Just a little blog about me and mine.

Las Vegas-Day Three May 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 7:03 pm

We slept until noon on our 3rd full day in Las Vegas, that’s 3pm Atlanta time if you are keeping count. It’s now becoming more clear to me now why I’ve been dragging in the mornings and having a hard time going to sleep at night now that I’m back on a regular schedule this week.

After that nice rest, our first adventure for the day was finding somewhere to eat. On our first trip to Vegas we didn’t eat at any of the hotel buffets, even though that’s sort of something the city is known for. Our hotel has one of the ones most often mentioned in tour guides, and the buffet is divided into the different regions of France with foods from that region. Overall, it was a pretty good meal and was cool to try some new things that we wouldn’t normally try if we would be stuck with a whole plate of it at a restaurant.

We then headed out to the pool for some reading and sun. It was really hot by the pool-that whole desert thing and all, so we swam a bit, and found the pool was freezing. Go figure. It was a really nice pool area with tons of chairs and a great view.

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Even with our SPF 45 we were starting to burn really quickly, which is kind of sad and pathetic, but we know how pale we are so we went back inside.

Once inside, we both decided that we were thirsty and craving actual Coca Cola products. I’ve mostly talked about the things I like about Las Vegas, but I should mention something I hate about the city–almost every restaurant and hotel in the entire city has Pepsi and not Coke. This sad fact is right on the top of the list with the other things I hate about Vegas, too much cigarette smoke and people hired to stand on the street and hand out tons of cards trying to get you to get hookers and strippers.

Three days in a Pepsi-filled world might be even worse than solicitation of prostitution in my opinion, so luckily there is a giant Coca-Cola store on the Strip that even has a giant Coke Bottle shaped store front. We needed to make a pilgrimage since we were so far from home. They have a tasting menu of some of the drinks from around the world, like they do at the Coke museum here in Atlanta, and also on their menu is a tasting sampler of different ice cream floats. Luckily the floats are all made with Coke products like Fanta orange that you’d actually want to drink-unlike the tasting menu which does in fact have the school field trip favorite Beverly on it–for $7 or so (actually a great price in my opinion).

That night we had tickets to the 10:30 show of Jubilee–one of Las Vegas’ classic showgirl performances. We had a pre-show dinner at Samba, a Brazilian steakhouse. This was our first Brazilian steakhouse experience with rodizio, and it was a fun meal. The meal starts with salads (and a pitcher of Sangria for us too), and then you get several plates of side dishes for your table to share, including fried plantains which was pretty much the only side we ate since the main part of the meal is a wide variety of grilled meats. On the table is a little wooden salt-shaker like thing with a green end and a red end. If you flip it to green, the waiter continues to bring you different samples of the grilled meats. When you flip it to red they take a break until they see that you’ve flipped it back to green. There were 8 different meats on the menu and they bring them out in random order. We pretty much took one or two bites of each to try it, but even that was a ton of food.

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On to the show… Bally’s Jubilee is probably what you think of when you think of Vegas showgirls. Topless, yes, but tasteful with those enormous headdresses and elaborate costumes with jewels and feathers. That part of the show is pretty much just the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes though, and it was very cool. The rest of the show though is much more like numbers from the Lawrence Welk show. There was a song and dance number about the Titanic (at one point I wanted to lean over to PL and say, “so does everyone’s top come off when the ship hits the iceberg but restrained myself).

In addition to showgirls, Jubilee also features a number of male singers and dancers (all clearly gay which was sort of funny since the girls are topless and they just could care less). They do a non-topless show once a week so families can go, but the topless parts were all much more about the costumes and not sexualized or trashy. There was a song/dance thing somewhere in the middle about the story of Samson and Delilah and it totally creeped us both out and was both bizarre and kind of dirty with S&M overtones. Some parts of the show are very out-dated, but parts of it like the fact that each enormously elaborate costume was different, were really cool. Our final verdict is that we were glad we went, but glad we didn’t pay full price for tickets and think the show’s days are numbered.


