Spring Break – March 14th

I woke up early on Tuesday with an odd feeling that I couldn’t shake. When I tried to check in to our flight for our return flight to Houston, it all made sense. To make a very long story short, our flight had a plane swap and John didn’t have a seat assignment on the first leg of our journey. After an hour on the phone negotiating with United agents, I was finally able to secure a seat assignment for him. Because our flight was oversold, I know several people were bumped from the flight because our new plane had fewer seats. But thanks to my status with the airline, and my firm negotiations, we weren’t affected in the end. Crisis averted.

We had a later than usual breakfast thanks to the United debacle, but it all worked out. We had another delicious breakfast in front of the fire at the Westbank Grill. Since it was our last full day in Wyoming, we leisurely enjoyed our meal.

break

After breakfast, we did some shopping in Teton Village, before driving into Jackson for even more shopping and exploring. We went to some great stores, including Lee’s Tees and Teton Kids. We picked up some great souvenirs there, and at the Pendleton store.

toys

We let George play in the snow for a while (while I took some conference calls) before taking the tram to the top of the mountain by our hotel.

g snow

George was so excited for the tram ride and kept on telling us that he couldn’t wait to go skiing or snowboarding someday soon.

g tram

The views from the top of the mountain were amazing. Truly breathtaking.

view

We had lunch at Piste – the restaurant at the top of the mountain.

lodge

Our food was delicious and I had an amazing salad. I will try to recreate this at home, but I know it won’t taste the same. Story of my life.

salad

We took the tram back down the mountain and filled mugs with complimentary warm apple cider.

tram

George and I went down for a nap afterwards and it was glorious. We both slept for 2 1/2 hours. While we slept, John worked in the hotel’s library. The setup was a win/win for everyone. After our naps, I did some work and started packing for the return flight home.

Before long, we got dressed and made our way to the Westbank Grill for dinner. We had a really wonderful final nice meal of the trip.Staff surprised George with a special dessert – what a treat.

jello

The dining room was bustling with activity by the time that our meal was over, so we were happy to escape back to our room. Well, before we made it back to the room, we stopped so G could play outside for a bit in the snow.

Because we had an early start scheduled for the next morning, we worked hard to get G to bed quickly. Once he was in bed, John and I did a more work before we settled into bed.

Spring Break – March 13th

After another great night of sleep, it was back to the Westbank Grill for a quick breakfast before the morning’s adventures.

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On the day’s agenda? Dog sledding!

ds arnolds

We made the gorgeous 45-minute drive out to the Jackson Hole Iditirod Kennel. Once we got there, we were paired with Mary (a dog trainer and musher) and a mother-daughter duo for a half-day of sledding.

ds cold

ds ready

In about 4 hours, we covered 10 miles of gorgeous Wyoming wilderness with our team of dogs.

ds bea

ds arnolds 2

We made a quick stop at the halfway point for snacks (chili, cornbread, and warm drinks) and to let to the dogs rest.

ds break 2

ds with g during break

ds john and g

On the back, John mushed our sled – which was only slightly nerve wracking!

ds mush

Since I rode in the sled with G between my legs the whole time, I felt ever bump along the way. It really didn’t bother me until I had to pee really badly. I ended up making everyone stop so that I could take bathroom break. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, I had to walk/slip my way down a snowy bank and hang on to a tree while squatting. It was not my finest moment, but I felt much better afterwards. When we arrived back at the kennels, George asked if we could “go again!” Ha! We were so glad that G thoroughly enjoyed our excursion.

ds ride

George fell asleep on the ride home, but sat right up in his chair when he heard John ask me if I wanted to have a late lunch at the Westbank Grill (I did).

ds after

We ended up having a terrific lunch composed of chips and dips, elk chili and macaroni and cheese (for George).

lunch

lunch 2

After lunch, John and George napped while I worked from the hotel library. I had a few conference calls to make and documents to edit, so this was a perfectly tranquil environment for me. And it was a great place to enjoy afternoon s’mores.

smore

Post-nap, we made our way to downtown Jackson for a bit more shopping before dinner. We ended up doing some shopping for G at the JH Toy Store and we also did a bit of looking around for souvenirs.

toy

For dinner, we walked over from the downtown square to Cafe Genevieve for some delicious home cooking.

cg

We shared a charcuterie plate and had ramen soup (me), trout (John) and a burger (G) for our entrees.

