Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Las Vegas Week - Overview

OK, OK......I know that it's been weeks since we came back from Las Vegas and I haven't posted anything about the trip on my blog, but truly, with all that's been going on (my back, the gas leak, Christmas, etc.) I haven't taken the time to write it all down.

Now that I've written about my back and the fact that I can't ride for weeks yet I guess it's time I wrote about Vegas!

It was EVERYTHING I'd hoped it would be, and MORE!!!!

I can't begin to thank Sharon and Bill enough for inviting us to join them.  I'm hooked.  And so is Ken!  (They might need to start thinking up an excuse if they want to keep us from joining them next year.)

My rodeo experience prior to this was going to the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace every year with my parents while I was growing up.  I will always remember dragging my parents through the barns looking at all the beautiful Arabian horses that were part of the show and watching all the different rodeo events after drooling over countless horses.

Fast forward to December 6-10, 2011 and the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.  

The package deal Sharon got us through NRS was amazing.  It included a suite at the MGM, transportation to the rodeo each night, VIP access to a bunch of things and awesome seats at the Rodeo for every night we were there. 

I'll describe a typical day.

We'd get up and meet for breakfast at one of a number of different eateries at the MGM.  After eating we'd head to one of the many shopping locations and spend hours walking the isles looking at an unbelievable volume of rodeo and horse related vendors.  We'd reach some level of mutual exhaustion (meaning, when the men finally had enough the women would stop shopping) and head back to the MGM.  We'd drop off our many shopping bags, change into rodeo attire (bling) and head out to dinner at about  3:30pm.  (We learned after the first day that we needed to eat BEFORE we were actually AT the rodeo or we'd be eating concession food - hot dog/pretzel - for dinner)  After dinner we would walk directly to the West Wing of the MGM to pick up the shuttle (full size buses) that took us to the Thomas & Mack Center (where UNLV plays Basketball, I'm told).

Our first night at the NFR

Sharon and Bill
There was a great "tailgaiting" experience in the parking lot.  A big tent with a bar & DJ (with girls dancing on the bar - no, NOT us!) and mechanical bull riding. (no, we didn't, either.)  A small arena for demonstrations.  The outdoor GAC television studio where they were recording the "Inside the NFR" shows. (Yes, Sharon and I were in the audience, just visible on camera.) And shopping. (yes, everywhere we went there was shopping.)

About 20 minutes before the rodeo started we would go inside to our seats.

We were always there in time for the National Anthem.

Did I mention they were awesome seats?  Smack in the middle of the arena, about 20 rows up.  Fabulous view of every event.  They'd start with Bareback Bronc Riding and end with Bull Riding.  In between those were Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Calf Roping and Barrel Racing.  

Bareback Bronc Riding

Sharon and Bill were both very patient with Ken and me because I know we pestered them a lot asking questions.  But by next year I will have done a lot more homework so I'll know who's who and what more of the rules are.   I promise!

Bull Riding

When the rodeo finished we'd race-walk back to the shuttle (sound advice given by a friendly Cowboy (that's redundant, isn't it?) we met at the beginning of our first night) and ride it back to the MGM where we'd join the party at the Gold Buckle Zone in the MGM.  We'd have fun there for a couple hours and would eventually go to our rooms before starting it all over again the next day.

We did some variation of that schedule each day, except for Thursday the 8th.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gas Leak......

My plans to write more about the Vegas trip have been sidelined for a short while.

Last night when I came home from work I found Ken and our next door neighbor talking out by the mailbox with a PG&E employee.  It seems that our neighbor smelled gas when he went to get the mail.  He called PG&E and they told him to gather his family and evacuate!


Well, further investigation by the PG&E person with some kind of sensor found that while the leak level was 80 at the mailbox (I don't know what 80 is out of.  100, 1000?) it was 0 inside both our houses.  So we didn't need to evacuate unless we wanted to.

We all stood outside looking at both our RVs.  Hmmm.  Nope.  We'll leave them parked where they are and see how it goes.  I did, however, gather and 'evac' kit:  we have two dog packs full of emergency supplies and their leashes, our bird's food and her carrier, and some other things, all set by the door.

The PG&E guy (I never did get any one's name) stayed by his truck and warned anyone who came near the area (like the mailman) that there was a gas leak and not to light up.  He waited until the repair crew arrived before he left.

The PG&E backhoe - we hoped it wouldn't be used

We turned off our heater (figured they were turning off the gas and we'd just be blowing cold air around) and stayed indoors, out of their way, until we heard the jackhammer. 

Looking over our driveway towards our RV driveway and the neighbor's.

There was really nothing to do but go to bed at this point.

