Tag: Beth & Todd

Guest Blog: Out & About

We have a treat for everyone today. Beth has shared a Guest Blog with us, and we all know her guest blogs are scrumptious 🥂

This week, Todd and I celebrated our 20th anniversary…twenty years since our first date! To celebrate, we’ve been looking forward to having dinner at our favorite fancy restaurant, Duane’s at the historic Mission Inn here in Riverside.  We rarely come here more than once a year, so when we do, we really go all out.

Wow, we are gray lol!

The service was great tonight, everyone greeted us and was extra nice. Catalino was our waiter and Jonah assisted. Catalino was great, but Jonah was very attentive and friendly and did most of the work. Not that we were too much trouble lol!

After some really good warm, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside bread and butter, we both started off with the main reason we like Duane’s…the lobster bisque. It did not disappoint!

Lobster Bisque

We also both ordered the bone-in ribeye. I asked for medium rare and Todd asked for medium and I think they swapped them. Todd’s was pretty rare. Both steaks were very good though so it didn’t bother either of us. You might find this shocking, but I added half of a grilled lobster tail, which was perfectly charred. Todd added a few scallops, and they tasted as good as they looked. Look at that carmelized crust… (Sharon, you would have loved these!) And don’t forget about the tomato with Boursin goat cheese, a yummy little salty, sweet and rich treat.

Beth’s Dinner
Todd’s Dinner

We each ordered a baked potato, not realizing they’d be the size of my open hand. No lie, these things were huge! The leftovers are going to make some good home fries tomorrow morning. (Update: The home fries were outstanding!)

Giant Potato

And I couldn’t resist my favorite dessert, crème brûlée. They went the extra mile and brought this to our table. It looked so good, even Todd tried it! He’s not sold, but as a crème brûlée connoisseur, I can vouch that it was top notch.

Beth’s Favorite Dessert

After dinner, we walked around the corner and went to Casey’s Cupcakes. Casey is the daughter of the Innkeepers, the owners of the Mission Inn, and she has a little cupcake shop on the back side of the Inn. She won Cupcake Wars several years ago and makes pretty and tasty cupcakes. The Beach Boy is Todd’s favorite and the Luscious Lemon is one of mine. I couldn’t eat it tonight if I tried, but since this is an annual treat, it was a necessary stop. They’ll be just as good tomorrow!

We got locked out of the gate that leads you back into the Mission Inn and ended up taking a leisurely walk around the front valet entrance. It was very busy with lots of folks dressed up. I downloaded this photo of that entrance from the UCR admissions website, but this is what it looks like. The hotel is beautiful and the grounds are quite lush for being in the middle of downtown.

We had a really nice evening and appreciate you celebrating a milestone anniversary virtually with us. Cheers to another 20!


Thank you, Beth & Todd for sharing your special evening with us. We love you both, and send wishes for 20 more great years!

(Sharon here – I just have to add – Beth volunteered this Guest Blog all on her own. No coercion from me. Such a proud moment!)

Advent Adventures

The pups continue to enjoy their Advent cookies. I continue to have trouble counting, but figure they will just keep getting cookies ’til we run out.

Beth & Todd sent the cutest live Christmas tree. And guess what? This one is an Advent Tree. We did get a chuckle – now I had a second counting challenge (click the pics for the full sized photos).

Isn’t this adorable? It even came with its own little lights. The ornaments fit in numbered pockets, and even I should be able to pull the right one out each day.

We can plant the tree after Christmas, and re-use the cute Advent base and ornaments.

Thank you, Beth & Todd !!!

Stay Safe!

Beth & Todd’s Vacay – Phase 3B

We woke up early and it was chilly – a welcomed change from the still summer like heat we left in Southern California.  The high today would be 55 degrees!  We layered up and put on our walking shoes, filling the backpack with some essentials for the day, and were at the south rim (quite literally the edge of the Grand Canyon) in what felt like about 100 steps.  I knew we were close, but the online maps made it seem a bit further than it was.  The view was breathtaking – all I had hoped for and then some!  I’ve seen tons of pictures, but to see this beauty in person was truly magnificent.  It helped that it was an absolutely beautiful day – look at that blue sky! 

