Saturday, November 1, 2014

Las Vegas 2014


Our 4th trip to Vegas was one of our best trips yet!!  I have never been to Vegas when the weather has been absolutely perfect!!  Back home it was raining and in the 40's-50's and in Vegas it was sunny and 85.  Seems like the beginning of October is the perfect time to go to Vegas.  We stayed off the strip this time at a timeshare location, Wyndham Grand Desert.  Our room was really nice, but it was a little bit strange because the bathroom was "open concept" they had a really big open window that allowed you to completely see into the bathroom and we thought that was a little strange.  However, for the most part we really enjoyed our stay.  We swam in the adult pool a lot more than we thought we would, because the water was absolutely perfect and they had noodles for people to use to float on.  We hung out there quite a few times.  We also enjoyed playing on the ping pong tables there, and we even used the barbecue area one night.


When we first came to Vegas we stopped at Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan to get alcoholic milkshakes.  We had read about them and heard that they were really delicious.  I got the smores one and Cody got one called the fat boy and it had all kinds of candy and cereal in it.  You really couldn't even taste the alcohol in them at all.  They were super yummy!  We might have to figure out how to make them online and have people over for some one day. 


It's amazing how fast things change in Vegas!!!  Even from our trip last Christmas there are all kinds of new things in Vegas.  The top of the strip around New York New York and the Monte Carlo were different.  They are still doing construction but already a lot of new places have been added.  The Monte Carlo now has a nightly entertainment show of live music outside of the casino.  Cody and I had fun watching a performer one night.


A new addition in that area is the Hershey's store!!  Cody and I saw that and we were like OMG!  We have to check that out!  When we went in they had all kinds of yummy treats.  We had just got done from a buffet so we weren't hungry to get anything right then but we new we'd be back.


Unknown to us the Hershey's store closes at 11pm on the strip!  That's unheard of... everywhere else stays open all night long.  So one night we were walking slowly down the strip and stopping off at places and we got to the Hershey's store at 11:05pm and we were shocked that they were closed.  We were so mad...  We ended up coming back the next night a lot earlier to get this bad boy in the picture.  It was pretty yummy.  It was actually so big that Cody and I split it.





Another HUGE addition to Vegas was a whole new shopping and dining area, along with the huge ferris wheel.  When we first got to Vegas I thought that the big ferris wheel, aka, "The High Roller" wasn't working.  But it just moves extremely slow!  If you don't watch carefully you can't even tell that it is moving.  It takes it a full half an hour to make it around a full turn.  Cody and I decided against riding it, because it's kind of pricey and we have had plenty of really nice views of a Vegas before.  It's funny how small the high roller looks in comparison to the hotels surrounding it, but when you walk towards it and are standing below the ride it looks huge!  It just goes to show how big the hotels in Vegas really are.



Cody and I have been to Vegas many times, but we've never really traveled very far off of the strip before.  We changed that on this trip!  We booked an all day kayaking trip.  They picked us up extremely early in the morning and off we went.


Our trip started at the base of the Hoover Dam, and then we paddled 12 miles down the river and also hiked throughout the day.



Cody and I had only ever been kayaking once before.  We decided to get a two man kayak and not go in our own kayaks.  I thought this way we'd stay together and be able to chat while we were going down the river.


When we first went kayaking we were in a river that had a current so it wasn't too hard on our arms, but on this trip I think the dam prevented any kind of current on the river.  So we had to manually paddle the entire time to keep up.  At the start we were kind of falling behind, but by the end of the day we were able to stay in the middle of the pack.


This was really an adventure for us, and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I'm not used to doing outdoor activities.  We kayaked and then hiked to different areas.  The hikes were probably trails that I would never do on my own.


 Here is an example of what some of the trails looked like.  Cody was a lot better at climbing through everything than I was.


Here is a picture of that trail.  We were also climbing up stuff too.  Totally not what I'm used to!  But I felt brave and adventurous!


Cody was also quite the gentlemen.  He was turning around to make sure that I was alright and he was helping me and some of the other woman on the tour.
 

