Las Vegas…here we come!!!…Gambling?

Often, we see motorbikes loaded with products being delivered to a variety of the tiny shops in the neighborhood which sell candy, soda, cigarettes and snacks.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Colorful fishing boat with crew at the end of a long night.

We don’t gamble, not in casinos.  One could say we gamble with the quality of our lives every single day.  We’ll agree with that.  However, we have no interest in sitting at a slot machine or card table, giving away money we’ve carefully budgeted for many more interesting events in our lives.

Many people love gambling in casinos.  Their occasional wins interspersed with more losses keep them engaged in the concept that its a worthwhile pleasurable activity.  If one can do so without serious consequences in their lives, have at it! 

Decorative hand carved door in the neighborhood.

If we gambled and lost US $300, IDR $4,001,250 at a poker table that would be groceries for two weeks outside the US or 10 separate day trips with a driver in Bali or the cost of excess luggage fees on Qantas airlines for a flight to Sydney from wherever. 

Tom used to enjoy playing blackjack.  Years ago, he gave it up when one day it dawned on him that his losses were greater than his wins and it just wasn’t a logical way to spend hard earned money. 

Even I had my days, way back when, of playing on occasion at one of the American Indian owned casinos in Minnesota or in Las Vegas when visiting eldest son Richard, a successful real estate agent, who’s lived in Henderson, Nevada (a suburban city near Las Vegas) for almost 30 years. 

Local gathering place and temple.

For the past 20 years neither of us has played a single casino game…not in casinos, not on cruise ships and not at a single slot machine at the airport in Nevada.  Nada. None. That’s not to say we wouldn’t play a friendly game of cards or dice with family or friends.  We’re OK losing a few bucks to people to love.  That’s different.

Why are we discussing gambling?  After yesterday’s posting of our plans for visiting Minnesota for six weeks beginning next May, we’d be amiss not to mention where we’ll be spending our remaining three weeks during the 2017 trips to the US. 

Statues to be mounted in front yard temple at house construction site in the neighborhood.

Its hard to be in Las Vegas and not visit some of the new hotels we’ve yet to see while wandering through casino after casino.  We’re confident we won’t have any trouble avoiding the tables and slot machines.

By the time we arrive in Las Vegas on July 7, 2017, we won’t have been there since December, 2012 when we rented a vacation home in Henderson not far from Richard during which time three of Tom’s sisters and two brothers-in-law came to stay with us. 

Also, members of my family visited for Tom’s birthday on December 23rd and for Christmas a few days later.  It was a memorable time spent together especially when we were only days away from leaving the US to begin our world journey.

If cows can be pretty, we thought this is quite lovely.

(By the way, when we count how long we’ve actually been gone, we consider the day we left Minnesota on Halloween, October 31, 2012.  We spent two more months in both Scottsdale, Arizona and Henderson, Nevada making final preparations to leave the US. 

On January 3, 2013, (here’s the post from that date) after driving to San Diego, California we sailed on our first ever cruise which fulfilled one of Tom’s dreams of traversing the Panama Canal.  Son Richard and sister Julie said goodbye at the pier which meant so much to us).

This road we walk in the neighborhood has a fair amount of motorbike traffic.

Next July after we’ve completed the six weeks in Minnesota we’ll be visiting son Richard in Henderson, sister Susan in Las Vegas and seeing sister Julie, who’ll fly in from Los Angeles for a visit while we’re there.  During the three week  stay (until we fly to Costa Rica to our next vacation home in our itinerary on July 31, 2017), we’ll stay with Richard at his home in Henderson. 

Three weeks is a long time to stay in the home of others.  Many have offered that we stay with them during these past years but we’ve always turned them down politely, appreciating the kind offer. 

There are several factors that make staying with Richard easier for all of us:

1. He doesn’t have a cat. I’m allergic.  I can spend a few hours in a home with cats but never overnight when allergies are always worse.
2. He has room for us.  We refuse to ever allow any family member to vacate their room, their personal space for us.  Its simply not fair especially for extended periods.
3. He doesn’t cook and doesn’t expect or want us to prepare food.  We’ll either bring in something or eat out, hoping he’ll join us when it works for him.
4. He has a pool.  We love pools.
5. He has a weekly cleaning person.  There’s no expectation that we’ll be “earning our keep” by cleaning.
6. He’s gone all day working and we’ll have the house to ourselves with less time for us to annoy him with our daily routine.
7.  He has a hysterical pug, Monty, whom we adore.  It will be enjoyable taking him for walks and hanging out with him.  We wonder if he’ll remember us from almost five years ago.

Elaborate front yard temple.

For these above reasons, staying with Richard will be relatively easy.  No doubt, its never easy to stay with anyone in their home for three weeks.  I’ve heard nightmarish stories from friends when family came to stay for extended periods.  However, we’ve stayed with him in past visits and its worked out well.

