7 Quick Takes Friday!

Ah, sweet, glorious Friday. Our last Friday here in the desert, in fact. After I got Sienna ready for her last day of school, I stared out the window for a little while as I sipped my coffee and thought...I’m really gonna miss this place.

Not like I missed Texas, mind you. Texas is my home, my heart, my blood. It’s where I grew up, where four generations on both sides of my family have grown up. It’s all I’d ever known, and leaving it was like having my arm amputated.

But right away, I found things to love about Las Vegas. So here they are…my quick takes. The seven things I’m going to miss the most about this place that we’ve called home for the last three years.

The Mountains around the Valley
Sienna and her friend sledding on President’s Day last year

The ring of mountains around the valley are gorgeous; not breathtaking like Colorado mountains, but beautiful nonetheless. There’s a stretch of highway that I love to drive down, particularly at sunset, because the mountains in the distance flame with all the distinct desert colors. Being able to wake up and see mountains has been an absolute gift for a native Texan, who’s used to seeing sky and nothing but sky as far as the eye can see. There hasn’t been one time that I’ve looked at the mountains in the last three years and not appreciated their beauty. Some things just can’t be taken for granted.

The mountains also provide something that I’ve never lived within driving distance of…a ski resort.

The tragedy about this is that although I grew up skiing and love it quite a lot, and the Ogre is an equally huge fan of snowboarding, we’ve never been able to get a babysitter for the kids long enough to go ski. That’s the drawback of living so far from family. There is some great sledding on the mountain as well, though, and it became a bit of a tradition to go sledding for Sienna’s birthday. She loved it every time, of course, and I’ll really miss being able to pack up the car, drive forty minutes, and be surrounded by snow.

The Colors
Anyone who has been to Texas knows that the color scheme goes something like this: BIG BLUE SKY, a few blades of green grass for about two weeks in May, brown, dead grass, brown dirt, brown manure, and the occasional sickly green sky when a tornado is whipping up. 
But the colors here are amazing. There are hues of dusty rose, clay red, and brilliant orange. The horizon, when one looks out toward the mountains, is a tapestry of all the colors of a flame. It’s breathtaking. 
We live in a part of Vegas called Green Valley, and here there’s lots of grass that doesn’t wither and die like the grass in Texas. It stays green all year round, and the contrast of the lush green grass with the desert rocks and the green palm trees is beautiful. I’ve always dreamed of living some place like Colorado, where the landscape is something to marvel at, but it never occurred to me that the desert might have it’s own particular beauty. 
The Weather
When we came to pick out our apartment, I was six months pregnant. I had never been to Vegas before, but I thought, living in Texas, that I knew a little something about heat. 
Oh. I was so wrong. 
That first weekend, I literally thought I was going to die. I drank water by the gallon in a futile attempt to moisten my dry throat and mouth. I used two tubes of chapstick in three days. A five-minute walk across the UNLV campus required a twenty-minute rest in the air conditioned library in order for me to recover sufficiently. 
By the end of the weekend, I was near despair. I was sure that the desert was going to kill me. I would never survive the next few years. 
But I did get used to it. As it turns out,there is a difference, and I actually do prefer a dry heat. With dry heat, you can find some shade and immediately be twenty degrees cooler. Also with a dry heat, the heat comes from the sun, not the air all around you, so in the early morning (even in August!) the air is a little cool. The evenings are never so hot that you sweat.
But perhaps the biggest benefit to the dry heat is a complete cessation of my allergies and asthma. In Texas, I used to have to take allergy pills, get allergy shots, take three different asthma medications, and still resort to steroid treatments about twice a year. Here, I have only an emergency inhaler, and I hardly ever use it.
I am really not looking forward to all those medications. 
The Dearth of Mosquitoes

That’s right…here in Las Vegas, there. are. no. mosquitoes.

Not a one. In fact, when we went back to Texas for my grandfather’s funeral, I kept getting bitten and couldn’t figure out why I was itching so badly because I had actually forgotten about the existence of mosquitoes.

I hate mosquitoes. I dread their evil little bites. I hate mosquitoes so much that the thought of returning to their evil lair was actually one of the things that almost convinced me not to move back to Texas. Love for my family won out over hatred of mosquitoes…but just barely.

The Outdoor Picture Show

Down the street, there is a great little shopping center called The District which features a fabulous carousel that my children love to ride. During the summer months, on the green lawn next to the carousel, the city sets up an outdoor picture show. The movies start as soon as the sun goes down every Friday and Saturday evening all summer long. The popcorn is free and the atmosphere is great…it’s the closest thing I’ve felt to a neighborhood vibe in a long time. Everyone lays out blankets, the kids roam around, the adults talk, sometimes someone will watch the movie, and all in all it’s just a wonderful time. It’s one of the many things I’ve come to appreciate about this city. We’re planning on going this weekend, and I think I may actually shed a tear or two.

The Fontana Bar

It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of the Strip, but when we do make our way down there, we always go to the Fontana Bar.

The bar is inside the Bellagio, and their outdoor patio is (as you can see) right next to the water show. So close that you can actually feel the spray of the water. There’s not a whole lot of attention to true beauty in Vegas, but the water show truly is beautiful. And watching it at this little bar, sipping an outrageously priced yet sinfully yummy cocktail, has been the highlight of every single night I’ve spent on the Strip. If you ever come to Vegas, you simply must stop by this bar. You’ll love it.

Trader Joe’s

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? The number one thing you’ll miss in Vegas is a grocery store? 

Yes. Absolutely. Because, you see, this is not just any grocery store. It’s Trader Joe’s. 

Because God loves me more than I deserve, a Trader Joe’s is opening in Dallas this year. I’m very happy that I won’t have to be without Joe’s wondrous wares for too long, but it’s not only the products the store sells that I’m going to miss. It’s the people.

The people that work in our local Trader Joe’s are the best people on earth. They are so friendly, so kind, so caring, and they love our kids so much. Every time we go in, someone scoops up our little ones and takes them to find the monkey (who is always hidden in a different place throughout the store) and to get a lollipop and some stickers. They’ve given us boxes each time we’ve moved, given us free leftover turkeys after Thanksgiving, sent flowers when I’ve had babies and for Mother’s Day, bought the kids presents for Christmas, and generally just been about the greatest people we’ve ever met. The kids love going to Trader Joe’s, and will often ask to go see their favorite workers when we happen to drive by.

Of all the goodbyes we’ll have to say to all things Vegas in the coming week, that one will be the hardest.

I’ve got some delicious guest posts lined up for you guys in the coming weeks, but I’ll try to be back at some point this weekend. In the meantime, go see Jen for more quick takes. Have a great weekend!

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