Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas is becoming a yearly tradition. Interesting, because if it weren't for gymnastics we probably wouldn't be making Vegas a weekend getaway. And not because of its "sin city" reputation really, but more to do with the long drive. So I'm glad. Because I've really enjoyed our Las Vegas trips, this year being our 5th annual. That Las Vegas has much about it that is, well...just plain bad is not really up for debate. But if that's all you think of the place then you will most definitely miss all that is good. And there is plenty of that too. I think its in what you look for...if you are convinced the place is evil then that's what you will see. If you think Las Vegas is unique with plenty of family fun to be had, then you will find that too. (With reminders to your 13-year old son to not look too closely at anything on the ground. Although, there wasn't even as much of that as in past years.)

Brandon's meet was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, so Friday after school Brandon, Lilian and Rebekah (who decided last minute to join us for the weekend...I'm so glad!) and I drove as far as St. George before bedding down for the night in Bryan's parent's vacation home. It was nice to only have a couple more driving hours the next morning. We got there with enough time to fuel Brandon for competition (and us too, for our hours of time spent in the spectator stands...meets are really long) and get to warm-ups in time. It was a good meet...Brandon says he felt even better about this meet than the one last weekend even though the judges were harder and the competition more fierce.

(Lilian lost her tooth at dinner after wiggling the thing all through the meet. And then because she lost her other front tooth a few weeks ago and it is still only half grown in, she lisped every time she said a word with an S in it. It made me smile all weekend.)

But because it was a long weekend what with Martin Luther King Day and a teacher work day piled on top of that, we were able to stick around and play for an extra day after our main reason for the trip was completed. Sunday morning we started out the day at the Las Vegas Temple. A beautiful building, somewhat different architecture than the ones I'm used to visiting here in Utah. Interesting landscaping. But still that same peaceful feeling that tends to be associated with all temples.

With that solid start to our day, we headed to the Strip...not really having any specific plans (other than Cirque du Soleil later in the day) but excited to explore.

A stop at the iconic Las Vegas sign for a picture was our first order of business after lunch. There was a guy there offering his services as photographer. Free, he said. With a donation if you are so inclined. I was inclined, because I was grateful for someone to take said picture. And he was just a really nice kid.

After finding a parking space at the centrally located Caesar's Palace, we headed across the street to the new Linq hotel and casino. Brand spanking new, we enjoyed exploring the area. Lots of fun restaurants and shops in the outdoor mall area. But the jewel of the whole thing, the High Roller which opened last year. We decided to splurge and take a ride. It is the largest observation wheel in the world, reaching 550 feet in the air. And it takes 30 minutes to make a full revolution. Each pod can fit up to 40 people, but being that we were riding during the less busy day time (nighttime costs more when the view of the Strip is lit up) it was just the 4 of us plus one other couple. That the views were spectacular is a given. It was rather fascinating to see kind of behind the scenes, I suppose you could say, of all the casinos and resorts...what their "backyards" looked like and how enormous their properties really are. We're used to just seeing the front facade. And though it wasn't dark so the Strip wasn't lit up yet, we were just in time for the beginnings of a sunset.

And of course no visit to Las Vegas is complete without a stop at the Bellagio fountains. One of my very favorite things about the city...I find myself with a goofy grin on my face every time. I don't know why, but those fountains just make me happy.

And though Serendipity 3 in Las Vegas is nowhere near as awesome and eccentric as Serendipity 3 in New York City, the Forbidden Broadway Sundae is every bit as delicious in both we stopped there for dinner. And to rest our aching feet.

To cap off our day we hit the Beatles Cirque du Soleil LOVE. Though Bryan and I have seen a couple of Cirque du Soleil shows, the kids never have. And that has to do with the fact that those shows are on the pricey side. This was the year, I decided. I did my research. LOVE, because its been out so long, was the least expensive. And I then bought the cheapest seats up in the balcony on a 4-person pack deal. I'm not sure you could see Cirque du Soleil any cheaper. But when we arrived the show was not sold out so they closed the balcony and reassigned us all to seats on the main floor. Which meant that we were upgraded to the 2nd row! I was doing an internal happy dance as we walked to our new seats. But then after such a long day, would you believe I dozed off near the end? Truth be told, I did the same thing when I saw Ka a few years ago with Bryan. Apparently I need to not spend the day exhausting myself walking up and down the Strip before I see a Cirque du Soleil show. LOVE was awesome (what I saw of it, of course) and the kids loved it. (Lilian fell asleep earlier than I did.) 

The drive home Monday was long. Why is it that driving home always seems to take longer than driving there in the first place? Excited anticipation? A bored 7-year old who has already watched all the rented movies on her iPad does not make for a happy addition on a road trip. But we made it and 20 minutes later Rebekah hopped back in the car for another hour up to Logan. (I did not envy her...)

We had a great time. I'm already looking forward to our trip to Las Vegas again next year....

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