Sunday, January 12, 2014

failed campout turned las vegas trip

Since the dawn of time, it has been a Sparks family tradition to go camping for New Years.  Or something like that, anyway.  I've never been very good at history.

This year we wanted to keep up that tradition, so we planned to go straight from my grandma's house out into the Southern California desert.  I think it is safe to say that if something could have gone wrong with planning and executing this trip, it did.

First it was finding a place where Ellie wouldn't freeze.  Then it was finding a campground with potable water.  And then it was finding a place that wasn't totally out of the way for everyone involved.

Finally, we thought we'd found a place that fit all the criteria: Hole in the Wall Campground, near Barstow, CA.  We've been there before and it's gorgeous, and we'd checked the weather and were just sure it was going to be perfect.

We got to the campground when it was already dark and cold.  It was a little windy, but nothing to be concerned about as we set up our tents.  Surely the wind will die down, we thought.  It won't last all night.


Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It lasted all night.  And not only did it go on for hours, but it got worse as the hours wore on.  My heart is still singing grateful praises that Ellie slept as well as she ever does - aka waking up a few times but generally going right back to sleep.  The wind was literally so loud that we had to shout to hear each other one foot away from each other.  The tent was flat as a pancake on top of us.  Tim spent the entire night holding the tent up from Ellie's face.  Our tent ripped.  My parents' tent was in shambles.

The next morning, the wind showed no signs of stopping.  We made the very reluctant decision to call it quits on the camping.  We didn't want to say goodbye and we'd so been looking forward to the camping, but we didn't think we could handle any more of that ferocious wind.

I think I spent the first hour of the drive back totally depressed that it hadn't worked out.  And I just missed my family.  Aaand we all very closely resembled Zombies from the lack of sleep.  But the more Tim and I talked about our alternate plan, the better I felt.

We decided that we weren't ready to go home, so instead we planned that we'd spent a night and a day in Las Vegas.  I'd never spent any time in Vegas before, so I was excited.  It took forever to get checked into our hotel and get showered, but once we had, we went out immediately in search of dinner and some entertainment.

It was a bit comical because we were so out of place.  We don't drink, we don't gamble, and we had a baby with us, for heaven's sake.  But we had so much fun.  That night we found ourselves in the middle of a bunch of masquerade-themed street performers.  One of them had a particular fascination with staring at Ellie, which was a bit disconcerting for Tim and me because you couldn't see her face at all through the mask.  Ellie, however, was totally not phased by the mask and stared right back.  Hilarious.

The next day we started off by eating at Señor Frogs in Treasure Island.

Ellie spent the first twenty minutes or so snoozing away.

We loved the view of the pirate ship, and the atmosphere was so fun.

We felt pretty sure that people probably took one look at us, shook their heads, and grumbled, "Mormons."
I mean, could we be any more obvious with our baby carrier and backpack?

Later we stopped by the health-food store for some snacks.  Or we got cream frappucinos and pastries.  I
can't remember for sure.

Our Macaron and Kouing Amann.  Yumm.

I'm not sure I'd want to spend an extended amount of time there, but we had a really good time.

We got home just in time to drink a glass of the bubbly - er, sparkling cider - and ring in the New Year!

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