Trip Report – Southern Adventure January 2014

It’s not a circus without a few clowns, right?

Pam & Mike’s Southern Adventure 2014

Jump to:

Day 1: On the road from Terrebonne to Laughlin
Day 2: Pig-in-a-poke and how the other half lives
Day 3: Two clowns visit ghost towns. And donkeys. Lots and lots of donkeys.
Day 4: Taking the dam road to Las Vegas, with a stop in a dam town for a little antiquing along the way.
Day 5: Scary Clowns and Elvis is in town.
Day 6: Old school tech day with pinball and fusees, and we totally ignore the possibility of Stranger Danger.
Day 7: “More, Please” at Red Rocks and CarsLand Vegas Style.
Day 8: This Circus has no clowns, but I hear the high wire act is pretty good.
Day 9: What kind of clowns go into Mexico just for cheap booze? That would be us.
Day 10: Capybaras and Condors and Red Pandas, oh my.
Day 11: California Mis-Adventure?
Day 12: Disneylast


This all started because we were channel surfing.

A few years ago we sat bored in front of the tv on a rainy Saturday. This doesn’t happen often as Mike never sits still. Even when he’s sleeping he’s still moving. The cats find him decidedly un-cuddle-worthy on that account.

Basically, the only way I can get him to relax is to feed him massive quantities of beer and Chinese food.

I, on the other hand, am a cat’s dream – overly warm, with plenty of extra padding, and I can sit for hours without moving. At least someone appreciates my Zen-like skills.

Where was I? Oh yeah, surfing our 57 channels with nothing on…until we glimpsed a shot of one of our favorite motocross riders, Travis Pastrana. Only he wasn’t riding, he was jumping out of a plane without a parachute.

Hmmm, this looks much more interesting than re-runs of Pawn Stars. 

So began our love of Nitro Circus.

If you’ve never seen the show, it’s basically Jackass but with skilled action sports athletes, and they try to actually make things go right instead of badly wrong.

Anyway, when we heard they’d be doing a live show in Las Vegas, we knew we wanted to see it. I was less excited when I found out all the decent seats were VIP, and ticket prices for that level started at $130 each. Ouch. But you get a lanyard and a poster with VIP, score! If you knew how many lanyards I have from various motorized sporting events, you would know how not thrilled I am with this swag.

If you’re ever in need of a lanyard, you know who to call.

Oh well, $260 plus evil Ticketmaster “handling fees” spent and I guess we’re vacationing in Vegas this year.

We decide to take two weeks and make a Southwest loop. I decide we’re going to Disneyland and California Adventure for a couple of days. No way I’m driving past Anaheim without stopping to say hi to Mickey, right?

The last time we’d been to the original House of Mouse was in January 2006. A year later we took our first trip to Disney World and as far as Mike was concerned, Disneyland no longer rated our time. So my goal was to re-introduce him to Disneyland in a way that would rekindle his love of the place.

But before all of that happens, we’ve got 10 days of other stuff to wade through.

Here’s the plan:

Day 1, Saturday January 18: Drive from Terrebonne Oregon to Laughlin Nevada.
Day 2, Sunday January 19: Check out our property in Golden Shores Arizona, about 35 miles south of Laughlin.
Day 3, Monday January 20: Oatman Arizona
Day 4, Tuesday January 21: Antique stores in Boulder City, and on to Las Vegas
Day 5-8, Wednesday January 22 through Friday January 24: Las Vegas
Day 9, Saturday January 25: Nitro Circus at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
Day 10, Sunday January 26: Drive to San Diego, with stops in Quartzsite for lunch with friends, and Algodones Mexico for cheap alcohol.
Day 11, Monday January 27: San Diego Zoo
Day 12-13, Tuesday-Wednesday January 28-29: Disneyland and California Adventure
Day 14, Thursday January 30: Drive home.

We were supposed to take the final Friday and Saturday and visit Catalina Island, but decided to come home early as one of our cats didn’t seem to be doing well and Mike was about frantic with worry (more on that later).

This trip was interesting, and we had some good times but overall everything just felt a bit off. Before we left, crazy stuff kept happening that would make me wonder if it was a sign that we shouldn’t go. Still, we’d already spent the money, Mike needed a break, and so we pushed forward.

What kind of crazy things, you ask? Well, you probably didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway, so there.

First off, Mike spent our entire vacation fund a month before we were leaving. Yep, all of it. What did he spend it on? Dirt.

Really. He had the same excavator that did all our work when we were building this place come out and create a rock retaining wall, then fill it with dirt. I’ll admit it needed to be done, the area has always looked unfinished, and it looks great now…

…but he sort of forgot to get a quote and thought it would cost maybe a grand, but the final bill was more than three times that, so HE SPENT ALL OUR VACATION MONEY. Aaaargh!!!

Thank goodness for Ebay. I got busy and sold a bunch of stuff and made enough to get us through two weeks of fun as long as we were careful. Unless something else happened.

And here’s the something else. The week before we left, Mike tells me the dishwasher is broken. We disassemble it and figure out it’s the pump motor. A new motor costs $80. A new dishwasher to completely replace this cheap piece of crud that we never liked is $350. So we bought a new dishwasher. Of course with the vacation money. Sigh. The dishwasher will be delivered the day before we leave (we’re getting up Saturday morning at 3am, and Mike doesn’t get home from work until 9pm, guess who is installing the dishwasher?)

And here’s more something-elses. Tuesday night Mike notices that our main security light on the shop is not coming on. We go out there at 10pm, and he’s up the ladder with me holding the light and tools below him (it’s 10 degrees and breezy, and the shop is 25 feet tall), he pulls down the unit, trouble shoots it, figures it’s the sensor. I buy another sensor the next day and he installs it the following night. Which is when we realize that the dusk-to-dawn light on the back of the shop is also acting up.


We move the ladder and tools to the back of the shop and repeat the process, this time it’s a dead wall unit which I buy the next day and we get to install Thursday night. By this time the temp is down to single digits and it’s starting to snow. It was such a fun time. Poor Mike!

Friday the dishwasher is delivered and they take away the old one. I spend a few hours figuring out how to install the thing (it’s actually pretty easy) and get it running. Leaving me the rest of the day to get packed and ready to go.

Because we are doing this trip on a shoestring budget, we’re not eating out much – which is pretty normal for us anyway. It’s actually sort of nice to be able to shop in advance and then pack everything in the car, rather than get somewhere then do the shopping. I manage to fit two boxes of groceries, a medium-sized cooler and assorted luggage in the car, utilizing all my hard-earned Tetris skills.

Mike gets home “early” at around 8pm, and we’re in bed by 11pm, with the alarm set for 2:30. Holy crud it only feels like a few hours later when the stupid thing goes off! Oh, it is only a few hours later.

And the vacation begins with frazzled nerves, a depleted bank account, and two sleep-deprived middle-aged curmudgeons.

What could possibly go wrong?


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