Ron and I celebrated eight years of marriage on August 7th.  I can’t believe it’s been that long – it’s a little shocking.  We still haven’t even ordered our wedding album.  No, I am not kidding.  I think I will make that my goal for August of next year.  We’ll get our pictures in just under the ten year mark.

Because we’re working so hard on getting out of debt, we talked about our anniversary a month or so ago and decided to forgo giving each other gifts this year.  We thought maybe we’d pick a mid-priced restaurant for dinner or even just get a cake and have some champagne and celebrate very low-key.  I actually was not disappointed – the thought of being debt free is so exciting to me, everything else kind of pales in comparison.

But as I might have mentioned, Ron travels a lot for work.  A LOT.  I think I saw him for maybe 7 whole days in the month of July.  Which means he racks up some serious frequent flier miles and hotel points and rental car points and all sorts of other points and upgrade type stuff.  We both love to travel, and when we do, we have some pretty great vacations – vacations we could never, in a million years, afford without all his points and perks and free upgrades.  We typically take just one nice vacation a year, every year in December, either right before or right after Christmas, depending on my show schedule, and we have a great time planning it and looking forward to it all year.

But again, due to our debt-free plan, we were thinking we would probably not get a vacation this year either.  That made us both sad – we look forward to it so much, and it’s the one time in the year I see Ron truly and completely relax.  And this year has been a doozy of stress so far, so I know for Ron, the thought of no release from all that was a bummer.  But he too agreed that being out of debt was more important, and once we are debt-free, then we can afford to take a nice vacation without feeling guilty.

But as our anniversary drew near, Ron took a look at his points and miles, and realized that while a two week December vacation may not be in the cards, we COULD take a two day trip somewhere close by, for virtually no money at all.  We live in Portland, so our nearest “fun city” options are places like Seattle, San Francisco, L. A., or possibly San Diego.

And then of course, there’s Las Vegas.

We had actually gone to Vegas on our third anniversary, and were pretty grossed out by it.  We did a lot of typical “Vegas-y” things, like gambling, laying by the pool, drinking those horrible slushy alcoholic drinks out of those massive plastic sippy cups, walking in the throngs of people up and down the strip, going to a Cirque show, visiting all the famous casinos and posh shops, and on a whim around 11pm on our last night, we renewed our vows at the Little White Wedding Chapel, followed by a limo ride back to our hotel with a manically chatty Elvis impersonator.

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Elvis took this pic in the back of the limo

The day we left, we weren’t scheduled to fly out till around 9pm that night, and I woke up super sick and vomiting (either from the slushy drink, heat exhaustion, or a flu bug, I’m not sure which).  We had to check out of the hotel around 1pm, so I spent the 7-8 hours prior to leaving for the airport puking in public bathrooms, searching for a place free of the pinging of slot machines where I could lie down (there wasn’t anywhere), and wandering zombie-like from the intense heat of outdoors into the over-airconditioned indoors, which made me feel even worse.

Needless to say, it made me hesitant to go back.  But Ron has been to Vegas multiple times for work in the past five years, and at this point he has a lot more connections and know-how about the city than he did the first time we went.  We realized that we could fly there for free, stay there for free, get comps to a couple shows, and essentially only end up having to pay for a rental car, and we even had a coupon for that.

So we decided to go.  But this time, we were going to try to do much less.  We were going to aim for a more “lagom” trip, if you will.  We picked a hotel that had a great pool, since we planned to spend the majority of our time just lounging by it and relaxing, and we didn’t order any overpriced drinks while we were there.  We decided to forgo gambling altogether (we did put a total of $4 in slot machines, but I don’t feel bad about that – I frequently spend more than that just to park my car downtown in Portland).  As soon as we arrived, we drove to a Food 4 Less and bought items for breakfast, some soda, snacks, and an inexpensive bottle of wine for our room (total spent:  about $15).  When we went out for lunch, we kept it cheap and good (In-N-Out Burger).  I did browse a total of two shops and even tried things on but didn’t buy anything (a FIRST for me on a vacation).

And you know what?  We had a really great time.  I left feeling a lot friendlier towards Vegas than I did the last time.   It probably didn’t hurt that we got upgraded to an INSANELY great suite at The Cosmopolitan:

We actually spent a decent amount of time hanging out in our room and basking in the languid Vegas heat on our balcony, which had this view during the day:

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And this view at night:

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Bird’s eye view of the famous fountains at the Bellagio

Vegas is pretty great from that vantage point.

This has been a pretty dreary year for Ron and I so far – financially, personally, and professionally, the blows, disappointments, sadness, and bad luck have just seemed to keep coming.  Everything in our lives has been about picking ourselves back up after getting knocked down and then continuing to trudge through.  But weirdly, it has made me feel closer to him than ever before.  I guess that’s the consummate definition of a true partner – almost anyone does well in the easy, happy times, but it’s particularly special to look over in the crappiest times and see that person holding your hand and weathering it all with you.  It’s one one of the few gambles I feel I’ve won this year.

Happy Anniversary Ron – I love you!

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