Vegas Chill

A chance to explore at leisure.

On Day 7 of my Western ramble, I was really looking forward to not driving much at all. I slept in, relaxed, and then explored the Bellagio. I was particularly interested in this casino/hotel because I knew they had a display of Chihuly art glass. I’ve blogged about Chihuly before. But calling what is in the reception area of the Bellagio a “display” is like calling the Olympics a high school track meet. This was gigantic.

One of the things that irks me about Vegas is there’s virtually no place to sit down unless you’re gambling. That’s by design, of course. But I longed to sit down and stare at this glass for hours. I was sorely tempted to stretch out on the carpet and just gaze upward, but I suspected security would be called.

After I had my fill of trying to remain balanced while staring straight up with my mouth stupidly hanging open, I decided to explore Paris. And why not? I’d been in Vegas Venice already. May as well walk across the street to France, too!

I had dinner at a place called Mon Ami Gabi, and it really brought me back to some of the places I’ve eaten at in the real Paris. A wall of windows that completely open out to the street when the weather is nice. Honeycomb tiles on the floor. Waiters in black pants and white shirts. And pomme frites in a cup. Ah, the memories.

The place also had a stunning view across the street to the fountains of Bellagio, which dance to music every 15 minutes at night, so I got to see a lot of watery performances during the meal and after. Here’s a video I took of one of them.

Pretty cool, no?

Unfortunately, I also saw panel trucks drive by every few minutes, advertising women on demand. Like they were groceries, or something. Strippers and prostitutes. Free delivery. I’ve never been comfortable with the hyper-sexualization of women in Vegas. The topless showgirls, the voluptuous cartoons on the slot machines, and now this blatant sex trafficking right on the street. And a certain percentage of the female tourists feel compelled to dress in ways they’d never dress elsewhere. It just makes me sad, how easily we are willing to give away our human dignity.

On a lighter note, during the course of the day I met a really good dog. I was allowed to give him a hug. I wanted to hug the stuffing right out of him. I needed that. By this point I was really beginning to miss my dogs terribly.

I didn’t stay up very late. I was going to need my strength for the next day! Enjoy some of my photos.

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure.

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that?


The Museum of Glass

Check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

If you ever find yourself in Tacoma, Washington, I highly recommend that you pay the Museum of Glass a visit. It’s been around since 2002, and it’s a place where you can experience all things glass. Its very existence revitalized that charming city.

I suggest that you approach the museum by crossing Chihuly’s Bridge of Glass. It’s an otherworldly riot of color that will leave you wondering how it could possibly be topped by the indoor exhibits. There’s the ceiling display called the Seaform Pavillion, then a wall of vase-like objects that are lit up at night, called the Venetian Wall, and then two large blue sculptures that can also be seen as you drive beneath them on the freeway, called the Crystal Towers.

The building itself is a tilted, stainless steel cone, and it’s fun to stand in front of it, tilted yourself, for a memorable selfie. (I’d show you ours, but I have a modest husband.)

Upon entering the building, check out the hot shop first. That way you can cool off afterward in the exhibit area, because to say that the hot shop is hot is an understatement. But there you can watch glass artists in front of the scorching hot ovens, honing their craft. It’s really magical to watch something transform from a baseball sized lump to a stunningly designed, extremely intricate vase. And there is always someone on hand who can answer your questions about each step of the process.

Glass Hotshop

Next I recommend that you take a peek down a glass fronted hallway called Art Alley, where the “Kids Design Glass” exhibit is. This is a delightful concept. Kids under 12 can go to the website and fill out a Kids Design Glass Entry Form. The entry includes the child’s drawing, and their own little story that inspires the drawing. Then, once a month, one entry is chosen, and the hot shop invites that child to watch them make two copies of the glass sculpture inspired by that drawing. One copy goes to the child, and the other one is put on display. What fun!

The museum often has workshops where you can experience glassmaking firsthand, and there are also docent-led tours of the exhibits, or you can explore them on your own. In addition, there’s a docent-guided Chihuly Walking Tour around downtown Tacoma on some days. And there are a lot of one-day events throughout the year. Check the website for days and times.

There’s a permanent Dale Chihuly exhibit, and a few rotating exhibits and short term exhibits.

