August 14th was our 4th wedding anniversary. We were married on the anniversary of our first date, 5 years earlier, so it's really easy to remember yay! This year big-man surprised me with a lovely overnight away to the most unusual spot: The Silver Reef Casino just outside Bellingham, WA. I actually think it's technically in Ferndale, but that doesn't really matter. You might think that sounds like an odd plan, but for us it was perfect.
It was a simple plan: son at the mother-in-law's, drive down Saturday morning, enjoy some spa treatments, a little gambling, a nice dinner and some more gambling and more spa treatments, and then back on Sunday. It was very well planned and I have to give props to big-man. He's never been good at surprising me with anything. In 9 years he's never managed to actually surprise me on my birthday, Christmas or our anniversary. This, at least, he had planned entirely up until about two weeks prior when he finally broke down and told me the plan haha... yeah, we're still working on the *surprise* element of gift giving.
So here's how it went...
We left our place about 8:00am Saturday. Given we're up daily by 5am, that was no big deal. We had coffees in hand and a few things packed. It was a beautiful morning so we took off without the front panels on the Jeep (we have a hard top 4-door Jeep like this one where the top pieces just above the front seats come off independently from the rest of the hard top) and left them at home (more about that later).
Here's how it looked coming in to Vancouver from the North Shore:
And this was me all excited taking a pic of myself - yep I'm a big dork:
We then proceeded to accidentally follow Granville all the way in to Richmond instead of switching over to Oak to get on to Hwy 99... oops! So we had a nice little tour of Richmond before we finally hit the last stretch to the border. At the border we hit the duty free for big-man's necessities (read: booze & smokes) before we got to join the 90-minute queue of travellers trying to navigate their way to the U-S-of-A.
Anyway, after the 90 minute wait, lots of pee-pee breaks, the odd tweet and some good quality time, we were through the gates and on our way. We stopped for a quick breakfast at Jack In The Box and then arrived at the hotel at about 11am. Perfect timing.
Actually, the timing was good. They had our room ready even though check-in wasn't until 4pm or something. We had an executive suite on the top floor so there was a little extra security - you had to have a key to a 6th floor room to get the elevator to go there. Big-man had even managed to get the hotel staff to pick up a bottle of sparkling wine he knew I'd like and a long stemmed rose and have them leave it, with a card he sneaked in to them, on the bed in our room. Nice touch.
Pardon the bottle of tequila. That was from the duty free. Newest favourite drink is Blue Agave Full Throttle with tequila *mmm*.
So 11:30am Saturday the first item on the agenda was a couples' massage at the spa. It was good. The massage itself was good, anyway. The guy who was working on me started talking about how he divorced his wife for her putting her cold hands on him to warm up. A little inappropriate given it was our anniversary, but whatever. The Silver Reef is certainly not high end, despite what they'd like to think. At least the price isn't high end either lol.
After the massage we shared our bottle of sparkly. That's all I'm saying there...
Around 1:30 we went for some lunch at Panasia. The thing we started to notice about this 'resort' (and I must use the term lightly, it is actually a hotel and casino in the middle of a series of fields on a native reserve...) is that no one knows anything about anything that isn't part of their job. The hostess knew nothing about the beverages offered, nor did she know anything about the voucher thing we got with our room key. All she knew how to do was seat people at the table. The server on the other hand, knew about the beverages and the voucher, but didn't know what came with our food. We ordered a spicy duck dish that was supposed to come with little pancakes to roll it up in and she was very shocked that we would imply there should have been something else. No harm done. The food was okay. Not great; but okay.
After lunch I quickly threw $150 in the toilet. Well, I might as well have done so at the rate I lost it at the casino. At that point I wasn't having much fun, but big-man was enjoying himself, so we stuck around. When he was up a little, he gave me another $100 which I promptly handed over to the 4-card poker dealer. My excuse is that I was training for Las Vegas when I go to Blogworld next month. Meh. Truth is, I was training my self control from that moment on. I draw the line at $250 without winning a single hand.
Big-man made up for my losses at the tables and we got all prettied up and went for dinner at the Steakhouse.
Big-man, having spent many years in the restaurant industry in both the front-of-house and the back-of-house, was excited about table-side food prep. We ate Caesar salad (prepared tableside), he had a pepper steak (prepared tableside) while I had a lobster bisque and, for dessert, we had bananas foster (you guessed it, prepared tableside). Big-man bitched about the wine service (his glass emptied twice without being refilled promptly or, better still, beforehand), but over all he's just a tough cookie to please. I thought it was fine.
After dinner we returned to the casino where our final tally was me down $300 but big-man up $600. I took a photo of him rolling in the cash on the bed (which is pretty funny) but given he was in his underwear by that point, I figured I'd spare him. Some things are better left private. After deciding to quit while we were (collectively, anyway) ahead, we went for a swim and a hot tub before retiring to the room to watch the Olympic coverage on TV.
Sunday morning we got up and had some really bad coffee. Okay, admittedly I'm a coffee snob. We use a French press at home and use 5 heaping scoops of espresso roast for two mugs of coffee, so hotel coffee just can't do it for me. Big-man had decided to have another massage Sunday morning given he'd enjoyed the first one so much. I, on the other hand, decided to drive in to Bellingham to look for some real coffee... a Starbucks perhaps?
It was then that I realised it was raining. Remember that nice weather I'd said we had? Remember how I said we'd gone with the tops off the Jeep? Remember how I said we'd left them at home?! Yeah. Nice. So I'm driving down I5 towards Bellingham in the rain, with my hood on, in search of the happy green circle. I finally spotted one Starbucks just as I was passing it with absolutely no hope of doubling back. I kept going to Bellis Fair... found a McDonald's but that was definitely not what I wanted. So I decided to drive around some more...
I found the strangest thing: right beside Cost-Cutter was Christ The King Church. No joke. A big church in a mall... it was really weird. I'd planned to miss church that morning, being out of town and all, but then I felt compelled to drive right by the front door... 8:30am service. I checked the clock: it was 8:27am. Now I know when God is talking to me. "Don't miss church. You soooooo need a little godly influence don't ya thing?! You already threw away the money I provided for you playing stupid gambling games, don't you think you ought to think about me just a little while you're immersed in all things worldly? Besides, you'll like it." Yes God. I went in.
It was like violins started playing... as I walked though the door the first thing I saw was an espresso bar. Sweet. Then, I met a woman who works in the children's ministry and gets espresso vouchers for doing so. She was happy I'd dropped in and gave me one. Score! Thanks again, God. I finally make my way in to the sanctuary, wondering if people were frowning upon my attire: yoga pants, a hoodie and flip flops (my usual any time I'm not at work), just in time to see the pastor come in... wearning flip flops. FTW!!
After the service I had just enough time to get back to the hotel, get changed and have a swim and a steam before my mani/pedi appointment at the spa - my final pampering of the weekend.
The drive home was quick; just 10 minutes at the border. We were home by just after 3pm sitting by the pool at the mother-in-law's hanging with our mini-man, who we missed dearly.
It's really important for us to take time away from the hectic pace of everyday life. This was a nice break. Thanks babe... I love you. Now if we can just focus on not killing each other before we do it again, that would be fantastic.