Road Trip Day 11 & 12 – What Happens in Vegas…

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I could make this post incredibly short by using the old saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Which would then probably make you very curious as to what Melissa and I got up to in Sin City.

However, seeing as I'm not much of a partier and Melissa isn't quite yet 21, there were very few shenanigans for us to get up to in Las Vegas.

But that definitely doesn't mean we didn't have a blast there.

On Day 11, we bid Sedona farewell and made our way into Nevada, making a pit stop at the Hoover Dam. The dam — which was built in the 1930s to help tame the raging Colorado River — is often found on lists of modern engineering marvels and new wonders of the world. And I think it does deserve its spot there. As you stand at the top of this concrete monster and look down at the Colorado River on one side and Lake Mead on the other, it's hard to believe that it was built by the hands of men. In the 1930s. Crazy!

We did not have time to take the dam tour (haha… dam tour…), but instead made the mistake of paying $8 just to go inside the Visitor Center. Don't get me wrong — there's some cool stuff to read and look at in there. But you'd be much better off getting the $11 ticket that includes both the Visitor Center AND the Hoover Dam tour. We should have just walked/drove across the dam and got our photos that way. Oh well. Live and learn!

After the dam, we continued on over the Nevada line and on to Las Vegas. We arrived just before sunset, when the lights on the Strip weren't quite blazing yet. We checked into our hotel (the Stratosphere), grabbed some dinner inside the Stratosphere casino, and then decided to get our Vegas on.

The Stratosphere tower.

Since we were staying at the Stratosphere and had unlimited access to the observation deck at the top of the hotel's tower, we made that our first stop. We watched some people on some truly terrifying thrill rides, and took in the Las Vegas Strip sparkling in the (surprisingly) clear night air.

Then it was time to get down there. Which was easier said than done, really. We were told walking all the way to the main part of the Strip was unsafe (since the Stratosphere is at the slightly-sketchy far end of things), and we weren't about to shell out for a taxi. Our solution ended up being a bus that runs up and down the Strip in a loop, stopping at every major hotel/casino. We paid $7 for a 24-hour pass. The price wasn't bad at all, but the downside to the bus was that it was crowded, and crawled along in traffic. I would not recommend this mode of transport if you're in a rush.

Eventually, though, we made it down into the thick of things.

Canal at the Venetian.

Since we couldn't get Melissa into any of the nightclubs, we simply walked up and down the Strip — from the Venetian to the MGM Grand and back. It was A LOT of walking. Thank God we weren't wearing heels.

This one (Excalibur) may be my favorite. Who doesn't love castles??

Even though we didn't get drunk and stupid, we had fun watching others who did. Vegas is honestly probably the best place on earth for people-watching — and we certainly did our share! There were drunk people dancing, sober people trying to get drunk, people in costumes posing for photos with drunk people… yes, there's definitely a theme on the streets of Vegas.

We were both amused at the fact that you can just carry around open containers here — and that just about everybody does. We were also amused by the “escort” cards being handed out (and then dropped on the ground) everywhere, which feature mostly-naked girls with little stars covering up their naughty bits. This theme (naked girls) was also everywhere you looked. They actually pay people to drive up and down the Strip with giant billboards advertising this sort of thing. Some people might get offended. I just thought it was hilarious.

After a few hours of wandering aimlessly, we hopped back on a bus and called it a night.

The next morning (Day 12, if you're keeping track), we were set to drive back into Utah with a stop at Zion National Park. But Vegas was still beckoning. So we listened.

We hit the streets again, this time venturing into a few casinos/hotels, as well as some of the shops along the Strip. My favorite was perhaps the Bellagio, with it's colorful ceiling made by glass artist Dale Chihuly. This swanky hotel also had a fun, themed sun room, which was decked out in whimsical floral art, complete with an aviary with colorful birds inside.

The MGM Grand was another favorite, since it has its “Lion Habitat” in the middle of its casino to honor the MGM mascot. Usually I wouldn't like things like this, because I hate to see large animals caged up. But these particular lions don't actually live here — they “work” in 6-hour shifts, and are brought in each day for the tourists to “ooo” and “ahh” over.

The highlight here, however, was having our photo taken with a lion cub. How freakin' cute is he??

The Las Vegas Strip in the daytime was just as fun as at night — just much, much hotter. There were still people in ridiculous outfits clutching cups of alcohol in all shapes and sizes (my favorite? a drinking vessel shaped like a Guitar Hero guitar), and still plenty to do and see.

You can live out all sorts of fantasies in Vegas.

I think we were both sad when we couldn't put off leaving any longer. We will most definitely need to make a return trip in the not-so-distant future!

And as for our Utah plans? Well, I guess Zion will just have to wait until next time.

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 11 and 12. Excuse the lack of Vegas video — I didn't take my video camera out with me.

Tomorrow, it's on to Arches National Park in Utah!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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