At 1am a look out the door showed the trucks were gone.  Cool.  They must be finished!

When I left for work in the morning though, there were cones around the hole.  

I talked about it all at work thinking that when I got home it would all be fixed.


This is what I saw when I came around the corner on my way home 

Our cul-de-sac was busy

The hole was now a trench

We think this is the broken gas pipe (but what do we know)

This picture shows a clamp on one flexible pipe and a whole lot of other pipes.  It truly makes me understand  the PG&E signs that say "call before you dig."

The backhoe must have driven over our bricks - there's tire tracks (ok - one tire track) and the bricks are all out of whack.

After thinking last night that everything was done, I'm not even going to guess if it's all done tonight.  I did take a short video of the backhoe filling in the trench.  But for all I know when I wake up tomorrow there will be ANOTHER hole.

We continue to listen to the equipment outside.  A new (to us) PG&E person came into the house and checked all our pilot lights.  We actually only had one.  Since we've never had our gas turned off before we didn't know if our pool equipment had a pilot light (nope - electric ignition) or if our house heater had a pilot light (nope again - electric ignition).  The only thing that did end up having a pilot light was our water heater.

Our gas is back on now.  The house is warming up again.  And I felt comfortable putting our evacuation 'kit' back where it is normally stored.

I have to commend PG&E because they came out IMMEDIATELY and they were very polite (apologizing repeatedly for the inconvenience) and they got the job done.  I think!  I guess I shouldn't say that until all the trucks are gone, our lawn and RV driveways are back to their original condition, and we don't smell gas any more.  (after all the bleeding of lines that they did our garage smelled really bad)

Here's to hoping that my next post is back to talking about Las Vegas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Compression Fracture of the L3

It's been  a few weeks since I came off Blu and I'm still hurting.  I'm glad I listened to my Mom.  You know how sometimes when your Mom tells you you should do something and you say "ok" just to make them feel better, then don't actually do it?  (Yeah, me neither!)

But seriously.  When I was thrown from Blu Thanksgiving weekend I told my Mom about the experience and she told me about a friend who'd hurt their back and didn't go to the doctor for weeks (or maybe months?) and eventually had major problems.  She encouraged me to see the doctor and I said ok.  I called the doctor that Monday morning at 8:30am and had an appointment at 10:00am.  I guess you get one of those precious appointments that's kept available each day when you say you were thrown from a horse and hurt your back. (Hmmm - same thing happened when I said I had abdominal pain - got an early am appointment and ended up having my appendix removed.  I'm sensing a theme.)

I described the incident to my doctor and she checked my flexibility, my reflexes and my spine for tender spots and such.  She also checked out my foot/ankle and said it was sprained.  But it didn't hurt much in comparison to my back.  After the exam she said I needed to get an x-ray to rule out a compression fracture of my spine.

Compression Fracture??!!  As in broken??!!  No way!

She told me it was either that, or a muscle related injury.

I figured it was muscle related because the pain was basically like other times when my back has "gone out" except more painful.  But I went for the x-rays anyway.

When I left the doctor's office after the x-ray they told me it would take up to 4 days to get the results.  (Don't ask me why it takes 4 days to read x-rays!)  But Tuesday evening I had a message from my doctor that there was something abnormal in my x-ray and they needed to do an MRI.  I was to wait for them to call me to schedule an appointment.

I got that call on Friday at 4:30pm.  I needed to go in for the MRI immediately and could I make it at 8am Saturday?  Yuck.  I would have to get up at 7am on a Saturday.

But since I'd gone this far I figured I ought to go get the MRI.

I showed up before anyone else was at the office.  The technician showed up next and let me in and he set the MRI to do it's safety check while we talked.  I was in the MRI machine for more than 30 minutes!  A 1 minute test followed by an "you ok?" question (yep).  Then a 7 minute test (ok?/yep) an 8 minute test (ok?/yep) and then finally a 19 minute test ("you did great - the images are great").

When I was finished the technician showed me the images.  It was truly cool to see my spine, spinal cord, kidney, intestines, etc. just like you see on the medical shows.  To my untrained eye my spine looked fine.  I didn't see any obvious cracks or anything and I told him that I figured it was muscle related.

Shows what I know.

Sunday night the doctor contacted me to let me know that I had a mild compression fracture of the L3 and multiple bulging disks.  Yikes!

I'm incredibly grateful that the injury wasn't more serious that it was.  I'm walking and doing most of my normal activities, with the notable exception of riding.  The "fix" is to give it 6-8 weeks to let it heal on its own and let the pain be managed with medication.  No surgery, no brace, just taking it easy and not doing anything that might cause further injury it before it has a chance to heal.

