Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Las Vegas 2015

MMMKAY, so I'm finally getting around to blogging the last of our vacation. I can't tell you why it's taken me so long, since I haven't really been busy, but you know. Life. Procrastination?

So as my last post sort of explained, I was totally pregnant during our summer trip. And it kind of sucked. I mean don't get me wrong, we still had fun and did most of what we wanted to do, but I felt awful a lot. And it was mostly a road trip so 8 hours a day in the car with nausea was terrible. BUT, we still went. And I hope I didn't totally ruin it! I think I did pretty good, considering. I mean, I hiked five miles around the Grand Canyon! And up and down the Las Vegas strip in 110 degree heat! I think I was a decent trooper. Although bedtime was so early, y'all.

So, Vegas! In comparison to our usual vacation spots (you know... mountains, outside in general) Las Vegas is weird. It's the opposite of what we usual go for, but we still love it for some reason. This reasoning makes little to no sense because we don't really drink (well I mean, I don't for sure now, but even when I did I haven't been drunk in literally years) so we're not big partiers, we aren't big fans of crowds of people, we aren't night owls, and we don't really gamble. But we still love Vegas! For me, it's the spectacle of it all. It's so over the top and insane and fancy but also trashy and garish? And the people watching is prime. I love all the ridiculous big hotels, the more themed the better. This was our third time to Vegas together, but only our second time staying there. The first time we just drove through. The second time we went after our 21st birthdays (it was a very awesome birthday present for me!). Here is a post about that first trip, prepare yourselves... we look like babies. Also, although I don't remember it at all, apparently we had a conversation in 2012 about going to Vegas after Brendon graduates. WEIRD, WE JUST DID THAT.

We stayed at Treasure Island this go round. Last time we stayed at the Paris, which was so lovely. But I wanted to go for a cornier hotel this time, so pirate themed it was. It was still pretty nice, our room was swanky, and gah that place is so affordable. Plus we booked a show and room package so we got a Cirque du Soleil show out of the deal. We saw Mystere and it was very awesome. Those performers have talents and skills that I will never ever come close to touching.

Here's a random smattering of photos I took. With my iPhone. Because I was not carrying my heavy big camera around in that heat. These are mostly of hotels because I am a nerd.

ONE HUNDRED AND TEN DEGREES. I think after this we made a pit stop in the Tropicana to literally just sit in the AC. Then Brendon bought a $2 tall ass can of beer from a convenience store and I bought two bottles of water. And then chugged it all.

Art aside: Vegas is the perfect place for Jeff Koons. I was actually kind of impressed when I saw not one, but two Jeff Koons in the Wynn, and then I was like wait. It's Jeff Koons.

Brendon had this two for one drink ticket thing so he got two beers. I dutifully stared at his second beer, pretending (wishing?) it was mine.

Oh and we must talk about our "gambling". We played a little on the slots but I found the casinos to be lamer than usual because EVERYONE SMOKES?!?! Bleh. Brendon had been talking about playing blackjack forever, and was doing all kinds of research on his phone; where the best tables were, secrets to winning, etc. He did this for three days, and then on the fourth morning before we left, he finally went down to the tables in our hotel while I laid in bed. He was gone for about 20 minutes, he came back and I was obv like "HOW DID IT GO?" and he was all, "It was okay. I won a hundred dollars." This fool goes down and wins a hundred bucks in a few minutes and waited to start gambling until right before we left. BUH. Shoulda put him to work earlier.

The Fountains at the Bellagio. Always and forever my favorite. Unrelated, but ALSO, if you are vegetarian or vegan, the Wynn is your hotel! Every single restaurant in that place has veggie options, because apparently the owner is vegan. That is what's up! We ate at La Cave for a fancy night out our last evening and it was great! 

So that's it! Las Vegas was real fun. Even pregnant! Obviously it would have been more fun not pregnant, but what are you gonna do. Next time, I wont be knocked up. 

The drive home was terrible though, y'all. We drove from Vegas to Santa Rosa, New Mexico the first day and then back to Texas the second. And this was the beginning of my sickest week. I was so over the car by the end. And then get this, we went to a wedding in Fort Worth the day after we got back. HA, my life.

YEESH it took me like a month to blog that vacation. I blame it on the Seahorse. Here are the rest of the posts!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Baby Hogan

Hello, in case you missed the memo, I'm pregnant. Let's discuss. Because I'm a chronic oversharer and what else is the internet for if not for babies and cats?

So, first of all here are the big details. I'm 14 weeks pregnant. Due date is January 15th-ish. We found out at the beginning of May and kept it mostly secret for almost three months! It was hard. But fun.

