My birthday coincides with Thanksgiving. This year, I had a big birthday and wanted nothing to do with domestic chores. This is a major deviation from my normal line of thought. I thought about what would make this birthday memorable. My birthday list was pretty simple; I wanted to go to some shows and have awesome meals that someone else would clean up after. I wanted to lounge by a pool whilst consuming fruity beverages served by adorable cabana boys. I wanted night life with enough activity during the day to keep the kids busy. Where oh where could we go?
The answer came to me in a vision of a flashing neon light: LAS VEGAS! I promptly informed my husband of my birthday wish, and he dutifully arranged the flight, hotel, and a show. Before I knew it, people beloved to me were making their arrangements to meet me in Vegas, and a party was born!
We stayed in the ARIA. Our room was lovely, but what really put me over the edge was the bathtub. When you live on a sailboat, showers are all that’s available. A bath is a serious luxury for me.
Since it was Thanksgiving evening, we headed out to rustle up some grub. There were all kinds of Thanksgiving buffets to be found, but the prices were a little more than we were willing to spend. We decided to take a walking tour of the strip. Along the way, we ducked into a steakhouse and had our holiday dinner. This did not sit well with the kids initially, but a few mouthfuls into dinner and all complaints were silenced. The girls enjoyed all the lights and unique architecture, but were befuddled as to the lure of the city itself.
The next day, we took the kids to the Springs Preserve. This is actually where the city of Las Vegas started. The history of the area was displayed beginning from prehistoric fossils, to current flora and fauna, to modern Vegas. Outside, there was a small zoo of local animals. The best display there, in my opinion, was the flash flood room. We were able to experience a flash flood from the safe and dry vantage point. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. We had lunch at the Café there, which afforded us not only a phenomenal view, but also gluten free pizza. The kids were in heaven. That night, the girls spent with Grandma, while hubby and I went out with some family.
We ate at a place called Bizarre Meats. The restaurant certainly lived up to it’s name! Foi Gras on a stick wrapped in cotton candy, pork rinds instead of chips or bread, and appetizers served in a glass tennis shoe. It was a vegetarian nightmare. I think the wine was the only thing I consumed that didn’t have some animal product in it. To say I enjoyed myself would be a vast understatement. The food was delicious and entertaining, and even the staff was amazing. They accommodated my gluten-free requirement zealously. After that, we were off to Fremont Street. If I hadn’t have been wearing a dress, I would have done the zipline. Alas, I had not planned for that. Regardless, it was an experience.
The next day, we went for a light hike at Red Rock. This resulted in a new item being added to my bucket list. Someday I am going to cross the Mohave Desert. We spotted a desert hare and a few birds, so the desert didn’t feel devoid of life at all. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful, though admittedly a bit phallic.
Our Lyft driver met us at the entrance to the park, and brought us back to ARIA. We had some down time, left the girls with their other Grandma, and headed out to dinner at the Mandarin. That’s definitely my favorite spot in Vegas. The feel of the whole place was calm and relaxed. After my pad thai and crème brule birthday treat, we went to Ka. It’s a Cirque Du Solei performance that entertained the socks off me. The highlight of the show for me was the moving stage. Just a tour of that stage would have been intriguing. What could we possibly do after dinner and a show? Dancing!
We went to the club at ARIA, mainly because it was painfully cold outside and we had received a comp from the hotel. (that’s a story unto itself) Regardless, we made our way inside and had a blast with dancing and cocktails while counting down the minutes to my birthday. It was an epic night, but I had to get to sleep so I could be a quality Mom the next day. So once I turned into a pumpkin, I was off for some well deserved shut eye.
The next day, we went to the Bass Pro store for a while, then explored the strip as my Grandparents had never been to Vegas before. It was a mellow, relaxed day, and is one of my favorite memories. The day was topped off with dinner at the Excalibur. We watched the Tournament of Kings, which oddly coincided with our homeschool; our studies have moved from the ancient world to medieval Europe. The girls watched the show with wide eyes and complete focus. Horses thundered back and forth in front of us, fireworks exploded, all in the midst of “Hazaaaa!” being shouted by actors and spectators alike. There was jousting and sword fighting. Finally, my kids understood the lure of Vegas. We made it back to our hotel, but I needed some time with my Grandparents.
I dropped off the kids to be with hubby while I spent some time in the casino with my Mom. The two of us had cocktails and gambled away pennies. It was $30 well spent. When I left Vegas, I didn’t feel like I was leaving “Sin City”, but that I was leaving a place that had afforded me a wealth of cherished memories all in a four mile stretch of road.