After I got up off the floor(see previous post), I really needed to hit the blog. We just got back from two weeks vacation.
I highly recommend two weeks at a time, especially if travel time and "recovery" is needed. We live in Maryland, and went to Las Vegas, toured some of Arizona and finished with a few days back in Vegas. We stayed at the MGM Grand the first week with a plan to decide on the hotel for the end of our trip later. Our reservation was incorrect and we were upgraded that night. It was still incorrect, so they upgraded us again in the morning. We were transferred to a "Hollywood Suite" on the ground floor - right off the casino floor on a secure hallway. It was palatial. Luckily I did not pee myself when the bellman opened the door and showed us in, it was that amazing.
Folks automatically think of gambling when you say Las Vegas - we only bet on the NASCAR races. There is so much more to do. We went to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a day at the Neon Garage to see the cars and drivers up close and take pictures. I even had a private moment with my favorite driver I'll always remember. We went to the Shelby427 Nextel Cup race too, and while I didn't pick the winner, I won one of my bets! (that my driver would beat his teammates) You can bet on lots of things in Vegas.
Then there were the shows. Our first show was Ka from Cirque du Soleil at our hotel. That show with it's ever changing stage was worth the trip. Then we saved lots of money using Tix 4 Tonight. They didn't carry everything we wanted to see, but for up to half price plus 10% with a coupon it was worth a trip downstairs or across the street. With their service we saw another Cirque show LOVE (click video tour up top) an amazing show inspired by the music of the Beatles. Then there was The Vegas version of Phantom at the Venetian from Tix. It was a bit shorter than the Broadway show to do away with intermission, and the overall did not suffer. We hit Crazy Horse Paris at the MGM which was an all female review of perfectly matched body type women plus a few unique acts in a small theater a la strip joint. They weren't the feathered showgirls, but I had to admire their precision.
We ate rather moderately in Vegas this trip, with no big casino dinners. Instead we hit some great local fare and chains we don't have at home. Places like Cozymels, (twice!) where our waiter David made fabulous guacamole tableside. Or the Italian Buca di Beppo - famous for double portions to be served family style and split. And Memphis Championship Barbecue really deserves the trophies in the case that back up that claim. We also favored the 24 hr Studio Cafe at the MGM with reliable service and good food for several breakfasts and a lunch. Their Ruben was the best I've ever had. We checked out In-N-Out Burgers and I also made several pilgrimages to Jack In The Box. Jack's was a favorite of mine from High School and was the first drive through with "talk to the clown" in our neighborhood. My best friend and I still talk about it.
There was other stuff of course, but let's go on to Arizona, shall we?
We took off the south route to Grand Canyon, marveling at the desert and the mountains. The two days there was a trip back in time, to when I was 5 and my family drove across the US in a station wagon. I found myself choking up big time, even in the gift shop. Srsly. But the wind. The WIND! It was the first week of March and we expected temperatures in the forties, but the WIND!
I lost a hat over the edge.
Then it was off to Monument Valley in Navajo Nation. That is where John Ford filmed many of his Westerns with John Wayne. Movies like Stagecoach, Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Movies I used to watch with my Dad. Seeing those sculpted red rocks rising out of the earth for no apparent reason was just as sobering as the split earth we had left behind. Our hotel The View, was perched on a cliff and has only been open since December. The feel of the place was very spiritual and our pictures are amazing.
Next we headed south for a bit of historic Route 66, stopping for a night in Flagstaff before heading back to Vegas. We even managed a movie and shipped a box of laundry home from there.
North now to cross Hoover Dam, where Bobby spotted some Big Horn Sheep as we emerged from the mountains. We toured it the last time we were in Las Vegas, but were surprised to see they are now building the Hoover Dam Bypass. It was interesting to see the two sides of the span working towards the middle.
Back to Las Vegas. Back to Tix 4 Tonight. Vegas is also known for magic, and we saw two shows. Lance Burton is talented but quite dated and needs a smaller venue so the empty seats aren't so noticeable. Still, after I got past his canned patter, the show had a few good "howtheheck?"s. But Penn & Teller kicked his butt. Part of the butt kicking is delivery, but even the tricks they explain are pure . . . magic. After the show they have a meet and greet. I'm not much of an autograph hound, but I happened to have a 3 of clubs in my scooter pocket and Teller signed it "Is this your card?". Very cool. Finally, we closed our Vegas vacation with the dozens of feathered ladies and the muscled men of Folies Bergere at The Tropicana. We were fortunate to see them in their last month and were sad to hear they were closing after 49 years - the longest running show on The Strip. All those shows. And with the discount, we could get the better tickets. Yes, we liked Tix 4 Tonight.