We've been calling our kid the Seahorse. Because we're weird and "baby" just sounded too... I don't know. Babyish? And because when we first found out (we found out waaaay early), it was seriously just a wee embryo. Not even that, a jumble of cells. And Brendon said fetus and I was just like, ew. It was too tiny and microscopic and fetus just sounds scary. So he was like Seahorse! I think he meant sea monkey, but it came out Seahorse and I was like "Eeeeeee!" and that was it. We had a Seahorse.

Like I said, we found out very early. My cycle had been like clockwork (TMI? It's a post about being pregnant.) so when things didn't happen like they usually do I was suspicious. I also felt like, this might be it. I felt different. So about five days after I should have been surfing the crimson tide, I took a test. Too early I guess, because it came out negative. I felt funky about it, but I was like whatever, maybe my cycle is off because I'm stressed. But then it still never happened, so a weekish later I took another one on some random day before work, and instead of just the one blue line it had the faintest cross line of blue as well. So light, you had to really look, but it was there. I will forever and always remember the feeling seeing that pale blue line going the other direction. I was surprised and shocked and AHHHH and excited and kind of relieved? Because you guys I felt weird for a while, not a bad weird, but just like... different (raging hormones). And hopeful? So I ran into the other room and threw my pee stick on Brendon's desk (yes, gross, but in the heat of the moment...) and said "LOOK THERE ARE TWO LINES IT SAYS EVEN IF ONE IS FAINT IT'S POSITIVE I THINK I'M PREGNANT." Or something like that. And then I immediately grabbed the keys and made Brendon go with me to buy another test. That was a fun car ride. Adrenaline pumping, but also the strangest calm? By the way HEB is the cheapest place to buy pregnancy tests. This time I got a digital one so there was no question of faint lines. I didn't have to pee again yet and Brendon had to go to work so he was like, "Tell me the results immediately." The ever rational Mr. Hogan. Flash forward thirty minutes or so and I took the fancy digital test and boom there it was. In less than three minutes in the crispest digital print, "Pregnant". And as the millennial I am, I took a photo and sent it to Brendon.

So the Seahorse came into existence, or into our knowledge. My eggo was preggo. Really, the timing was almost perfect. Brendon was about to graduate and start his residency which meant that he'd be bringing in some income and our lives would reach some level of adult normalcy (is there such a thing?). But I do mean almost perfect. Because we found out at a crazy time. I was starting my last month of work (and all the drama that came with that), Brendon was graduating (lots of family = lots of stress. The good kind, but still..), and we were about to pack up our Austin lives and move to Temple. Lots of big things, all at once. So it was an interesting month to say the least. It was trying, in many ways, but also incredibly exhilarating. We told a couple of people, but other than that it was still very much a secret. So we went through all that craziness, while also coming to terms with the fact that the Hogan family was expanding, relatively alone. I mean we had each other, but it's hard keeping something like that to yourself. When I was exhausted and feeling near death at work, I couldn't be like, oh hey, lemme chug some calories real quick, or I AM GOING TO EXPLODE, because hormones. Or when your family is giving you the "when are you two reproducing" eyes (Whyyyyyy is that okay to ask? It is not, btw.) and you're just like, heh? Or when you're moving and packing and sweating and just so tired and you need to hide out but you can't? Like there is no time? But you guys, it was also the loveliest secret to keep. It was magical and special and just ours. And it also made me feel hella tough surviving that month, because I am woman hear me roar. But just wait.

Honestly, being preggo for the first month was pretty easy. Aside from all the craziness that just so happened to occur in that month. My biggest pregnancy symptoms were just incredibly sore boobs, and exhaustion. Oh and hormones, duh. But holy cow, so so so tired. But other than the boobs, grouchiness, and tiredness, it was an "easy" month. I was like dang, being pregnant is not bad! HA. Around week 6 (and a half) the nausea set in. And headaches. But mostly nausea. And it did not go away. It sucked so bad. Nausea all day long (morning sickness is a lie!), for like 6 weeks straight. Some people get cravings? I just hated food. I hated eating. Nothing sounded good. Except fruit, I ate a lot of fruit. Like so many bunches of bananas. IT SUCKED. I could write a book on how much it sucked. But once the first trimester started wrapping up, the nausea eased up too. Not totally gone, I still have to eat every two hours or I get pukey feeling, but so much better. Now I'm mostly just tired all the time and have the headaches from hell. Being pregnant is an adventure.

