2015?! Already?

Well, we did not see this coming. Actually, we did it coming, but wow! 2015 just snuck up on us. As you might imagine, the days between Thanksgiving and New Years are a bit of a blur. Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday (still haven’t gotten that one down), and then Holiday Shopping madness, we woke up on New Years Day only to realize it was time to do our yearly inventory!

 

But here’s the good news: then we took a vacation!

 

True story. We packed our bags and headed to the Azores off the coast of Portugal for a week. We’ll have some pictures soon.

 

While climbing volcanic mountains on vacations, we made some resolutions for 2015. Here’s to sticking to writing more blogs – one of the many resolutions we made!

Family Vacation – The GRAND Canyon (part 2)

By Megan Vick

 

It’s hard to believe that 3 days in the Grand Canyon warrants 2 full posts, but it’s true! There is so much to see and do – no matter where you turn, it’s a new view with new colors depending on where the sun hits the canyon. In addition to spending a day hiking** around the canyon’s rim, we also managed to fit in a jeep tour and a helicopter tour. By the way, there are a ton of pics in the post, so KEEP SCROLLING!

**By hiking, I mean sticking to the mostly-paved pathway which winds itself a breathtaking, yet safe, distance from the rim.

 

Pink Jeep Tours

Remember I mentioned the ill-fated mule ride? We decided to do a Pink Jeep Tour after a recommendation from an awesome friend. He saw Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona when he was on vacation and came back to tell me all about them.

We were able to hop in an open-air Jeep with the whole fam and 2 new friends to see some of the less-traveled areas of the Grand Canyon. I have no idea where we were (maybe the east side of the south rim…) but it was absolutely gorgeous! Mike, our driver, was so much fun, so knowledgeable, and even let us gallivant a little longer than usual. He also indulged my quest to find elk – and we found 2!

If you ever have the chance to do a Pink Jeep Tour – whether it’s at the Grand Canyon, Vegas, or Sedona, it is well worth it. Consider this my verified recommendation.

 

 

jeep

Matt & me in front of the Pink Jeep. The whole family was there, but there wasn’t a good picture of all of us.

 

 

boy elk

A young male elk – I stalked him for about 20 minutes to get this shot. He was very nice about it.

 

 

lady elk

A young female elk. She was kickin it in the brush by the restroom… just loving life.

 

 

Mike

Mike, our friendly driver!

 

 

 

 

Maverick Helicopter Tours

After another recommendation, we took a chance (an expensive chance) on a morning helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. Bennett, our delightful pilot, played awesome music (Def Leppard, anyone?) and told us some incredible facts about the canyon. We opted for the earliest tour they offer because we were told that once the sun comes up, the canyon can get hazy which doesn’t make for the best views or pictures. With about 5 minutes left in the flight, the sky got hazy and we could no longer see the mountains in Flagstaff (which is really far away!).

We looked at a lot of helicopter tour companies, but Maverick got some of the best reviews and came personally recommended. Now, I’m personally recommending it to you!

 

The group!

The group!

 

Colorado River

Colorado River

 

heli 2

 

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

 

Family Vacation – The GRAND Canyon (part 1)

By Megan Vick

 

The Grand Canyon truly lives up to the word “Grand.” (Something tells me “The Huge Colossal Massive Canyon” would not go over well, although it may be a more appropriate description.) We spent 3 days in Tusayan, AZ – which by all accounts is barely a town, but it is only 6 miles from the park entrance. There is no internet and barely any phone service, so it’s truly a vacation. Completely disconnected from the world… it was lovely.

 

Food

It was much more difficult to find vegan food in Tusayan compared to Las Vegas. In a no-stoplight town, there was a Wendy’s, McDonald’s, a steakhouse, and a mexican restaurant. Luckily, I brought yummy snacks and we spent most days being active around the canyon. We hit up the Mexican restaurant one day for a late lunch and I got as close to vegan as I could by eating some yummy enchiladas without cheese and sour cream. We weren’t there for the food – that’s for sure. The truly breathtaking Grand Canyon took all my focus.

 

Grand Canyon

What can you say about The Grand Canyon that hasn’t already been said… We’ve been back for 2 months now and it’s still so fresh and incredible. Pictures simply don’t do the canyon justice, but here’s a good story:

 

While we were in the throws of booking our trip, someone highly recommended taking a mule ride to the canyon. After looking at some interesting tours, we decided that a 3-Day trip (1 day ride, 1 day in the bottom of the canyon, 1 day ride back) was a bit too much. I’ll be honest – our idea of camping is the Holiday Inn in Tusayan where there was no internet (True Story… no interwebs for 4 days…).  We agreed we would take a 3 hour mule ride along the canyon rim – sounds fun, right?

