We made it to Las Vegas after a frustrating experience at the McCarren Airport…Glad to be getting settled…

Tom’s taco salad at Lindo Michoacan in Henderson, where we all dined last night.
After my flight booking error, we were hoping for a seamless experience in getting to Las Vegas on the early flight I’d booked on Thursday night when I realized I had booked the original flight for the wrong date, August 1st, as opposed to July 7th.

My error cost us $719 since the flight I’d booked in June for July 7th was entirely non-refundable. Human error.  Plain and simple. By the time we arrive at Terminal 2 in Minneapolis, I’d decided to stop beating myself up.  After all, we hadn’t made a booking error in almost five years. It was inevitable that eventually, that would happen. 

With sheer will and determination, I plugged away online to find an alternative flight. I couldn’t believe the high prices for last-minute flights to Las Vegas. I’d always assumed that last-minute flights to Las Vegas would be a bargain. Not the case.

Awakening at 4:30 am, I bolted out of bed and showered and dressed as quickly as I could to allow Tom plenty of time to do the same. By 5:30, after packing the last of the toiletries and digital equipment, we were out the door and on our way, hoping to arrive at the airport two hours before the domestic flight.

Recently, we’ve discovered that getting to the airport one hour before a domestic flight isn’t possible anymore.  With beefed-up security, long lines, and passengers paying for their baggage, the wait can be longer than anticipated.

Richard, at dinner last night.

Tom dropped me at the terminal, leaving the three checked bags and two carry-on bags with me while he returned the red SUV.  In no time at all, he returned, and we headed to the ticket counter to check our bags. We willing paid $5 for a cart to hold the bags since we were both a little sluggish and didn’t feel like wheeling the five pieces. 

In other countries, there’s no charge to use luggage carts. Why do they charge so much for these in the US, we wondered? When our bags were overweight by a total of seven pounds (based on the allowable 50-pound max per checked bag), the ticket agent suggested we unload the seven pounds. 

There was no way either of us felt like digging through the tightly packed bags when we had no room for seven pounds in the checked bags. On many international flights, the checked bags can weigh up to 70 pounds each. 

Had our bags not been overweight, our cost for baggage would have been $85, $25 for each of two allowed bags, and $35 for the third checked bag. Instead, we agreed to pay the $135. With the last-minute booking, we hadn’t been able to choose our seats or prepay the bags. The agent gave us good seats in row 4 at the bulkhead, which worked well for us with the extra legroom.

From there, we found our gate and settled in while I prepared yesterday’s short, photo-less post. Sorry about that. I hope to do better going forward, but I must admit this 115F, 46C weather in Las Vegas hardly motivates either of us to get out sightseeing.  We’ll see how it goes.  It’s in the ’80s every day in Costa Rica, our next stop in our journey.

Tom, last night at dinner in Henderson, Nevada.
“Las Vegas Temperature Yesterday, July 7, 2017”

Maximum temperature yesterday: 115 °F (at 4:56 pm)
The minimum temperature yesterday: 90 °F (at 4:56 am)
Average temperature yesterday: 104 °F”

The flight was pleasant and uneventful. I sat next to a lovely woman from Minnesota, living in Las Vegas for 30 years. The time flew by as we chatted endlessly on a variety of topics.

Getting off the plane was also uneventful. We carefully followed the signs to “baggage claim,” taking a tram to the baggage pickup area. The flight attendant announced our bags would be arriving at Carousel #25. When we arrived at the baggage claim, there was no Carousel #25. 

Searching for an information desk, we were told by the rep that we were in the wrong terminal, and based on having left the secured area; we’d have to make our way to Terminal #3, very far away. The only means of getting to Terminal#3 was by taking a bus. 

Then, we had to make our way (another long-distance) to the waiting area for the bus to take us to Terminal #3.   After a 15 minute wait outdoors in the heat, the bus finally arrived. We boarded the bus, which took no more than 10 minutes to arrive at Terminal #3.

There were many other travelers on the bus who’d done the same thing we’d done, following the signs that said “baggage claim” upon exiting the plane. They, too, were baffled that their checked bags ended up in another terminal.

I had my usual shredded beef salad with lots of sliced avocado.

We entered Terminal #3, easily finding Carousel #25 to discover there were no bags on the carousel.  Apparently, so much time had passed since we got off the plane that the bags were moved to an office within the terminal, where we were relieved to find our three bags. 

Since we couldn’t take the cart with us, we finally had to pay for a third cart, another $5, which we eventually ditched when we had to board another bus to the car rental area.  Oh, good grief. This was by far the most confusing airport we’d ever seen. 

We’re hardly inexperienced travelers. We’ve never encountered such a mishmash of “where to go and how to find it” at any airport in our past years of world travel. 

