vegas, again: hoover dam & a weekend getaway [37]

So, we have a tiny little airport in Monterey that has regular or semi-regular flights to San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and soon-to-be DFW. We were looking for a short getaway for Memorial Day weekend, and the MRY-LAS options have a Friday flight and a Monday flight. SCORE! So that made our choice incredibly easy.

First off – the views coming out of MRY of the Monterey Peninsula and the surrounding area are just stunning:

 

 

and I absolutely love the views you get between Monterey and Las Vegas:

 

 

We arrived and immediately went to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign since I didn’t get the chance to go on my last trip to Vegas. There was a bit of a line – as, it seems, there always is – but even though it was crowded, it wasn’t too hard to get photos.

(I was also accidentally dressed like my Bitmoji character. My friends got a good laugh out of that Snapchat!)

From there, we rolled out to my husband’s grandma’s house in Henderson where we spent plenty of time eating, laughing, and just generally enjoying ourselves for the evening.

On Saturday morning, we decided to make the short drive to the Hoover Dam. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it was so much more amazing than I imagined. We skipped the tour and just explored the area ourselves, and it was definitely crowded but not unmanageable.

 

For a great view of the Dam itself, walk over to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (there’s a parking lot on the Nevada side with easy access). I’ll admit, I was a little freaked out walking over the bridge at first but the views were absolutely worth it.

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(I just wish those huge cables weren’t in the middle of the photo!)

Also, one of my bucket list items is to see all 50 states, so after we walked the bridge we walked back over the Dam so I could take this picture for state #33 (only 17 to go!)

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Our route “home” took us past Lake Mead, so we decided to drive through and check out the National Recreation Area. Pro tip for all you military folks: with your military ID, you can get a free Annual Pass to National Parks! We didn’t do any ~recreation~ but stopped at one of the overlooks to see the views:

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It was hot, and as you can see in my photo with the Arizona sign, my idiot self was wearing a black t-shirt (not recommended, but also Go Knights Go! Fleury forever) so we headed back to Henderson to find some air-conditioned lunch. We ended up at a Red Robin in the Galleria at Sunset mall, which (while a chain restaurant) was exactly what we needed. Followed, of course, by a long shower to get all that Vegas-in-early-summer sweat off of me.

Following my sitting in front of the air conditioner to dry off after a much needed img_2087shower, we got ready and took Grandma over to Green Valley Ranch casino for some gambling and dinner. I’m not much of a gambler so I spend most of my time at casinos looking pretty and getting drinks and pretending like my proximity has some level of sway over my husband’s luck on the table. This time it did and he managed to win some money on the craps table, which we promptly spent on dinner at Bottiglia Cucina & Enoteca. Pretty standard Italian fare, which I am a sucker for (who doesn’t love pasta and cheese, seriously), but more importantly had this gorgeous floral wall that made a perfect backdrop for my gin drink ;). I’m also a sucker for floral walls and photo ops…

After dinner, there was plenty more gambling and we stumbled into Pizza Rock for a beer and ended up wandering in during the last round of trivia. Obviously we couldn’t join since we came towards the end of the game, but we had plenty of fun quietly answering the questions between ourselves. The beer selection was pretty expansive, and while we didn’t order any food, their menu also looked pretty great.

img_2095Come Sunday morning, we packed up our stuff and said our goodbyes to Grandma and headed down to the Strip for the afternoon/evening. We had booked a room at Luxor, since we managed to find some good deals online, and set off to explore the Strip. Unfortunately, we were a couple days too early for the Stanley Cup Championship round to begin, but we stopped to pay our respects to all the places adorned with VGK paraphernalia anyways. We went to the Venetian to get some brunch at Sugarcane, of which there are also locations in Miami and Brooklyn. I know I’ve said this before but I am always down for bottomless mimosas, so brunch is inevitably my favorite meal of any day, any week, anytime. Max ordered one of their tobacco rum old fashioneds – I love a good old fashioned, but the flavor profile of this one was not my favorite. He loved it though! Plus we got some amazing bacon wrapped dates (another one of my weaknesses), I ordered a duck waffle, and Max got the braised beef benedict. My breakfast was SO good. I wasn’t sure how the duck + eggs combo would go, but it was actual decadent perfection.

After brunch, we wandered the Strip for a while. Before my last trip to Vegas, my dad jokingly said “play a hand of blackjack for me!” which I did not accomplish on that trip, so we ended up at a blackjack table at the Flamingo where I played a few hands and lost all my money (but hey, free drinks!!). Gambling is just really not for me, y’all.

