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Vegas Vacay & Xmas with the Grandkids (URG)


December 14th, 2019

Part One: Las Vegas, Nevada

We were up before the sun on Saturday morning and tried to use Uber to get to the airport but had no luck.  Fortunately, Cristian had given us a taxi driver’s number and he showed up quickly and we made it to the airport before 5:30.  To get to Las Vegas we had three flights:  Montevideo to Lima (5 hours); Lima to Panama City (3 hours) and finally Panama City to Las Vegas (7 hours) – arriving before 11 pm – a long day but NO overnight flights.

We traveled with carry on luggage only as our first flight on LATAM allowed no free checked bags and since going to Canada is a lighter load than coming back, it was no problem.  The final two legs were on COPA but it was not worth leaving the terminal to check a bag each so we continued with our two roller boards and 2 knapsacks (we have duffel bags for the return trip packed inside as we know we’re coming back with more than we left with as usual).  We were also carrying our parkas for the cold weather.

Joshua was in Vegas already as he had a trade show this past week and as he had a rental car, he picked us up from the airport to get to our resort – the Wyndham Desert Rose.  Sunday morning he returned his rental car and Doug picked up ours.  Turns out that Josh’s crew had not eaten all their groceries during the Vegas condo stay (which turned out to be just down the road) so he brought all the leftovers (including wine and beer) over to our condo and we hardly had to shop at all.

We picked Serena and Kurt who arrived at noon and we were finally all together.  It was rather cooler than we expected here, so we were glad we’d packed our warm winter jackets for Toronto:

The kids all laughed at us in our big coats as they just used fleece jackets, but our blood has thinned way too much for low teens Celsius / low 50’s F  temperatures!

Our first item on the agenda was to hit a Fat Tuesdays for grown up slushies; Josh was prepared; he brought three refillable cups:

We walked over to the nearby MGM casino and enjoyed Mud Slide slushies:

After wandering the casino there and in New York, New York, we made our way to the Excalibur and enjoyed a fun lunch at Dick’s Last Resort (where the servers insult you, make you hats and are generally quite funny).

The manager came to see how things were going
Server thought Serena asked a “dumb” question so there were consequences

We returned to our condo for an “early Christmas” present exchange:

we used NO wrapping paper; just towels and bags

We had a light dinner and the kids (who weren’t suffering from a five hour jet lag like us) went out for drinks at the Hard Rock Casino down the road from the Wyndham Resort where we were staying at after we all enjoyed an outdoor soak in the hot tub.

Monday after a hardy breakfast of French toast, Fran stayed behind awaiting a Dell Technician to repair her laptop (long story but the power adapter has been causing issues for months and she decided to contact Dell last month about it hoping the warranty would cover it – since they only repair stuff while you are in the US, she arranged for them to come to our condo – and her warranty expires in ten days!).  While she did that everyone else went back to NY, NY to take a ride on the roller coaster – Fran hates going upside down, so she was not upset they did this without her.

Dell showed up on time, but they sent the tech guy, the WRONG part so she’s had to reschedule for Wednesday.

We all met up at an Escape Room and “pulled of a diamond heist in a casino in order to save our kidnapped friend”.  We didn’t make the 60 minute time limit but as the place was not busy, the manager, let us stay till we solved it so we were an extra 18 minutes.

We returned to the condo for lunch and then took the hotel shuttle back to the strip to ride the Linq Ferris Wheel for an all inclusive happy half hour.

Tuesday, we headed out to Red Rock Canyon where Serena and Josh had never been, did a few short hikes in the sunny but cold weather (10 C / 50 F) for the morning.

if you squint hard, you can see Vegas in the background

We drove a different route back to town and stopped for a Subway lunch and a brief casino jaunt at the Rampart which was more like a retirement home casino!

We returned to the condo where we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation before having dinner and soak in the hot tub.  Doug drove Joshua airport around 9:30 for his red eye flight back to Toronto and the rest of us crashed early.

Wednesday was our last full day and we took Serena and Kurt out to Hoover Dam for the morning.

They wanted to return to the Hard Rock for lunch so we dropped them off before hitting a few more casino slot machines ourselves on the Strip.  By this time we had about broke even.

Fran had to be back in the condo for 3 pm to meet another Dell tech so Doug drove Serena and Kurt to the airport to catch their  flight back to Montana.