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The food and service were perfection.

ramen

For dessert, we walked over to Moo Creamery to indulge in some ice cream.

moo

gice

mice

After bed and bath time, John and G slept while I did a little bit more work.

Spring Break – March 12th

Thanks to black-out shades, a humidifier, and our white-noise machine, we all slept like babies.

For breakfast, we dined at the Westbank Grill again. There were lots of available food choices, and we all walked away from our meals completely satisfied.

12breakcol

Afterwards, we drove to downtown Jackson to do some exploring.

explore

j and g antlers

We also made a stop at the official jackson Visitors Center to learn more about the area, to pick up some souvenir, and to view the Elk Refuge.

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elk refuge

We also made the drive into Grand Teton National Park for a little bit of exploring.

arnols park

Even though the majority of the Park is still closed for the winter, we still had fun taking in the sights.

g tetons

g and j tetons

The weather was very cold and very windy, so we were only able to endurable the elements for a short period of time.

me tetons

G cold

Once we got back on the road, we made a quick stop at the Wildlife Art Museum to view some great Western art, including these great outdoor sculptures.

art2

art

We ate lunch at The Spur in Teton Village. Our food was really good – I had an amazing pastrami sandwich that I am still dreaming about.

sammie

After lunch, I put George down for an afternoon nap, then tackled some work. After nap time, we all did a bit of relaxing in the room and then some exploring of Teton Village.

g JH

For dinner, we ate at Il Villaggio Osteria. We had an amazing meal of Italian fare, including pizza, homemade pasta, soup, and Nutella cheesecake. The food and the service were great, even in light of the fact that the restaurant was exceptionally busy.

dinner col

On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped by the outdoor fire pits so that George could watch the snow plows work the mountains. George loves everything construction or machinery, so he had a ball.

Afterwards, it was bath and bedtime for John and G, and work time for me (this is crunch season for me!).

Spring Break – March 11th

John and I both woke up at 5:45am and hit the ground running. We both got ready, finalized our packing, did some work, and cleaned and tidied the house. We woke George up at 7:00am and prepped him for the day.

We left the house around 7:45am and made an easy Saturday drive to IAH. We took advantage of my SurePark membership, and easily found a parking spot steps from Terminal C check-in. Once we got into the airport, it was a ZOO.  Since it was Spring Break for a lot of folks (including G), there was increased foot traffic everywhere. Even still, it was an easy wait to check our bags and to work our way through TSA Pre-Check. We even had a few minutes to get settled at the gate before we boarded our flight. Naturally, George made sure to inspect our plane and take in the activity at the airport.

g at airport

We boarded on time and with ease. George immediately began watching cartoons, and John and I dealt with work and personal emails.

g on plane

They served breakfast on board our direct flight from Houston to Jackson Hole. All three of us enjoyed quiche, sausage, fruit, and pastries.

breakfast

George spent the rest of the flight watching videos on his iPad, and John and I spent the time working on our laptops. However, no one could take their eyes off the Tetons as we got close to landing.

tetons

g landing

Once we landed in Jackson Hole, we had a major hiccup. While we knew that the National Car Rental center was off-site, we didn’t know it was 25 minutes away and that the shuttle to the site ran infrequently. So, we ended up taking a taxi to the rental site to pick up our rental SUV. Eh, it worked.

