Thursday, September 4, 2008

Backyard Cactus Farm

Today I got started early with a drive from parking at Reagan Airport to parking at Baltimore Airport. It's a good thing I left myself a little time to spare, because the main route GPS wanted me to take was a no trucks allowed parkway, so I had to drive an extra 15 minutes to bypass the parkway. On the first short hop from Baltimore from Newark, I got a bulkhead seat with TONS of legroom. It was great. of course, as luck would have it, the only seat I could get on the long flight from Newark to Las Vegas was a middle seat.

Regardless, I was really impressed with Continental Airlines overall. This was the first time I've flown with them, and they don't charge for first checked bags (EDIT: They just announced they'll be charging for a first checked back as of October), they still give free meals on flights, plus they have free built-in touch screen LCDs with lots of entertainment options. I watched What Happens in Vegas, which as it turns out was a much smarter, wittier comedy than I was expecting. I was stifling laughter and I'm pretty sure I woke up my sleeping rowmates a couple times. Oh - and there's a brief bike polo scene in the movie!

Also built in are a bunch of games, including multiplayer games with other passengers on the plane. I played chess with a girl from row 6 and Battleship with another guy in the row in front of me. Nice.

In Vegas my mom picked me up from the airport after some morning shopping including Trader Joes, a liqour store, and a cactus greenhouse. We drove past the strip on the way out of town. I'm looking forward to being back later this year.

It was quite the climate and geography change from the East Coast. The 2 hour drive from Vegas to St. George includes a really scenic drive through a canyon on I-15.

The rocky terrain in this area boasts some amazing colors...

...including the view driving up to my parents' house, which features the entrance to Snow Canyon just North of St. George.

We timed getting home perfectly with my dad getting back from an overnight excursion for his job (Manager of the Parashant National Monument). Here are my parents discussing their new cactus purchases for the day.

And here is the backyard, filled with various sharp prickly things. I knew they had purchased a number of them, but I didn't know what I was in for when I stepped out back. It's a full-fledged cactus farm!

There have been some significant changes since I was last here just over two months ago (feels like 6 months ago). Most notable on the exterior, my parents have trimmed the trees and pruned back bushes and the front of the house is much more visible as a result.

Interior-wise, last time I was here they still had a bunch of furniture to buy since they sold much of the old stuff in Alaska, and it was nice to see four days of furniture shopping last visit (plus many more days without me) produce some nice results.

The decor is hillarious, yet very fitting. While the house architecture, styling, paint, and furniture are of a Southern flavor, the artwork and wall hangings are all still very Alaskan. Such ornaments including Alaskan paintings and my dad's inbred caribou antlers from Adak (island I was born on).

And I still really like the open floorstyle of this house. The entry leads into the living room, which is open into the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, which opens into the breakfast nook and family room area. It's a great place for my parents now that my brother and I are out of the house (and by this I mean it will fit their empty nest lifestyle well - not "thanks for buying such a nice house now that Ian and I aren't around to make a mess of it").

We finished off the evening with some Bailey's on ice, a favorite bedtime routine of my parents. They stocked up in Vegas today, since alcohol can be a little hard to come by in Utah.

My mom also got an interesting variety of wines, and I expect we'll try a couple out while I'm here.

I'm not used to how quiet it is here at night. I guess I've gotten used to sleeping in downtown hotels with constant traffic and city noise outside. The quiet is really nice though.

My dad just pulled out the spotting scope and showed me Jupiter and its four brightest moons. Good times.


  1. awe! their house looks lovely! and I know - the individual entertainment system totally rocks on those airplanes.

  2. Continental was my airline of choice. :)