The scariest part of the whole day for me was climbing up to get to some natural hot springs.  There was an old rusted out ladder that you had to climb up to get up there.  I know that it doesn't look that high in this picture, but trust me... when we were there it was very intimidating.  I was more worried about climbing down than I was climbing up.  There was a second when I almost didn't do it, but in the end I decided to check it out.  The hot springs... were HOT!  Some were almost too hot to stand in comfortably.  I honestly didn't stay in them for too long, but it was still pretty cool to see them.  And for those that were wondering I actually did really awesome coming down the ladder.  It wasn't even that bad.



Here we are near the hot springs area together.  You can kind of make out the view.


We had two tour guides with us, but the one guy was really awesome and he was the one that we were around most of the day.  He was nice enough to take some pictures for us.


He took a selfie of himself in between taking pictures for us too haha.


Cody and I sharing a kayak was both a good thing and a bad thing...  I think he was a little annoyed by me because my arms got tired after like... mile 2 and I wasn't setting a fast enough pace for us.  I will say that I did still keep paddling though...  If he had been on his own he probably would have been in the front of the pack.  But it was nice at the end of the day when we were just casually paddling and looking around for wild life.  We were hoping to see a horned sheep, but alas it wasn't meant to be.  I think that we also had a nice day together chatting about different stuff.  And honestly... I don't know if I would have been able to paddle the full 12 miles without him!


Here we are at the very end of the trip.  Our shoulders and arms were KILLING us the next couple of days, but it really was an awesome day.  We were really pushed out of our comfort zones and did some unique activities that we aren't used to doing.


More of the view from where we had just kayaked from.


 That night we went to the Wynn Buffet.  And trust me it was perfect day for a buffet!!  Before we went to Vegas we made an itinerary of everything that we wanted to do while in Vegas.  And on our plan for this day we said "Go on the kayaking trip and then get a light dinner."  We scoffed at that after our kayaking trip... I don't know what we were thinking!  Because after kayaking and hiking all day long it was BUFFET TIME! 

 

The Wynn buffet was probably one of the most decorated buffets that I've been to in Vegas.  But honestly, I'm not sure that I would rate it as high as it is rated.  It wasn't a very large buffet and they only had snow crab legs.  When they warmed the crab legs up they grilled them... so they were kind of a little burned and it just didn't taste the same as when they are steamed. For as expensive and fancy as the Wynn is I kind of expected a little more out of their buffet.  If you had limited time in Vegas this isn't one of the top buffets that I would recommend.  However, I might be being a little bit harsh on the buffet.   It was still pretty good for a regular buffet, but for Vegas standards I wouldn't say its a top Vegas buffet.

 

We ended up staying and gambling a little bit at the Wynn that night, and we stayed for their night time light show.  This was my 5th time in Vegas and I had never seen this light show.  It's really funny because on my very first trip to Vegas (before I met Cody) I actually stayed at the Wynn.  However, while we were there and trying to find the show... I'm not surprised that we have always missed it.  There isn't really much seating/viewing area to see the show.  You can either see it from one of their restaurants or one of their bars/patios.  Before the show it is a calm pond, and then when the show starts a frog pops up and sings a song.

The water turned different colors as the frog sang through the song.  The song that we happened to see was "What a Wonderful World" which made me think of my dad.  It was cool to see the show, but we didn't end up staying for a second one.  I think part of that was that I didn't feel comfortable just sitting without buying anything from the bar.


Another really fun thing that we did, was going to the Valley of Fire State Park.  I have to say that the Valley of Fire was probably one of the most awesome places that we visited on our trip.  This road is actually considered one of the top 10 roads in the world that you should drive before you die.  Of the top 10 only 3 are in the US;  the Valley of Fire State Park, the California coastline, and somewhere in Hawaii. 


It's extremely hard to describe just how beautiful the park was.  And pictures just don't do it justice.  We tried taking panoramic pictures on our phones to try to show how impressive the place was.  It was just these huge red rocks EVERYWHERE.  They completely surrounded us and they were gigantic.  It's just one of those places that a picture could never accurately depict.
 

