Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Vegas Trip to Remember

3 days, 2 nights at Bally's Casino in Las Vegas + Cirque Du Soleil's Mystere at Treasure Island over the Memorial day weekend.

This was actually the longest vacation we took as a family to date. Before this, they had never closed a store we owned for more than a day. Closing a store (in this case our coffee store) 3 days back then was just unheard of. But I guess my parents value time with the family a lot more now, and we don't have to pinch pennies these days. So we opted to take a 3 days 2 nights vacation to Las Vegas. We got tickets for Cirque Du Soleil's Mystere. From the moment I bought tickets for that show, I've been stressed because my parents have never indulged themselves to an event like a show like Mystere. I actually have had bad dreams where they are complaining to me how much the show cost and how boring they found the show. My parents gave me a call on Thursday night telling me that they wanted to leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and meet at Ontario Mills Mall at 7AM. I didn't object because I figured if we get there early, we would have time for an afternoon nap, and then I wouldn't have to worry about them being tired and falling asleep during Mystere.

Saturday morning, I actually managed to wake up around 5:30 after a long Friday, and my parents call me shortly after, telling me that they are just leaving from Gardena. I figure I have plenty of time. I get ready and double check my packing list, and head out at 6:08 AM. With some agressive driving, I make it to Ontario Mills Mall at 7:25 AM. My parents had just gotten there 5 minutes ago. We drop off my car in a residential area, and off to Vegas we go. The traffic at 7 in the morning on a saturday is actually thicker than I had imagined. But we are chugging along. About 9:22, we are about 5-10 miles past Barstow, but we are moving very slowly with traffic. We finally find out what was causing the traffic. A car must have tumbled in the desert a few times and is now crushed and covered in dirt. It looks like an accident that happened quite some time ago, but everyone is stopping to take a look. Soon as we pass the rubble, the traffic picks up. My dad had kept our car in 2nd gear the whole time for god knows what, and he is listening to the ipod at full blast with headphones on. When the traffic clears, he floors it, and the car hits 8000+ rpms for a good 2 seconds or so and is going 80mph in 2nd gear in my sister's Toyota Camery. We hear a loud pop before any of us can react. I don't think my dad even heard the pop because he had earphones on.

Seeing what just happened, I'm in denial. I thought that's what happened, but maybe we ran over something on the road or something? About 2 seconds later, white smoke rushes into our cabin through the vents and out of the hood. My dad quickly pulls over to the side, and black smoke starts to come out the vents. I grab my sister's laptop and my own luggage and head away from the vehicle. My dad pops the hood open flames are visible. My dad being too fearless for his own good gets a few water bottles and tries to put out the fire. I realize that we had just passed a police car just about a half a mile down the road so I put on my running shoes and run towards the police car. The police car must have seen the smoke because he meets me half way and tells me someone has already called 911 and the firetruck is on its way. During this time, my mom and my dad has pretty much removed all the luggage from our car. The police car arrives and tell us to get far away from the vehicle. About 15 minutes after the fire had started, the firetruck shows up out of nowhere. Considering it was coming from the opposite direction of Barstow, it almost seemed like it appeared out of nowhere. They douse the car for 30 minutes. When they took the circular saw to our hood, that's when I realized we are going no further in that vehicle. Then our flatbed towtruck appears. It fits all of us including our massive amounts of luggage. They drop us off at a rental car place. They tell us that the only cars they have left but trucks. Then a guy drops off a Hyundai Accent, and it turns out it needs to go to LA anyway, they give us a deal for $40/day. So after about 2.5 hours, we are back to where the fire had started. Considering what happened, 2.5 hours from blowing an engine in the middle of the desert to being back on the road to resume our trip is really impressive. We got lucky on how everything worked out. After our engine started smoking, I thought our whole vacation was ruined and I would have cancelled our reservations at Bally's and for Mystere if there weren't more important things to do like worry about our luggage being burned up.

In a way, its good that the car burned down. It made it a lot simpler for us because we didn't have to worry about getting it towed to a mechanic shop on a holiday weekend, then spending x amount of hours and dollars diagnosing and trying to fix the problem. since it all happened so fast and away from home, it was easy to take our minds off what happened, and enjoy our trip. We got to Vegas right around check in time. We took a nice long nap after we ate at the hotel room, then headed out to the strip towards Treasure Island to see Mystere at 10:30 PM. My whole family enjoyed the show, and my dad said it was "very good" with enthusiasm. That was even more of a positive feedback than what I would have expected if he liked the show. Next morning, we woke up early to get to the Bellagio Buffet. We got there right before 9AM and were seated immediately where we all ate well. I knew that if we had gotten there any time after 10AM, we were going to have to wait a minimum of 2 hours. Once again, I had to convince my parents it was worth the $30 per person because of their fresh ingredients. My dad noticed how everything wasn't salty at all, yet very good in flavor. He said it was an eye opening experience since he was able to enjoy non salty foods for the first time compared to the salty Korean foods that he's used to eating. The rest of the trip went very well. We visited many casinos. Saw a free show at Aladdin's Dessert Passage. We were going to watch the Bellagio fountains and the Treasure Island pirate show at night, but they got cancelled due to high winds. We caught the Bellagio fountain show right before we left Vegas, and the traffic wasn't too bad coming home (took us 5.5 hrs to Ontario Mills). On our way back we discussed future trips that we can take this year. We'll be planning on Sequoia, Yosemite, or Grand Canyon for labor day and Christmas break.

Pics of the vacation Family Trip Vegas 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Vegas Baby!

2x a month is a record for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

End of Abs Challenge 1

Well, it didn't turn out to be the miracle solution that I was somewhat hoping for, even though I got the results that I expected. I lost 7.5 lbs and lost 3.1% of body fat. Not too shabby. I think one thing I can benefit from when I start up the diet again on Tuesday is benefit by going to the gym early. The absolute best would be if I could get to the gym an hour and half before work (7:30). Considering I need at least an hour in the morning to get ready and drive to work, I need to start sleeping before midnight. I think I can operate at 95-98% optimal level with 6.5 hours of sleep. It's possible. And if I don't happen to make it in the morning, I can always go at lunch. What I had been doing is going around 10:30pm and staying until midnight. So all I end up doing is getting my metabolism up high, then hitting the sack around 1:30. Probably its the worst time to work out.