Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Las Vegas - Day 3

If you haven't seen the previous posts about our trip, you should check them out first!  Day 1 is here and Day 2 is here!

For our third day in Las Vegas, we wanted to get outside the strip and do some other things.  First on the agenda was going to see the classic "Welcome to Favulous Las Vegas" sign!  We rented a car this day, and we hit the road first thing in the morning.  The weather dropped this day and it was pretty chilly and very windy!  We didn't let us slow us down, though!

The Vegas sign is at one far end of the strip.  It used to just be in the middle, and people would run across the street and dodge traffic to get a picture in front of it.  Now, it's still in the middle, but it has it's own parking lot and they've put in astroturf to make it look nicer.  There was a line when we got there, but it moved pretty quickly.  I think the fact that it was cold and windy made people just want to get their pictures and go!

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

Everyone was being super nice and taking pictures for the people ahead of them.  The people behind us got some good pictures of us together in front of the sign!

Laura has been to Vegas before, but has never gone to see the sign!

After we got done at the sign, we drove about 30 miles to go see the Hoover Dam!  We talked a lot about going to see the Grand Canyon, too, but it was just a little too far for a day trip.  We were both super excited to see the Hoover Dam, though!  This bridge is called the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and is fairly new (it opened in 2010).  You'll see some other pictures of it in a little bit, but this bridge is HUGE!

Walking to the Dam they had these huge, beautiful statues.  It was so cold and windy that we didn't stop to read about them, but they sure were pretty!

The first thing that we did was walk all the way across the dam.  I'm so glad we did this as soon as we got there because tour busses came as we were done and it got super crowded!  This is looking down one corner of the dam (looking over really gave me the hibby jibbies - or as Cooper says - the hib jib's).

This is the side of the bridge that faces the Colorado River (and the Memorial Bridge).

This is the side of the bridge that faces Lake Mead.  When it's full (which it's not right now - you can see the line where the water level is when it's full), it's the largest reservoir in the United State by volume.  Lake Mead hasn't been full in quite a long time(it's actually hasn't reached full capacity since 1983), and the water level is actually pretty low right now.

Someone walking by was so sweet and offered to take a picture of both of us!

I just love this picture.  It's so beautiful it doesn't even look real, let alone like a picture I just took on my iphone!

The Dam spans between Nevada and Arizona, so we took a picture on the Arizona side of the bridge (I'm pretty sure we were technically still in Nevada - just in the Arizona time zone).

On the way back to the car we tried to get pictures with the actual dam behind us.

The power lines were built at an angle so that they could go both over the land and down into the dam - it was pretty scary looking!
After walking across the bridge, Laura wanted to drive across it (which is actually a big deal because she is terrified of bridges!).  We drove just long enough to technically be in Arizona for a minute.  Matt and I went on a trip to Tucson, Arizona a few years ago, but Laura had never been in Arizona before - another state checked off her list!

Next, we drove to another spot so that we could walk up to the Memorial bridge and across it!  Let me tell you.  Laura hates bridges and I have a super bad fear of heights.  That plus the 20+ mph wind gusts made us quite the pair!  But we did it, and it was so worth it!  I did try to stay away from the outside edge as we walked though - haha.

We made it almost to the middle and got a picture of the dam behind us!

Again, someone was kind enough to offer to take a picture for us...but they didn't hold the camera high enough so you can't actually see the dam - haha.  It's still a great picture of us, though!

It truly is just so breathtaking!

Laura took this picture and it cracks me up - it's a tumbleweed - haha.  We saw several dead ones rolling around on our drive (hello, desert!) and she was fascinated to see them both dead and tumbling and alive/dying in the ground.

After we got off the bridge, we headed back to the hotel.  The landscape was just so beautiful and so so different than what we're used to at home.

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to have a late lunch at a buffet at the hotel (you have to have at least one buffet when you're in Vegas, right?!).  They have a buffet called the Wicked Spoon.  It is an all-you-can-eat buffet, but most of the food is served in individual sized dishes.  After our bad luck with food the night before, we were starving and ready to stuff our faces!

Plate #1 and ready to chow down!

Steak, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, and a pizza roll!

I had quite a few plates inbetween my first plate and this, but I was too busy eating to take pictures - haha.  This was my dessert plate!  Most of it was so good!

Full and happy about it!

After our late lunch, we went back to the room to rest for a little while.  While we were up there, we got to see the most beautiful sunset!

After we recharged, we decided to go back to Cesar's Palace and walk around that mall.  We didn't go in the day before because we were pretty tired by that time, but we had a lot more energy and had some time to kill, so we went back.  The inside of this mall was absolutely gorgeous!

After walking around for a few hours, we went back to the room to grab a light dinner and change clothes.  In our hotel, there is a secret pizza place (called Secret Pizza) that is literally hidden.  There are no signs or advertising for it.  You basically just find it by word of mouth (or the internet - haha).  It's just down a random hallway that's not marked.  It's super small, and you basically just get your pizza and go.  You can buy a whole pie or just by the slice.  Laura and I both got a slice of white pizza and took it back up to our room to eat.  It was so yummy, and after our huge late lunch, it was just the perfect amount!

