Thursday, August 21, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 3

Hello blog family,
I've been really busy this month with a bunch of new stuff going on in my life which I'll explain more about at the end of this post. I'm also back to finish part 3 of my family's great visit to California. It's been over a month since they went back to Philadelphia, and I'm still pretty sad about it. I'll be home in October for a wedding, but it's just not the same as having them here with me everyday. In my last post I left off on Friday with our trip to Disneyland.

On Saturday we woke up early again since we decided we would spend the weekend in Las Vegas. The drive from where I live to Vegas is only about a 3.5 hour drive which really isn't that bad. Being in Vegas with a 7 and 9 year old was definitely interesting considering some of the strange people you see walking the streets. We basically just walked the entire strip, explored in some hotels, and ate dinner at Margaritaville which had a really fun Vegas atmosphere. We also made a stop at the volcano show in front of the Mirage hotel and of course the water show in front of the Bellagio. This is my absolute favorite thing to see in Vegas since I love water. After the water show we walked home to get some sleep. I think we ended up walking 7 miles in total that night. There really was so much to do and see that we didn't get a change to, but with it being such a short drive I know we will be back soon. 
New York
Paris
In front of Caesars Palace
Volcano show
Bellagio! 
So beautiful
The girls and their balloon hats
Family <3
With my sisters
On Sunday morning we decided to make the drive to the Hoover Dam after eating breakfast. The drive is only about 30 minutes or so from where we were staying. The Hoover Dam is thought of as one of the great modern civil engineering wonders of the world and was truly breathtaking considering when and how it was built. We paid for the guided tour which allows you to go behind the scenes and see inside the power plant as well as watch a documentary on how the dam was built. I'm not going to lie, the entire experience was terrifying. Between the elevator ride down to the generators and then looking over the edge of the damn, I was scared. I do have to say that outside standing on top of the dam looking out is really beautiful. Right now there is a major drought going on, so the water levels in the dam are at an all time low. Most of Southern California gets water and power supply from the Hoover Dam, so now I take shorter showers and try to use less electricity after seeing just how low the water is. I remember as a kid my Dad brought me back a souvenir hard hat from his trip to the Hoover Dam and ever since then I've always wanted to see it for myself. If you are ever in Vegas, I recommend you make the short drive and see the massive dam, hopefully when there is more water. 
Down in the power plant with the generators 
The back wall of the dam
Family <3
You can clearly see how low the water is
Sisters
So pretty 
One side is Nevada and the other is Arizona
Awesome bridge 
Where the water comes out the other side of the dam
How the water gets sucked up into the front of the dam
Where the excess water runs off 
After the Hoover Damn we make the two hour drive to Death Valley National Park back in California. The week before I read an article about a man dying in the park due to dehydration. Once we arrived and stepped outside for the first time I was overwhelmed by how hot and dry it was. At one point my car said it was 122 degrees outside. This national park compared to Joshua Tree National Park is HUGE! I believe it has over 5,000 miles of protected mountains. You could easily get lost in the park, and no one is coming to help you. Although the mountains seem larger and of course are beautiful, I think Joshua Tree is nicer (and less hot). I could only stay outside for small periods of time before having to jump back into the air conditioned car. It was hard to enjoy the natural beauty when you are struggling just to breathe. One cool part of the park was below sea level and had what I would call a "salt lake". There was some water strangely enough, but most of the water had dried up and left behind huge piles of salt. From Death Valley we said goodbye to my parents who were driving back to Vegas for another day while we had to drive home and get ready for work the next day. While saying goodbye I got very emotional, but I am just really happy that I got to experience some pretty cool things with the people I love. 
Daddy and his girls 
My loves
With my baby
Before it got hot...
Sand dunes 
Sisters way out there
Salt piles
Sunset is my favorite color 
Now onto what I've been up to since my family left. Well as you probably know by now, we were scheduled to leave California after only 6 months of being here (March-August). Both my boyfriend and I fell in love with it here, so he began to look for a job that would allow us to stay here more long term. He actually started his new job this week which means that yes, we won't be moving again for awhile. It is nice to finally feel like I can settle in somewhere especially a place as beautiful as California. Once we found out we were staying here, we wanted to find another place to live. Our place now is nice, just not what we were used to coming from our luxury apartment in Texas. We signed a new lease and will be moving in next Friday over Labor Day weekend. Of course moving stinks, but this is the first time in forever that we aren't moving across the country. This will be a breeze compared to the last two moves. Once we are settled into our new place I will be sure to update you on the moving process as well as post pictures of the apartment. Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend, and think of me while I pack and unpack my life again for the third time in less than a year.

XoXo,
Valerie