We’re so excited. Our first videocast is out!
We’ve been wanting to do a podcast and video since we started the RV lifestyle, but it’s been tricky to pull it all together – what with traveling so much, dealing with winter challenges, and figuring out what formats we wanted to use. We finally decided to just go for it. At 37 minutes, our first vid is a bit long, but we needed to catch everyone up on our first 7 1/2 months.
Going forward, they’ll mostly be short, quick hits, and we’ll show you all kinds of cool stuff – like how the rig is decorated, how we handle various RV chores, what our campground experiences are like, product reviews and more.
So, please take a few moments to watch us and share, share, share! Thank you!
Las Vegas’ independent coffee shop culture has been growing, and Grouchy John’s is a great example of that. Grouchy John’s began as a mobile coffee truck. In late 2011, namesake owner John Ynigues opened up a brick-and-mortar location in Henderson, complete with a drive-thru, and Grouchy John’s was promptly voted Best New Coffee Shop in 2012 by Las Vegas WEEKLY.
Like many of these independent shops, Grouchy John’s firmly believes in community partnerships. So, the coffee is brewed with beans from Colorado River Coffee Roasters in Boulder City, and pastries come from neighborhood bakeries. The idea is to support good people and local businesses so the money stays in the community. That’s one of the primary reasons I like to work in these places.
Of course, ambiance is just as important as what’s in the cup, and Grouchy John’s is definitely a creative gathering space. It’s very homey. Games and books are available for your entertainment. If you need to pick up a gift with your latte, Grouchy John’s has pieces from local artists on the walls that are available for purchase. If you’re a social media passionista, following Grouchy John’s on Facebook or Twitter will make you privvy to specials and give you glimpses of shenanigans going on at the store.
Those wanting to use the free Wi-Fi can plant themselves at a high countertop by the window or at one of the small tables. Those looking for conversation can relax on leather couches. Grouchy John’s an excellent place to get away from the chain experience and give your hard-earned dollars to a locally owned neighborhood shop.
Even though we were in Vegas to celebrate Christmas and the new year, there was still work to be done. This time, though, I knew exactly what coffice I wanted to work at. I’d first visited The Beat Coffeehouse when I was the City Leader for CRAVE Las Vegas, a coffee table book project for women entrepreneurs, and I’d attended lots of meetings there. The vibe is relaxed; you can perch your laptop on the counter while you eat or grab a couch and get comfy. As a bonus, it was within walking distance of our temporary home at Main Street Station.
The independent coffeehouse at Sixth and Fremont, just two blocks from The Fremont Street Experience, is a gathering place for those who live and work in downtown Vegas. Along with the requisite free Wi-Fi for customers, The Beat has small menu with eclectic food, coffee drinks and a nice selection of beer and wine in the evening. The space in the Emergency Arts building includes a vintage store and creative businesses, including galleries and artist studios.
My favorite munchie at The Beat is the Slap & Tickle sandwich, a hipster twist on the classic PB&J with peanut butter, homemade jam, crisp bacon and optional jalapeño slices to kick things up a notch. Paired with some iced tea, it’ll take you through your afternoon to-do list. And, you can easily take quick breaks to people watch out the window while you’re getting things done.
A few years ago, Downtown Las Vegas was so rundown and scary that people wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, never mind wander around down there. But with the Downtown Project and other revitalization efforts, the area has been transformed into a quirky, happening destination for couples, kids, art lovers, and hip bar hoppers.
Jenn and I doing our best cranky model impersonations under the “Life is Beautiful” mural on the wall of the El Cortez hotel
The inaugural two-day “Life is Beautiful” festival took place in late October, drawing celebrity chefs and popular bands, the likes of which you’d normally only find at the mega casino-resorts of the Strip. The event brought 40,000 tourists and locals to experience the new “neighborhoody” feel of Downtown. Designed to reflect the festival’s inspirational message, giant murals were painted on a dozen walls, mostly abandoned motels and hotels, the Container Park and a few businesses like the El Cortez. These shots represent just a few of the fantastic several-story-high works of art.
