RBR About Town, Vol. 1

Nearly two months ago, my husband and I moved from Chicago to Las Vegas. We lived in Chicago for almost a decade, after meeting in Los Angeles back in 2006 (I was attending graduate school for my Master’s degree). Something I’ve regretted is that I never took the time to write about and reflect on, or share, new experiences in these different locations. To be sure, there were a lot of really wonderful things about both Los Angeles and Chicago that I could have written about and would have liked to have recorded for myself, to look back on when memory starts to fade. I do have some notes in journals and the like, and plenty of Facebook posts, but all of that was rather haphazard. Ideally, I also see myself breaking free from the chains of social media someday, so perhaps that is not the best place to store my memories after all.

Now that we are in Nevada, probably permanently, I would like to avoid past mistakes and begin to record my thoughts, memories, and experiences in a more permanent place and in a more thoughtful way. So, I’ve decided to share a little feature every once in a while, maybe monthly, called “RBR About Town.” Here’s Volume One!

Last weekend was beautiful. Now that we are into October, the 100-degree days have faded into the rear-view mirror. Most days have still been above 80, and last weekend saw temperatures in the upper-80s/lower-90s. So, we decided to do as much as we could outdoors while spending as little money as possible. A few weeks ago that meant driving out to Spring Mountain for some hiking, but it’s about a 30-minute trip each way and costs something like $9 for parking… yeah, not outrageous, but we’re on a budget!

Anyway, we began our day by running some errands. Afterwards, we stopped in a little cafe called Pour. The place was cute enough and the menu was filled with all sorts of healthy options for fruit and vegetable smoothies. I’m a coffee fiend, though, and have been on a mission to try something at all the cafés in our area (there are so many! Apparently, this area is known for its coffee… they call it the Second Seattle.) When I spotted the “Sin City” caramel mocha on the menu, I knew it had to be mine. And wow, talk about making the right decision!

This iced drink came in a handled mason jar and was topped with whipped cream (I’m not sure what kind – I don’t think it was house made, but it didn’t seem like the typical variety either). On top were drizzles of caramel and mocha sauce. The drink itself consisted of espresso, milk, and vanilla syrup. It was absolutely delicious. After we got our drinks, we went out to the small patio (the location is unfortunate: a small business lot with mostly vacant stores, sitting right on an extremely busy street) to enjoy the warm weather and cool latte. While relaxing, we were treated to a view of two hearts written in the sky above the Las Vegas strip. After what happened last Sunday, this was truly beautiful to see.

By the time we finished our drinks, it was well-past 2:00pm and we were both getting pretty hungry. I’m not sure what it is, but we always have our meals later than most people. Luckily, it has been fitting our schedule quite well (or maybe we just adapted our meal times to our schedules?) We’re both night owls, so while I do have to get up earlier for work a couple of days, we tend to stay up past midnight every night. Anyway, Jesse has been craving Teriyaki Chicken since we moved, and I’m a big fan of sushi, so we decided to do a quick online search for Japanese restaurants with decent reviews. There were quite a few in our area, which is surprising only because we live in the desert; but honestly, Las Vegas has everything, so I’m not sure why we doubted that we’d find something. The place we ultimately chose is called Blue Fin Sushi & Roll.

Despite rather poor service (our waiter was incredibly awkward and the service person was rude), the food itself was good and very well-priced! I got a 6-piece roll for about $7 and Jesse got a giant bowl of Teriyaki Chicken for $9.50. This was a really pleasant surprise because, in my experience, inexpensive Japanese food can turn out to be pretty awful. There were some incredible-sounding rolls on the menu, but they definitely got more expensive depending on the kind of ingredient and type of preparation. I decided to go with a pretty simple baked California roll with crab, avocado, cream cheese and eel sauce. In retrospect, I might have asked for the Yum-Yum sauce instead, but overall I was pretty thrilled with this meal. Great size for lunch, tasted good, and reasonably priced

After lunch, I convinced Jesse that we needed to go to a bookstore (or two). There was a place nearby called Books Or Books (what a great name!) that had populated in my search engine when I looked for Barnes & Noble locations a few weeks ago. It was one of only a few independent/used bookstores that I could find, so I figured we’d better take a look and see if it was any good. In Illinois, I used to go to a place called Half Price Books all the time, and I loved it. In fact, they now own thousands of books that used to be mine, as I took only a few boxes with me when we moved here (still pretty devastated about that).

The store itself was a little hard to find because it is in a small retail space between a number of larger stores, and the sign above it reads, simply, “Books.” I mean, that’s more than enough to get me in the door, believe me, but it had me imagining myself striking it rich so that I could buy them a big old sign to place out on the main road. Everyone should be able to find the bookstore! The proprietor was a nice older woman with a cute little dog — does it get more indie bookstore than that? I forgot to get her name, but I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. And I’ll be sure I ask.

