Monday, July 31, 2006

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

The title of that movie must have been written by someone traveling through that airport. Actually, since it came out in '98, it had to be better than after 9/11, because it has become a sheer horror to travel via airlines now. At least my trip to Cleveland had a saving grace: my WoF jackpot. My trip home did not.

My one goal going home was: DO NOT LOSE a boarding pass. And I didn't. Mission accomplished!

However, when I boarded the plane from Cleveland back to Las Vegas, I was seated in an aisle seat with two of the largest women I have ever seen. Now, I'm fluffy myself, so when I say large, I mean large. The lady in the middle seat had to ask for a seatbelt extension. She was also sitting in my seat. Yes, and so was I! Bless her heart, she was so nice, but having her butt and my butt sharing a seat isn't pleasant for over 4 hours.

Her right arm was also taking up the whole armrest. She had no choice in the matter given her anatomy, but I ended up with my head touching my right shoulder the entire flight, pillow behind my head and wrapped in a blue blanket, hanging over in the aisle.

To make matters worse, our flight attendant also had an ample behind and every time she passed, she smacked my head, so I was getting an ass kicking from both sides the whole flight! Seriously! Every time the lady in the middle seat would move I had to pry my thigh back out from under her!

So we finally land in Las Vegas and yes, I still have my boarding pass for my connecting flight back to California, and yes, it's still a 20 mile hike back to the other terminal and I have to go through security once again. The airport was jammed and all the lines were long so I picked line #9. It was about the same as any and it was the closest. Little did I know I was going straight into the twilight zone. After getting past the TSA agent with my boarding pass and government ID, we were pointed to a line and ended up in a glass hallway. And the line wasn't moving. Several of us were wondering WTF and when it did move, we couldn't see where it was going.

Well, it turns out that line #9 was very special. We had to go into a Trace Portal Machine. It is much bigger than the regular xray door you simply step though, and you have to keep your shoes on, unlike my previous trip where your shoes have to go into the dishpans. (Laptops still have to be taken out of their cases--more about that later.) When you enter the TPM, the TSA person is facing you on the other side and you have to stand with your feet on the huge painted footprints on the floor of this sucker. The TSA agent then informs you that you will feel "some air" for just a second. About then the walls and ceiling start blowing air all over your body like hundreds of people shooting you with air dusters! This can't be America! I swear I got kidnapped and taken to Area 51!

It turns out the Trace Portal Machine shoots your body with air so that any small particles of explosives can be blown off your body and clothing (and shoes) and the machine runs a test before you are allowed to proceed to your gate. Just another fun thing to do while you're in Las Vegas! This time what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas because I blabbed! Beware!

When I gathered my laptop and carry on tote, I realized that my water bottle had leaked during the entire flight from Cleveland, and my laptop case was soaked. It's funny, after everything else, by that point I wasn't even freaked that I might have fried my laptop. I just wanted the hell out of that place!

The terrorists have won. They have made air travel a living hell on earth. Them and the TSA and their TPMs and their flipping dishpans from hell.

Finally Home!

Where to start! I left off on the runway in Las Vegas enroute to Cleveland after sitting there an hour and a half in the hot desert. The movie, BTW, was "Ice Age II", and I passed on watching and tried to nap a little. I have a hard time sleeping on a plane, especially during the day, but otherwise I am antsy and bored.

Since we were so late taking off, of course we were late landing and with the time change and delay, I got into Cleveland about 1:30am and by the time I got my checked luggage and took the shuttle to Hertz, it was well after 2am when I started driving to the hotel. The directions they printed out for me at Hertz were wonderful if you actually lived in Cleveland and knew which way was east or west. So naturally I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right and I got it wrong. I finally turned into a parking lot and found the dome light in the car and tried to figure out where I was. Where I was was parked in an adult store parking lot with a dome light on. I sat there laughing at myself and decided to go back the other way and start over. I finally found the right road and the hotel. I parked in the entry and went to the door to find the inner glass doors locked and nobody behind the desk. So I had to find my paperwork and cell phone and call the hotel. A sleepy voice answered (I knew he was in the back sleeping!) and he asked if I had a reservation. Yes! So, he unlocked the door and I checked in, went back and parked and brought my luggage up to the room, exhausted. I think it was around 3am-ish, Cleveland time.

I called for a 9am wake up call and took a hot bath, finally got the internet working and climbed in bed. Well, the idiot that had my room before me left me a wonderful gift: the alarm went off at 6am! I figured out how to turn it off right before I was going to lob the damn thing across the room, and got a little more sleep.

Saturday morning I got up and made coffee, took a shower and loaded the car and set off to find Loretta! She gave me excellent directions and the only glitch was a road closure and long detour, but I found my way and when I drove up, Loretta and the handsome Nathan were on the porch waving at me as I turned on their street. (I only passed their street once and was so proud that I made it!)

Nathan gave me a tour of the house immediately. He is such a sweetie and so warm and friendly. (I think he knows a grandma when he sees one!) Loretta made me a wonderful cup of coffee, and she was already packed, so we hit the road for Michigan.