We walked along what I think was the Bright Angel Trailhead for quite some time, stopping to take pictures often.  And sometimes just sitting for a minute to take it all in.  The trail was pretty flat and just followed the curves of the landscape.  Every turn brought about another stellar viewpoint.  I wanted pictures of it all!  Along the way, we asked other hikers to take our pic and then returned the favor to others.  Everyone we came across was friendly (how could you not be in a good mood surrounded by all this?!), although for the first two hours or so on the trail, we only walked by a handful of other people.  It was really nice, and quiet, and peaceful.

This was as close to the edge as we got.  That sign tells you to back off or else (in so many words)!

Eventually we got to a bus stop and decided to hop on and take it to the latter stops where I heard you could see the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.  I’m not sure why, but I pictured blue raging whitewater.  It ended up being pretty muddy, which makes a lot of sense given the landscape, and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down.

We spent the whole morning walking, exploring and bussing around the west side of the canyon.  Around noon, we realized we hadn’t eaten yet, so we decided to drive back into town and grab a quick bite at Wendy’s.  We should have ordered lighter knowing we had reservations at the El Tovar Dining Room for dinner, but we were hungry from our morning activity.  We ended up eating too much lunch too late in the day and neither of us were very hungry later.  We ended up skipping out on our reservations at the El Tovar Restaurant and dinner altogether.

Instead of dinner, I really wanted to see the sunset and get my souvenirs, so we walked back over to the rim.]

We saw some folks pointing at something and eagle eye Todd spotted what they were looking at.  There was a lone Bighorn Sheep having a little appetizer on the cliffs below.  I don’t know how we got down there or how he’d get back up, but he was maneuvering really well on the rocky landscape.

What a cute sheep…on the cliff of death!!!

We made our way over to the Visitor Center and did a little shopping.  (We collect magnets from our travels because they’re inexpensive, space conscious, travel well, and a great visual reminder of our fun.)

We were losing the sun…

I wanted a few more pics when we heard more commotion.  We turned around to see something jaw dropping – the full moon was rising above the Canyon!  [Turns out we were one day off from the full moon, but that tiny sliver wasn’t noticeable.]  My pics really don’t do it justice, as this was a truly stunning sight.  What a great way to end our visit to the Grand Canyon!

We checked out of the Maswik Lodge and got on the road early the next morning.  There was originally a Phase 4 to this vacation.  We had planned to break up the 7-hour drive home with a stop in Laughlin for the night, but after some discussion, we missed our dog, Ace, and were both ready to get home.  It went something like:

Me: You know, we don’t HAVE to go to Laughlin tomorrow.

Todd:   I miss Ace.

Me:   Me too.  Let’s just drive home.

Todd:  OK!

We had a long but uneventful drive home, with the only hiccup being some road work on I-40 that delayed us about a half hour.  So many trucks on the road!  If you look carefully, you can see the long line of cars in front of this truck – all of us at a complete stop for 5-10 minutes at a time – ugh!

Once back in Riverside, we quickly stopped at my Mom’s to pick up Ace, who was very happy to see us, and then drove our last two miles home.  A big thank you to my Mom for watching our boy while we were gone.  We even got daily texts from him while at Camp Grandma’s letting us know what fun activities he did everyday.  We were never worried he wasn’t being loved or taken care of, that’s for sure!

And c’mon, with this little mini-moo waiting for us, we had to get home asap!

This concludes Beth’s Guest Blog. We don’t know about the rest of you, but reading about Beth and Todd’s adventure makes us realize how much we miss travel! Thanks for sharing – it has been a treat to read about your travels (and, we have all made that late lunch mistake to foil the evening plans – one more reason to go back!!!)

Beth & Todd’s Vacay – Phase 3A

After a long weekend in Vegas and a short stop to see Hoover Dam, we continued on the road another three and a half hours (four if you count the stop for gas and stop for jerky. If I’ve learned anything from my dad, the best jerky is sold in the most remote places, or trunks of roadside cars 😉, so stopping for jerky was a must) to a place neither of us had ever been…the Grand Canyon!

This was originally a trip we had fully booked in late 2019. However, Todd’s boss incorrectly marked his vacation request and we had to cancel our trip the week before we were supposed to leave.  A real bummer to say the least!  But here we are two years later, on our way to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world!  We were both prepared to be amazed.

