Saturday, November 14, 2015

Back to Reality-Last Day In Las Vegas

Last day in Vegas (and last post about it!!!).  We had to get back to reality sometime I guess. :/  The guys left at like midnight in a rush and we woke up early about 5 am.  I wanted to try to be out the door by 7 am so we could get on the road to be back by 2:30 pm for Amber’s flight.  We had to stop at Starbucks (of course), get souvenirs, and check out of the hotel before dropping Clarissa off at the airport. We stopped at the Las Vegas sign to take pictures on the way to the airport. 
There are several pictures of the three of us, but I think they are on Amber's phone.  Elvis took them!
After we dropped Clarissa off, me and Amber headed to hunt for aliens in Area 51!  The drive from Las Vegas is about 2.5 hours and so pretty!  You are surrounded by mountain ranges on either side of the road.  

We stopped at a tiny gas station to get gas and beef jerky before we didn’t have any more places to stop.  The map that we used told us that at a certain spot we will not have cell service and there isn’t any more gas stations.  Right after we turned into the Extraterrestrial Highway (yes, that is the actual state approved named-look it up on Google Maps), we saw this sign…

And about a ½ mile after is the Alien Research Center.  The Center was closed but we were able to take pictures outside of it.

We kept following the map and saw a long dirt/gravel road to our left after a while.  The map said that you travel down this road for 20 miles and you will get to the front gate.  We weren’t sure if it was the right road or not (it wasn’t marked) so we turned around and figured we could just wait until we could ask at the diner called Little AleInn in Rachel, NV.  We got to the diner and took pictures!!

There is an area where you can buy alien themed souvenirs.  Can you guess what I bought?? LOL.

The lady in the store was really rude.  It was like she was annoyed with tourists…but she works at a tourist location!  Come on now.  We took pictures, bought some souvenirs and left.  There was a lady outside who was MUCH more helpful (super sweet actually) and said that there was a road about 1.7 miles from the shop that will take us to the back gate where we could take pictures but not go past a certain point.  Off we went!

We travelled down about 10 miles on the dirt road and hit a paved road for another mile or so.  The girl at the counter said (rather rudely) “You better make sure you have a spare or you will have to walk all the way back.”  We had one and were kind of worried about it since we had to catch our flights, but the girl that was outside said that we wouldn’t have a problem and the road was well maintained.  It was well maintained with no potholes but I can see why some people would get flat tires.  We sure had LOTS of rocks hit the back of the car.  Good thing we had damage waiver!!!

We got to the gate and saw the no trespassing signs and the guard gate.  There wasn’t anyone at the guard gate, but there were cameras everywhere!

We jumped back in the car and headed home with no incident!  Thank goodness.  I just wanted to mention how awesome the art is at the Las Vegas airport.  I had to ride the tram in between terminals and saw a set of art that was so awesome.  What made it even awesomer (is that a word?!) was that it was created by kids!  They take a bunch of smaller transportation pictures and create on large one.  So cool!

These butterflies were floating above the escalators.  I think they were in the shape of a butterfly, but I couldn’t tell from my angle.

These airplanes were telling you which direction the escalators were going.

These clay animals were coming out of the concrete.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Day 4 in Vegas

After the hike it was time for Britney Spears!!!!!  We were so excited about going but our feet and legs were killing us from the hike earlier in the day.  We were all slow walking to Planet Hollywood for the concert.   I had gotten a magnet the day before of Britney that I will make into a Christmas ornament for my travel tree because….going to the concert was a bucket list item!!!!!!  (I’m on track to complete 13 bucket list items this year!).  Right outside the concert area is a small Britney Spears store that sells magnets, posters, t-shirts, flip flops, etc of Britney items.  If I can’t find a Christmas ornament, I just get something to make one with, hence the magnet.