Dell’s service was successful this time and in less than ten minutes, Fran’s laptop was charging properly again.  The two of us had leftovers for dinner and packed up for our morning flight to Buffalo, NY to pick up our Amazon shopping and our car to head to Josh’s new house in Tottenham (north of Toronto) for Christmas.

Part Two:  Buffalo to Tottenham

Our Southwest flight went smooth and all our luggage arrived safely (we had brought back a bunch of stuff for Joshua as well as he did not get free checked bags but we did).  We took an Uber to the place where we store our car, opened all our Amazon shopping (our storage people are so kind to accept all these packages for us, let us unwrap them AND get rid of the packaging!), ran some errands and headed for the border.

We arrived at Josh’s new house around four in the afternoon,

and the grandkids were already there.  As Josh just moved in last month from a small one bedroom basement suite, he didn’t have much furniture (his new home has three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a finished basement).  We slept in the basement on a rather comfy tall air mattress and the kids each have their own room now.  The backyard is fully fenced and he has a separate garage as well as a front porch.

We spent the next six days playing, sledding, making cookies and a gingerbread house, shopping for Xmas stockings, taking a drive to see the Christmas lights (counting reindeer, etc. enroute), opening presents (which helped spread the excitement over four days) and generally enjoying being together.  Christmas was a big hit all around and the kids got lots of games for us to all play together including Twister, Life and several more.

Arya got Daddy a reindeer hat

Snuggle time with Grammie

(as usual, we don’t post pics of the grandkids where they are clearly visible)

Unfortunately, Josh’s furnace died Christmas Eve (but we didn’t figure it out until the next morning) but with space heaters, we managed just fine.  He managed to get a HVAC guy out on Friday morning and was told the ventilator fan had died.  Now the furnace is 19 years old and he had been told when he had a building inspection down, that the furnace and the AC, may not last long but he had hoped to make it through the first winter; such is life.  He purchased a type of first year home owner insurance and an agent is coming to the house next week to see if a claim is possible for repair – they won’t replace but if they could fix it for his deductible of $50 it could last another year or two…..

Part Three: Kingston

Arya and Cyrus were picked up by their mother that morning and after the furnace tech left, we packed up and drove to Kingston with Joshua.  He will work from there on Monday/Tuesday.  As most of you know, Fran’s sister and mother live in Kingston and as her sister was going to be away, she let us use her house (and hot tub!) while we are here.

That Friday night, Christine and Mark (our Canadian overlanding friends who now reside north of Montreal) were in Kingston and they joined us for pizza, beer and a soak in the hot tub.  (darn, forgot to take photos!).

The next five days, we visited Fran’s mom, shopped, walked, tried to stay warm and got a few other errands done.

Sunday night we got freezing rain and awoke to this on Monday:

It was a slippery walk to the hot tub that night:

After visiting her mom Monday and Tuesday, we celebrated a quiet New Year’s Eve with Joshua at Fran’s sister’s house and left early Wednesday morning to return to his place.

Upon returning to Josh’s, we tried to keep warm – a different furnace tech was coming in the morning.  We took Josh over to look at a pair of recliners he’d seen online that someone was selling and after a big of “negotiation”, the fellow delivered them to his house for us.

Josh and Doug imitating Joey & Chandler

We left Josh’s place early Thursday morning and made our way to Buffalo to return our car to storage and catch our first flight to Miami where we’d booked a hotel so as not to do the red eye thing. We were up by 7 am Friday morning, had a hotel breakfast and took the shuttle to the airport.

We had two flights to get back to Montevideo via Panama City with a layover of about 90 minutes.  Copa Airlines allows one free checked bag each so in order not to pay for 2nd bags, we decided to carry out – luckily, at the gate, they said they were looking for volunteers to check their luggage so Doug jumped and we now had no bags to lug around except our usual backpacks.  They actually checked them right to our final destination!

Both flights were more or less on time, our luggage all arrived and we caught an Uber back to Tigger at Cristian’s camp.  He was still up at 1 am and welcomed us “home”.  Unfortunately, he’d had some power issues so he’d unplugged our rig and our house batteries were below 50% !!!  We were not impressed – we’ve NEVER let them get that low.  We were up fairly early on Saturday and after paying Cristian, we left so we get the panels cleaned and get in some direct sunlight.