It was early afternoon as we approached the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park.  I had $35 ready to hand over to purchase a national park pass.  The Park Ranger asked if we were current or former military to which we said why, yes, Todd is a US Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine).  He flashed his ID and we saved $35 and now have an annual pass to all the national parks.  Thanks Todd!

[Shout out to the Park Rangers, who were all so nice and friendly.  We went in and out a few times and every time time had a funny conversation or interaction with what ended up being several different rangers.  And what we saw of the park was very clean and well maintained.]

A mile or two into the park, we turned off the main road toward our rustic lodging, the Maswik Lodge.  Check in went smoothly and we settled into our room.  [I had read some gripes about parking trouble, but I found a spot by the main building and then pulled into an almost empty lot by our building.  I could see people who drove in from elsewhere wanting to park here though, because it was really close to the rim.  The gripes were also probably for peak season.]

After being in the room for just a few minutes, we heard and then spotted the Grand Canyon Railway from our balcony!  I took a pic each day it passed by for my dad.

We were pretty tired from Vegas and the long drive so we took a nap and then decided to drive back into town for dinner.  Restaurant options in Grand Canyon Village were fast food, a couple of steakhouses and a pizza/pasta restaurant.  We chose Big E Steakhouse and Saloon, where the food was just ok but the service was very friendly and attentive.  I think our two Vegas dinners set a high bar when it comes to steaks, but Big E made the best loaded baked potato I’ve ever eaten!

On our way into town, we encountered a small traffic jam.  We thought how the heck could we be stopped on this remote road?!  Turns out, there were elk on the side of the road and cars just stopped to take pictures.  We were good with that since we wanted to take some too!  The elk weren’t phased even a little by all the onlookers.  They crossed the road at some point because on our way back dinner, there were even more, and they were on the other side of the road.  Why did the elk cross the road?  They love the paparazzi!

We lounged in the room the rest of the evening, watching Monday Night football, and making a flexible plan for the next day.  We crashed early and slept hard!

Tune in tomorrow for more of Beth & Todd’s excellent adventure, as we see how their next day turned out.

Beth & Todd’s Excellent Adventure – Phase 2

We left Las Vegas on Monday morning and started toward our next major destination (you’ll have to wait for Phase 3 to find out where!)  On our way, we knocked out something I’ve always wanted to see in person…Hoover Dam.

From the beginning, this was planned to be a short visit.  Working for our local Flood Control District, I’ve been on several dam tours and been inside the seeping underworld.  And in my research, I had already learned quite a bit about Hoover Dam and its interesting construction.  But I’ve always wanted to SEE this giant marvel of engineering.  We had planned to go the Visitor’s Center and see it from the bottom, however, GPS took us another way, which was good enough for us, as we hadn’t planned to spend more than an hour or so here anyway.  We were very anxious to get to our next stop…wherever that might be!

We went through a thorough security checkpoint where they made sure nobody was strapped underneath our car or hiding in the back seat.  Whew, we were all clear!  Just down the road, we parked in a small lot with maybe one or two other cars – it was not very busy on this Monday morning.  We took a short walk up to the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

I borrowed this photo from asbi-assoc.org to show how massive it was.  And windy.  REALLY windy!

We walked out to the middle of the bridge and tried to take some selfies (it was so windy, my phone almost blew out of my hand, and as you can see, it was a very long way down!) and more pics of the record low levels of the reservoir.  While there was a pedestrian walkway on the bridge with a 5-foot concrete wall dividing the walkway from the highway, there were a ton of 18 wheelers whizzing by, some of which thought it would be fun to honk their horns when they passed.  Funny…the second and third time.  The first time, not so much, lol!

Hoover Dam was quite a magnificent sight to see, and I’m so glad we made the time to stop and see it.  

Todd and I got back in the car and headed to our next stop…

(Thanks again, Beth, for your entertaining report. Stay tuned for Phases 3A and 3B – coming soon to a family blog near you 😉)

Guest Blog – Beth & Todd’s Excellent Adventure

This is the first of several parts of Beth’s Guest Blog. She and Todd recently completed a nice vacation, and she was kind enough to agree to share with us. Thank you, Beth.