Since I missed pool season on my last trip to Vegas, I wanted to experience the ~pool party life~ so we headed back to the Luxor and made our way down to the pool. Give me frozen drinks and a pool float any day of the year. It was busy, but we had no problem finding a couple chairs and staking our claim. Pool drinks are expensive, but my mojito was nearly all rum so that made it more acceptable.

The evening brought us over to the MGM Grand, where we had tickets to see the Jabbawockeez “JREAMZ” show. Man, they are just incredible. I watched America’s Best Dance Crew way back in the day when they were on it, and it was so cool to see them live. Plus, the whole theme and concept of their show was awesome. We decided to go see them because tickets were pretty cheap, but I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a cool show.

After the show, we had some time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we wandered over to Whiskey Down to get some cocktails. As I mentioned before, I love a good old fashioned, and this one was definitely a good one. I loved the vibe of Whiskey Down – a little speakeasy, a little library, a little industrial – and it surprisingly wasn’t too busy for a Sunday night on a holiday weekend.

We had a late-ish dinner reservation at FiAMMA, another Italian restaurant. I’ve noticed that we tend to gravitate towards Italian restaurants in casinos – we frequented Ballo at Mohegan Sun when we lived in Connecticut – which I am definitely not complaining about.  We got some wine (duh!), started with an incredible beef carpaccio, I ordered the spaghetti chitarra, and Max got the linguini & clams. Everything was so, so delicious (and nice to look at too!). I was too excited to eat the beef carpaccio to take a picture of it, clearly.

Following dinner, we made our way over to Hakkasan for the rest of the evening to see (well, mostly wait for) Calvin Harris. We got tickets in advance – definitely worth it to skip the line. Be prepared to pay a lot of money for drinks: my vodka cranberry was $20. We squeezed into the “pit” area at the front of the stage, which, in retrospect, was probably not the best choice. We ended up so squished that dancing wasn’t even really a thing you could do, just kind of sway around with the rest of the crowd. Plus we were surrounded by less-than-stellar people who made some questionable choices throughout the night (I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I saw a lot more of the person next to me than I would have preferred), so that had a mildly negative impact on the night. I have no idea who the first DJ was, but he was pretty great and definitely got the crowd pumped up. Calvin Harris came on around 1AM, and while I’m not usually one to publicly drool over celebrities, damn he is one good looking man. We stuck around for probably an hour, hour and a half of his set before I couldn’t handle the crowd anymore and had to call it quits. Had I planned better (and not gone in with my standard concert mentality of “get in the pit and get close to the stage!”) and hung out at the back of the crowd/near the bar, we probably would have had a better time, so keep that in mind if you get anxious in crowds and you want to do a club night in Vegas. It didn’t totally turn me off of the experience, but I might go for a smaller club next time (or maybe just not see a major DJ on a holiday weekend :shrug emoji:). Also, BIG shoutout to my trusty Target wedges – I could not have accomplished the whole night in stilettos.

Monday morning we checked out of the Luxor and drove over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast. We were hoping to go to eggslut but the line was insanely long, so we got in line at the neighboring Milk Bar insteadWe are obsessed with the show Chef’s Table on Netflix (perfect binge material!), so whenever we have the opportunity to go to one of those restaurants we take it. And boy, is it a good thing we decided to go to Milk Bar instead of wait in line for eggslut because as we were getting our food we realized our flight was in two hours instead of the three we previously thought…

But I digress. We treated ourselves to two of Milk Bar’s most famous items, the Birthday Cake and the Crack Pie. Omg. I am pretty sure I actually became the heart eyes emoji…

img_2109Seriously you guys it was so good. SO GOOD. I literally dream about both of these and I am so looking forward to eating my body weight in Milk Bar next time I’m in Vegas or LA.

We had to rush a little bit to get to the airport on time since we totally misplanned our day, but thankfully made it with plenty of time to spare (TSA pre-check is an actual godsend) and easily boarded our quick flight back to Monterey. We had a new flying experience (for me) on this one – as we were nearly landing at MRY, we had to climb again and circle back around the airport for another try. Five years ago, that would have given me major anxiety – this time, I was just glad to get a nice view of the Monterey Bay since we came in over land rather than over the bay on the initial attempt. And, like I said at the beginning of this post: the views from flying over the bay are just amazing.

img_2117(even if you have a dirty plane window)

 

Up next: the insane summer/fall of weddings, some Monterey local bits, lots of baseball, and a handful of new airports. Hope the new year is treating you well so far and that 2019 will be full of adventures!

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