Starling Travel

February 14, 2006

Hawaiian Leis

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Lei brought to you from Virtual FloristIf you ever thought that you automatically get a lei when you walk off the plane in Hawaii, you need to read this entry from my personal weblog:

Remember, Fantasy Island was a FANTASY. It’s not Hawaii’s fault they brainwashed you when you were a kid.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you romantic people out there trying to make all our dreams come true! We really do appreciate you, even when it seems like we don’t have a romantic bone in our bodies.

February 13, 2006

Nevada: The Lake Las Vegas Resort

Filed under: Nevada,Places To Visit,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I have gone to Las Vegas so many times that it is in my dreams often. The geography of Dreamland Vegas is very different from the real thing, however. Dreamland Vegas has an ocean where the Desert Inn Golf Course is and there are some small Hawaiian huts that surround the ocean (complete with waves and a tide). In Dreamland, I have always wanted to stay in those little Hawaiian huts, but we have never splurged on them. I feel a little deprived that I have never been able to stay there.

I think someone has been picking through my Dreamland Vegas, because they have created this ocean for me, although it’s not located where the Desert Inn Golf Course is. It’s a lot further away from the Strip, located about halfway between Las Vegas and Lake Mead. It’s called the Lake Las Vegas Resort.

The Lake Las Vegas Resort

This man-made lake was formed when they completed a dam in 1991. It took three years for the lake to fully develop from the Las Vegas Wash, but once the lake was completed, they built a Mediterranean-style resort, complete with an imitation Italian township.

They don’t have gambling at the Lake Las Vegas Resort, they have GAMING. You don’t have to feel guilty about gaming, do you? Instead you can feel guilty about the shopping and dining and feel proud of your kayaking, swimming, hiking and biking around the local trails.

I’ve never stayed at the Lake Las Vegas Resort, but it’s a far cry from the Hawaiian huts that I imagined in my Dreamland Vegas. I’ve driven past Lake Las Vegas on the way to Lake Mead many times and at a camping fee of $10 a night at Lake Mead, I have a hard time justifying the cost of Lake Las Vegas at $129 – $999 a night.

Where: 1600 Lake Las Vegas Pkwy. Henderson, NV 89011 Google Map Phone: 1-800-564-1603

February 10, 2006

The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota

Filed under: Tourist Attractions,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

UHF: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - The Biggest Ball of Twine in MinnesotaWhen I think about road trips, my perfect vision of them is embodied in a song by “Weird” Al Yankovic called The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota from the UHF Soundtrack. You can see the full lyrics here:

I took many road trips with both my parents and my grandparents as a child, so I have many fond memories of pulling off the freeway to see what strange thing the locals had built for us roadway tourists.

This is my favorite line in the song:

I gave our camera to Bernie and we stood by the ball
And we all gathered ’round and said, “Cheese.”
Then Bernie ran away with my brand new Insta-Matic,
But at least we got our memories.

Not even the theft of their brand new camera could dampen their enjoyment. That’s what a road trip is all about. Enjoying the trip, even when a smelly hitchhiker steals your camera. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota is the perfect road trip song.

The Biggest Ball of Twine in MinnesotaThere actually IS a makeshift pagoda over the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. It claims to be the largest in the world, but there is some debate about that with a contender from Kansas. For more information, see Roadside America’s piece about the world’s largest balls of twine.

I have never seen the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota, but it’s definitely on my list of things to see before I die. The Louvre, I might miss, but the biggest ball of twine, NEVER.

February 9, 2006

Salt Lake City, UT: Purple VW

Filed under: Places To Visit,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Purple VW has travelled far and wideI drive past the Purple VW almost every day. On the front lawn of the house, there is a sculpture of a bird and the big purple Volkswagen bus is usually parked out front. I finally checked out the website.

If you are interested in travelling, the Purple Nomad has travelled far and wide in his Purple VW, with the pictures to prove it. If you are interested in art, the Purple Nomad has art for sale on his website. If you are interested in freedom of speech, he even has his thoughts about that, too.