We stopped on the Ohio Turnpike for lunch. We took our time and I really enjoyed the countryside. I think Loretta thought I was nutz because I love old farms and especially old barns and there were so many beautiful places along the way.

When we got to Michigan we found our hotel and got ready to go to the party. Nathan loved having adjoining suites. He and I went to find the ice machine to fill the ice bucket. He did the honors! He is so grown up and all boy!

The party was fabulous! Lisa is much lovlier in person if you can believe that! I got to meet Martin and the adorable Mia and Martin's parents, our gracious host and hostess. I got to meet Barbara and Ronni and their husbands and so many of Lisa's friends. Her lasagna was awesome and I even got to try "salad cream".

Other friends who couldn't make it called and we had the best laugh hearing Happy Birthday sung from several states and another country. It was alot of fun and I'm sorry it had to end.

To be continued....

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cleveland Rocks!

I'm in my hotel room near the Cleveland airport, back from a fun trip to Michigan for fellow blogger Lisa's 40th birthday party. I have had to keep this secret since the beginning of June when I emailed Loretta that I thought it would be so much fun to fly to Cleveland and drive up to Michigan with her to Lisa's party. Loretta agreed immediately and I booked my flight and rooms then had to make sure I didn't let it slip. That was NOT easy, especially when others who were going were talking about it and I did not want to lie and say I wish I was going, yet I couldn't give it away. I wanted to be a mystery guest.

So Friday I sort of said I wouldn't be around much, that I had an appointment. Not exactly a fib. I did have a plane to catch. I drove to my daughter's house and left my car, and she drove me to the airport. We stopped for a nice lunch and had a great time.

I checked my bag through to Cleveland and caught my first plane to Las Vegas. The layover there was about an hour and a half, and I had to switch planes there, but it was much better than my other options of 3+ hours in Atlanta or Dallas. Besides, Vegas has slot machines everywhere!

We landed on time in Vegas and I looked for my connecting flight on Continental. Of course it was in a different terminal, so I walked, took the moving escalator walkways and walked some more. Then more walking. Finally I reached the terminal and went through the first security checkpoint where you show your boarding pass and government picture ID. Fine. Then walk some more to get to the security area where you have to practically strip naked and go through the scanner. Laptops have to be taken out of their cases and go through in those plastic pans that look like government issued dish pans. My purse also had to be put in one because I have beads and fringe and I was told it might get caught in the belt in the xray machine.

The TSA agent on the other side of the xray machine was yelling at everyone in line to have our boarding passes in our hands to save time. I took mine out of the airline folder as I was putting my shoes in a tray (note: if you wear Minnitonkas with turqouise stones--you might be a terrorist and your shoes have to go in a tray!), and all the trays were gone. I tried to get another tray for my laptop and another TSA agent grabbed a stack of them and instead of setting them down for those of us in line that needed them, put them down about 5 people back. So I had to go back there and grab one, then continue through the screening walkway. It was then that I realized my boarding pass was missing! I told the TSA agent that I lost my boarding pass and asked if I could go back to find it and he told me I wasn't allowed to go back.

Now, right after the xray screening was yet another security checkpoint where you have to show your boarding pass and government picture ID. The TSA agent at the xray machine told them he was going to let me go to my gate but the airline might send me back. For what, I had no clue. I started having flashes of having to live there like Tom Hanks in the movie "The Teminal". It could be worse I guess. At least I could gamble until my money ran out and then surely they would send me home on a bus with broken knuckles. I've heard that's what they do to you if you lose all your money in Vegas.

I proceeded to go to my gate which was another 20 miles or so from that checkpoint and the airline agent was kind. She only rolled her eyes at me and then issued me another boarding pass where she wrote "2nd copy" so everyone would know I was a stupid old broad that lost her first one. I was so relieved that I was going to get to Lisa's party, but I hadn't had a cig since leaving California, so I asked if I had time for a cig before they boarded the plane. She said "sure" and pointed toward the smoking area (a glassed in casino about 2 miles back). I drug my laptop with me and lit up a cig while putting a $20 in a quarter WoF slot machine which promptly took every cent before I finished my cig. It was worth it. I would have paid twice that amount; in fact I was willing to go to prison if there hadn't been time to get to the smoking lounge, I was that stressed out. I would have lit one up right there in terminal D (D stands for Damned farthest terminal in the airport).

After my $20 cig, I ran to the ladies room and then hiked back 5 miles to the gate. They were not only not boarding my flight, there were people exiting the gate. Not to push my luck for a 2nd cig, I decided to play WoF right there in the Damned D terminal. I walked to the end quarter WoF machine and put in another $20. All I wanted was a SPIN. I wanted to hear those words WHEEL OF FORTUNE and spin that wheel! I'm a WoF junkie. Nothing. Then when the money was almost gone, I hit a WoF and two double thingies. It started paying off. 1600+ quarters. I don't do math, so I hit the pay out button and the machine spit out a ticket that said $413.50. Alright! I cashed that puppy in immediately and the plane started boarding.

