Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Road Trip Video #4

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3 1/2 months have now passed since we returned from our trip of a lifetime. With life consuming us, these days of exploration and ease seem like a lifetime ago. It was an amazing adventure, one we will look back on with fondness for decades to come.

Grace collected photos and little videos from every leg of our journey with the goal of documenting our adventure in a series of 5 (10-20 minute) videos. It has been a couple months since her last video. With all that has been going on she hasn’t had a spare moment to finish her last two videos of the trip, but last week, with the conclusion of the second quarter of school, she had a few days off and finished video #4. This video highlights our week and a half of vacation following Disneyland but before we reached Missouri. (Our adventures in Missouri will play out in Gracie’s final video.)

Some of the stops included in this vacation highlight reel include:

The Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Petroglyph National Park, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Roswell NM, and Carlsbad Caverns.

I think Gracie did an excellent job of capturing the adventure, the beauty, and the incredible memories we made as we rolled cross country in our converted school bus.

Enjoy #4!

Viva Las Vegas

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Monday we found ourselves still stuck in Las Vegas waiting for some resolution with the boys’ medication dilemma. We decided to take advantage of the free shuttle service offered from our KOA campground to the Las Vegas strip.

Toby has wanted to visit the Las Vegas strip for years after seeing multiple documentaries about the different hotels on the strip. As someone who has worked in construction his whole life he was eager to see all the amazing architecture found in the themed hotels of Vegas.

There was a bit of concern about taking the kids downtown Vegas, but we were told that things were pretty tame during the day, and that was the case… for the most part.

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It was thrilling to experience the energy and sites of Downtown Vegas as we moved from iconic hotel to iconic hotel.

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Our first stop was the Venetian Hotel, known for its Italian décor and gondola rides around the hotel.

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Check out this ceiling!

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It really was stunning.

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As we walked around the hotel we passed the wax museum and stopped for a quick picture with Nicholas Cage.

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Other sites we enjoyed were the Bellagio musical fountains,

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The gardens at the Flamingo,

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And the iconic structures like the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower found on the strip.

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I thought the neatest sites were the artists and musicians that lined the strip. We stopped and watched one artist who was creating magnificent paintings using only spray paint and a knife edge.

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This is one of his finished pieces:

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Our final stop, as the sun sank in the sky, was M&M World…our favorite stop of the day.

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It reminded us a lot of Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa.

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It was four stories of M&M merchandise,

All 22 flavors of M&Ms,

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The M&M race car…Ozzie was in heaven!

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And a fun, free 3-D show starring the M&M buddies.

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When we left M&M World Vegas was lit up in a rainbow of colors…

and the more colorful residents of Vegas had also crawled out of their holes.

Along the strip their were all sorts of crazies dressed in sad looking Disney costumes charging money to pose with tourists. This was such a foreign concept for the kids who had just returned from Disneyland.

When Tyler wanted to run over and give a creepy looking Olaf a “warm hug” I had to explain that we don’t give warm hugs to Las Vegas Olaf, only the Disneyland Olaf.

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The entire walk back was like walking through a field of visual land mines with me averting their eyes with directions like, “Look left, look right…LOOK UP!” as we moved through “Sin City.”

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We were glad to make it to our shuttle bus.

Vegas was an interesting dichotomy of beauty and filth.

We are glad we had the opportunity to see all the good that Las Vegas had to offer, but I can honestly say it was a bit of a shock to the system going from the “Happiest Place on Earth” to “Sin City,”

I can now say I’ve seen it and don’t need to return. 🙂

Next Stop: The Grand Canyon

The Hoover Dam…or as Tyler calls it, “The Hoover Darn”

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Preparation for this road trip began months before we actually packed up the bus. There were so many things to figure out, so many moving parts involved in a trip this long and involved, that the preparations took a long time. There was the researching and planning of our route and what sites we wanted to see. There were the logistics of the bus conversion and making sure mechanically it would be able to handle a 9,000-mile journey over a variety of terrain. There were the school preparations as we worked with our cyber schools to make sure this road trip would be feasible with school work, and making sure we were prepared for how we would manage internet while on the road. There were campsites to book, menu and grocery planning, packing lists and home preparations for leaving our home and farm under the care of a house sitter for seven weeks.

There was also the issue of medications. Both little boys are on a variety of medication that help with the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety and Reactive Attachment Disorder. They both receive therapy for early childhood trauma but the medications they are on help them manage their symptoms so that they can do the therapy work. These medications are essential for their well-being as well as for the functionality of our family as a whole.

Before we left we worked to get the boys’ medications stabilized and prepared for our time away from their doctor and therapist by filling their 30 days of medication the day before we left and then bringing their refill scripts with us.

I was concerned that we might have an issue filling their Concerta scripts for ADHD because it is considered a controlled substance. So I set aside time to speak with our pharmacist face to face. I expressed my concerns and she reassured me that it shouldn’t be an issue as long as I had paper scripts from the doctor and photo ID…

Boy was she wrong!

