Vegas Baby!

Two weeks ago I wasn't even thinking about Vegas.  Then all of a sudden, a week ago, I find myself getting ready to head out on a "shotgun" trip to Vegas, as my brother and I like to call them.  

I did all the usual Vegas things you do.  Wander the strip, shop, gamble, eat, drink.  Wait, no I didn't.  I didn't do anything I might usually do in Vegas.

I went to opening night of the Wrangler National Rodeo Finals.  Spent 4 HOURS at Cowboy Christmas.  4 hours!  That's as much shopping as i might do in 3 months! I am very proud of myself because I did not buy one thing.  Except for a 1/4 lb. of sweet, roasted pralines because I was starving.

I helped celebrate my niece's 21st birthday with her friend and her mom, my best friend.  For me this was less about going to Vegas and more about being with my best friend of more than 30 years.  We also managed to fulfill one of her bucket list items, to see Reba in concert.  And if you have to ask "who's Reba?" well, shame on you.  She and Brooks & Dunn have a residency at Caesar's Palace.  Nothing like deciding to go to a show last minute.  

My mom used to say things like "you may never pass this way again" and "sometimes you gotta jump the fence".  Pretty appropriate for a rodeo-themed vacation.  We took the proverbial "bull by the horns" and got ourselves to that show Friday night.  

None of these things would I have ever done on a trip I planned to Vegas.  But you know what?  It was awesome.  I was sad when the rodeo ended that night.  We criss-crossed the strip with so many Lyft drivers they all start to blend in my head and we shared some simple moments of time with some pretty cool people.  

And I remember how much I love traveling.  Every. Single. Bit. Of. It.  Traveling shakes the rust off, puts one in uncomfortable places and forces you to learn new things and interact with people you might never have met otherwise.  I talked to some incredible vendors at Cowboy Christmas.  Sat inches away from strangers on the plane rides.  Rediscovered my love for Brooks & Dunn and nearly cried when Reba sang "Just Like Them Horses".  

I am so very grateful for the time spent with my best friend, my niece and one of her best friends. We talked late into the night, squeezed into tight backseats and traipsed from one end of the exhibition hall to another.  I don't know how it happened that I ended up there, but some angels must have been working overtime.  

When I was thinking about whether I should go or not, rearrange my work schedule and put in a six-day work week to make it happen, I lay in bed thinking "if I was dying, would I go?" the answer was a resounding YES!!!  Would that I could frame all my decisions in that light.  Wait.  I can!  

And on the plane ride home, I sat and scribbled notes for not one but two more future books.  One inspired by my very favorite Brooks & Dunn song "Red Dirt Road" and another idea I have been kicking around for 10 years or more.  Not to mention a plan to finish my first book and get that draft completed and move on from there.  A plan to shrink the things in my life that are of little value, and to enlarge those that are.  For me, that is writing.  

I can't tell you everything that happened in Vegas because after all, you know how the saying goes.  "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas".  But I'm sure thinking about the next time I can go.  Take the opportunity to travel every chance you get.  For me, it is not a luxury, it is a lifeline. 

 

 

Wilhelm's Mausoleum, Sellwood, OR.

I've been a bit behind on updating my travel adventures.  Just ramblings about interesting places I might go.  And sometimes I like to go to weird places.  I have this, well, I wouldn't call it obsession, but, I love to go to cemeteries or even mausoleums and take photos.  I don't know why, exactly.  Part of it is my love for history.  Part of it is the peacefulness you feel hanging out with all those who have gone before.  Another part of it is thinking about death and what comes after.  I would say it's because my mom died, but I was visiting churches and graveyards and cemeteries before she passed away.


One of my favorites is this mausoleum because it's so huge! And, it is a very central character in my novel I'm working on.  Once a year, over Memorial Day, they open up what is called the "Rae Room", and you can go in and view the marble caskets of the Raes.  I'm not going to go into all the history about them, you can check it out here:  http://koin.com/2014/05/15/eternal-love-george-elizabeth-rae/.  But, I did get some fun photos.  I've posted the majority of them on Flickr, but here's a sneak peek: 

My favorite parts of the mausoleum are the older, lower levels. You can almost feel the palpable presence of all the souls who have gone before.  To get to the lowest level, you have to find the elevator that takes you down one single level, and yet, you feel you have gone down many floors.  I remember the first time I visited, I nearly had a panic attack because I thought I was going to get stuck in the mausoleum with all those ghosts.  Ridiculous.  This time, as I walked to this area of the mausoleum, on the 2nd level, I believe, I could almost see the ghosts on these old pieces of furniture.  

There are some beautiful stained glass pieces in the larger crypts in the lower, most Southern levels, and I almost always go straight there after visiting the Rae room.  I had also seen a quote on one of the floors that I thought was so cool, and searched for quite awhile to find it.  It was tricky, hiding on the 3rd floor mezzanine level, but I finally found it.  If you consider yourself a ghost-hunter, and you haven't been to this place, I strongly urge you to go next Memorial Day.  And for now, I'll leave you with this.


Some New Shit.

I've got some new links up on my site to some cool products.  Chris Guillebeau is one of my top "inspirers".  He's got some great guides on living an "unconventional life".  I have adopted a lot of what he is about.  I mean, the man has been to every single country in the world.  If you want to "Get Paid for your Writing", want to know how to "Live and Work from Anywhere" or how to get luxury travel "Upgrade Unlocked", check out the guides on the left.  I am picky about who I advertise for, but he is just too awesome.  You might have heard about the "$100 Start-Up".  Yea, he's that guy.

I have not been doing much traveling myself, except for driving around the city.  I spend so much time ferrying people around I figured out I might as well get paid for it.  So, I have now signed up to drive for Lyft and I am in the process of getting all set up with Uber.  Last night I turned on my pink mustache for the first time.  I like to ease into things, so I logged in for about an hour.  I had a ride request just as I was getting home.  Just kidding!  The ride was cancelled.  

Same thing happened today.  I have been logged in for part of the day while at home.  I got one ride request and tried to accept but a rare phone call interrupted it.  Argh!!! And then I accepted another ride, only to get punked again.  Oh well.  It's my training week so I'm figuring out how stuff works.  And, if you are interested in driving for Lyft, they need more pink mustaches out there!  If you do, please be so kind as to use my referral code:  JENNA389228.  That way you get money and I get money.  Or, you can use my custom code: SASSYGIRL in order to get a $20 credit on your first ride.

While were at it, if you have never heard of or tried Airbnb, it is the lovely site I found my magical cottage in Ireland on, and, let's face it, like porn for travelers.  When I need a travel break, I just pick a destination I want to visit and go look at Airbnb listings.  I have a referral code for this one too, for your first stay:  www.airbnb.com/c/jamundson1?s=8.  You must be a new user, but get yourself signed up!  Much more fun than a traditional hotel.  

Let's hope I can get my first rides in this weekend.  I am determined.  And then I will have even more stories for you.  In the meantime, be sure to sign up for Lyft, use my codes, and sign up for Airbnb, if you have not already.