We had pretty far back seats but we still paid $120 each.  They should have some screens for the people who sit that far back.  Anyway, the show was full of energy and her greatest hits.  We had mixed reviews of the show.  Clarissa hated it, Amber loved it, and I had mixed feelings.  I’m sure everyone has heard of her song, Lucky (youtube it if you haven’t).  I feel bad for her because her life is like that song.  Who knows, she might be 100% content but I just get the feeling that she just wants to retire to her hometown away from all of the hype Hollywood has.

After the show we went back to the hotel and everyone went out to a club (except me).  The next morning (Sunday), I was going to drive to Area 51 but we decided to just have a late brunch with mimosas at Hexx in front of the Paris hotel.  The brunch was all you can drink mimosas for $20 plus whatever food you get.  I had these shredded chicken nachos called chilaquiles that were AMAZING!!  Brett and I both got them and we had the same reaction.

After brunch everyone went back to the hotel and I hung back to explore the hotel.  I couldn’t find any free attractions like they had at other hotels, but it was a very pretty hotel.  I could have gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but I didn’t want to pay unless it was the real thing! :)  I walked around and watched a “hot” table of Craps but was totally lost!  A lady tried to explain it to me but it went over my head.  Her mom had just put $5 on a ‘fire bet’ and won $5,000. Must be nice!

 I witnessed a wedding in Vegas!  I am not going to count it as a bucket list item though because I kind of wanted it to be at a little chapel with drunk people.

Next, I went to the roulette table and tried to figure out that game.   A wonderful couple sat next to me and explained everything.  I wanted to gamble some money but not everything so I just got out $60.  I was doing pretty well and made $110 and thought “I will double my money and then stop.”  Famous last words because I lost it all. LOL.  Oh well.  After that I spent some time at the Bellagio fountains waiting for the show to come on.  I loved the fountains!!   Oh so pretty!

The guys were going to leave at 11 pm so we just stayed inside.  Hector was crashed out on the couch while we all went to the roller coaster outside of our hotel (New York New York)!!!!  The roller coaster passed right by our hotel rooms (we had adjoining rooms) and we waved at a sleeping Hector. :)  The roller coaster was awesome!  It really hurts your neck but it was still lots of fun.  They take about 3 photos of you before and during the ride, hoping that you will buy them, but we didn’t want them that bad.  FYI, if you are staying at NYNY you get a buy one get one half off coupon to the roller coaster by showing your room key.

Next up…Area 51 and some airport art!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Las Vegas Day 3

So, if you read yesterday’s post you will remember that we were late picking up Amber from the airport.  Our friend Hector had kept asking a ton of questions and I wasn’t sure why.  It turns out that he came to Vegas!  He had thought we were staying at the Flamingo (since I love flamingos) but we weren’t there.  Then he thought we were going to O but he missed us after the show so he was like “just come pick me up, I’m tired of walking”.  After years of traffic, we finally found him and who else did we see?????  Our other friend Brett!  They both ended up surprising us.  Hector decided he was coming at 6:30 pm and at 8:30 pm they were on a flight to Vegas!  How fun.  I love spontaneous stuff like that. :)

That night everyone went out to the clubs in town.  I didn’t go.  I am not a club person.  I can go to a bar all night, but clubs are not my scene.  I am not a dancing, strobe light kind of person.  They weren’t home at 3 am so I went looking for them. I figured that I could take an hour of dancing but that was it.  I  left the hotel and was almost to the end of the block when I saw Hector wondering the streets with a CVS bag full of Doritos and other snacks that he was munching on.  He was lost and now it was my turn to babysit him.  The girls had lost him and Brett at the club.  I will omit what happened between now and then but I found Brett wondering the streets lost too.  #whathappensinVegas
Me and my two babysitting charges.  Look how awesome my eye shadow looks!!!

