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Friday, August 9, 2013

10th Anniversary "Showstopper!" (Part 1- St. George, UT)

Steve and I were so fortunate as to have the opportunity to go for a week on an anniversary vacation, just the two of us!  A whole week!  Just us!  We went right after Steve's family reunion and his parents took our kids and a very full van to my brother's house (Thanks Mom and Dad!).  My brother and his wife have hearts of gold and offered to take our kids under their wings for the entire week.  My kids hardly had time to miss us because they were having so much fun with their cousins and going on excursions.  This link will take you to my sis-in-law's blog to see what I mean- she really went all out with them and they had a blast!  Thanks tons Mandy and Micah! 

As a side note, I'm a frugalista.  Setting a budget for this trip was difficult, but I eventually set a budget of ten hundred dollars (that's a thousand bucks, but I thought ten hundred went more with my ten years of marriage) for this weeklong excursion including gas, lodging, food, outings, souveniers, and entertainment.  And let me tell you, that's not a lot of money to work with to plan a week of memorable and romantic vacation.  After approving the amount with Steve, he gave me the reins and I got to work on an excel spreadsheet with an itinerary and scoured the internet for deals.  I'm kinda a nerd like that.  But let me tell you, the organization paid off.  Happily, we did a good job and we kept to our budget, we had plenty of good times and we actually came out under budget in the end.  You may applaud now.

We spent the week in 3 different locations: St. George, Utah; Panaca, Nevada; and Las Vegas, Nevada.  We started things off in St. George eating at the Red Lobster.  We both had okay food, but the star of the meal was Steve's dessert- a molten chocolate chip cookie a la mode.  I know I'm not really eating desserts so much these days, but I confess, I had 2 bites of this one.  Totally worth it!

 We checked into our hotel, America's Best Inn and Suites, where we got a great deal on a King Suite with Jacuzzi tub and hot breakfast for about $70 per night.  Sure, the place was lacking in romantic decor and ambiance, but the price was right, the bed was so soft and comfy and the jacuzzi was a nice touch. I didn't think to get pictures, sorry, but I found some online that will give you an idea of what I mean.

The room had so much space, too!  And we had our own living room.

So, if you're ever looking for an affordable and comfortable place in St. George, go there.

That evening was our evening at Tuacahn, a professional outdoor ampitheater, to see Mary Poppins.  We had backstage tour passes, an all-you-can-eat buffet (Mary Poppins theme, of course), and tickets to see the show that night.  Let me tell ya, the St. George heat was intense.  All of Utah was experiencing a heat wave and we happened to venture to the hottest place in Utah.  Luckily, Tuacahn is nestled between the mountains of Snow Canyon and was mostly shaded by the time we arrived, but it was still 113 degrees that day.  And at 11:00 at night it was still a sweltering 93 degrees.  Sweat city!  I can only imagine the torture that must be for the actors who have hot lights and heavy costumes to add to the temperature.  Let's just say, I didn't take my sun hat or sun glasses off until the sun was gone.
 I'm glad we did the tour.  It was neat to see everything that they do there to prepare for a show.
Off to the right is where they keep their animals.  There was a camel down there relaxing.

The set 

Look at the gorgeous mountain backdrop.

Mark of a good man: will carry his wife's purse.

That's what it looks like backstage.

cool prop

The green room where the actors hang out until it's their turn to go on stage.

This is where they keep all the wigs and have several hairstylists "fixing" them full time.

Another shot of backstage.

They build all their sets of metal since the weather can be unpredictable.

This room turns around to face the audience at times during the performance

The big track on the ground is to slide the large sets on and off stage.

The view from the stage.

The music is all performed live by a pit orchestra stationed under the overflow seats

My big debut!

The menu for the all you can eat dinner, catered by Golden Coral.

"Resting" on the grass before the show.