Mostly, I enjoyed the travel collage. I love to see that familiar vehicle in so many other parts of the world. Next time you’re feeling a little of the wanderlust, check out this website and enjoy the photography.

Where: Approximately 850 South 700 East Salt Lake City, Utah Google Map

February 8, 2006

The Mandalay Bay Aquarium: August 2000

Filed under: Museums,Nevada,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada was a relatively new resort and casino in August 2000. Mike and I were on our tenth anniversary trip and we paid the money to see the sharks. If I remember correctly, I was appalled because it was $30 to get us into the aquarium, which was more than the Monterey Bay Aquarium cost and I was sure that there was no way Mandalay could beat it. Back then, $30 was a lot to pay for us, so we were uneasy. We decided that we were on a fun trip and it was one of the few things we wanted to do, so we shelled out the money for it.

If you look closely, you can see Mike and me in the reflections of almost every one of these photos. It makes me smile to see us there, enjoying the aquarium in these inadvertent self-portraits. I remember really enjoying the aquarium but thinking that they had played up the shark thing a little too much since all their sharks were under three feet long.

It’s almost six years later and Mandalay Bay is still playing up the shark theme, although now, maybe their sharks have grown older and larger. Now, the cost is $15.95 for adults and $9.95 for children. There is a guided tour, which there wasn’t before, so I’m sure the event is much more educational than our visit. We are fish enthusiasts, so we were able to identify all the different varieties, but a guided tour would have been fun for us.

I think I’m ready to go back there and see the sharks again. Maybe this time they will be more menancing.

February 7, 2006

Weekend Brunch at the Oasis Cafe

Filed under: Food,Places To Visit,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We’ve been to The Oasis Cafe dozens of times. It was Sunday morning and we had planned on going to Market Street Grill, but I was feeling sick to my stomach and I didn’t think the scent of fish would be the best thing for me.

“Where should we go?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “How about Dee’s?”

Dan crinkled his eyebrows, “How did we scale down so quickly?”

We all laughed and I suggested The Oasis Cafe. Soon we were heading there. I really only suggested it because I wanted the ginger tea that they serve. I thought it would soothe my stomach.

We were surprised because the menu for the Weekend Brunch is completely different than the evening menu. Suddenly, we had no idea what to order and we all had to make a decision. Fortunately, the cafe was really busy that morning, so we had a few extra minutes to decide.

This is the entree that sparked the picture taking. The presentation on Dan’s crabcakes was so beautiful that the camera came out of the purse.

Oasis Cafe: Crabcakes

Stacey ordered Eggs Benedict with Salmon. Considering that we had come to Oasis to avoid fish, it was interesting that the two of them still ordered fish. Stacey didn’t like the flavor of salmon with the hollandaise sauce, so she took it off and ate the parts separately. I tried not to look at her entree because the tea hadn’t quite cured my stomach yet.

Oasis Cafe: Eggs Benedict with Salmon

I ordered the grilled brie sandwich on cranberry-pecan bread. It was absolutely delicious. It was the perfect mix of savory and sweet. The usual tangy flavor of the brie was dampened by the melting. It flowed between the slices like a thick, gooey honey and smelled like the sweetest butter you have ever encountered. The salad that came with it had jicama and carrot spears with spinach. It was crisp and sweet.

Oasis Cafe: Grilled Brie Sandwich

Mike ordered the chicken gyro. I had already clicked pictures of everyone’s food and his patience was at an end, so you’ll have to imagine the red sauce and pita. It was all wrapped in a paper, but it was still a messy meal that made Mike lick his fingers clean.

Our brunch at the Oasis Cafe was an enjoyable way to spend our Sunday. Next time you’re in Salt Lake City, make sure you plan a meal at the Oasis.

Where: 151 S. 500 East St. Salt Lake City, Utah Google Map Phone: 801-322-0404

February 6, 2006

Frida Kahlo through the Lens of Nickolas Muray Exhibit

Filed under: Museums,Places To Visit,Travel,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Frida KahloThe Utah Museum of Fine Art has an exhibit right now called, Frida Kahlo through the Lens of Nickolas Muray. Nickolas Muray was a famous photographer who lived in the United States. Frida Kahlo was a famous surrealist painter who lived in Mexico. They were introduced by friends when Frida traveled to New York with her husband, Diego Rivera. The subsequent love affair seems unfathomable to me.

