Sideways Pictures

Hello Readers!

I have gotten some comments/messages from some of you about the orientation of my pictures. For some of you they are showing up sideways.

On my iPad, iPhone and laptop on Chrome they are all oriented correctly. If you are viewing it on Safari you may be getting the sideways orientation and I have no idea why. It apparently is a Safari glitch.

Not my fault! But I’m sorry all the same.

Hopefully it will get corrected soon.

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Not the Only Early Riser

I did not sleep well and woke up early, about 4 o’clock. I kept trying to convince myself that I would fall back to sleep. Then I thought, I should go see Daniel. He’s probably lonely and needs some company.

It was 6 o’clock before I actually got out of bed.

I did get an almost sunrise picture, but once up I was too impatient to wait.

I walked to the Lobby Bar. Much to my surprise, Greg was already there. He said he and Stephanie woke up really early also. She was working out (you go girl).

I had some tea and visited with Daniel and Greg. Daniel asked me about my drinking. I told him that I’d had a lot to drink and went through the list. There were about ten different alcoholic beverages that I consumed through the course of the previous day.

When I got done Daniel said, “That’s not that much.” Greg said, “I don’t know, that sounds like a lot to me.”

I expected Erika to text me but she never did. It was getting close to 8 o’clock and Daniel would be leaving so I got a golf cart ride back to the room.

Erika was still asleep. I sat out on the balcony for a little bit. I went back inside and she was sitting up. She said the phone had rung and woken her up. She was rather irritated. I didn’t blame her. It was the rep for Southwest Vacations saying we had to come arrange our transportation back to the airport. Which was not accurate since we had private transportation.

I was however glad that she was finally awake.

Erika got up and we headed to Bella Vista for breakfast.

I was delighted to see Asael. As usual he remembered my favorites. I ordered Chillaquilles.

I balanced things out with some bacon and fruit.

Erika found enough suitable food at the buffet. She couldn’t find the peanut butter so Asael brought her some and told her where it was.

We went back to the room and got ready for the beach. That involves applying generous amounts of sunscreen. Like absurdly generous amounts.

Must. Not. Get. Sunburned.

They have sunscreen at the towel hut by the pool, but you have to use it there. It is usually Hawaiin Tropic Sheer Touch. I like this brand but I need a higher SPF than they have, the highest of which is 30.

I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, which is my very favorite. It doesn’t feel sticky at all. They also make a spray with an extra long handle so I can put it on my back when I’m alone.

Once were thoroughly sunscreened up we quickly made our way to the beach.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

We quickly ordered some drinks.

Erika asked for the drinks menu, which was a great idea. I haven’t looked at one of those in years. It had all kinds of good ideas. She appropriated it for the rest of our stay.

I ordered a cucumber gin and tonic and it was really yummy. I think I have a new favorite drink.

Erika got a kir royal.

We also ordered a bucket of ice and bottled water. Sadly, they are becoming a zero plastic waste hotel chain and this is no longer an option, I have learned from my Facebook group.

My plan is to bring an insulated cup. I was just going to bring my Bubba. However, my friend, Tessa, got a really pretty one. That got me to checking out my options and look at how pretty these MIRA bottles are! How can I be expected to resist such an attractive beach accessory?

When we got hungry we went in for lunch where yummy things awaited us.

There was Asael, and wine. Erika liked my Masia Ribot white wine.

I had fish and fries.

Erika had salad and a veggie burger.

I finished off my lunch with coconut ice cream. I am not sure why, but the coconut ice cream just doesn’t taste as good as it used to.

There was more beach time and more drinks.

Erika went in the water. Stephanie and Greg were in so she hung out with them.

If I had to describe the day so far it would be perfect.

We were having a perfect day.

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Let Me Show You My Second Home

I took Erika on a tour of the grounds and facilities. Well, some of them. I think there are probably still corners of this resort that I haven’t discovered yet.

There are the most gorgeous flower arrangements all over the resort. Most of them are orchids. I love orchids. These were in the lobby of Building 71.

Erika wanted to get her toes in the sand, so that was our first stop.

We walked down and put our feet in the water, which made them all sandy so we had to rinse them off before we proceeded with our tour.

We walked over by the main pool and by La Brisa, which is where we would be having dinner that night.. We walked over to the spa. I took her in there so she could see the pool, big faucets and hot tubs.

Spoiler alert! We never actually came back to the spa to use the pool and those awesome faucets. I feel like I really failed her as a friend by allowing this to happen.

Outside of the spa there is a swing, which I am pretty sure is fairly new. I can’t remember ever seeing it before. If I’ve just been oblivious leave a comment.

We went inside and walked through the long hall to the lobby bar. Elizabeth was there, who I was not surprised to see. She is one of my very favorite people at the Grand.

But also there was Stephanie and Greg, who I was surprised to see. They had been here when Zung and I were here in June/July and we’d met them another time before that when we were there at the same time.

