Vegas.

The Venetian is a terrible psychological experiment

We thought that the Venetian was one of Las Vegas’s most unique Hotels. Come to find out it’s actually a hideous psychological experiment that had us in its clutches for most of the day.

It all started at the Self Park. The signs were confusing and the underground parking labyrinth we were dumped into was convoluted and dark.

We all paid attention to where we parked – Grammy and Symone always come up with a mnemonic device to remember where we leave the car. We walked through the hotel lobby and noted the giant, really hard to miss, naked women carved in crystal. Emmett’s big insight at that junction of our journey made the landmark even more memorable, “Why is everything naked around this town?!”.

We went up escalators and down elevators and wandered a maze of decorative halls with the ‘streetmosphere’ and ‘Grand Canal’ as our target destinations.

There was something sinister in the vague way the directional signs kind of pointed to the right, but if you looked again they pointed to the left. The building was huge! We walked and walked but found the destination always out of reach. We asked for directions from an older blond security guard but when we followed them we ended up somewhere else.

We finally emerged outdoors and not at all where we thought we should be. The kids were starting to lose it. As we were regrouping we looked over to find Emmett with half his clothes off. Apparently he was hot.

We began our journey back to the car. This is when things got weird. We followed signs to the Self Park to find the way changed in every way. Nothing looked familiar. We took the elevator down to P1 to find no cars at all.

I asked for directions again and was kind of wigged out to note the same older blond security guard who didn’t remember us at all…and we aren’t easy to forgot.

We wandered with purpose only to back-track our steps 30 minutes later. We were past losing it. We couldn’t escape the Venetian. It was feeding on our misery.

Grammy made a bold move to strike back at the organism holding us captive by stealing pens. Emmett expressed his displeasure by smearing foam hand sanitizer all over his face and Noble and Oscar started spitting.

All of these weird and primitive acts seemed to break the building’s hold on us because we inexplicably arrived back at the naked crystal women. It was only a matter of moments before we saw a chain of familiar landmarks and made our whining, crying, back arching escape.

We spent 4 hours on the inside and only had a wet diaper, a bad attitude, and some chocolate smeared hands to show for it.

UberEATS is the best thing ever for traveling families and pot smokers

It’s very difficult eating out with all our kids on a normal day – in Vegas it’s been even more difficult. Buffets are great because everyone can get what they want but with seven people even the cheap ones rack up a hefty bill not to mention the chaos we bring with us – A baby that scatters as much as he eats and two little boys that only eat yellow things, are done in five minutes and can’t keep themselves off the floors. Each meal involves some sort of spill. We joked that our lunch at Port of Subs was a success because it only involved one orange cone.

Basically, eating out sucks.

Which is why the hero of our trip has been UberEATS.

Kaety and I already love the ease and convenience of Uber when we travel for work and vacation and we always get a bonus of a life story.

UberEATS is an app.Participating restaurants in town offer a ‘delivery’ menu – You order what you want via the app and an Uber driver picks it up and brings it to you. In Vegas we are paying between $5-8 per delivery in addition to the cost of the food.

There are a LOT of choices of restaurants and they range from fast food to upscale.

The service has saved our sanity and we’ve gotten to try a lot of food from places we’d never be able to take the kids.

It’s been a fun daily routine of browsing about a hundred restaurants and putting in two orders: one to satisfy the kids and one to satisfy the adults.

I asked one of our Uber drivers about it – what he thought, did he do it, what was it like? Apparently Nevada’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana has made the service super lucrative for Uber drivers.

Of course it has.

Freemont Zip lines

My 90-some year old grandma Olive does zip lines all the time. How hard and/or terrifying could it really be?

Pretty terrifying.

Symone really wanted to try it – so we got in line for the Freemont street ‘Slotzilla’.

We watched many people fly over us as we waited. Symone got more and more keyed up as time ticked by.

They rigged us up in harnesses of overwhelming complexity and then sent us up the stairs to the launch platform. It started to hit me as we went up seven flights of stairs just how high we were. We got to the launch gate just in time to see a member of the party in front of us have a full blown panic attack. It wasn’t helping Symone and I keep our sense of calm.

It was our turn – they had us walk out to the edge of the void and ‘sit’ into our harnesses. The act of sitting triggered us to slide out over open space. It was really freakin scary. I have rock climbed, rappelled, and done all sorts of death defying rope work, but the ‘carney’ ride vibe was really tweaking me out.

The launch came and we glided out under a canopy of lights and over the heads of drunk people. It was pretty awesome.

We landed and both of us were kind of shaken. Symone said, “I was so scared I kind of cried while I flew”.

She replayed the whole thing over and over all the way back to the hotel. It was a good time!