 

Leading up to the trip, Matt & I had a growing sense of unease about this mule ride. After doing a lot of research, we realized you can walk along the same trail for free (instead of the $120 per person mule ride). Then, we realized, you don’t actually ride a mule alongside the canyon, you ride for an hour and a half to the canyon, hitch the mule for 30 minutes, then ride an hour and a half back to the barn. Yeah… not for us. Plus, we were never really comfortable making a creature ride us along the rim of a canyon for pleasure. Seems a little cruel and unusual – but that’s just me…

 

I’m sure the trip is fantastic, but we cancelled anyway and hiked our way along the rim – which was beautiful. They also have buses for you to ride from lookout point to lookout point – and you can catch the same bus back to the parking lot if you don’t feel like hoofing back the way you came (which is what we did).  Here are some fun photos from the trip.

 

The whole family at the Canyon

The whole family at the Canyon

 

 

Megan & Matt on a ledge with nothing beneath us. Mom did not like taking this picture.

 

I really made Mom mad here. I told her to take a picture in case it's the last one... ever. She was not happy.

I really made Mom mad here. I told her to take a picture in case it’s the last one… ever. She was not happy.

 

 

I am cranky because I hit my head on that stupidly low tree branch. Mom said it was insta-karma for making her nervous.

I am cranky because I hit my head on that stupidly low tree branch. Mom said it was insta-karma for making her nervous.

 

 

There’s more on the Grand Canyon to come!

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation – Vegas Baby! The Food

By Megan Vick

 

While none of us are big gamblers, we had a ball eating our way through Vegas (I gained 6 pounds!!) and watching enough Cirque du Soleil shows to last a lifetime. After arriving at our hotel, The Desert Rose Resort – just off the strip, around 1:00pm on May 10,  we went right out to find food and ended up at Rainforest Cafe at the MGM Grand. While the experience left a lot to be desired, there were several vegetarian and vegan options available (yay!). I was pretty stoked to know that I would be able to find some good vegan eats while on vacation. Thank you Las Vegas!

 

Las Vegas Vegan

 

Matt and I surprised our moms on Mother’s Day morning with a reservation at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. With its French setting and menu, we knew our foodie moms would love it. We had the amazing luck of being seated just next to the outdoor patio and had a full view of  the Bellagio and its legendary fountain. Mon Ami Gabi had a few vegetarian options, but I called ahead to make sure certain items were vegan (or could be made vegan) so I wouldn’t be stuck with a just a fruit cup. Even though I called ahead to alert the server of my veganism, I still ended up with the most beautiful bowl of fruit ever. Berries, melons, pineapples – oh my! I also got the thick cut oatmeal – just to try it. I have never liked oatmeal (it’s a weird texture!), but this was delicious.  So good, it was gone before I thought to take pictures.

 

Throughout our week in Vegas, we found tons of great restaurants and just about every one of them offered a vegetarian or vegan option. One of my favorites was Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR in Planet Hollywood. It’s exclusively a burger joint, but stepped up a notch because, you know, it’s Gordon Ramsay. I was genuinely impressed to see the Earth Burger on the menu. It had all the veggies on it and instead of meat or a veggie patty, I was able to enjoy one of the biggest, juiciest portobello mushrooms ever. It was absolutely stunning. Once again, it was gone before I thought to take pictures… I have to get better about that.

 

Next time you visit Vegas, you won’t be disappointed with the options for vegetarians and vegans. Since it’s a massive tourist destination, restaurateurs are catching on to the vegan and gluten-free lifestyles of customers. If you are considered, be sure to call ahead and ask questions. It’s Vegas after all – there’s not much that can’t be done in that city.

Family Vacation – Vegas Baby! Criss Angel’s BeLIEve

By Megan Vick

 

BeLIEve is a magic show by the illusionist and escape artist, Criss Angel. He had a show, MindFreak, for many seasons and most recently, he has his show, BeLIEve. Matt, Robin (my mom-in-law), and I have been big Criss Angel fans for years. I even had the pleasure of seeing this show in 2009 when I came with a college trip. Since that ’09 show, I’ve truly believed in Criss Angel’s talents as both an illusionist and as a magician. Yes, magic is real (Hogwarts could be a real place, but us muggles just don’t know!). Robin’s had a crush on Criss for many a year now, so it only made sense that we sit front-row-center for the big show.

It was well worth it. Criss Angel touched our hands, and he even took a selfie with Robin. I’m pretty sure she can die a happy woman now. Whether you BeLIEve or not, Criss Angel is a wicked talented performer who is a genuinely good guy and understands he’d be nothing without his fans. I still believe I saw him disappear off the stage and slice a woman in 2 half. This dude is for realz (intentional use of ‘z’).

 

This had to be its own post for the pictures alone. Priceless.

At Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Robin got a little frisky with Criss Angel just hours before the show.