A Post Not About Vacation May 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 9:49 am

While I spend a large part of each day writing, it’s usually grants or things that aren’t really relavant to share on the blog (and also not something I care all that much about, which is a problem I’m aware of and working on). Recently though, I was asked to write up something about my experiences at the Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation (GTWF) that will supposedly be shared at the North and South Georgia United Methodist Church Annual Confernences by the Commision on Higher Education. Another GTWF friend and I both ended up at seminary after Georgia Tech (actually not as strange as it sounds, as many of you know, since the GTWF has averaged 1-2 seminary-bound students each year for the last 40 years). We were asked to share a little about our experience, and someone who will remain nameless dug up a couple of pictures of us as students and then they took one of us together a few weeks ago to include with our statements.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of me working for Habitat for Humanity in what they tell me was 2001:


Here’s what I wrote:

My local United Methodist Church sent me off to college as an 18-year old after nurturing me as I grew up and moved from the nursery, to Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Confirmation Class and finally Youth Group. Despite this love and support that I felt in a local church, went I went to college, I decided I didn’t want to “do church” anymore. I had questions that were unanswered. Doubts that persisted. Plus, I was living on my own for the first time and could sleep as late as I wanted to on Sunday mornings. I suspect that most campus ministers know all of these things about college students—and this is precisely why they became campus ministers in the first place—but they can’t tell that to all of you in the local churches since they rely on you for financial support to keep the doors open to the young adults who used to go to your churches, but don’t want to anymore. This story of the wayward non-church going young adult ends well—I’m now once again active in a local United Methodist Church—and even went to seminary–so keep supporting Wesley Foundations.

During college orientation weekend, I was walking around my new home—the Georgia Tech campus—feeling lost, because I was lost, and also feeling a bit nervous and scared, because living away from home wasn’t quite as fun as I imagined it would be. As I walked, I saw the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech, and saw that the doors were open. Sometime before moving to campus that Fall, I had received a letter—as all United Methodist students entering Georgia Tech do—from the Wesley Foundation’s campus minister, inviting me to stop by sometime. I’m sure I didn’t keep the letter and bring it to school with me (wanting to go to church in college would look too uncool), and I’m sure I didn’t actually plan to go to the open house. But, as you might have guessed, I did go into the Wesley Foundation that day. And I kept going to the Wesley Foundation for the 4—ok 5—years it took to graduate from Georgia Tech.

If I had never walked in those red doors at the Wesley Foundation, I am almost certain that I wouldn’t be sharing with you today how at this most foundational and yes, scary, time in my life as a young adult, the Wesley Foundation gave to me the great gift of the development of an authentic, mature and lasting faith . It was the place where I could ask the questions I wanted and desperately needed to ask about my faith and explore my own beliefs and my own identity. Most importantly, it was the place where I learned about “vocation” and how to live out our calling in the world—whether that calling happens to be ministry, computer science or engineering. For me, and actually for several dozen other Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech alums over the years, this journey to learn to authentically live out our calling led us from a world full of calculus and physics into seminary and ministry. I received a Masters of Theological Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2006, and today, people often ask me if I regret going to Georgia Tech and suffering through all of those science and math classes just to get a degree in theology and ethics. And I tell them that no, I don’t regret it at all because I know that had I not ended up at Georgia Tech and had I not found a faith community at The Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation that nurtured and supported my calling and growth into adulthood, I probably would not have gone to seminary and quite possibly would not even still be going to church.


Las Vegas-Day Two May 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 5:50 pm

After that insanely active day on Monday, we slept until 10:30am–Las Vegas time, so according to our bodies’ Atlanta clocks, that’s 1:30pm. Vacation is awesome.

The Cafe Ile St. Louis in our hotel had 24 hour a day breakfast, so we had some vanilla bean french toast along with eggs and sausage. If you hadn’t noticed, we’re big fans of breakfast.

Then we went in search of some $5 blackjack tables and ended up at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon. Awesome I know. I spent $40 and at one point had an extra $40 in winnings, before losing it all by continuing to bet even though I had doubled my money. PL spent $60 and walked away with $54, and that includes giving several $1 chips to the dealer and the waitresses who bring you free drinks while you play. I had 2 amaretto sours and PL had one or two of those plus maybe a margarita. They just bring you whatever you want while you play. Totally free. Except for the part where you lose all of your money gambling because you were tipsy and didn’t think that having $80 when you used to have $40 was good enough, and then you ended up with $0.