But thankfully y'all, I have a Brendon. Not only is he incredibly supportive and sweet and understanding (seriously, this cannot be stated enough, I married a saint), but he's also a pharmacist, so apparently he knows some medical mumbo jumbo. He's been leading me in the right directions and is my guru for, "Can I do this? Can I take this? Should I not do that?" Gosh, he's just so good to me. I don't know what I would do without him. Probably starve to death. He is always there for me. When I'm awful and grumpy and badly in need of a snack (or meal, or water, or whatever) at a very inconvenient time, he's got my back. He cooked so many meals for me you guys, so many. And he's also forever telling me "thank you for growing the Seahorse", which you know, would make my ovaries explode if they weren't in baby growing mode.

Also a shout out to my momma, who checked on me almost every day to see how I was feeling. There's nothing like being pregnant to make you appreciate your mom. I'm sure the appreciation only grows, as the Seahorse you know, comes out and we're, you know, raising it. I hear that's the hard part. Mom, you are my hero. I don't know how you did this twice. ;) 

But truly you guys, aside from feeling mostly awful for two months, the whole thing is great and pretty unreal. My hair and nails are on point right now. And my face has finally calmed down from the hormone explosion so maybe I'm getting that glow? And the ultrasounds!? Hearing someone else's heartbeat in my tummy? It really felt real once we heard it in there. So cool. I'm just super excited to be growing this Seahorse and super excited to see what our DNA mixed together turns out like. Obviously a badass, but what kind of badass? Gosh it's gonna be fun. Also scary (we are basically big children, who allowed us to become parents??). But let's focus on the fun, shall we? IT'S GONNA BE SO FUN.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hoover Dam

What did the fish say when he ran into the wall? Just kidding guys. I only do corny jokes in real life. The Hoover Dam! This little stop on our trip was a pretty short one. We stopped on our way from the Grand Canyon to Vegas, you actually have to drive past it to get from point A to B so it was super convenient! The last time we were here, that big bridge in that photo was just being started. You had actually drive over the dam! Now you only drive over it if you go out of the way.

It was roughly 115 (like no lie) degrees out, so we made our way around the dam pretty quick and then jumped back into the car. We were pretty tired anyway from hiking around the Grand Canyon and then driving for hours. Oh plus, we almost starved to death in the desert. Not really, but seriously there was like no where to stop for 100 miles and we were (I was) starving. We had lunch at a gas station. I think I had macaroni salad (bleh), Cheetos, and a caffeine free diet coke. So healthy. Road trip food is hard when you're a vegetarian, but we got pretty good at it by the end of the trip. You get to know which fast food place has what, and how to scrape up a decent meal out of a gas station. (Note to self, next time pack PB&J fixings.)

ANYWAY, the point is, we were pretty beat when we made it to the Hoover Dam. God it was hot. But it is still an amazing sight, and always worth the stop. I love the mountains around here. They're so rugged and brown. And Lake Mead is the most amazing shade of turquoise, it's the prettiest ribbon of color winding through all that brown.

They have two pillars with clocks on them, giving each states time. And down the middle of the dam is the state line, so if you straddle it, you're in two places at once!

I blame the next two photos on the heat.

You gotta lean over the edge to get a picture, right? I'd love to take the tour down sometime. There's so much going on underground. Amazing to think of the building process. I can't really wrap my mind around it! Humans are awful sometimes, but they're also capable of making amazing things.

I mean, DAMN. Right? ;) It truly is a wonder. And just outside of Vegas! Like maybe thirty minutes. There are some pretty spectacular looking parks to play on Lake Mead on either side of the dam too. We were too tired to stop, but one day!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Grand Canyon

After our stopping in Albuquerque, we headed west to the Grand Canyon. If you ever get the chance, the stretch of I-40 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff (and then on to Vegas) is breathtaking. It's a long drive, but it is beautiful. And it follows historic Route 66! Makes me think of Cars.

This was our second time together at the Grand Canyon, and we'd both been as kids as well. The buildings around the rim have changed slightly, but not much else has! Except maybe the entrance fees. Those went up. ;)

We drove along Desert View Drive (which is like 25 miles long! And provides the best views of the river, if you're into seeing it.) when we first got there, stopping at view points and checking out the scenery. The Grand Canyon is huge you guys. The National Park covers 1.6 million acres and within the park I think there's like 40 miles or something along the canyon's South Rim. The park is huge and the canyon is huge!

I think that is my favorite picture. The Grand Canyon is wild and massive, but there are also so many people crawling everywhere. It's awe inspiring nature surrounded by loud tourists and their selfie sticks. Damn whoever invented the selfie stick. But the place is so big, everyone seems tiny in comparison. Little ants.