Finally, we made it to the rental car area, found Avis, and picked up the little white car into which we managed to fit all of our bags. Thank goodness we hadn’t booked through Budget, where there was at least an hour-long line.

We were first up at the Avis counter, and twenty minutes later, we arrived at Richard’s lovely home in Green Valley Ranch, which he’d remodeled and also added a gorgeous pool and landscaping since we were last here in 2012.

We’re unpacked and settled. We grocery shopped yesterday, purchasing enough food to last a few days when I was determined to make a few home-cooked meals for all of us. Last night we dined out with Richard at yet another Mexican restaurant and had a very nice evening. It was so much fun catching up with him!

We are as comfortable as we could be at Richard’s home, anticipating the next three weeks will also fly by in a blur. On Monday, I’ll drive 45 minutes to see my sister Susan.

Have a great weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2016:

While at a museum in Vietnam, we learned the following; In the countryside, when an elder reaches 60 years of age, a coffin is made for them and kept under the house until they pass away. Once they’re buried, three meals a day are delivered to the burial site to support the deceased in their journey to heaven. After three years, a special celebration is held, and the soul is released to heaven. For more photos, please click here.

Horrible weather in Sydney…Opera House tickets tonight…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!…

This cockatoo stopped by for a visit, alighting atop Bob’s medicinal Papaw tree in the yard.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate. Today, March 17th in the US is also eldest son Richard’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, Richard! It’s hard to believe you’re 50!  Richard is a highly successful real estate agent in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada with nothing but five star reviews in Zillow. (See here for details). We wish you continued success and much happiness and look forward to seeing you in July!

Evening walk through a portion of the shopping area near the Manly Ferry.

Today around 3:00 pm, we’re off to the Sydney Opera House in this outragous weather; windy, rainy and cold.  Bob will drive us to the Manly Ferry which will bring us within a 20 minute walk to the venue. 

Fish Cafe in Manly where we dined this week.

The only part of the trip that concerns us is that 20-minute walk from the wharf to the opera house in the event the pouring rain continues. We’re not concerned about getting soaked on the return walk to the ferry. It won’t be fun to be soaking wet while sitting in the theatre during the performance. 

Daily specials posted outside the restaurant where we dined with Bob this week. The highest-priced items on this menu at AU 36.90 is equal to US $28.42.

Bob has supplied us with an large umbrella which along with our hooded parkas we hope to stay dry.  Unfortunately, our parkas aren’t necessarily stylish for the opera but we have nothing else to wear. Plus, the only shoes I have that are appropriate for my outfit and the long walk are black sandals. So it goes.

We were early and the rush of diners had yet to arrive at the popular local restaurant.

This is a reality of our lives of world travel…if we chose to partake in a more dressy affair, we don’t necessarily have the appropriate clothing. As always, we’ll make the best of that which we have on hand. It’s worked on formal nights on cruises and will certainly be sufficient for the Sydney Opera House.

My plate of grilled barramundi, vegetables and a side of sour cream.

According to the theatre’s website smart casual is acceptable although they say many attend wearing formal attire while others may be dressing more casually. It was a relief to read this comment. Overall, Australians tend to dress casually for most events although they certainly can “dress to the nines” when they so desire.

Tom, with little interest in grilled fish, ordered the fish and chips.

Although no photos will be allowed during the performance, we’ll bring the camera in a waterproof bag and take as many photos as possible of the exterior and interior of the world renowned theatre which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Bob dined on the grilled swordfish and salad.

Today’s photos are from a night out to dinner with Bob at a popular seafood restaurant in Manly. The beachfront area is rife with shops and restaurants which we look forward to browsing when the weather improves. Since our arrival five days ago, its been raining each day. 

Aquarium in the Fish Shop Restaurant where we dined  with Bob earlier in the week.

A week from Monday, we have a scheduled appointment at the Australian Immigration office in Sydney, after which we’ll know what we have to do in order to be able to board the cruise to the US on April 22nd. We’ll keep you updated on how this rolls out.

Manly Beach across the road from the restaurant.

For those who celebrate, have a safe and fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day. While in Ireland in September, 2014, we didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone after we heard dreadful stories about it. 

Us, in front of the Blarney Castle in Ireland in September, 2014.  Click here for this link.

Instead, we kissed one another with Irish on our minds although Tom kissed it twice on previous visits to Ireland (before I came on the scene). According to Ancestry.com DNA test results Tom is 99% Irish, certainly sufficient to warrant celebration on this special day.

Happy green beer day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2016:

For a heartwarming and equally heartbreaking story of a favorite alpaca we so much loved, Mont Blanc, please check our year ago post.  Please click here for the details