The next morning afternoon was fueled by lots of coffee.  Clarissa went shopping for a new outfit and the rest of us went on the most intense hike ever!  I had heard of the Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs Hike (6 mile hike) by a local blogger and I knew that I wanted to do it.  However, I did not know how hard it would be.  They said you would have to use ropes to get down some parts, but wow, it was hard.  At first the guys didn’t want to go but after I said “hot springs at the bottom” for the gazillionith time they wanted to go.  Thank goodness they went because we would have not been able to get to the bottom or come back up without them.  Both Amber and I have some short legs and no upper body strength so unless you do, make sure to take a couple of (cute) guys with you. :)

The trail head is about a 30-45 minute drive outside of town, right by the Hoover Dam (it's the same exit).  The first part of the hike was easy with a few obstacles, the 2nd part was more challenging.  About 30 minutes into the hike you come to a water stop where people have put excess water for anyone who didn’t bring any with them.  We all brought some (because I told them to) but apparently there was someone who didn’t take water with them and they died.  There isn’t a guarantee that water will be there, so be smart and bring your own water!  It was a nice, breezy day when we went but there are signs warning people not to hike July through September.  After the water station the hike got harder.  I was able to do it but it would have helped with hiking boots (instead of tennis shoes) and hiking grip-like gloves.  There is not cell signal so you are pretty much screwed if you don’t come prepared.

There are spray painted arrows that show you the easiest routes to take and there are about 5 or 6 ropes that you can use to make you way up or down.  At one boulder obstacle, we were like “umm…let’s not do this since it’s impossible” but then we saw the arrow pointing to an “easier” path.  At one rope ladder area I freaked out and I am so glad the guys were there to help me.  On the way back Amber and I definitely had to have the guys help us by doing some hoisting and pulling.  I think it was the first obstacle going back up when I thought I was stuck and would have to live like a cave woman and wear mountain lion fur because I couldn’t get back to civilization. 

About halfway down you start seeing trickles of water and small pools.  At ¾ of the way down you will find pools deep enough for 2-4 people to get in, and the bottom is where you will find the largest pool plus the Colorado River.  The river was running really swiftly so I wouldn’t recommend getting in the actual river but Brett did get in the largest hot spring and enjoyed it.  I put my feet in and it was HOT.  It was so amazing after a long hike.

We weren’t sure how long it would take us to get back so we only stayed about 30 minutes at the bottom.  It gets dark around 5:30 pm so and we didn’t want to have to climb boulders in the dark.  We were at a really dangerous looking area on the hike back to the top and we thought we saw a way to go back through the cracks but I was afraid to go in first so I made Hector go in first. LOL.  “Hector, you go first and tell us if there’s snakes.”  He wasn’t too happy. :)

We finally made it to the end and were so tired, not to mention filthy!  As soon as we got back to the hotel the guys crashed but Amber and I had to get dressed for Britney!  Clarissa just looked at us like we were all crazy for hiking on vacation!  I wish we had had time to take a nap but we needed to get dressed.

Tomorrow you will hear all about Britney Spears!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Las Vegas Days 1 and 2

I have wanted to go to Vegas for a while to see Britney Spears in concert at Planet Hollywood.  I have heard that she is retiring and I wanted to go before she did.  In October we saw that she renewed her contract for two more years, but whatever, we saw her!  My friends Clarissa and Amber wanted to see her so we made plans to travel to Vegas to see the show.  We try to do something once a year together and this is what we did!  Clarissa and I went on the cruise (Amber couldn’t go) in May together. 

I made my flight plans for what I thought was Friday morning until Monday afternoon, but it turns out that I did it for Thursday morning instead.  It must have been from when I was checking different dates for pricing and I just didn’t double check the dates.  That’s ok, we got to stay another night in Vegas!!  My plane landed about 10:30 am and I met Clarissa at the rental car terminal.   We got a great deal on a car (Toyota Avalon) because Clarissa still works for the Green Machine and got a discount (all three of us have worked there at one point-I got both of them the jobs.  Amber just left a few weeks ago).We checked into our hotel (New York New York) and took a nap. LOL.    Yep, we took naps in Vegas. Let me tell you, this weekend was fueled by LOTS of Starbucks (and mimosas).
#IloveStarbucks #IcedCoffee