One thing that was really neat about all the new places we went to on this trip was that Cody knew that our mission for being there was looking at everything and taking pictures!  He was pretty enthusiastic about it. 
 

Here we are at the first part of the Valley of Fire.


Cody was loving climbing up on all of the different rocks.


More climbing...


And some more...


We hiked a little bit while we were there.  We went to look at some old Indian drawings.  You can kind of make them out in this picture.  The trail that we were walking on was pure sand, and it was a little difficult to walk on.  We were really glad that we brought a gallon of water with us, because we were extremely thirsty.


Here we are at the end of the trail.  There were a lot of foreigners checking out the park at the same time as us.  We think that most of them were French.  We ended up finding a British couple to take a picture for us.


This is another picture that you just can't tell how amazing it is...  The first section of the Valley of Fire is full of huge red rocks everywhere.  We didn't think that anything would be more impressive than that.  But as we drove down the road more we stopped at the rainbow canyons.  They were all different shades of white, pink, and red.  It was beautiful.  We started driving up to it and both of our reactions was "Wooooow."  We really weren't expecting it.


Oh there's a rock... Cody's thinking about it...


There he goes!


King of the rock!


Got the picture... so now it's time to hop down.


Here I am in the ancient cabins.


Here is the inside of the cabins.


Looks like someone has tried to stabilize the structure by putting a modern roof cover over it.


Here we are!
 
 

He loves me!  :)


 The next day we went to Red Rock Canyon.  I kind of wish that we would have went there first, because after the Valley of Fire it just wasn't all that impressive.


We got a nice lady to take a picture for us.  So of course we had to climb up on a rock for a picture.


The story of our trip!  Such a gentlemen helping me everywhere.


You can see Red Rock Canyon behind us.


This is a pretty accurate picture of Red Rock Canyon.  There is one area at the very beginning that is a red rock.  The formations of the rocks are completely different than Valley of Fire.  That section of the canyon was pretty neat to see.  However, the rest of the park was just regular mountains, and after the splendor of the Valley of Fire it just wasn't as exciting.


To make it worth our time we did end up going on a hiking trail... but the trail wasn't marked very well and I'm pretty sure that we walked off of the trail for a while.  It was supposed to be a short 1/2 mile hike to a forgotten creek that was meant for kids...  Well the area that we hiked around was probably not what they had intended.  At one point I truly thought that we were walking in circles and that we were lost in the desert with only half a bottle of water left.  I won't lie... I was panicking a little bit.  I'm not sure if Cody knew that or not, but I was not liking it at all...


We kept walking around and trying to retrace our path, and eventually we came up to a man made bridge... and below us was the forgotten creek.  I was sooo relieved that we found it.  And I was even happier when we saw our car.  That was the end of our alone hiking adventures.


Just right down the road from Red Rock Canyon was Bonnie Springs Ranch.  It is an old ghost town.  And Cody and I decided to check it out.


When we got there I had some reservations about it, because they wanted $20 a person to get in and I wasn't sure how much there was to do there.  We almost didn't go in, but in the end we figured we were there... and we mind as well go in.  We got there right in time for the two shows of the day;  a melodrama and a hanging.


The melodrama was the first show.  There were two guys that were running the show.  They talked to us about the old days and how there wasn't a whole lot of entertainment back then.  They talked about the guys that used to travel around and try to make money by putting on little shows or melodramas for richer people.  They told us that the show we were going to see was one of the same scripts that they used to use.  Oh boy... the show was... interesting??  It was pretty silly and really corny.  


Then we went outside to see a hanging.  They had a mock bank robbery and then got a lot of crowd interaction about being witnesses of the hanging.


There were probably only about 10 people at the place so it wasn't a surprise that one of us got to go up to be a witness.  There I am telling the sheriff to hang him!  The guy that was being hanged was pretty funny he was making all kinds of jokes about why we couldn't hang him and how there were people in the audience that were saying he was innocent.  That was one of the most enjoyable parts of our time there.