Even though the festival is long over, most the murals remain, which was the hope of festival organizers. Their goal was to foster pride in the community, beginning with what we see as we walk by. Although Mike and I no longer live in Vegas, I was delighted to see these enhancements. I’ve always had great affection for Downtown. I worked in the area for a number of years. I met Mike at a Downtown bar, and I lots of great meetings at restaurants and coffee shops there. These gorgeous, colorful murals made me want to move back all the more.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” ~ Neil Gaiman
While we were back in Vegas, we returned to a cherished tradition: a weekend hike in Red Rock with friends and the bark babies. Sheryl is a fellow writer. She’s full of sass and sarcasm and funny as heck.
She’s also a dog lover, mama of a cream-colored girl named Akasha. Sheryl helped us find our little man Meeko at the adoption center after a hike last spring. She drove him home for us. On this warm, clear Sunday, the dogs roamed free while we got caught up, periodically stopping to admire the stunning backdrop we’d been away from for so long.
With its 1920s supper club vibe, the Mob Bar celebrates Vegas’ gangster past with sophistication and romance. The exposed brick, gallery-lit artwork, and expansive leather sofas invite you to linger a while, especially if you’ve just visited the Mob Museum (still on our to-do list!) across the street.
I met my girlfriends Carrie and Christina there the day after Christmas. There’s no happy hour, but the service is excellent, and the environment is very comfortable. It was a relaxing place to catch up on six months of news over a Pinot Noir. We talked about Mike’s and my RV adventures, my Coffice Girl initiative, Christina’s new man and upcoming new job, and Carrie’s promotion and trip to Puerto Rico. And, when things wrapped up, I was just a couple-block walk away from where our RV was parked.
There are prettier and quieter RV parks in Vegas, but Main Street Station takes the cake for convenience and a central location. We’ve stayed there twice so far, first in June and then in July. The first time was when we were still living in the stick house and needed to get our rig ready for full-time living. The second was when we were moving everything thing out of the stick house.
The park is located within easy walking distance of the hotel on Main Street. At night you can see the neon hotel sign, all lit up, over the building that houses the laundry and bathroom facilities. The park is nicely paved with rock-and-sand landscaped areas on the ends and in the middle of the park. They’re all full hook-ups, and several spots are pull-throughs. Unless you get one of the end spots, though, you’ll be putting your awning out over blacktop. And, being situated next to the fire station and the highway on ramp, it’s definitely not quiet. Thankfully, our Holiday Rambler is well insulated.
Since we have two dogs, designated pet areas are important to us. Main Street Station’s dog run is, strangely, located outside the park. It took us a while to find it because you have to pass through a parking area to get to it. When you get there, you discover it’s just a fenced in sandlot with a broom and a bucket – that’ve both seen better days – by the gate. Sadie and Meeko weren’t wild about it, preferring to do their business on one of the landscaped outcroppings in the park proper. We always pick up after ’em, so we weren’t intimidated by the “no pet” signs staked into the ground.
The best thing about Main Street Station is the proximity to downtown. You can enjoy dinner at Triple George or the Mob Bar (I recommend the Lavender Mojito), head to Fremont for a zipline ride or to enjoy the free music, pop into Hogs & Heifers for a brew and a dance on the bar, and then stumble back to your rig in the wee hours of the morning. Or, you could dine on the outdoor garden patio at Park on Fremont, head to Insert Coins for some video gaming fun, and top it all off with a nightcap at The Lady Silvia. For a quick dinner, take advantage of the Garden Court buffet at the Main Street Station hotel. Those are only a few of the myriad ways you can amuse yourself in the evening. And, if you’ve got a towed vehicle, you’re two minutes away from the highway and exploring all that Vegas has to offer outside of downtown. All that for only $14 a day, plus $1 per pet.