It has been a nightmare. For 6 days, through 3 states, with stops at 10 different pharmacies, we have tried to refill the boys’ empty meds.

Each pharmacy had a different reason for saying, “NO.” One refused to fill any out of state scripts for controlled substances. One wouldn’t fill the script because more than one medication was written on one script. Another wouldn’t fill any script that was written more than 14 days ago. Another refused to fill a controlled substance script without speaking to the doctor.

It was that pharmacy that resulted in an extended stay in Las Vegas. The pharmacist wanted to speak to our doctor. It was Saturday morning and our doctor wouldn’t be back in the office until Tuesday so we had to wait, with crossed fingers, that our extended stay in Las Vegas would pan out.

Those who have ever questioned the validity of ADHD, or who feel it is a made-up diagnosis to excuse poor behavior in school children, has never lived with an ADHD child. Let me tell you…IT IS REAL!!

Both boys have a diagnoses of ADHD but Tyler is far more severe. In fact his doctor says he has the most severe case of any ADHD patient she treats. When he is on his meds, which includes 5 different medications and 10 pills a day, he is still bouncy and distracted. Living with him off his meds in a little school bus…

Well imagine climbing into a refrigerator box with 33 monkeys and a Tasmanian devil and you just about have it.

The last few days have been challenging. We have had to adjust our itinerary and cut out a few stops to make this extended stay in Las Vegas work.

The blessing is: we are at a wonderful KOA campsite.

The staff is fantastic and there is a beautiful pool where we have spent much time allowing Tyler to burn off energy in the 105-degree heat.

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It also offered free shuttle service so we have been able to take advantage of sites in the area as we wait on news about the meds. While we were stationary we also had a mobile automotive service come out and do a little repair work on some of the wear and tear on the bus that came as a result of our climb and descent through the Rocky Mountains.

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It was nice to be able to have the mechanic come out to the KOA and work on the bus while we swam.

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One of the planned stops for our trip through Vegas was the Hoover Dam, or as Tyler calls it,

“The Hoover Darn.”

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He didn’t buy my explanation that the word “dam” in reference to a structure, wasn’t a bad word.

I don’t know what I was thinking taking two ADHD boys, who are off their meds, to the tallest man made, concrete structure in the western hemisphere.

I think I was just desperate to escape the confines of the bus.

While there I vacillated between a numbing fear that Tyler was going to bounce his way of the side of the dam and a temptation to push him over the side of the dam.

We drove the bus over to the Hoover Dam, a 30-minute drive from our KOA in Sam’s Town, Nevada.

When we arrived we were ushered through a security check point where Police Officers boarded our bus and thoroughly searched it, inside and out. All trucks, Vans and RVs had to be searched.

We don’t know if this is a normal security procedure or if it was a result of the bombings that had occurred on the east coast the day before.

We were soon through security and were told to head to parking lot 14 which was set up to accommodate larger vehicles.

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We were surprised, as we approached the dam, that we would be driving across the top of it. We thought only pedestrians we allowed on top of  it, so it was a thrill to drive across this mammoth structure.

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We parked and began the long decent, down numerous staircases, to the dam.

Walking across it allowed us the opportunity to move at a more leisurely pace, read the signage and take pictures.

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The boys lasted about 3.2 seconds before the first one was hanging over the railing in an effort to better see the water below.  From that moment on we had a firm hand-holding policy for both boys, but even with that safety measure I didn’t have any feeling in my legs and my heart didn’t stop racing until we were back in the bus.

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It was there on the top of the dam that we really got to experience Vegas heat at its best. The 105 degree temperatures felt even hotter as we stood on that enormous concrete slab.

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All around the dam were cooling stations. These giant, mist blowing fans were a lovely relief from the heat.

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But nothing felt as good as the wall of cold air that hit us as we stepped into the visitor’s center.

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We considered doing one of the two tours offered that allows visitors to go inside the dam and see the inner workings of the dam,  but we knew we would never make it with the boys in their current condition, so instead we just bought a pass to the visitor’s center.

Here we learned all about the history of the Hoover Dam, from the planning process, to the construction, to the science behind its inner workings, as well as its function today.

Here are some of the cool things we learned:

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We didn’t realize that the Hoover Dam lies on the border of two states with one side rooted in Arizona and the other in Nevada.

It was a very interesting stop and our visit was packed with fascinating history and fun science.

(On a side note)

If we were to do anything differently we probably would have skipped the visitor’s center. It was $10.00/person but we didn’t feel we got our money’s worth out of the small visitor’s center. Quite honestly we could have enjoyed our visit just as fully having walked the dam and read all the great signage outside for free. 

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It really is an astounding place, well worth a visit if you are in the area.

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We ended our visit with a stop at the gift shop/restaurant.

The kids were really excited for this visit because of their exposure to the Hoover Dam after reading the Percy Jackson series. There is a great scene in one of the books that takes place at the dam…

So in honor of all Percy Jackson fans we bought some “dam fries” to share.

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All in all,

It was a “Dam” Good Day!

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