They are a super nice couple and we actually ended up spending a lot of time with them by the end of our trip.

Unlike the Daniel working nights surprise, this was a good surprise.

We got a ride back to our building and there was our requested bottles of liquor, so we made drinks and enjoyed sitting out on the balcony.

You can see a tall, frosted bottle behind them. That is a bottle of filtered water. That is what they provide now instead of the plastic water bottles. It is an effort to decrease the vast amount of plastic trash that is generated from those bottles.

This change is corporate wide. The water is filtered and the bottles are supposed to be sanitized when they are emptied.

This has generated a huge amount of discussion over in the Grand Facebook group that I am an administrator for. Some complaints are absolutely valid. There have been reports of the lids being dirty, so they were obviously not sanitized properly. People have also claimed they got sick from the water.

I think unless most people at the resort are sick that is pretty difficult to say that it is water. There are so many things that can make you sick, food, pool water, ocean water, norovirus. I did drink the water in the bottles and I did not get sick.

I should clarify that. My GI system gets put through the wringer when I go to Mexico. I drink like a fish. I eat waaaay more beef than I do at home and there’s lots of rich lobster too. Probably most insulting to my system of all is the coconut ice cream I love. I have actually had to cut back because that type of dairy does not play well with me at all.

So my system is often a little upset. I have found that taking probiotics helps.

Anyway, there is a lot of controversy over this water change. I wanted to give all my readers a head’s up about it. I know there have been reports that if requested they will give you the plastic bottles, but from what I am hearing they are cutting back on this too.

I applaud their efforts to be kinder to the environment. But they definitely need to nail down the system so people have confidence in it.

Probably next time I go I will take an insulated cup like I use at home to keep my water cold when I am out on the beach. I have several of the Bubba insulated stainless cups, that come with a straw. I have one with me all the time at home. I’ll just have to get in the habit of filling it up before I go to the beach.

I have never taken one of these for drinks because the drink service is so good that I can get another fresh and cold drink as soon as I am finished with the one that I have. And I do. Regularly.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Erika and I had dinner reservations at La Brisa at 8 o’clock. I made them for later thinking about the time difference. It ended up being not late enough and too late.

We were still kind of full from our room service snack. But we were also really tired since we’d been up for so long.

We were seated and ordered some wine. Red for me and white for her.

Felix is the captain at La Brisa and he is really nice and he was here tonight. It’s always nice to see familiar faces.

She asked to talk to the chef about her dietary restrictions. Olivia came out and she didn’t even recognize me. She literally did a double take. I got a lot of that with my shorter hair on this trip.

I decided to keep my dinner on the lighter side.

I ordered the lobster app, which comes cold with cocktail sauce.

They told Erika that the chef was preparing her a special menu.

First they brought her a salad.

The next course I got another app and they made something very similar for Erika, but the vegan version. There is no meat in it so I’m not sure what about it is not vegan, but they said it was the vegan version.

That was it for me. Erika was actually pretty full too, but the chef had made something special for her.

She said it was delicious but she was so full she could barely eat much of it.

We were both bone tired and ready to go back to the room.

Erika and I have gone on a couple bestie trips before and we were good travel companions. Neither one of us were hard partiers, or late night partiers.

We had the concierge take a picture before we went up to our room.

It was election night back home so I did check the election results. I had some of the rum they had brought and we just read and talked until we fell asleep.

It had been a long day, but we were definitely off to a good start on this bestie trip.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 2 Comments

Room With A View

Next stop…Building 71! Where else? The bellboy took us in a golf cart. I told him to give Erika the spiel since it was her first time.

We arrived and they were waiting for us with more champagne. As a result, Erika ended up double fisting hers.

She’s kind of a lightweight when it comes to adult beverages. I, of course, had finished mine back at the lobby.

Victor showed up. It’s always so nice to see Victor. He’s one of my oldest Grand friends.

Neither one of the pictures taken was very good, so this is the best of them.

We were taken to our room.

One of the very first things I do is the Ceremonial Removal of the Watch (CROW or CROTW). I’m famous for it. Because I don’t wear a watch when I’m on vacation. At least when I’m on vacation at the Grand.

Funny story about that watch. I had a vision in my mind of a watch with two or three rows of pearls as the bracelet. I couldn’t find one like it anywhere. I looked for years. I found a couple that were close, but they were really cheaply made.

I went into a consignment store one day at home and found THE watch! It had never been worn and just needed a new battery. It was exactly what I had been looking for. That was five or six years ago and it is still my favorite watch. It makes regular appearances in the CROW.

Our room was just as you got off the elevator, so we were right in the middle of the building. The view was perfect. It’s not like you can have a bad view in the ocean front rooms.

I breathed in the ocean air. I sat in the swing for a while. It has been a really long time since I had a room with a swing. I needed to get my swinging time in.