I toured the halls of the museum reading Frida’s letters, trying to understand her willingness to have such an open affair with a man while still married. According to the rumors, Diego also had many affairs. They had an “open” relationship forty years before there was a name for it.

All of this is new to me. I was never taught anything about Frida Kahlo in school. I don’t know if it was because she was a woman, a socialist or an artist. My public school education was very light on the arts. I concentrated on things I thought would get me a job. I think I might have enjoyed school a little more if I had heard about this torrid affair and seen the loving photos of an artist.

The beauty of traveling is going to museums in other cities. Check the schedule for the art museum in your city and see if this exhibit is coming your way. It’s worth the time and you will feel as if you had a mini vacation in your own town.

Where: The Utah Museum of Fine Art 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0350 Google Map Phone: 801-581-7332

Click here for a detailed biography of Frida Kahlo:

Click here for Frida Kahlo Quotations:

February 3, 2006

Sundance Parties

Filed under: Travel,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Sundance Film Festival 2006

Even though the Sundance Film Festival is over, our city hasn’t recovered. The banners for the festival go up long before it starts and come down long after it’s over. Here is an article from Associated Press about the parties at the festival.

They noticed that the parties are exclusive and the celebrities are guarded and hidden as much from the gawking crowds as possible.

“If Groucho Marx were at the Sundance Film Festival, he might be moved to say: ‘I wouldn’t want to attend any party that would have me as a guest.'”

As a local, I enjoy the crowds that come to see the films. Every encounter we’ve had with them have given us the impression that the people who attend are nice folks. We welcome you to our town. Come join the party we call “Life in Sugarhouse!”

February 2, 2006

Park City: Main Street Pizza & Noodle

Filed under: Food,Places To Visit,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Main Street Pizza & Noodle

My first memory of going to Park City for dinner was at Main Street Pizza & Noodle. Even though I grew up in the Salt Lake Valley, I had never gone to Park City in my life. On one of our dates, Mike took me up to Park City to have Pizza. I remember nothing about the food that night. I was just amazed that he would take me to an entirely different city to go to dinner.

Mike had worked at Albertson’s as a teenager and he opened the Park City store up there. He learned the places for good eating while he was working up there and he was so proud to show me something new.

Fifteen years later, we still regularly go up to Park City just for dinner and Main Street Pizza & Noodle is one of our favorites. The last time we went up there, we shared a stromboli. The prices might seem a little high for the casual atmosphere of the restaurant, but the food is worth the price and they give generous portions. That one stromboli was enough to easily feed both of us.

If you want some quick food that’s made fresh and delicious, Main Street Pizza & Noodle is the place for you.

Where: Main Street Pizza & Noodle – Park City, Utah 530 Main Street Park City, Utah 84060 Google Map Phone: 435-645-8878

February 1, 2006

Park City: Jans Mountain Outfitters

Filed under: Places To Visit,Shopping,Utah — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Jans Mountain Outfitters

So, you decided to extend your stay in Park City after the Sundance Film Festival? If you didn’t plan on staying, you might not have brought your skiing or snowboarding gear with you, but you can rent it at Jans Mountain Outfitters.

Mike and I don’t ski, so we can’t tell you if the prices were good or not on ski equipment, but when we went in there for some green goo to fix a mountain bike flat tire, they were more than helpful. Not only did we get the green goo, we got a free map of trails of the area and friendly advice from the employees. We were really impressed with them and there was none of that elitist attitude that some mountain bike stores can have.

Jans Mountain Outfitters have two locations:

540 Main Street Park City, Utah Google Map Phone: (435) 655-3032

This location is on the main strip in Park City, so it’s easily accessible, but it is a small store and didn’t have what we were looking for.

1600 Park Avenue Park City, Utah (pictured above) Google Map Phone: (435) 649-4949

This location is huge, but it’s a little further from the Park City action. It had everything that we needed to equip our mountain bikes and be on the way.

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