We did it! We got married!
Just fucking with you. Somehow we got sidetracked and missed our 2:35 appointment with Elvis.
This has been a chaotic and exhausting few weeks, and upon reflection, we’ve decided that we are going to plan next year’s travels a bit differently, not so back-to-back, and not around the holidays.
We have yet to have a vacay where things go right, and this one was no exception.
This quick Vegas getaway started with us still battling our Dominican parasite, so that made for a fun drive down to Milwaukee. Luckily we were in it together (seriously, we have this reallllllly weird sympathy pain connection….this has seen us both with shoulder impingements, knee braces, tandem nasal irrigations…… even our cars do it - about a week before I went out to Vermont in October, it sounded like Jack’s car needed new ball bearings, and by the time I got to New England, mine needed them, too), so when we’d stopped to have lunch and watch the first half of the Lions game at Red Lobster, nobody minded when we had to pull over 5 minutes later to blow chunks like we were auditioning for The Exorcist.
We were also greeted with flight schedule changes, and they were not to our benefit. Flying to the DR last month, if our American Airlines flight changed by even a minute, I’d get an email about it, so it was surprising checking in to our Frontier flight to find out it departed Milwaukee 3 hours later than planned (getting into Vegas at 9pm instead of 6pm) and was going to be leaving Vegas almost 4 hours earlier (at 7am instead of 11ish), effectively blocking us from 2 nights of shenanigans. We had to go grab a rental car (don’t recommend that entirely – Jack didn’t like driving in Vegas, and I didn’t like passenging), so we didn’t get to the Linq until late.
Since I am a Polly Positive as well as being an anxious mess, I would like to point out the bright side here and tell you that BOTH of our flights were without much turbulence, or any crying! This is the first trip involving flights that Jack hasn’t ended up with tears and snot on his shoulder.
The highlights for me were going to the Pastel Canyon at the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, about an hour away from The Strip. That in itself was an adventure…..the route that the GPS had us going was along the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and unbeknownst to us, involved a $25 fee to drive up the road leading there because it’s apparently a National Park. As someone who enjoys research, I was surprised by this, because none of the Google Mapping I’d done in advance indicated anything about this fee. Luckily, when I told the guy at the booth that I was a veteran who has a lifetime National Parks pass but had left it at home, he just asked for my military ID, took a glance, and sent us on our way. Thankyoukindsir.
Back to the Pastel Canyon. I don’t know entirely how to describe it other than otherworldly and magical, but it was part of a loop hike we were doing called the Seven Wonders. It was this portion of the hike that took us from harsh desert into this whimsical, gently arcing, glorious, Dr. Seuss-y slot canyon wonderland. We were there midday and it was spectacular, but I’m sure being there at either sunrise or sunset would be an approximation of heaven on earth. Its curves and hollows made me think of the Tassel staircase, and indeed, it is some of nature’s finest Art Nouveau architecture I have ever seen. It was magnificent, and I walked through it several times because I just couldn’t get enough. Jack has already been instructed that when I die, some of my ashes are to be dispersed there.
The trail map was not very explicit, and calling it a trail in general was pretty optimistic, so we overshot a right turn, went through a couple more slot canyons, and when we turned around to take the appropriate right, realized there were going to be several scrambles, and for Jack it was a hard no. So we walked back to the road and hiked back to our parking area via pavement.
The next adventure was to stop at Roger’s Spring for a soak before returning to the bright lights of Vegas. We were delighted to see that we were the only people there, however when we got suited up, three toes in the water indicated it might be more accurately described as a lukewarm spring (and now that I’ve Googled it on its own, I see that it sure as shit is actually called Roger’s Warm Spring – why it’s included on multiple various ‘Nevada Hot Springs’ sites is a bit of a question mark for me), and neither of us wanted to proceed any further.
As brilliant as the Valley of Fire State Park was, my favorite day in Vegas was the day we went out to Seven Magic Mountains (they’re not that magical, and they’re not mountains, but they were bright and fun, and a treat all the same. Also, both hilarious and somewhat disturbing was seeing a food truck pull into the parking lot with a porta-potty strapped to the back. I guess it's best to come prepared!) and to Freemont Street. Although I’ve been to Vegas several times before, I’d never been to Freemont Street.
After overpaying on the Strip for ho-hum bevvies and okayish food, we were on the hunt for a decent happy hour, and we found it at Cadillac Mexican & Tequila at the Golden Nugget. I mean, come on…..having tequila in the name is a great start, as far as I'm concerned. This was the first round of drinks (margaritas, naturally) and food (spicy beef quesadillas and the Cadillac trio – chips with guacamole, queso blanco, and salsa) that were better than fine; they were delicious! I just had to look up the name of the restaurant on the Google, and I’m so surprised that it only gets a 3.1* rating, because this was hands down one of the two best places we ate in the four days we were in town. I’ve done my part and added a 5* review for them. YUM!
We patronized several bars on our way up and down Freemont, and caught some of the tree lighting performances before heading out on the Deuce to see a production of Rouge at the Strat, which I was excited about since I love a good Vegas show, and was bummed that Cirque Du Soleil no longer performs Zumanity at New York New York, which in the past has been a staple of my Vegas visits. Holy run-on sentence there. I say that like I don't frequently have them in every other paragraph. Rouge was like most things in Vegas. It was overpriced and fine. From there we went back to the Strip and wandered to the Bellagio. I’ve been obsessed with Chihuly ever since my first trip to the Bellagio, and always look forward to that beautiful glass ceiling. It makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland. The Conservatory halls (which also resemble Wonderland, as far as I'm concerned) were decked in a festive Nutcracker theme, and full of colorful and rather un-Vegas-like class. The Bellagio really does a nice job of making all the sequins and glitter look glamorous instead of chintzy.
Onto the dueling piano bar next to our hotel! The chick was better than the dude playing, but we/I requested two songs from each and were serenaded with renditions of a The Way It Is (which is made better if you’ve ever seen a Bruce Hornsby video because then you can just picture his curly little rattail and the look of sheer delight on his face while he’s jamming), Tarzan Boy, Everywhere, and a sweet, sweet mashup of Shut Up and Dance/Take Me Home Tonight. It was fucking awesome, and kept us up until 3am. Quick advice in case you're working on your pickup lines: Saying to a woman, "I'm a conservative n*gga, and I can give you what you want," while her boyfriend is procuring drinks should perhaps not be number one on the list.
The next day it certainly felt like we’d been up until 3am, but as we learned in Nashville and have perfected on subsequent trips, we wanted to go for breakfast and then come back and take a nap. This is when we found the second eatery that didn’t break the bank and had better-than-average food. So if you happen to find yourself in need of breakfast on the south end of The Strip, I highly recommend the eggs florentine and breakfast margaritas from Ocean One Bar & Grille (the Google tells me other people have enjoyed their dining experience there as well, since they have a 4.4* rating).
We got home pretty bushed, so that coincides with the holidays perfectly. If I don’t write again before 2024, I'd like to wish you the new year you deserve.
A Homebody with a severe case of Wanderlust