That night, we had tickets to see Penn and Teller - and this is where the story gets pretty dang cool.  While we were eating pizza, Laura and I pulled up videos of Penn and Teller on youtube and watched them while we ate.  Matt and I have watched their show "Fool Us" for a while, but Laura didn't know a ton about them.  Gino is the one that booked our tickets for us, and he got us pretty awesome seats on the 6th row.  Before we left for the show, we both were talking and just having fun playing the "would you go up and do a trick with them if they asked you to" game.  The verdict was that I would but Laura would want to.

The show does have a lot of audience participation, and it was super fun and entertaining.  The funny part is, before we left to go to the show, Laura and I watched a video of this particular trick where they "float" an audience member. (You can see the video here and it would be helpful to watch it before you keep reading) . What is absolutely hilarious is that they brought out the props for this trick, so Laura and I knew exactly which one they were about to do.  Then Penn (the big guy) came out into the audience to get someone to come on stage...and came right to me!  He asked me how tall I was, and then asked if I wanted to participate - ummm yes!  It's just so crazy that Laura and I watched this trick, had a conversation about if we would be willing to do anything at all in the show, and then I got picked!

What's even more awesome is that Teller took a picture of the trick from on the stage while it was happening!  This is me!  It seriously was so so awesome and so fun (and no - I have no clue how they did it!) . When the show was over, I called Matt (even though it was 2am at home) because it just was the most awesome thing ever!

What's even more cool is that, after the show, both Penn and Teller stay and take pictures with everyone who wants one - they don't leave until everyone has gotten their picture.  First up, we met Teller (who does actually talk, by the way).

Then I got to meet Penn (well - again - haha).

What's even cooler than doing a live trick on stage in Vegas with famous magicians??  Having the famous magician tweet about you!

It seriously was the most epic experience ever!  I mean, what better could happen in Vegas?!

Here's a video from our Day 3 in Vegas:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Las Vegas - Day 2

If you haven't read Day 1 of our trip, make sure to go back and check it out here!

Day 1 was so full of getting to Vegas and the Backstreet concert, that we were very intentional in planning nothing for Day 2.  The only plans we had were to walk all over the strip and check everything out!  Because of the time difference and staying up so late the night before, I was positive that both of us would sleep in pretty late.  Plus, we're tired moms with no kids around - we should sleep late!  Unfortunately, my body was up by 7 am Vegas time!  Ugh!  The plus side was I got to just lay in bed and be lazy for a little while before we started our day.

Once we got up and got moving, we headed next door to our hotel to a new(ish) shopping center.  It was only like 8:30 am, so nothing was open, but we probably wouldn't have been doing much shopping there anyway - haha.  All of the stores were places like Dolche and Gabbana, Dior, Hermes, etc.  Not exactly what we're used to!  It sure was a beautiful place to walk around though!  

One thing we didn't realize before we came was that it was the Chinese New Year - so everything was decorated (and there were a ton of Asian people everywhere).  All of the decorations everywhere were so so beautiful!

The first place we came to when we left the shopping center was New York, and hands down it was my favorite place on the strip!  My dad is from NY, and I've been a few times before (and have plans to go with some friends this year!), and it's just a city that has my heart.  So while it wasn't the real thing, I absolutely loved this section.  

First up was the Brooklyn Bridge.  ;)

This was the inside of the New York hotel.  I absolutely loved it.  If I could have picked where we stayed, this would have been it!  It just looks so awesome and there is so much attention to detail.  Plus I was already loving Vegas's obsession with making the inside of places look like the outside.

There was a little crepe stand in the hotel, so we shared a crepe and sat by a parking meter - haha.

They also had a huge Hershey's store in the hotel.  Matt is obsessed with Reese's, so I sent this picture to him (and a Reese's tshirt may have made it home in my bag for him).

Next we found Lady Liberty - and I love that you can see the roller coaster behind her!

Beautiful weather, vacation, and my best friend - we both were as happy as can be!

While we didn't go inside of every hotel, we did try to hit the highlights and see most of them.  Most disappointing to me?  The Excalibur (I didn't even take any pictures there - it felt like a cheap, nasty Disney to me - haha) and the Luxor.  The first thing that disappointed me about the Luxor was how dirty it was!  I mean, duh, I know we're in the desert.  But every picture you see of it just has it gleaming and clean!  So first impressions were a little bit of a let down.

The decorations going inside were pretty cool though!

The inside was pretty neat, too, but it made me feel claustrophobic.  We tried to figure out how the elevators worked while we were in there - and we had to google it later to see if we were right.  We were!  They move diagonally!