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After that we went over to The Mirage to see their Secret Gardens and Dolphin Habitat. We didn’t know it at the time, but The Mirage was celebrating the 1st birthday of some tiger cubs and Siegfried and Roy were there for the day. The staff also gave the tigers presents, which were wrapped cardboard boxes with melons inside. It was hilarious to watch them toss them around and rip up the paper. In addition to tigers, they have a baby leopard and also some lions, plus a dolphin research area.

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We took an afternoon break by visiting Serendipity 3, the Las Vegas branch of the original New York cafe. We shared their famous frozen hot chocolate, and also a flat bread pizza with honey dijon chicken on it.

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By that time it was around 7, the first show time for the Treasure Island Sirens of TI. It was too windy again for it to run, something about fireworks and the desert and some hotel once catching on fire, blah blah blah, so we hopped in a cab to head to Freemont Street, which is in downtown Las Vegas. Freemont Street is home to some more quaint and historic attractions, and it was a very cool place to visit. It was much more laid back and we had a great time here. Many of the classic Las Vegas neon signs are on display, and a giant canopy has been created to display light shows each night. We saw Carson Daly there too filming something about the area. Here’s a picture if you are a teenage girl, or are still in love with Carson Daly after all these years:

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We happened upon an Irish pub called Hennessy’s Tavern on 2 for 1 burger night, so we had a cheap dinner on their patio while a halfway decent cover band called Finnegan’s Wake (cute right?) played.

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We also happened upon an ABC Store that had 40s of Smirnoff Ice (I didn’t even know such a wonderful thing existed), much classier than walking around with 40s of Schlitz. Well probably not really, but at least we did put our drinks in our Kahunaville cups from the night before and walk around with those.

There was also a beef jerky store, but sadly it was closed for the evening so we can’t report on why exactly the world needs a beef jerky store.

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It turns out there is a double decker public bus you can ride for $3 so we took that back. When we sat down on the top level, we noticed that the ladies in front of us kept waving at the folks down below. Then we noticed those ladies were incredibly drunk as they got mad at anyone who didn’t wave back and kept saying, “Well those folks aren’t friendly. They must not be from Alabama.” The entire 30min plus bus ride, they played a game with rules involving putting your hands up in the air and yelled “whoo-hoo” anytime the bus went under a stoplight–red or green, it didn’t matter. The driver along with everyone else on the bus could hear them and also started to “whoo-hoo” which they found very exciting. Then they tried to start the wave on the bus. Their poor husbands were in for a rough night, but they kept us totally entertained. On this bus ride we also got to see the Graceland wedding chapel and lots of other icon Vegas locales.

Also, there was an “Adult Superstore” that needs to be told to move their parking lot, or at least get a new sign. This is a family blog, but everyone knows an adult superstore doesn’t need a sign that says “parking in the rear.” (PL made sure I wrote that down so I could blog about it. You’re welcome.)


Las Vegas-Day One May 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 5:28 pm

Here’s what kept us busy our first full day of vacation. In general, on any vacation we decide while we are doing one thing what we are going to do next, but generally don’t make plans much more in advance than that except for something like a show that requires tickets. It works great for us, and we would have missed seeing a lot of stuff if we had a strict schedule.

After a nice 11 hour night of sleeping and waking up to no alarm clock, we had breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi, one of our hotel’s restaurants. We got to sit on the patio overlooking the Strip and engage in my all time favorite activity–people watching. We shared chocolate bacon waffles (so unbelievably good even if it sounds strange at first–waffles with bacon, a chocolate sauce, whipped cream and maple syrup) and a delicious quiche lorraine. PL also had a very good bellini to drink with her breakfast.

We spent most of Day One exploring the other hotels and their attractions a bit:

The Bellagio was across the street from our hotel so we went there first. The Conservatory was undergoing its Spring to Summer overhaul so we saw some cranes and lot of busy people, but were sad to miss the actual display. There was also a Warhol/Lichtenstein exhibit in their art museum but we didn’t feel like paying $15 each to see it. I’ve seen a similar exhibit before, and PL doesn’t really like art museums much. So, we just wandered around a bit more and found some other nice flowers in the hotel:

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Caesar’s Palace:

We ended up catching a bizarre animatronic show depicting Roman Gods and the fall of Atlantis. It was free and we walked by and saw people gathering so we knew something would be happening–which in general is a good Las Vegas travel tip. There was some fire and other special effects, but not something I would make a point to go see again.