We left Riverside around noon and arrived in Vegas just before rush hour, pulling off the crowded freeway and making our way down The Strip (aka Las Vegas Blvd) to our shelter for the weekend, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.  I cashed in Citi miles to splurge on an Eiffel Tower view room, where we not only had an awesome view of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, but just beyond were the famous Bellagio fountains.  We enjoyed the lights from both magnificent features despite our windows being so filthy dirty that we couldn’t get decent pic in the daytime!

[By the way, I would like to give Sharon kudos for her excellent blog skills. It’s tough to remember to document as you’re enjoying the experience.  You’ll see by my content that I am clearly a beginner. Mad respect to you Sharon!]

We spent the majority of the time in the casino sportsbook, rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday and then again for NFL on Sunday.  (We stomped Kentucky in case anyone was wondering and remain undefeated this year.  Go Dawgs!)  I did a little unsuccessful slot play here and there and was happy to drink all my sorrows away, lol.

We did venture outside at one point to see the Bellagio fountains.  They have several shows to various music all day and night.  Spectacular – I could watch these shows all night!

This may be a shock (not!), but the highlights of our trip were the meals!  We had reservations at two very fancy schmancy restaurants: Gordon Ramsey’s Steak and the Eiffel Tower Restaurant.  My apologies in advance for eating most of our food before taking pics (I know, I know, I will get better!)

Gordon Ramsey Steak: Steak is located right off the casino floor, lit up with red neon.  As you walk into the restaurant, it’s supposed to be like you’re walking into the Chunnel.  The lamppost and “cobblestone” floor outside were part of the Parisian theme, which was very cute and well done.

Of the two meals, Todd and I agreed we’d come back to Steak in a heartbeat.  We were seated upstairs in a private booth with a tall leather back, and the service here was outstanding from beginning to end.  We expected nothing less after watching his cooking shows – I shiver at the possible consequences of one of his staff providing less than stellar service, lol!

We started off with oysters (one of our absolute favorites), and Todd had a shrimp cocktail.  The oysters were a sampling of four different types, all delicious!  The shrimp cocktail was very good, but let’s face it, still just a shrimp cocktail. Sorry, no pics because we gobbled it up to fast.

For our entrées, I was tempted by the $41 per ounce Japanese A5 beef (but then thought really, how good could it be?  And honestly after eating the steak I did order, was not sorry.)  I instead went with the American wagyu rib cap and butter poached lobster tail.  As soon as the waiter said marbling, I was sold!  Todd had a filet and pan seared scallops (Sharon, you would have loved those scallops – look at that sear!)  We both agreed that my steak was the best, but both were excellent.

The following night we ate at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, also in our hotel.  I had arranged to have a window table and was so glad I did – the view was amazing!

From the hotel casino floor, we checked in at the hostess booth and then took a private elevator up to the restaurant.  When the doors opened, we found ourselves in the kitchen of the restaurant.  Greeting us was a very nice woman who ushered us to the upstairs hostess.  We were seated promptly and sipped on a drink while we thoroughly enjoyed the amazing view.

We both started with the lobster bisque with Jerusalem artichoke and butter poached lobster.  Very yummy!  I ordered the broiled rib eye with roasted bone marrow, and Todd ordered the filet mignon.  By the stripped clean bone in the picture, you can tell the bone marrow was awful.  (Not!  It was melt in your mouth delicious!)  We split some of the best olive oil mashed potatoes I’ve ever had and thought we were done.

But then I remembered that I couldn’t skip dessert tonight because I had already pre-ordered it.  You guessed it…a soufflé!  (Yes, Beth DeHayes skipped her absolute favorite dessert, creme brûlée, for a soufflé.)  What flavor of soufflé would make me do this?  Chocolate? Grand Mariner?  Vanilla bean?  All good options, but no.  This would have to be a very, very special flavor.  What’s that you say?  A Sicilian pistachio soufflé?  Yes please!

While we enjoyed two outstanding dinners and enjoyed being out and about in the world, we were not thrilled with the Paris Hotel overall.  I think Vegas is trying to make some money back from being closed during covid.  The slots were tight, the drinks were extra pricey, and the overall service was meh at best.  While we would return to both of the restaurants in a heartbeat, we will not be staying at the Paris Hotel again.

Stay tuned for Phase 2 of our vacation to see where we headed next!