From there, we made the easy drive to our hotel and promptly checked in. While the bellman delivered our bags to our room, we made our way to the Handle Bar restaurant for a late lunch.

nachos

While George had chicken tenders and fries, John and I shared a pretzel and some nachos. Despite the fact that this is primarily a ski in/out restaurant, the food was pretty good.

pretzel

On our way back to the room, we each poured a mug of the hotel’s complimentary cider. So delicious! After a bit of unpacking, George and I took a late afternoon nap. Once we were up, we relaxed in the room and sketched out the rest of our trip.

For dinner, we kept things simple and ate at the Westbank Grill at our hotel. The dinner menu there is extensive and features a lot of wild game. George ordered fruit and macaroni and cheese, and John and I each had steaks and shared mashed potatoes and a spinach gratin.

dinner

For dessert, we each had a freshly prepared s’more.

smore

Our dishes were excellent and the customer service was impressive. After dinner, it was bath and bed time for George.

g bed

Once he was asleep, John and I each did a bit of work. Then, we both proceeded to pass out!

 

 

 

Spring Break 2017

Since George was out of school for Spring Break this week, we decided to take advantage of his time off to do some exploring. We considered a few destinations, and ended up selecting Jackson Hole, Wyoming – a place that none of us had visited before.

We love the idea of showing George new things, and a snowy, mountainous wilderness is novel to both children and adults. Well, especially when you are from a sunny, humid, and sea-level Houston.

While John and I both had to tackle a bit of work on our trip, we still managed to have a wonderful time. We created many beautiful memories on our trip and I am always grateful for the quality family time that we have together.

TOOM

I look forward to sharing more details about our trip in the coming days. In the meantime, we’re going to try to enjoy the last few days of Spring Break!

Hotel Review – Caesars Palace

During our quick weekend getaway to Las Vegas last month, my sisters and I stayed at Caesars Palace.

cp-elton

Caesars Palace is a luxury hotel and casino with over 3,900 hotel rooms. This hotel is an infamous part of Vegas culture and is therefore consistently busy with people, activities, and opportunities for people-watching.

Location – The hotel is centrally located on the Vegas Strip, and depending on traffic, is usually a 10-15 minute drive to the airport. The hotel is near the Cromwell, Linq, Bellagio, and the Venetian.

Customer Service – The service at the hotel is exceptional. Vegas is known for high-end hospitality, and the service at Caesars is on par with this.  We never wanted for anything and everyone seemed to be on a mission to make our stay “perfect.”

Accommodations – We stayed in the hotel’s Julius Tower, in an Executive Suite.

room entry

Our large room had a very comfortable king bed, a couch and ottoman, a small dining table with  chairs and a bench, a desk and chair, and a small bar area.

bedroom

The over-sized master bathroom had an over-sized shower, water closet and double vanities. There was also ample closet space for our luggage, coats, carry-on bags, etc. Our room also came with a half-bath – a great amenity when you have multiple guests staying in the same room.

extra bath

Amenities – The hotel offers far more amenities than we used during our very short stay. The hotel offers many lounging areas, shops for souvenirs and high-end luxury items, casual and high-end restaurants, pools, multiple bars, gaming, a fitness center, a spa and lots, lots more. The hotel also put a complimentary roll-away bed on our room – just to make sure everyone had great sleeping options.

Member Recognition – There is a recognition program for the hotel that is linked to the hotel’s gaming functions. Although we are “members” who are very low on the totem pole, we managed to score a fantastic upgrade.

Sin City Getaway

A few weekends ago, Nelda, Julie, and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas while our husbands stayed home with our kids. That’s right – they stayed (home), and we played.

fri-sister-vegas-bw

This was a surprise (Julie didn’t know where we were headed until I picked her up to go to the airport!) getaway trip to honor Julie’s recent milestone birthday. It was a very quick trip, but a fabulous way to relax, have fun, and to celebrate Julie.