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We also walked around the shops a little but Gucci, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Faberge, Versace, Jimmy Choo and Fendi are not quite our scene. We had fun in FAO Schwarz though.

I should mention that it was quite hot in Las Vegas, but not humid so you weren’t sweaty like here in Atlanta after being outside. You do still feel some pretty intense heat, especially in the middle of the day, but by going in and out of different hotels while walking you cool off. On our first detour, we went into the Casino Royale, one of the casinos on the strip without a hotel, and enjoyed some tasty, yet not all that strong or large, $1 margaritas.


We crossed back over to the other side of the Strip for gondola rides at the Venetian hotel. We had about a 30 minute wait between buying our tickets and when we had to show up, so we filled the time with some real Italian gelatto. The Venetian is designed to look like Venice, although I’m sure it really doesn’t since New York New York is nothing like New York at all, but it’s actually pretty cool anyway with buildings and a ceiling that is painted and lit to make it look like you are outside.

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We saw that Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon, another Strip Casino also had cheap (99 cents this time) margaritas, so we decided to stop by and compare them and played some video blackjack while we enjoyed our margaritas. If I recall, I started with $5 in the machine and got up to $10, but then kept playing and lost all my money. Actually, I did this everywhere we gambled, which is why PL kept all the money.

We went back to the hotel to relax a bit and enjoy some air conditioning, and then went to dinner at Kahunaville, a bar and restaurant in the Treasure Island Hotel. I heard from an old friend who lives in Vegas that it was a cool place, and she was right. They have flair bartenders so they spin and toss the cups and bottles around while they make the drinks.

Treasure Island is also home to a show called the Sirens of TI which looks amazingly tacky yet also fun, but it was canceled due to wind that night–it was also canceled the other 2 times we ended up that way near a starting time, so we finally gave up.

We made our way back to the hotel via The Mirage for their volcano that explodes on the hour.

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And then by the time we made it near the Bellagio it was time for one of their fountain shows so we saw that too:

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It’s a pretty big lake and Vegas is pretty crowded, so by the time we walked past it going back to the hotel it was almost time for the next show, so we watched it again before going back to the hotel.


Las Vegas Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 9:53 am

I decided to post a day-by-day update of our vacation to Las Vegas, so later today I’ll write up last Monday’s vacation activities and share some photos. We actually arrived on Sunday though and here’s what we did for the few hours after we got there and before we fell asleep.

We started our day early in Atlanta by getting up at 6am to get the dogs shipped off to camp for the week. We had an afternoon flight out of Atlanta so we decided to go to church and then head back home for lunch before needing to go to the airport. Our plane actually took off mostly on time out of Atlanta, but it was a really long flight though, like 5 hours I think, and made me want to reconsider any plans to be on planes longer than that in the future. The in-flight movie was Hotel for Dogs–seriously?!–so I read and listed to my ipod and got really bored. We took a shuttle to the hotel, Paris Las Vegas, and probably were settled in by 7pm Las Vegas time.


We unpacked a bit and in a perfect moment, PL was laying on the bed checking out the hotel guide, and I flopped down beside her. We had the following exchange:

Me: Are you going to change clothes for dinner?
PL: I don’t know. Are you going to change clothes for dinner?
Me: Do you have anything that goes with this?
And then I hold out my hand displaying this:


She did actually have something to wear that looks nice with diamonds.

We decided we wanted pizza, and where can you get the best pizza? New York of course, so we went to the New York New York hotel to find some good pizza. We enjoyed the city lights as we walked back to our hotel. Then we decided to play slot machines for a while and we had $5 in free slot play after joining the hotel’s free rewards club. PL promptly won $22.75 while I promptly lost that free $5 plus some more cash that PL doled out to me. (PL was our official money keeper and handed me money as we went, which was probably a good strategy)

After that we both wanted dessert but also felt sort of dehydrated and thirsty, and luckily we found that our hotel had a little bakery that had sorbet. I had a raspberry one in a waffle cone and PL had a mango one.

By this time we were very tired even though it was probably only around 10pm Las Vegas time, but that translates to 1am Atlanta time after waknig up at 6am.