 

Madame Tussauds Criss Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the show, Criss let us take our phones out for some pictures. I managed to snap this terrible picture of myself.

Vegan Criss Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then this happened:

Criss Angel Selfie with Fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Robin, my awesome mother-in-law taking a selfie with Criss Angel. The only selfie he took with anyone that night. Best. Night. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation: Vegas Baby! Cirque du Soleil

By Megan Vick

 

Las Vegas at Night

 

Las Vegas – there are no words. It has something (lots of things) for just about every person under the sun. When we are not on vacation, we spend a lot of time planning our next Cirque du Soleil show. (True story… Can you be a Cirque groupie? I want to be that when I grow up.) Since my mom and I are dancers by nature (with the training to back it up), we completely geek out over every show. For years, we’ve day dreamed about taking a trip to Vegas just to see Cirque shows. We figured, since we’re going to Vegas – better make it count!

Now, some of you may scoff at the idea of seeing so many Cirque shows due to ticket price – and I will admit that good seats don’t come cheap. However, I know you all know that person who lost $400 at blackjack in 10 minutes. When you consider that you could spend an hour and a half at a Cirque show with some friends for the same price – well… I’ll let you choose your priority.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos, because, well, they get REALLY mad at you if you take photos during the performance. So in fear of having my phone taken from me by the clowns of Cirque, I sacrificed having pictures.

 

The Cirque Shows:

  • KA – MGM Grand
  • Zumanity – New York, New York
  • O – Bellagio
  • Love – The Mirage

 

KA is an indescribably beautiful show with visuals that make it hard to believe it’s a live show. KA features a moving stage on which the performers dance, battle each other, and spend quite a bit of time flirting with the edge. The story is incredibly strong – the strongest story I’ve seen in a Cirque show – and very easy to follow and enjoy. With wonderful acrobatics, acting, and character development, everyone will love KA for sure.

 

Zumanity was my personal favorite, but I’ve been antsy to see it since it opened 10 years ago. Zumanity claims to be “The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil” and they do not disappoint. There are tons of laughs, tons of boobies, and performances for straights, gays, and some fetish people too. While this was my favorite, I don’t recommend for those uncomfortable with swearing, nudity, or anyone who errs on the conservative side. Zumanity was my favorite because at the end – nothing about you matters – it’s all about enjoying life and accepting those around you. A very good message regardless of personal beliefs.

 

O was a curious show for me. It was the most anticipated because it’s the original “water show.” There was a large pool with a floor that moved over it in different ways and patterns for a visual effect that is unparalleled.  The colors and costuming are incredible, but I found it lacked a solid story to keep my interest. If you go to this show, sit mid-way back and think of it as an array of acrobatic acts that are individual instead of thinking there will be a link throughout the performances.

 

Love is the show inspired by Beatles music. My parents being HUGE Beatles fans (Mom saw them in concert twice – that’s right… twice!), were giddy with excitement to see Love. While they thoroughly enjoyed it, they both agreed it was similar to O as it lacked a strong story line. The colors and effects were incredible – including an exploding VW Bug.

 

There is also an entire post dedicate to Criss Angel: BeLIEve. It’s totally worth your time.

 

 

Over all, the Cirque du Soleil shows were phenomenal. Mystere was on a one-week vacation for the exact week we visited, so I guess we’ll just have to go back to Vegas again. Oh shucks…

Fun Fact: Mystere is the show Paul Rudd & Seth Rogen see on psychedelic mushrooms in the move, Knocked Up.

 

Stay tuned for more fun-filled vacation posts, Food Fridays, and other Shorganics Shenanigans.

 

 

Family Vacation – Desert Southwest

By Megan Vick

 

I must warn you – this is just Part 1… Part 1 of many.

 

Not too long ago, we came back from a whirlwind trip in the Southwest. Our original plan was to spend a week in Tucson, Arizona for the annual Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference. Knowing my parents love for travel and adventure, we invited them. Shortly after inviting my parents, we realized that Matt’s mom would be officially retired, so we invited Matt’s parents, Ron & Robin, along. They decided they didn’t want to go to Tucson and hang out while we were at a conference, but suggested hanging out in Las Vegas the week before the conference!

 

And oh, while we’re at it… we might as well go to the Grand Canyon… it’s, like, right there!

 

What was supposed to be a quick conference trip for Matt and me ended up being a 2 week family vacation in the desert southwest. It was AWESOME. We’re very lucky we like our respective in-laws so much and even luckier they like each other! The four “grown-ups” (and I use that term very loosely) even went to see Jersey Boys together while in Las Vegas!

 

We’ll be sharing a post about each destination with recommendations/reviews – just in case you decide to head that way. Put us on your reader app, because we’ve got nothing but goodness for you here!

 

A Vegan in Vegas!