Friday

After enduring painful rush hour traffic, Julie and I took an early evening flight from Houston to Vegas on Friday. We had fun on the plane and enjoyed the complimentary food and drinks in the first class cabin. We spent a lot of our time reading magazines and relaxing, although I did spend an hour working (adult life is hard sometimes, am I right?). Once we landed in Vegas, we took an Uber to Caesars Palace.

We were upgraded at check-in and spent a few extra minutes trying to work out our accommodations. Long story short, I originally booked a large room with 2 queen beds and sleeper sofa, but the hotel upgraded us to a very large suite with a King bed (more on this in the hotel review). It all worked out in the end, but took some negotiations. As a business traveler, I know a thing or two about scoring exactly what I want/need, and I was more than happy to put my skills to use.

While Julie and I got settled into our room, Nelda made her way to the hotel (she flew in from Austin). Julie didn’t know Nelda was joining us (I lied about her not being able to make it!), but she was thrilled when she arrived. Once we were ready, we made our way to the Cromwell Hotel for a very late dinner at Giada’s.

giada-wine

We kicked things off with a bottle of sparkling rose, and then proceeded to enjoy a high-end Italian carb-fest.

giada-pasta

We enjoyed marinated olives, crostini, three homemade pasta dishes, espresso, and a large plate of cookies (some were taken back to the room for snacks).

giada-espresso

giada-julie

After dinner, we spent some time gambling and people-watching at the hotel. Good times. We ended our night gambling at Caesars Palace before heading up to our room.

Saturday

By our Mom standards, we had a pretty lazy Saturday morning. Even though we were up early, we had no place to go and no immediate plans. In other words, it was a perfect morning. We ordered room service, read magazines, and watched political SNL clips.

breakfast

After a while, we got ready, and then did some shopping at the Caesars Palace Forum Shops. We scored some great finds at H&M, Sephora, and BCBG.

shopping

For lunch, we walked to the Aria and had a great meal, compete with margaritas, at Javier’s.

margs

sat-lunch

After lunch, we spent some time gambling and enjoying the smoke-free ambiance. I won $270 on a 1 cent slot machine (!) and used the winnings for our evening activities. It was literally a win-win for everyone.

Afterwards, we did some window-shopping at the Crystal Shops before heading to the spa at the Linq Hotel. Thanks to Nelda, we had late afternoon manicure/pedicure appointments. Uncharacteristically, I went with a gel manicure. My nails are often the victim of business travel mishaps, so I never bother painting my nails. Hey, but when in Vegas, right?

mani

We had a nice time at the spa – it was a relaxing and casual environment with great customer service.

spa

Once we got all dolled up, we made our way to Fizz for pre-concert cocktails and light bites.

fizz-outside

We had rose flights and champagne cocktails, a cheese plate, and tiny grilled cheese sandwiches.

wine-flights

sis-fiz-bw

We had a great time pre-gaming and catching up.  After a while, we made our way into the Coliseum for the Elton John concert.

stage

In a word, the concert was AMAZING. Elton John is a true entertainer and spent almost half of the two hour concert solo – singing and playing the piano.

stage-end

After the concert, we had a late dinner at Mesa – a restaurant owned and operated by Bobby Flay. We had a nice quick meal, and then returned to our room to get ready for bed, and to pack.

mesa

My feet hurt so badly that evening.  I am woefully out of practice, friends!

shoes

Sunday

We were all up early on Sunday in order to catch early morning flights back home. Nelda left first and Julie and I followed after checking out of the hotel.

Security lines at the airport were crazy, especially for early morning flights.  Even still, we all easily made our flights. Julie and I flew back to Houston together and it was possibly the quietest flight I have ever been on.  Almost everyone slept on the plane, including Julie and me.

Julie, Nelda, and I were fortunate to be able to spend time together as sisters, and to celebrate Julie’s birthday.  We had a really fabulous time, even though we all wish we had more hours together in Vegas to celebrate. At least we will always have the memories!

sisters