That night we went to dinner at the Hard Rock CafĂ© (not worth it) and then went to the Thunder From Down Under Show at Excalibur.  Clarissa had wanted to see it the last time she was in Vegas but didn’t end up seeing it because someone (cough* cough* Krista cough* cough*) had met their quota of seeing sexy stuff in Vegas.  I am not usually a fan of seeing male strippers, honestly.  Clarissa was so excited though and I heard that it was a show and no dollar bills were involved, so I went.   The place was PACKED with women who needed a thrill, I guess.  They did dancing numbers to songs just like in the Magic Mike movies and brought women on the stage to do dances with.  They had women put their hands in their pants and everything.  I was kind of grossed out.  So many germs.  Go wash your hands!  Sorry, that’s not my scene (in public, haha).  I mean, the guys were HOTTTTTTT but I don’t want to touch anyone who I just met and who does that for a living.  No thanks.  Clarissa LOVED it though.  She even got her picture taken with them at the end.  When they would take their  shirts off I was like “Oh, now that is pretty” but I don’t like to be touched in general, much less from Vegas strippers.  I am sure the guys are perfectly wonderful in real life.  I just have never been a fan of going to those kind of shows, but I did have fun.
We could only take pictures during one "act" but there are a few racier photos in my picture page.
The next morning we went to the flamingo habitat at theFlamingo Hotel!!!!!!!!  Yes, it was a bucket list item of course.  When I was in Vegas a few years ago I stopped at the hotel but I didn’t see the flamingos so that was on the top of my list.  There were other birds there in the habitat, not just flamingos but I made a beeline for the flamingos.  So pretty.  Afterwards we went to the gift shop and I got a flamingo wine glass with a lid and a flamingo Christmas ornament for my travel tree collection. 

We went over to the Bellagio to buy tickets to “O” at the box office.  They don’t discount that show like the other Cirque shows so we just bought them in person.  On the way to the ticket area we stopped at the lobby area to take pictures of the beautiful Chihuly art that is on display on the ceiling.  I saw it last time I was there but I loved seeing it again.  So beautiful!!

In the conservatory area there is an art display of flowers and other items.  I don’t know what to call it, it is flower art but I don’t know what they call it.  It’s a great place to bring kids if you need something for them to do (but don’t bring kids to Vegas-have some ALONE time!!).    The theme was a fall time theme with squirrels, raccoons, trees, etc.  It was pretty cool.

I have always wanted to see a Cirque du Solei show (bucket list #2 of the weekend) and the original was not playing that night.  We looked at the reviews of the shows that were playing and “O” seemed to be right up our alley.  They have two shows a night at 7 pm and 9:30 pm, we chose the 7 pm.  We had third row seats since it was the best value.  At the higher level tickets we got a 20% discount because they were a partner hotel with our hotel, New York New York so it was about only $10 higher to sit in nicer seats.

I loved the show.  O is a water themed show with acrobatics, diving, dancing and more.  I don’t even know how to describe it but it was AMAZING!!!!!!  I think any Cirque show would be amazing but I especially loved O.  I didn’t really understand the story (if there was one) but it was still awesome.  They start out with two clowns in about 15 minutes before the show starting and then you see them again throughout the show.  The pool is 1.5 million gallons that has lifts that expand and contract within the different acts of the show.  Read the Wikipedia page for more info on it, it has some cool information.  My favorite parts were the diving, the boat in midair aerial show, and the swinging swing things with more diving and flips.  I know my descriptions are not very good but I don’t know how to describe it and I don’t want to spoil anything.  GO SEE IT!!! ;)

Amber’s plane was arriving at 10:30 pm so we knew we would have time to see the show at 7 pm and still pick her up on time.  Little did we know that we would be late…more on that tomorrow!!