Although it was so hot at the show, and I contemplated leaving at intermission, I'm glad we stayed because the second half was really good and they even had fireworks.  We didn't get to our hotel until close to midnight.

The next day we leisurely got ready and toured the visitors center at the St. George Temple.  I had only driven by that temple once, so it was neat to discover more about it and meet the missionaries there.

That is the cannon that they used to pound the lava rock foundation into the ground.

There were some gorgeous paintings displayed:

And there were also Book of Mormons from all around the globe on display there:

Can you believe that those scribbles are actually words?

Took a picture of that one because the language "Aymara" is almost Amara's name.

There was a nice view of the temple from inside, too!
Then, we went to find food...
We ate lunch at Dennys for just over 10 bucks, tip included.  Steve got a fried cheese melt (mozzerella stick grilled cheese sandwich thing) with fries for $4 and I got a build your own chicken wraps for $4.  It was plenty of food for a good price.

We went to a local Barnes and Noble and spent a couple hours perusing through and writing down titles that interested us.  We also went to a local Deseret Industries and bought some good books and clothes for cheap.  And we found an inexpensive movie theater ($3 for matinee) and watched 2 movies- Iron Man 3 and After Earth, neither of which I recommend, but that's just me.

That ended our full and fun day 2.

In my planning, I discovered "St. George Live" which is a 2 hour tour of 5 historical St. George sites with actors playing 5 significant St. George settlers (Orson Pratt, Judge McFarlane, Brigham Young, Jacob Hamblin, Erastus Snow).  It was well worth the $3 per person and gave us a chance to tour places neither of us have been. Interestingly, 8 years ago for our 2nd year anniversary, we stayed a night in St. George and visited the Jacob Hamblin home and the Brigham Young winter home, both we both really liked.  However, this St. George Live tour actually didn't tour those homes.  We saw the Opera House, the old Courthouse, the Tabernacle, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, and a little office at Brigham Young's home.

"Jacob Hamblin" told us a little about himself and his friendly ways with the indians.

Opera House:

"Orson Pratt" told us about himself and his genious ways.  He created the floor to the opera house that could actually be cranked down to a slope so the stage could be seen by all rows, the "stadium seating" of the time.  

The bullet hole in the ceiling of the opera house was not patched very well and is still visible today.  It was made many years ago by a drunk man in the front row who got way too into watching the show and stood up from his chair to shoot the "villian."  Luckily he was taken down by some men before the shot left the gun.
The tour went under the opera house to view the crank where the floor could be lowered.

You probably can't tell, but the braces on the side are sloped for when they used to lower the floor.


The chandeliers are now electrical, but they used to be candle lit.  The pole they're suspended from could be lowered and raised to light each candle.

The all-seeing eye.

"Erastus Snow" was our guide here.

All the smoke from the candlelight had to go somewhere, so the carpenters fashioned holes in the middle of the flowers on the ceiling that led to an outside vent.

The workmanship was impressive here.

This tabernacle reminds me a lot of the used-to-be Provo tabernacle (soon to be Provo Temple)


This guy was a real hoot!

DUP Museum:

Brigham Young:

Our last day in St. George was really a half-day, since we had to travel to our next destination in Panaca, Nevada.  It being a very small town, there are no restaurants and their tiny store is only open until 6pm.  We found some cool tropical fruits that we didn't end up getting... ahem...$8 a pound.  We got some simple groceries and headed out.  Next desination two and a half hours away- Panaca.
I love the little pineapple.


1 comment:

Bobbie said...

I love going on a FREE Tour of your wedding anniversary vacation!! I felt like I was there taking the pics. ahaha. I had no clue it as THAT HOT in St. George. {I typed St. Geoff and corrected it just now}. :) That was pretty interesting going to Tuachan and the behind the scene facts. Were you singing to yourself during the show? lol. I'm sure that couldn't have been comfortable in that heat, even in the evening! I had no clue they had a tour of that historic square, too. Those exotic fruits were fun to see, too!