An Experience of A Lifetime- Cub Cuddling

NomadGrad.com and The Lion Habitat Ranch hosted a visit from the grand prize winners of the Cub Encounter Contest, Keith Olsen and Stacey Moore. They came all the way out from Bellingham, Washington to play with the newest members of our Vegas pride.

cub encounter winners

I couldn’t wait to give you guys the full run-down of their visit, and Stacey Moore was kind enough to share some words about her experience. I hope you enjoy their journey as much  as I enjoyed sharing it with them! Continue reading

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That Time I Met The Muppets…

“Okay, so this is where the magic will happen,” Bill Baretta gestured to the open space lined with dozens of tables. “Jane will be here shortly to set up The Workshop. I’m sure she’ll be happy to have you. We can always use an extra set of hands.” I nodded, still stunned I was talking to the Bill Baretta- lead Muppeteer with the Jim Henson Company.

Billbarretta2011

My dad leaned over and whispered to me as he left to go work on set, “You should hear him do all the character voices. It’s incredible.”

I believed it. I’d never met a Muppeteer before, but there was something about him that was- for lack of a better word- whimsical. Did all Muppeteers possess this magical quality? Or were my powers of analysis dulled by my extreme excitement over being a Muppeteer Assistant for a day? Continue reading

Announcing the Winner of The Lion Cub Encounter Contest!

Okay, so I know you probably don’t care, but I have learned that giveaways are exhausting. Between reading your touching stories, answering questions, promoting the contest, and assisting in cub care, I’m ready for a week-long nap. The outpour of support and interest in this giveaway and The Lion Habitat Ranch has been so overwhelming. We are all so grateful for your support and enthusiasm! On behalf of NomadGrad.com and The Lion Habitat Ranch, we thank you.

lion cubs

And after a grueling week, reading your heart-felt entries and what this encounter would mean to you, The Lion Habitat Ranch trainers have chosen a winner. Drum roll please… Continue reading

Your Chance to Win a Lion Cub Encounter

This contest is now closed. 

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And in the spirit of gift giving and sharing the love, I am happy to announce that Nomad Grad is holding its FIRST giveaway. And let me tell you, it’ll give you the warm and fuzzies.  =)

Lion Habitat cub & bottle

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity

Have you ever dreamed of holding an adorable lion cub? Getting a photo with a baby Simba? Maybe even sharing that magical moment with a loved one or child? This season, we’re making dreams come true!

If you live in or near the Las Vegas area, or will be visiting for the holidays, now’s your chance to live the dream! Continue reading

The Vegas Unicorn

“No but seriously, Hilary, are you really from Vegas? I mean, I’ve heard of people going there to visit but who would’ve thought people actually live there?” Laughter exploded throughout the group.

I chuckled and took a sip of Merlot before replying, “Yes, my dear John, I am in fact from Sin City. As hard as that may be to believe.” He shook his head in disbelief and poured himself more wine.

Dahlia leaned over the platter of cheese and touched my arm. “But do you actually live in houses? I mean, like, are there schools and things?” The others nodded and murmured in wonder, waiting expectantly for an answer.

I looked around at my new group of friends dismayed. How had I gone from She-Who-Cries-in-Dorm-Room to being the center of poolside discussion? It was a little unbelievable. I had been convinced I would spend the remainder of my time in Cairns lying in that bunk bed willing the seconds to pass sooner. And now here I was, enjoying one of my last remaining nights in this coastal town with friends from every corner of the globe. Continue reading

Tuning up: The Airplane Travel Playlist

Thirty seconds after arriving at the McCarran International Airport, this realization I keep compartmentalizing hit me again. It burned its way into my consciousness like the jet fuel smell was doing to my nostrils. I couldn’t push it away anymore and this annoyed me, but there it was: I hated flying.

It’s not that I’m afraid of flying, it’s just that the whole process kind of makes me uncomfortable. Between the security check point strip down, the looming armrest battles, and funny airplane smell, it’s hard to find your zen. But quite possibly the worst flying battle to try and overcome is a bad luck of the draw with seat assignments. Every time you buckle up for your next destination, you’re playing a risky game of social roulette. If you’re lucky, you get the cute newlywed couple or the mom and pop type who think you are, “A very well behaved young woman.” But I’m from Vegas. I know the odds of winning. The statistics were not in my favor. Continue reading

Want me to jump out of a plane and blog about it? Read on…

Okay, I am the first to admit that I hate asking for help. I would rather walk down the Las Vegas Strip barefoot in the deadly summer heat than ask my friends or family to spot me a twenty. But unfortunately for my pride, this time around I need you to help me achieve one of my long fantasized and romanticized adventures: skydiving somewhere beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Bucket List Publications

When I was seventeen I wrote out my first bucket list (naturally, in sparkly pink gel pen). Skydiving was one of the first things I scribbled down in my cramped unabomber handwriting. I remember confidently deciding this was the perfect experience for me because it combined by biggest fear (falling to my death) with my most coveted super-hero power (flying). Continue reading

Hilary Goes Hiking Part II: Adulation for Banshee Canyon

I am nothing if not a fan of losing my way with words. But the more I explore the more I struggle to elucidate the memories. It’s almost as if every word in the English language is too restrictive or cliché to do the scenario justice. Sometimes all I can think is, “Wow, what a wonderful world we live in.” Other days, if you’re lucky, I’m a little more articulate than a drooling baby.

Hiking through Banshee Canyon was a spiritual experience, seemingly observed and emboldened by the faces in the gorge. I could feel the wisdom of the earth seeping through my skin, brought in on the twisting winds and carved out in the petroglyphs.

I believe every person given the opportunity to take a climb up the rings and into the canyon will take away a piece of the peace and love that lives there. I’d like to think that’s why the canyon is filled with divots and holes; the magic and history that fills the soil is literally given to each traveler. Continue reading

Hilary Goes Hiking Part I: The City Girl Adjustment

I sat on the curb in the still of the morning, listening to the hum of traffic on the I-15. I glanced at my phone, wondering if my decision to get up so early would end up being as regrettable as it felt at the moment. There was nothing I wanted more than to crawl back into my bed and drift into a deep slumber. I, however, had committed to seeing this day through. I had never been hiking before and today was the day I decided to redress this sad fact. Damn me.

I’ve always been aware that my home town sits surrounded by beautiful hiking trails that would take little effort on my part to experience. And for as much crap as I have gotten from my friends about it, I’ve just been more focused on having foreign adventures. But now that I was back in town, it was time for me to start familiarizing myself with the beauty surrounding Las Vegas.

When fellow writer and friend, Matthew O’Brien, expressed interest in checking out one of the national preserves, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my hike on. So here I was at the crack of dawn sitting on the curb in front of my house, cursing my enthusiasm.

Continue reading

The Dana Point Power Outage- Blackout Bonding Backside

I smiled emphatically. After the two-and-a-half hour drive from Valencia, I had successfully navigated my way to Dana Point Harbor all while managing to avoid rush-hour traffic. I drank in the smell of the salt water and cries of the seagulls as I walked down the pier. This weekend was going to be stellar.

Courtesy of Danaharbor.com

courtesy of markdroberts.com

Not only did I have the pleasure of spending the next three days in this sleepy little Southern Orange town, but I was going to spend it surfing with two of my amigas from Nicaragua, Emily and Kristi. Kristi had a house just up the road from Doheny and we planned on making the best use of our time. The only way this trip could exceed the awesomeness that was planned was if our fellow travelers from Nica could have paddled out with us. Continue reading