There was a plate of meat and cheeses that I ate. Nothing on there for Erika. She had a piece of fruit. We were both pretty hungry though so we decided to order room service.

Victor came up and I ordered my rum and Erika ordered some gin and we put in our pillow orders.

We unpacked. I use packing cubes to keep my clothes organized. They are a convenience when I take a regular size suitcase. They are essential when I take my carry-on. The shoe cubes are great for keeping everything cleaner. Who knows where my shoes have been! Oh, the stories they could tell.

It didn’t take long for our food to arrive.

Erika got a pizza. They made one for her with vegetables and no cheese. No problem.

She said it was good.

I got a club sandwich. I joke that I eat the meat that she doesn’t. The club sandwich is one of my favorite room service items and it did not disappoint today. In fact, I ate more than I planned to.

The french fries were ok. They weren’t hot, for obvious reasons.

As we were sitting there I got a text from Daniel. He said he had bad news.

Oh no.

He texted that he had quit.

Enough with the texting. I called him. We use the What’s App app to communicate.

I said, “What?! Why?!”

He laughed and told me he was only kidding. Okay, that is SO not funny. Go in the corner for a time out.

But he was on the night shift the whole time we were there.

Bummer.

I told him I would drag myself over there at the end of his shift in the mornings. I don’t tend to sleep late on vacation anyway.

Once we were finished eating we still had hours until dinner (good thing, since we’d just finished eating). We talked about what to do.

This is what I’ve always found bad about an early flight. With the time change we don’t really arrived early enough to go to the beach. But there is still a lot of day to be enjoyed. But I’m tired from getting up so early.

First world problems.

It was Erika’s first time here, so a tour was in order.

I didn’t realize that Daniel’s news was not the only surprise I’d have that day.

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My Bestie and the Grand – Two of My Favorites

This trip would make my 28th trip to the Grand. I don’t think I ever imagined when I first visited the Grand in June 2008 that I would return this many times.

It would be Erika’s first visit there. You met Erika when I wrote my trip report, Colorado Cougars Do Vegas!

She and I used to work together. We got to see each other once a week or more often. We have had some good times together in the 10 years that we have been friends.

I met her right after the Heart Attack Trip.

She is a lactation consultant and used to live five minutes away from me. She’s a mom of two grown kids and she’s a vegan.

Three years ago she got a job at another hospital, and I didn’t get to see her every week. Then she moved to the middle of god knows where Colorado and started a Masters degree program. So now I never get to see her.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to this trip to the Grand and time with my bestie.

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Erika is a riot. She makes me laugh so much. She has no filter. She hates shopping though. That’s one thing that we definitely don’t have in common.

A few days before our trip I cut my hair.

I got my pedicure done.

I picked out my shoes.

For these shorter trips I used to try and pack a carry on. I had to do a lot of research before I decided on my Travelpro.

I love it but I decided it is not big enough for a 4-day trip to the Grand. I plan to get a full size suitcase for my next trip to the Grand and I will definitely get a Travelpro. The suitcase that I took on this trip had some issues, which you’ll find out about.

I look for a super-lite suitcase so I can take more shoes!

Truth be told, I was really anxious about this trip. I had written to Lander, the GM, and the PR dept. about Erika being vegan. I wanted her to have an amazing time because she had heard me rave about what an amazing place this was. And a big part of an amazing vacation is amazing food.

The pressure was on.

The day we left was election Tuesday. Colorado is a mail-in ballot state, so I was all good. I would break my no-news rule though. Usually I take a vacation from the news when I’m there. I would make an exception this time though.

Erika and I lived in different directions from the airport, so we met there.

I got there first. Erika got there not long after.

We got ourselves checked in and then went for breakfast.

It was an early flight. When the alarm goes off at o’dark o’clock I can never remember exactly why I decided on an early flight. In addition to being tired because it is so early, my favorite restaurant, Root Down, is not open that early.

Fortunately Elway’s Restaurant was. And they have massive Mimosas! Go Elways!

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Let’s get this party started!

We pretty much talked non-stop from the moment she came through the door until we got to the Grand.

The flight was smooth. Immigration line was short. We had to wait a bit for our bags.

You no longer have to go through Customs. They do seem to randomly stop people though.

We found our transportation, Canada Transfers. There are lots of transfer companies but Canada has a good rate and they have been reliable. They give you a cold washcloth and a cold bottle of water.

I think I left my coat in the van. It had been cold in Colorado. I wore my smushable down jacket.

I was able to squish it into a bag and attach the bag to my travel bag. I’m not sure how it got unattached. But it was gone when it was time to come back home to cold Colorado.

It’s about a 25 minute drive from the airport to the Grand.

There were hugs from the bell boys. They took us inside to the lobby. We got to sit down. There were hugs from the ladies at the lobby desk. It really does feel like visiting family and friends.

There was champagne. (Or sparkling wine if we are going to be picky about it).

NOW I was home. And it is always good to be home.

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