Anyhow, the store itself is small, but it is well-organized (some of the classifications seemed odd, and I did spot a number of books in places where I wouldn’t have expected them, based on genre, but what do I know?) One disappointment was that there weren’t any new books for sale. Many indie resale shops I’ve been to have at least a small section for popular/anticipated new releases. I was looking for Dan Brown’s new release, Origin, which is the latest in the Robert Langdon series that I love (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, etc.) (Shhhhh.) Still, I did find a 50th Anniversary copy of A Wrinkle in Time, which I’ve been wanting to read again before the movie comes out next year. It was in great condition and I only had to pay half-price, which is apparently the standard for everything in the store except for special editions. YES!

After our trip to the indie book shop, we decided to head down the road a few miles to Barnes & Noble so I could get my Dan Brown book after all. We ended our day out with a long walk around the mall, which has become a new favorite spot. It’s especially helpful in the summer months, when we want to take walks without melting or burning up in the 115-degree temperatures. Whenever we go to this mall, people walking around with clipboards ask us if we want to earn $5 for watching and reviewing a short film/advertisement. I honestly have no idea what they show people (maybe a commercial?) because we always say no; but now I’m starting to think, why not? Every trip to the mall could pay for the next Sin City caramel mocha!

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12 thoughts on “RBR About Town, Vol. 1

  1. How fun and what a wonderful idea! That latte looks delicious and I now have a wicked coffee craving. Your comment about the mall made me chuckle. At my childhood mall, there was a consumer survey site that was always asking people if they had five minutes. I did participate a few times. Sometimes it was samples of food for which you had to give your opinion. Other times it was commercials or trailers. It was fun and I now wonder why I didn’t say yes more often.

    • Thanks! I’m already planning my next post, which will be about my explorations around campus. We’re only 7 weeks into the semester and I’ve been very busy, so I haven’t had much time to wander around. But I’ve been taking walks during my lunch breaks and whenever else I can find some “down time,” and have discovered some really cool things around the college. Thought it’d be fun to share. The coffee was delicious, although there’s another place nearby where I found a peanut butter banana blended coffee that was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I can’t remember the name of the drink, now… I’ll just have to go back to that cafe and have another one. 😉

    • Thanks! I definitely hope we can get a lot of outdoor adventure time in during these fall and winter months. I think the terribly hot summers will be better than the terrible Midwestern winters that we’re used to, but of course they’ll still be limiting. When we first moved here in August, I burned my arm (twice) on my seat-belt buckle. And now we have warnings that it is tarantula and snake season! AH! What a strange new world.

  2. Great post! I’m glad you guys are settling into your new area.
    I’m so enjoying Origin! It’s a really great book to settle down and read. I hate that I can’t dedicate a few hours to just reading it this week.

  3. I don’t even like coffee and I can’t eat/drink chocolate anymore, but your description of that mocha has me over here drooling. That bookstore sounds great. I’ve found that the small ones (and the used ones) do have very different organization systems. 🤷🏾‍♀️

    It might be interesting to watch the video just to see what the deal is. Plus $5!

  4. Ooh I love this feature Adam! Also I love that you call 80s/90s a good temp to do outdoor things – that’s when I retreat and hide! Gotta be in the 70s or low 80s at the highest for me, haha! I wish San Antonio had more coffee choices. For some reason, around here all the cafes close by noonish and there are so few options outside Starbucks. I feel like we’re one of those cities that’s trying to transform into something more modern, so maybe one day.
    Do y’all not have Half Price Books in Las Vegas? We didn’t have it in Wisconsin or Boston, so both times coming back to Texas was so very nice, book-wise.

    • I’ve always preferred 60s and 70s, too, but since it was 100+ every day for the first month we were here… 80s feel great! Yeah, the closest HPB is Phoenix. I had 2 close to me in Illinois. 😦

  5. Sounds like a fun outing and I love the sound of Books or Books! Hey, you should totally take them up on that $5.00 offer!

    Where are you from originally? I feel like I’ve never known that! Whaaat?! Lol.

    How are you guys liking it there? Las Vegas is definitely on my travel bucket list. Maybe we will finally get to meet one day. It feels like I already know you so it’d be fun to ACTUALLY get to meet in person.

    • I’m from Chicago and Jesse is from Los Angeles. We met at a bookstore in L.A. when I was living out there for graduate school… he then moved to Chicago with me after I graduated. 🙂

      Yeah, come to Vegas! It’s awesome! Except for the drivers. Worst drivers in the world. Seriously.

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