The original game plan was to camp, but those plans were thwarted by life and we ended up staying at a hotel. Which was expensive, but it was a hotel right on the edge of the Grand Canyon... so that was cool!! And really convenient. This was the view outside our hotel:

That's our hotel! We stayed at the El Tovar Lodge. It's nice, but it's old (like built in 1905) and pricey. Still, pretty cool place. Probably haunted. We had dinner at the Arizona Room in the neighboring lodge and breakfast in the El Tovar Dining Room. Both were very good, but the dinner at the Arizona room was off the charts yummy. And very veggie friendly!

The next day we got in a little hiking before heading to Las Vegas. We hiked around the canyon rim from our hotel, I think we made it about 5 miles before we jumped on the tram to finish the rest. Hiking at the Grand Canyon is hard! You're at a pretty high elevation, so the air is super thin. Every time we went up a hill or stairs I was gasping for breath! But I recommend it, because the trails are right on the edge of the canyon, so you always have an epic constantly changing view!

View of our hotel as we hiked around the rim! And my husband, the explorer:

We forgot sunscreen. And hats. So we bought a little bottle of sunscreen for 1 million dollars at a gift shop, I used my hair to cover my neck (girl powers), and Brendon got a bandanna! It's actually a really cool bandanna, it's a map of the Grand Canyon. Plus I think he looks adorbz in it. So, win win.

The Grand Canyon is insane. These pictures don't do it justice. If you have never been, goooo. Its enormity and age makes you feel very small. In a good way. :) I'd love to go in the winter sometime. A snow covered Grand Canyon just sounds perfect. Plus less people!

Next up, we're in two places at once at the Hoover Dam! It was also 115 degrees and we almost melted.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Albuquerque, NM and Sandia Peak

HELLO! I am alive. And finally posting some of our vacation. It's been weird over here. Not necessarily bad, but weird. Life is weird. But also so good? Anyway, a couple weeks ago we went on our annual summer road trip! The end game was Las Vegas, NV, by way of Albuquerque, NM and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Brendon and I did this same route when we were 18 (!!!) on our first road trip together ever, except we continued on to California after Vegas back in 2006. This year Vegas was our terminus. It's amazing how much you remember, even though that was almost a decade ago.

So first up, our little stop in Albuquerque. We were only there for the night, but we got in at like 3pm (thank you time change!) so we had most of the afternoon to play. I had read online that there was a tram you could take to the top of one of the nearby mountains, and a tram seems like a pretty quick way to shimmy on up a mountain. So up we went! It's pretty cool, I highly recommend it if you are in Albuquerque for any amount of time.

The Sandia Peak Tramway runs year round, during the summer it's great for good views, hiking, and biking, and in the winter, you can ski! The side of the mountain opposite the tram is a ski area. So you can get to the top of the mountain to ski from either side, which is pretty neat!

Here comes the nerdy part... This thing goes 2.7 miles up the mountain and up 4000 feet, and it only has two towers between the bases. Which means most of the time you're just dangling! There are only two tram cars, and they travel up and down at the same speed to counter balance each other. Isn't that super neat?? The trip up/down takes about fifteen minutes, and the whole time you're surrounded by insane views. Also, the mountains are called the Sandia Mountains because when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived they thought the granite on the mountains made the peaks look like watermelons, and Sandia is watermelon in Spanish! How cute is that?

The view from the top isn't bad either! You can see for MILES and miles. Even though it was a sunny clear day, it was so hazy we couldn't see the horizon. So we saw pretty far, but on a clear winter morning you can see forever!

The have these cool little view finder things that tell you exactly what you're looking at. I had a major freak out when I saw that you could see Taos and Wheeler Peak. Well, you could, on a clear day. It was too hazy for us to see. BUT STILL, TAOS!! My home away from home!

I told Brendon to get a picture of me with the mountains in the background... nice door! ;) And pretty much every picture I take of Brendon he makes this face:

I swear, I did not drag him here. He was having a good time! Really!

That's pretty much all we did in Albuquerque. But for me it was perfect, going to the top of a mountain? Yes please! After we got down to the bottom we found our hotel, checked in, and then mentally checked out. We just vegged out in front of the TV. The next morning we were greeted by a ton of hot air balloons in the sky! New Mexico loves its hot air balloons! We see some almost every time we come! (Which is twice a year? We have a problem...)

OH and if you are driving through Albuquerque, PLEASE stop at Owl Cafe. I am so glad we stumbled upon it, it truly was a random strike of luck. Owl Cafe is an amazing, owl themed, Route 66 diner with all sorts of charm. It also happens to be delicious. Get a milkshake and a bowl of beans. Seriously. They brought a little sample bowl of beans to the table when we sat down and I was like, wow that's weird, but then I tried them and I was like oh, okay! These are gold! Gimme more please!

Next up, Arizona and the Grand Canyon!