So, there it is folks, our US visit wrapped up in two neat little bundles with a goal to spend most of our time with family and also to spend a some of our time with our dearest friends, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch over this long period. 

We hope you’ll spend quality time with those you love, especially on Father’s Day in the US tomorrow.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2015:

Trinity Beach, Australia has a lot to offer; ocean, mountains and plains with gorgeous scenery.  We enjoyed our three months in the lovely, relatively serene area.  For more photos, please click here.
 

Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada check in…

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, to our vacation rental in Green Valley Ranch, a newer community with massive amounts of stores, restaurants, gated communities, and a  mere sprinkling of casinos. 

It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas with its slot machines in every gas station or public building.  Instead, it feels welcoming, safe, and low on tourists.

Entering the single-family home for the eight days we reserved over Tom’s birthday and Christmas, we knew immediately that we were “home.” A fresh smell wafted through the air (love that word!), welcoming us as we maneuvered through the door arms laden with “stuff.”

Unloading my arms onto the living room floor, I ran about from room to room squealing with delight. Each room had its own surprise to behold. 

From the stack of perfectly folded crisp white towels and washcloths in each of three bedrooms, two baths, and an ample linen closet, to the full-size bars of new soaps atop each stack, no stone was left unturned.  

The kitchen, fully stocked with every amenity, had a “working” ice machine, ground coffee, cream, some basic ingredients along with every small appliance we could possibly use.  Three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, stereo, and old fashioned boxed games were available for our entertainment.

The pool, although not heated and an extra $100 a day to heat (it’s too cold here now in the 30s!) has a free-use hot tub (forgot my suit) in a well-equipped yard with high top table, chairs, and a huge newer grill. Too bad it’s not 90 degrees!

The rent for the eight days, although much more than we’ll pay outside the US for most houses, was fair at $1500 which included a $250 cleaning deposit which we expect to get back.  We did the math.  Most likely we would have paid $165 a night for a hotel (including taxes) during the holidays, plus tips, valet parking, plus all meals in a restaurant, and how much lost with easy access to gambling.  Surely we would have spent at least $400 a day for an estimate of $3200.

Staying in this lovely home, cooking for Tom’s party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including our guests, our grocery and dining out budget is $1050, leaving us with a total of $2300 saving us $900 or more depending on how much we’d have lost gambling (we don’t usually gamble but when it’s at hand, it’s hard to resist). 

This is the first Christmas in my adult life that I won’t be shopping in a frenzy, wrapping gifts with elaborate hand made bows, baking a wide array of delectable cookies, and of course, decorating every corner of the house. In an odd way, it’s liberating.  We’ll miss family back in Minnesota and we’ll revel in family and friends here in Nevada.  Life is filled with trade-offs.

Soon, we’ll head to our two dentist appointments for our final cleanings, then off to the travel clinic for Tom’s final Twinrix vaccine.  Then, to the grocery store for the ingredients for the lesser amount of baking, I’ll do this year. 

It won’t be gluten-free, low carb, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free.  It will be delicious, fattening, gooey, filling up this lovely home with smells that remind us of “home.”  I won’t take a taste.  Tom will take off a few days for this special time, his 60th birthday, and some of his favorite treats.

Hum. There’s no rolling pin. What shall I use in its place?

P.S. After writing the above this morning, then rushing out the door to the dentist’s office, I had yet to post it. Upon returning a few minutes ago, it was imperative that I amend it.  We just had the most amazing dental appointment in our lives, a referral from son Richard at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office in Henderson, Nevada.

Walking into his plush, well-appointed office puts me, a dental phobic, instantly at ease. From the elegant, upscale furnishings to the artwork to the well-equipped beverage bar and, the service, impeccable!  Even the restroom was a sight to behold with every imaginable accouterment. 

It almost felt as if we should tip not only the receptionist, but also Terry, the knowledgeable, personable, and thoughtful hygienist.  Instead of the usual hand performed cleaning, scraping away at our gums and teeth, Terry used a laser implement as an adjunct to the traditional cleaning. She used “before and after” photos that were shocking. 

After the cleaning, she performed what she referred to as “sandblasting” the surface of our teeth with a high powered baking soda spray.  The taste was awful.  The result, mind-blowing. My teeth hadn’t been this white since I was a toddler. We couldn’t be happier. 

As we paid our reasonable bill of $226 (for both of us), they thanked us profusely handing us a giant apple pie! Who gets an apple pie from the dentist?  I was thrilled with the bag of dental supplies Terry loaded up for our travel. And then, this giant pie. Wow! 

Need I say that we were impressed?  If you live near or around Henderson or are visiting Las Vegas and a dental situation arises, Dr. Simone’s office is the place to call.

Gee, for the eight days we’re, here in Henderson over the holidays, this does feel like home, minus the grandkids, the grown kids, the friends, the beautifully decorated tree, the elegantly wrapped gifts, the oversized glass jars filled with home-baked cookies, the Santa Bears adorning every corner and on and on.

Life will be different going forward.  Good, but, different.