Again, this is a post from memory, as I wrote nothing at the time. And I am not sure what happened to our pictures from this day. I thought we had taken a bunch, but maybe on one of the kids' cameras. I only found a few and the were not that interesting. Oh, except this one advertising an upcoming Air Supply show. I remember listening to the annual countdown on New Years Eve my Freshman year in high school listening to see how many of their songs made the list. I had some sort of competition with the neighbor boy between my band and his.
Day 8, Monday, August 26
Vegas, Baby! A place that wasn't on the list of sights to see on this trip. I have nothing tangible against Las Vegas. But I don't have money to risk losing. I am far more impressed with the Beauty of God's earth than with glitz and flash of hedonistic America. And, ... well, they don't call it Sin City for nothing.
It just wasn't high on my list of American Southwest family tourist destinations.
But it was raining on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was raining on the south rim. It was raining in Zion National Park. It was raining along this entire section of our route. And not just a little rain. One of those steady, three day soakers that sends the water careening down the dry gulches of the American southwest in raging torrents. As we were coming into Las Vegas there were places the muddy water had washed onto the highway. The following morning's newspaper had pictures of flash flooding in nearby many areas.
So we ended up in Vegas. Where we knew no one, and had done no research on what to see or do. We considered a day trip to Hoover Dam. But we crossed that off the list after some unsuccessful checking on parks in the vicinity. We had purchased food for camping that needed to be used. Some of it needed to be cooked. Any outing we planned had to include a shelter and a grill for our noon meal. Most of the park information for that area was somewhat vague as to the availability of grills or fire pits. We did have our campstove if we needed to use it, but cooking on two small burners is kind of a slow process for the volume of food we needed to cook.
I did find out about a kind of cool sounding place just on the Vegas side of the Hoover Dam area. On our next trip down to that part of the world, if it ever happens, we'll have to put Hemenway Valley Park, along with Hoover Dam, on our list for the next trip. "One of this park's main attractions is the Bighorn sheep that come down from the mountains to water and graze." (from the Boulder City website).
Thankfully I was reminded by one of my online friends that she and her family live in Las Vegas. Oh, yes, online friendships... My daughters tease me because they see the double standard. We exhort our kids to only have online correspondence with those they know personally. But on the other hand, we are all part of various on-line communities. And we come to know and love the people we meet there. And to depend upon them for support and advice.
I'm part of a Confessional Lutheran women's facebook group. Many of these women are pastors' wives. Many homeschool. Many have large families. All these women are committed to raising their families to know and understand what it means to be a Lutheran. To train up our children to know firstly that they are sinful and live in a sin-filled world. And secondly, but more importantly, that Jesus has died to save us from the guilt of our sin, so that we can one day have eternal life in Heaven with Him. And that this righteousness, that is ours through Christ, is a free gift. A totally free gift. The Lutheran view of Salvation through Grace alone, Faith alone, and Scripture alone, and that also depends totally on God and His grace to give us the gift of faith through His Word and Sacraments, is unique among Christians. We seek guidance and help in all areas of our parenting through our facebook friendships.
And so we becomes close friends although we don't really know each other personally. And to some we become closer to than others. We have private message or e-mail conversations, or even write letters, call, or visit when opportunities arise.
Erica S. is one of these friends who I've gotten to know a little better through private conversations. Besides having in common the Lutheran and mothering and pastor wife parts of our lives, I've often thought that our families would get along especially well. Various topics of interest that have come up seemed common to us.
And yes, Erica lives in Las Vegas. But I had forgotten that. After I posted from the hotel in Vegas about our plans changing, and about being in Las Vegas with no particular plans, Erica sent me a message suggesting that if we have time, we should try to meet in person. I explained our dilemma of needing an outing that would include cooking our camping food. And also that my teenaged girls wanted to experience a little bit of Vegas, and to shop at a Ross.
The day turned out splendid from our point of view. We met the S.es at a park in their neighborhood. A park with both a shelter and a grill. Their two little ones played with our little ones on the well-appointed playground. They got sopping wet in the drizzle, but it didn't seem to bother any of them. Erica and her husband, Vincent, visited with Joe and I. Joe cooked burgers, while Erica and I got the other foods set out. The teen girls worked on photos for the "Planking in Vegas" project they plan to produce.
We had a lovely visit. After lunch, the S.es invited us over to their home. Erica had noticed me putting our dirty dishes into a plastic bag to wash later at the hotel, so she kindly offered the use of their kitchen sink. And she threw the kids' wet clothes in her dryer. So very thoughtful and kind.
The kids played some more. The men played. They watched break-dancing videos and engaged in feats of valor with wooden practice swords, escrima sticks, to be precise. They talked theology and science fiction/fantasy, among other things.
After the clothes were dry, we moms and the older five girls took off to see the city. We shopped at Ross and TJ Max, and found a few things. We drove the strip and saw the sights. Said sights would include a moving billboard of three scantily clad or unclad women advertising a certain phone business. Yep. Stuck in downtown traffic behind the truck that was the billboard. Stop, start. Stop, start. All the way through downtown. Mostly naked ladies staring us in the face. Two pastors' wives and a carload of teenaged girls.
We went to the Fashion Show Mall on the strip. We zipped off the strip to catch a quick supper at a fast food Mexican joint.
Then back to the strip to meet the rest of the gang. Vincent and the S. children decided to call it a night and so they didn't come downtown. They were all tuckered out after a day with the Abrahamsons. Imagine that! But Vincent gave Joe directions to meet us at the Fountains of the Bellagio. Louisa had seen the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, in Barcelona, Spain, so was interested in this famous fountain, too.
As things happen, especially where the Abrahamsons are concerned, things got a little confused. Erica and the girls and I thought we were meeting in the lobby of the Bellagio. Joe with the littles thought we were meeting at the fountain, along the road near the parking lot.
We women folk walked through the indoor gardens adjacent to the lobby, and when Joe still wasn't there, we went down the hallway to the chocolate fountain.
Joe and the kids watched the fountain go. Every fifteen minutes. For about 40 minutes. They saw three of the repetitions. Inge had to go to the bathroom and so fussed nearly the whole time. And really, what's a dad to do? He is trying to keep order on a 4, 6, 7, and 9 year old in a jostling crowd. The nearest restroom is who knows where, but no doubt at least a several minute walk through the jostling crowd. And he had no idea when we were finally going to arrive or what the hold up was.
We women finally ran out of things to look at inside the Bellagio and so Erica gave Vincent a call to see how long ago Joe had left and where he expected Joe might be. Ah-ha! Down by the road. So we hurried down the walkway along side the fountain. Scanning the rows of people gathered to see the fountain. Stopping so we didn't photo-bomb any of the many shots of people posing along the walkway. Somehow managing to get separated into three groups on the way down to the road.
I found Joe, and he kind of threw Inge at me. "She has to go to the bathroom! Immediately!" I grabbed Inge and started the way back up the sidewalk to the lobby. Along the way I found Erica and the girls with her, and pointed out Joe to them. I found the bigger girls, and told them where to head. And then I, continued on to the bathroom, hoping that by the time we were done, everyone else will have found each other.
All told, we women got to see one of the musical selections that the fountain presented. Joe and the kids saw three. But I'm not sure Joe really enjoyed it, since he had a crying little one, and no clue how to help her, and whether she might at any minute wet her pants and her dad.
And where was our cell phone in all this? Safely in the van, of course. Where we could use it in case of a roadside emergency...
Eventually we all found each other, used the bathroom, and saw both the water and the chocolate fountains. We said our goodbyes to our new friend, Erica. And then we assembled in the van to head to the hotel. Tired and ready to sleep.