The Luxor had two exhibits going on inside: Titanic and Bodies.  We ended up getting a combo ticket and doing both.  They wouldn't let us take any pictures inside (they literally made us turn our phones off), so we have no pictures to show.  The Titanic exhibit was amazing.  We spent so long in there looking at everything and reading all we could.  They had a lot of actual artifacts recovered from the wreck, replicas of places like the main staircase, passenger rooms, and an outside deck, and so so much information.  They even had a huge piece of the outside of the ship called "The Big Piece" that is literally just a huge piece of the ship - the largest intact piece ever recovered.  It weighed 15 tons!  When we went in, they gave us a card with passenger information, and we were supposed to be that passenger while we walked through.  At the end, we could look ourselves up and see if we lived or died.  Laura and I both were women from first class, and we both lived!

After Titanic, we went to the Bodies.  I was really excited about this one, but ended up not liking it very much.  It did have a pretty weird smell in the exhibit (I'm sure it's the chemicals or something to keep all of the bodies and organs preserved).  I did like seeing all of the bodies and organs, but I wasn't expecting the exhibit to be sooo medical.  I probably should have been prepared for that, but it was just so much information about diseases and prevention, and just not as "entertaining" as I expected - haha.  And, yes, we did go into the "baby room".  As someone who has miscarried, I didn't know how I would feel (and was prepared to just walk out if I got upset).  Honestly, to me, it was beautiful to see how God designed our bodies to hold babies from a "real life" perspective.  And while I could see how the fetuses could upset people, I was amazed at getting to see all of the stages as they really look - not just pictures in a book or drawings.  The whole exhibit definitely gave me a greater respect for the human body and how it was created!

After the Luxor, we were kind of made it to one "end" of the strip (our hotel was located pretty smack in the middle), so we crossed over to the other side of the street to see the rest of it.

Seeing NY from a different point of view!

I was craving more "healthy" food for lunch, so we stopped in the mall at Planet Hollywood because I saw a Jamba Juice there the night before, and I wanted an Acai Bowl.  It did not disappoint!  It was exactly what I needed!

After lunch, we walked through Paris (and saw the Arc de Triomphe - this one was a 2/3 size replica).

We made it to The Venetian!  We spent a good bit of time here because it was so so big and so so beautiful!  They have this canal that runs through both the outside and inside of the hotel, and you can take a gondola ride around the whole thing (we didn't).

Stopping inside to listen to the Gondola drivers sing!

We found this really cute little bakery that sold macarons, so we stopped to rest for a bit and eat a snack.

I seriously spent a long time just listening to the singing and watching the boats go by!  The inside of this hotel was just absolutely stunning!

They had this bakery inside that sold these huge donuts.  I kid you not, they were like the size of my face!  We just looked from the outside because I didn't even want to be tempted by all the yumminess in there!

After the Venetian, we made it to the Bellagio.  The inside was so pretty with all of the Chinese decorations.

We decided if we were in Vegas, in the Bellagio, we had to at least gamble a little (straight Oceans 11 style).

Playing slots in Vegas!

We both started with $5 (and we both had absolutely no idea what we were doing).  You don't actually play with money - I mean - you do, but you don't.  You put money in, but all it gives you back is a voucher.  So I put $5, and when I got up to $6.75, I "cashed out" and got my voucher.  So, for about 20 minutes, I was winning money in Vegas!

We went to another machine, and I went from $6.75 to $8.75!

Laura started with $5, lost some, but then made back up to her original $5!  And that's where we should have quit while we were ahead because we kept playing and both lost everything - haha.  (But we both decided losing $10 was worth it to say we gambled in the Bellagio).

This was how the check-in desk was decorated!

The Bellagio was right next to our hotel, so we went back to our room to rest for a little while because we had done a lot of walking.  Laura made us reservations for an Italian restaurant inside of the Venetian, so we headed back a few hours later.  This time, we took a taxi to save ourselves some walking!

Ready for a fancy dinner with my sister - haha.  This turned out to be such a bust.  We ordered an appetizer - gross.  We both ordered an entree - gross.  I ate so little of my food that the waiter took it off of our bill without even saying anything (which was so nice).  Dinner was beautiful, but not tasty!

Back at our hotel after dinner - and still hungry- haha.  They had a sweets shop at the hotel, so I told Laura I would buy us a dessert since dinner was such a bust....

And I spent eight stupid dollars on a milkshake that was disgusting!  They didn't have many flavors to choose from (and they all were weird), so I got "cereal milk".  Not knowing that the cereal was Corn Flakes.  Not Frosted Flakes.  Who wants a milkshake that tastes like Corn Flake milk??  No one!  It's gross!

Laura got this ginormous piece of cake...and guess what?  Also gross.  Food was just not in our cards this day - haha.  Dinner and dessert both left a lot to be desired!

Look at our walking for the day - 10.21 miles!

Here's a little video all about Day 2!

We decided it was appropriate to end the night cuddled in bed (haha) watching Oceans 11.  ;)