Las Vegas Trip

We took a family trip to Las Vegas. Literally---I have an aunt and a cousin who live there. We normally go to visit my mother once a year, and she normally visits her sister once a year, so we conspired to have these events occur simultaneously.

We stayed at Circus Circus, which is the oldest of the kid-centered casinos. We arrived late (for us) on Sunday. I said we should drive up The Strip to see all the bright lights, but perhaps this was not the wisest of choices, because it was really getting late by the time we arrived at the hotel. Where there was a huge checkin line. I was ready to blame Circus Circus for being lame because it's cheap (our rooms were only $50/night, even including the exhorbitant "resort fee") but we later learned that ALL the hotels have huge checkin lines!

Monday we just stayed at CC all day. Bought the kids an all-day pass at the AdventureDome. They aren't much interested in roller coasters, and I didn't want to ride many times, so I just used the two "free premium ride" coupons. I liked the older coaster, Canyon Blaster, better than the new one, El Loco. I like my upside-downs with more G-force holding me into the seat; I don't much care to be hanging upside down from the restraints, and there was too much of that in El Loco. I'm glad I didn't pay real money for them; both rides are short.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to the Midway above the casino and below/next to the circus acts. Foolishly I handed each kid $20. This was a LOT. They won an enormous number of those silly tickets, most of which were cashed in on a huge slinky. They also played regular midway games and won a couple of small stuffed animals. I said they couldn't even play the ones that might give them a big stuffed animal---we would have to bring it home on the plane! (The slinky was easy to pack---we just stuffed clothes in and around it.)

Tuesday was "family visit day". My other cousin also had spring break (she works at the University of Montana), so she came down. We broke up the family visit with a side trip to Red Rock Canyon. I had hoped to drag family along, but they all begged off. Maybe that was for the best, as it turned out to be quite cold and very windy, kind of uncomfortable to hike. We soldiered on anyway, and ended up with a nice view of the Calico Hills. Headed back to the relatives' house and had a nice dinner. The evening entertainment was showing the DVDs from Jocelyn's performances at summer camp.

Wednesday Ken and Perry visited Hoover Dam and got a tour of the power plant, with some headaches at security. Jocelyn hadn't wanted to go, so she and I walked the entire length of The Strip proper, from Treasure Island down to the Luxor. Some of the time we took little trams that go between the hotels, but there was still an enormous amount of walking. The trams are kind of stupid, because they just go between one or two hotels, and then there's a walk across the next hotel, and then another tram, and it's pretty random which hotels have them. I asked someone and was told they're paid for by the hotels, not the city, which is why there's no coordination.

We walked around the Mirage, looking for the Volcano (which we failed to identify because it isn't cone-shaped) and the Dolphin Habitat. I'd had the idea we'd come back later in the day and actually pay for the dolphin habitat, but that didn't happen. We continued south and looked around at the decor for the Excalibur (maybe we'll stay there next time---they have a big kids arcade too), and New York. We spent a long time in the Bellagio, which has beautiful gardens in its lobby. We also spent a long time at Caesar's Palace, because Jocelyn is interested in ancient Greece. Caesar's is Roman rather than Greek, but the gods and goddesses are the same, just with different names, and we had fun trying to identify them.

Eventually we fetched up at the Luxor, which I had remembered as being much more spectacular, and crossed the street over to the MGM Grand, which I had also remembered as being much more spectacular. We discovered a Rainforest Cafe, and since I'd been promising Jocelyn a visit to Rainforest in Burlington and never delivering, she said we should go here for dinner.

Our final stop on the strip was M&M World. As many of my readers know, I used to have a huge m&m habit, and a dispenser along with a large number of m&m toys in my office. I've mostly put those days behind me, but do still enjoy the occasional handful. Jocelyn bought a tshirt, and we got about 3 pounds of mix'n'match your own colors and flavors from the dozens of floor-to-ceiling dispensers. The price per pound is ruinous. (We were introduced to raspberry m&ms. Man they are good!) We declined to get personalized m&ms from the personalized m&m printer, which are at the same ruinous prices.

We had a lunch date with my parents, so we hopped in a taxi back to Circus Circus. We got to see the dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio from the taxi. I hadn't even known about them, but the driver pointed them out as we were passing. Well, as we were stopped at a red light. The traffic really is horrible.

After lunch (sadly, the lunch options at CC are pretty lame), we met up with Ken and Perry who had returned from their adventure. We then made sure to watch the Aerial Silks performance at the circus, because Jocelyn is currently taking a class in Aerial Silks. She was pleased to see that she can do some of the tricks (though she is not nearly so smooth at transitions.)

By this time, 3ish, everyone was kind of tired, and so we did not hare off to the Mirage to see the dolphins, and it was a little chilly, so we did not go swimming either, but kind of hung around in the hotel room, playing with our computers and the giant slinky, and trying to figure out what time to go to dinner if we wanted to see the volcano erupt at 7pm. We blew it -- the traffic on the strip was every bit as bad as we expected, and then the walk from the MGM Grand parking garage to the restaurant was nearly a mile -- it took a full 15 minutes! And there was a line at the restaurant even though it was before 6. So we didn't actually get done eating til there was no way to make it. Perry was pretty upset.

We lucked out anyway, because as we were driving back up the strip, at exactly 7 we were at a red light just before the Mirage. And lo! There was steam and red lights beginning, crowds all over the sidewalk, and music! We rolled down the windows, and I made a strategic U turn. We followed a tour bus which was doing about 4 miles an hour past the volcano. I expect there's some law about not stopping, but they can get away with this.

Early to bed, and a mostly uneventful trip home the next day. A 40 minute delay in NY and then the T was slow getting us home from the airport. However, we discovered when we got home that Jocelyn's cellphone was not with us. She'd dropped it in the seat pocket after playing a game, and missed it when packing up her belongings at the end of the flight. Lost and found is not coordinated between airports, which is just dumb. Our conjecture is that the phone went from JFK on to its next destination, which was Paris. I texted it with "please give me back" but we don't have roaming in Europe so probably that text was never received. Plus it's in Airplane Mode, so someone would have to be trying to receive it. No identifying marks on the phone. We called and emailed all possible airports anyway, but it didn't show up in the first 10 days home, and probably never will.

I think we should have stayed a fourth day, though Ken was ready to come home when he did. I guess that means we'll just have to do it again next year!

Jocelyn took more pictures than I did, but they are all on her lost cellphone.

Calico Hills.

This is another view of the Calico Hills we found on google image search.

It's hard to tell, but this "painting" is a 3D construction entirely made of flowers and plants. It was amazing. There were other examples of flower sculpture at the Bellagio gardens.

Some passers by wanted us to take their picture at this statue, and returned the favor.