Behind us is the ghost town.  We wandered around a little bit before we left.  We also walked into their little petting zoo.  Honestly I'm not sure if we would go back, but it was kind of cool to see.


We ended up going on the Las Vegas bus for the first time to head down to Fremont Street.  We gambled and watched the free music shows all night long.  Usually when we've seen the shows it has been a Christmas theme, but this year it was all about Halloween.  We had a nice time on Fremont street.  We got back onto the strip on time to catch the last shuttle back to our hotel.  The hotel shuttle was located at the very back of Harrahs.  You had to walk all the way through the hotel to get to it.  The bad part was that the waiting spot was a near a sewer so waiting for the bus wasn't too pleasant.


We went to two shows while we were in Vegas.  The first show that we went to was the Jersey Boys which is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  Cody has always wanted to see this show, but I was never too excited about it.  Then we watched a show about the best bets of Vegas and they were talking about this show and what went into finding the performers for it... so I was more intrigued by it, and we decided to go to it.


Here we are waiting to get into the show.  The show ended up being MUCH better than I thought it would.  It was a very interesting story, and I enjoyed the musical performances throughout.  My favorite part of the show was when they described how they came up with some of their songs, especially "Oh what a night."  I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to that song without thinking about the background on it again.


The other show that we went to see was Absinthe.  This show has always intrigued us.  It is a huge tent that is set up right outside of Cesear's and we've always been curious about the show.  The price for any ticket for the show is over $100 so we've never gone to it.  However, we decided to sit through a timeshare presentation and get the free tickets to it.  Gosh am I glad that we didn't pay for that show....

 

You go inside this large tent, and it is decorated very pretty and air conditioned.  The seats are small wooden chairs that are zip tied together.  We were very much right on top of each other there.  The show itself was mostly acts that you would see on America's Got Talent.  It was full of "strong men" acts, people flying up on ribbons, tight rope walking, tap dancing, and ect... but then there were two characters that were introducing the acts and everything that they said was very sexually focused.  They were talking pretty dirty and I was a little shocked about it.  Also, all of the female performers ended up without their shirts on by the end of their act.  It wasn't a very clean show.  I think Cody liked it more than me.  Of the two shows we saw I'd hands down recommend the Jersey Boys, but I'm not so sure I'd recommend Absinthe.


Have to finish up with our favorite spot!  The Bellagio!  We love the way that the Bellagio decorates for different seasons.  I've never seen their fall decorations before.

 

One area of the conservatory.
 
 
 
 The tree behind us came awake and talked to people.


Different view


This was actually our first night in Vegas.


The last night of our trip we spent gambling at the Bellagio, and I think that it was the place where we hit the most bonuses and had the most fun at. We didn't win a whole lot during our trip, but we didn't lose a lot either.  I'm pretty sure that we broke even.

   We've tried almost every buffet in Vegas now, but the one that we've never gone to was the Bellagio Buffet. We've actually been playing a game on Facebook called My Vegas Rewards, that allows you to play slot machines online and win real Vegas rewards.  We ended up winning a buy one get one free Bellagio Buffet.  And  mmmmm was it good!!  I think the Bellagio might have been our favorite buffet in Vegas.  They had all you can eat king and snow crab legs that were already cracked.  The best part was that they would freshly steam them for you if you asked.  Cody and I probably ate 10 lbs of king crab legs between the two of us.  They were delicious!  They also had every type of meat that you could want on the buffet.  The only other buffet that was comparable was the one at Ceasar's.  The only downfall to the Bellagio Buffet was that their desserts were only ok compared to some of the other buffets we've been to.  


Overall we had a really enjoyable time at Vegas this year.  It was one of our most interesting and fun trips.  I think the weather was a big factor in everything that we were able to do and how much fun we had.  It was really nice to not need a jacket at night and just enjoy walking around.  I think October is a fantastic time to go to Vegas.  Cody seems to think he's going to convince me to go back to Vegas sometime soon again... I'm not sure if that is going to happen, but I will admit we had a very nice trip this time.