I had an aisle seat in the back. By back I mean back. Last row back. In front of the kitchen back. At least it was an aisle seat. I can't stand the middle or the window. Then we taxied out and stopped. We were there an hour. In the Vegas heat. The man next to me sitting by the window reading didn't clue in that if he shut the window blind it would lower the temperature about 100 degrees until the pilot came on and asked everyone to turn off their lights and lower the blinds because we were going to be another half hour on the runway---but we were going to get a complimentary movie! I said, "What's the movie, You're NOT Leaving Las Vegas"?"

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Lisa is turning 40 today. It got me thinking back to my 40th birthday. 20 years ago. I can't belive it has been 20 years since I got every black balloon in Los Angeles!

Lisa, I wish you a joyous birthday! Have a great time--my 40th was one of the most fun birthdays ever and I'm betting big $$ that it will be for you as well.

Much love,

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Never try feeding peas to a moving target!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Adie-Tude Sixty to Zero


Chuck's Contest

I don't know if I mentioned this, but my brother Chuck held a contest when he went to Iraq the first time (he's gone twice!). I insisted he email us whenever he could to let us know he was okay, so he emailed his children and my brother Don (and me, of course) in a group email as often as he could.

Right before he left to come home he announced a contest: He would submit a list of questions to see if we were paying attention to his travels and adventures and the prize was 50,000 miles on American Airlines. Well, I won the contest! Brother Don was rather miffed; he missed a tie with me by one point, but I won. Brother Don is quite competitive. LOL!

So, Chuck called me last night because we still haven't set up the trip, but first he told me that he will be going to Afghanistan again for the month of August. You can imagine how the news hit me. He's my baby brother. Well, I have two baby brothers, but he's the baby baby brother. Don is also a baby brother but he thinks he's an older brother. You follow?

I'm not happy about this at all. This is now the third time he is putting his ass in the line of fire for his job and he's not in the military any more.

So, we put together the trip because we needed to book it if we were going anywhere in October, hubby's next break. We'll be going to Waikiki for a week. We've been to Kauai and I love that island but I've been there twice and so it will be nice to go to Honolulu together. I would like to go out on the Arizona again and of course I love the International Marketplace, which is right near our hotel. If hubby wants to stay in and do crosswords some afternoon you can bet I'll be shopping! I booked a hotel/car package so we can do some exploring by ourselves. I'll be sure and take pictures so I can bore everyone when we get back home.

Monday, July 17, 2006

One Year Ago

I just realized that I started the Hooterville Holler one year ago yesterday. I named it after my little type-written HH I wrote when I first met my husband.

When I was cleaning out the HTFH (horse trailer from hell) before our trip, I found a stack of xerox copies my sister had made up of my original HHs. Someday I might share some of them.

Most of them wouldn't make any sense unless you were around then and part of the Outriders riding club, the original wild bunch!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Adeline & Jade

Adie-Tude is trying to crawl! Jade wants to join her sooooo bad!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Inspiration Point, Palos Verdes California

Would you take your 4-year old daughter to Inspiration Point? Would you then sit within 4 feet from the edge of this 120ft dropoff to the ocean?

Lauren Key-Marer fell to her death from Inspiration Piont in August 8, 2000. My prayers go out to Sarah Key-Marer and Sarah and Lauren's entire family during the trail of Cameron John Brown. I am praying for justice.

Cameron Brown Trial 911 Call -- More Exerpts

Here's a Link to more exerpts of the Cameron Brown 911 call released Friday. This is the John & Ken Show on KFI Monday, July 10th--4 o'clock hour.

I have had a number of people who have found my blog searching for information on this trial. Loretta and I have set up a blog about the case here. Please feel free to comment on the case and join us in the discussion.

Cameron Brown 911 Call Exerpt on KFI John & Ken Show 7-10-06

Cameron Brown calling 911 after Lauren Key-Marer (his 4-year old biological daughter) allegedly fell from Inspiration Point (picture on screen). He's telling the nude bathers that 'someone is coming' and they might want to get dressed. Notice the chuckle when he says:

"Yeah, I told him that. You guys, you guys might want to get dressed so, huh, they're gonna be coming." (chuckle)

Fire near Big Bear

Fire near Big Bear Lake California.

The fire is actually near Pioneertown. Pioneertown was founded by Roy Rogers, among others, and used as the location for many westerns.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Just had to share...

Luke & Adie-Tude

Monday, July 03, 2006

More Horse Camping...

This is the pasture right across from camp where the stable horses are kept if you don't have your own horse.
Beside our camp was the fishing lake.
The stream next to our campsite.

Horse Camping

Our horse camp at the Narrows.

As it turned out I couldn't take Tonka because the portable horse corral brackets got (ahem..accidently) bent almost off when Paul was moving the trailer and our tall pine tree scraped them. I wasn't about to tie him up to the trailer for 3 days, so we just made it a camping trip. We had a great time anyway. Great food and great company! The generator and AC saved our lives out there and we had a fireworks show Saturday night right from our campsite.

This picture is one my daughter took from their fireworks show Saturday night but ours was just as beautiful.

Happy Independence Day!