I’m hesitant to tell you about the amazing exhibit we saw, entitled Raven and the Box of Daylight, because by the time you read this, it will be gone. It was based on a Tlingit story about Raven’s journey as he transforms the world, bringing light to the people via the stars, moon, and sun. It was otherworldly. You experience it through the glass, the story, the music and the lighting. I was a feast for the senses. I’m so glad that photography was allowed (see below), or it would have felt like it was all a dream.

And every good museum has a store. I wanted one of everything. But I’m trying not to accumulate stuff.

Check out the Museum of Glass. You’ll be so glad you did!

Hey! Look what I wrote!

A Gift from Chihuly

There’s nothing better in life than when one of your senses gets an unexpected treat. This happened to me the other night. I was leaving work after a long evening and I was dead tired. Even my eyelashes were tired. I was not looking forward to the drive home, but I was eager to be home. I just wanted snuggle with my dogs under the blankets as we took a much-needed trip on the dreamland express.

I was trudging to my car in the dark, trying not to think of the fact that serial killers seem to be drawn to the Seattle area, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a vibrant new art display in front of Dale Chihuly’s warehouse. I do tend to glance over there from time to time, in hopes of someday catching a glimpse of the man himself, but I never expected to be treated to such a delightful spectacle. I mean, it’s his warehouse, after all, not one of his galleries.

The sight brought me to a halt. The glowing orange and red and green and yellow tendrils looked like a citrus fruit explosion, and it made me smile. I loved the fact that the bright lights were reflected in the canal below and the window behind, and I’m sure that was intentional.

On that chilly, lonely dark night, this felt like a gift just for me. It reinvigorated me for the drive home. I looked at it one last time and whispered, “Thank you. Oh… thank you so much,” and I drove home feeling very grateful to have borne witness to such beauty.


Exploring Seattle — Part Three

This was one busy day! It felt like my old foreign travel, have-to-cram-in-as-much-as-possible-for-I-may-not-pass-this-way-again pace. But what a blast. A dear friend’s cousin came by to give me a grand tour. First stop, the Fremont Troll.


How appropriate. A bridge operator taking a pic with a troll under a bridge! And yes, that’s an actual volkswagon clutched in his hand.

Then we went to an amazing restaurant called the Tamarind Tree, which I intend to take any and all visitors to. Among other things, I had sugar cane wrapped in shrimp. Delicious! And the bamboo lined, fountain festooned patio was a lovely setting.

Next, we went to Pike Place Market. What a trip! All kinds of funky clothing and jewelry, and HUGE bouquets of flowers for only 10 dollars, and fresh baked bread, and yes, the guys who throw the fish. (They just didn’t happen to be throwing any when I was in the vicinity.) If I ever get beyond this crippling relocation debt, I plan to take a big old sweaty wad of cash here and treat myself…


… but not to this fish.

And as disgusting as it is, I had to see the famous gum wall. I could almost FEEL the tuberculosis jumping out at me. But it was fascinating in a sick and twisted kind of way.


After wandering around the water front, we then headed over to city center where Sarah was dropping me off. But before that she wanted to show me something delightful. The International Fountain. I could have sat there and watched the kids cavorting in this fountain for hours.

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It changes with the music, in unexpected ways, which is fun when you want to beat the heat. If I hadn’t had other places to go afterward, I would have been running around in there like a little kid myself. I plan to do that one of these days. Who’s with me? Check out some video of the fountain in action here.

Next, Sarah had to head out and I had an appointment with the iconic Space Needle. I’m glad I did it. Once. There’s really no need to go back. Nice view, though.

After that, I headed for the place I was most looking forward to all day. Chihuly Garden and Glass. Words cannot describe the pure beauty of this place, so I’ll just share a ton of pictures.


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I’d have taken more pictures but my camera battery died half way through. I wish I could go there every day. I wish I could LIVE there.

And then I decided to brave the public transportation for the first time. That was an eye opener. First of all, my starting point was in a really scary part of town. I was surrounded by homeless people who were muttering to themselves. And then on the bus I sat next to some teenagers who were discussing the pros and cons of various types of weed, and wondering why they couldn’t find employment. The public transportation is extensive here, and the traffic is a nightmare, but I don’t see myself riding the bus very often. It just sucked a little of my soul out.

But overall it was an amazing and fulfilling day. My explorations are going to have to slow down, though, because I just got a look at my net pay, and I am going to be in trouble for a long, long time. Just when you think things are looking up…