Now that I'm a few weeks past the initial shock and major pain, I'm getting impatient to ride.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful on the weekends.  I'd say it's killing me to not ride, but truly, I am still VERY aware of how lucky I was and do not want to do ANYTHING that could affect the healing.  I do feel pain still, and get sharp twinges when I bend "just so" or move too quickly, so you can be sure I WILL be waiting the full 8 weeks and will get my doctors approval before I start riding again.

I'm also VERY grateful that my injury didn't affect our trip to Las Vegas (I got the doctor's ok to go) for the NFR and our Elvis wedding with Sharon and Bill!

More on that later!!!!  Hint: if you haven't already seen it, you can go to my YouTube channel now to see the video of the wedding....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Countdown to the NFR (and more) in Las Vegas

I am so fired up about next week I don't know where to start!

Since June, when we booked our trip, it's been a countdown.  I've had plenty of things going on between then and now that it seemed like it would never get here.  But suddenly it is only days away!

Ken and I haven't been to Vegas in about 6 years I think - when we went on a surprise trip (I'd talked with Ken's boss and arranged days off without Ken's knowledge, got airline tickets and a suite at New York, New York and greeted Ken, with our suitcases packed, at the door when he got home from work one day.  I handed him the airline tickets and said "guess where we're going tomorrow morning!"  What fun.).

The main reason we're going this time is because Sharon and Bill have wanted to go to the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) for a long time, planned it for this year and asked if we wanted to go with them.  Now I KNOW Cowboy stuff isn't Ken's #1 idea of fun, but I do know he really likes Rodeo.  So I asked if he wanted to go 1) to Las Vegas (the answer is always "yes") 2) to see the Rodeo ("sure") and 3) added the clincher that I knew would make it a slam dunk - "Want to get married by ELVIS?!?"

(I grin every time I think about that.)

The back story to # 3 - As long as I've known Ken, if he knows that someone is getting married he asks them "are you getting married by Elvis?"  And of course, laughter follows, because I don't think anyone ever thinks he's serious (except me).  Then, if someone is actually getting MARRIED in Vegas he asks with extra emphasis.  (Example - my brother Greg and his wife Yolanda, as a result of 9/11/01 events, moved their wedding date up and moved the location to Las Vegas.  Ken immediately asked Greg if they were going to get married by Elvis.  (As per the usual answer to that question)  He got "the look" and "NO!")

I'm sure, by now you know Ken's answer to my question # 3.  Well, actually, it was "Hell Yes!"

That set Sharon and me on that path that leads to here.

We IMMEDIATELY booked a package deal with National Ropers Supply where we each got a suite at the MGM Grand, tickets to the rodeo every night we're there, and a bunch of other stuff (parties, meet and greets, transpo to Cowboy Christmas (300,000 square feet of horse/cowboy/western related shopping  ie-"heaven").  We booked our airfare and figured we'd set the Elvis part later.

Speed up 6 months to November and the horse show season has finished and suddenly we're only weeks away from Vegas.  Time to plan the Elvis wedding.

I had NO IDEA how many Elvis weddings there are available in Las Vegas!  I know, I should have known, but truly, when you think of Vegas and Elvis weddings, do you think that there are literally dozens of chapels that each have their own Elvis? And each chapel has multiple variations of their Elvis weddings?

We could have chosen to get married by Elvis on The Strip (literally) under the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.  We could have chosen to get married by Elvis in a diner.
We could have chosen to get married by Elvis in our hotel suite.
We could have chosen to get married by Elvis on a helicopter at Red Rock Canyon.
I could go on, and on.

So, where did we choose to get married by Elvis?

At Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

Why? With so many choices (of location/venue and Elvises [is that a word?]) we were overwhelmed.  (Keep in mind that Sharon and I are both pretty sure of ourselves and willing to make decisions, so we don't "overwhelm" easily.)  So we did the logical thing and asked the Concierge at the MGM who they'd recommend.  It was a no-brainer to them.  They said "Viva Las Vegas."  They had the best Elvis (doesn't that sound funny?) and had a great reputation.

If you know me (and Sharon), you know that what started as a simple wedding by Elvis has evolved into "something more."  I can't give details yet (the grooms do read my blog) - you'll have to tune in later for that.   BUT....

What we thought would be just the four of us (and Elvis), now will include friends and family.

Both in person, and via the Internet.

We've had an amazing response to emails sent out letting friends know how they can attend "virtually" as well as a heart warming number of people who will actually be travelling to Las Vegas to witness the event in person!

In the words of the King:  Thank you, thank you very much (click it, you know you want to!)