Before you get started, you may want to grab a coffee or tea... this is a LONG one!!
Jack and I just returned from a truly breathtaking vacation. We try to take a "big trip" once every five years, and this time we hit two amazing destinations. We had originally hoped to make the Grand Canyon our primary spot, but we waited too long to make our reservations, so we just had to tweak our plans a bit. Since Las Vegas is where you would normally arrive for a trip to the Grand Canyon, we decided to just stay in Vegas and do a day trip to the canyon. And since neither of us had ever been to Vegas, we decided to do it right, so we stayed at the hotel made famous by the movie Oceans Eleven... THE Bellagio! Yep - the one with the fountains... OMG! This was the view from our room...
And we were treated to the fabulous fountain show many times a day! Here's just a few shots...
Pretty spectacular right?! Truly a dream come true, to stay at The Bellagio with a fountain view. We quickly learned that to stay at The Bellagio means you are in arguably the most decadent resort in Las Vegas. There are 16... SIXTEEN... restaurants, a 77,000 sq. ft. Spa (yes... I *had* to get a pedicure)...
an amazing Conservatory...
a massive casino (not that we're gamblers, but it's quite impressive!), plus all the most decadent shopping you can imagine (personally, I couldn't even afford to window shop in these stores... we're talking Tiffany, Prada, Hermes, Armani, and the list goes on and on).
One day we went to the Shark Reef exhibit at Mandalay Bay. We saw reptiles, sharks, lots of tropical fish, jellyfish, and more...
The next day we did a little exploring and went to the Wax Museum - this was by far my favorite figure.... he was outside by the entrance and with the wind blowing his hair it (HE) looked SO real! Ahhhhh.... Johnny Depp.... yummo.... :)
Then we walked through the shops between The Pallazzo and The Venetian resorts... OMG it looks like you're in Italy! They even have indoor gondola rides! Check this out... this is INside!
Another day we took a short tour to see the places where some TV shows are filmed, including Counting Cars, Tanked, and Pawn Stars. These shows are all reality type shows on History, Discovery and Animal Planet. Pretty cool to see the actual locations - but they all looked so much smaller in real life!
Then we took in dinner at The Luxor (shaped like a pyramid). This is the restaurant where we ate - see how the walls are slanted inwards? That's where all the rooms are for the pyramid hotel - around the pyramid shape - not for you if you're claustrophobic!
After dinner we saw the Criss Angel magic show. Creepy, but pretty cool!
And the next day a whole new adventure... a 15-hour day tour of the Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon! Our day started at 6:00 am when we were picked up by our tour. We were on a 12-passenger shuttle bus - very nice - breakfast, lunch, bottled water and snacks were all provided. Our first stop was at Hoover Dam... our tour guide showed us this trick to make it look like we're holding up the arch bridge... LOL!
This is the back side of the dam, of all the water being held back. I couldn't get a good shot of the front of the dam as you're not allowed to stop on the bridge that provides the good view.
As you probably have heard, the southwest of the US is in a severe drought - and this picture illustrates it perfectly... the line between the dark and light rock is where the water *should* be... ouch.
And then we drove on for 3 more hours and arrived at The Grand Canyon... I know you've probably all heard this before, I certainly had, but nothing can prepare you for the SCOPE of the view... no picture could do it justice, but here are a few of my shots. I became obsessed with the plants and the environment.
The first stop on our trail (yes, we walked a 1.7 mile trail along the rim of the Canyon!) was at Hopi House, a Native American Indian gift store chock full of hand-crafted Indian creations - I was in *heaven* !!!
Outside the store, there was a Native American dance troop performing.
I'm not sure what this guy's role was, but he was just so cool to look at, and he was so great to take pictures with all the kids after the show.
The required "selfie" at The Grand Canyon. Turned out OK!
And here's some shots of the vegetation, trees, etc... Some of the plants and trees just look so, well... dead... and yet there's still life! Beautiful!
We made one stop on the trip back for dinner, and we were safely delivered back to The Bellagio at 9:00 pm. A very, very long day, but so so worth it!
On our last full day in Vegas, I treated myself to a hot stone massage at the spa. It felt amazing and I had a wonderful therapist/technician. Unfortunately, my lower back did not respond well to the treatment and I actually was in a fair amount of pain (like, in tears by the time I got back to the locker room) afterwards. Not the best way to end a vacation. The manager at the spa was appropriately concerned, talked to me, filed a report, called Security, and made sure I got back to my room (nothing like being escorted through The Bellagio lobby and casino in a wheelchair to brighten your day), and of course my massage was at no cost. Fortunately, the pain subsided fairly quickly with some Tylenol and rest, and we enjoyed the best room service dinner *ever*. Silver lining.
Didn't mean to end this on a bad note... this was truly an amazing vacation. Once in a lifetime, and a couple of items checked off the proverbial bucket list! We're already thinking about our next big trip - I wonder where we'll go! Can't wait! If you're still here... thanks for hanging in there through this *monster* post. I'll be back to art projects soon with more to share. Take care til then!