Category Archives: Travel

Vegas! Exploring The Strip

As a French major in college, I truly appreciated our hotel choice for my first trip to Vegas: Paris Las Vegas. After a decent night’s sleep, we were up early to beat some of the Vegas heat and start exploring the strip from our Paris home base.

It’s like we’re really in Paris, non?

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Actually, before we hit the street, we grabbed some breakfast from neighboring Bally’s. It was about 8:00am, and there were already people in the casino. Again, I’m not a gambler, so I was a little shocked, maybe even a little appalled, that people were already belly up to the tables. Jason informed me that these were the smart people, and that I would understand as the day wore on.

After breakfast, with coffee in hand, we hit the Strip. We walked through just about every hotel and casino.

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At one point, we circled back into Bally’s. It was around 2:00pm and it was PACKED! I finally understood what Jason was talking about earlier in the day and agreed that if I were a gambler, I’d get up to gamble early in the morning, too.

We had dinner plans at Lagasse’s Stadium in the Palazzo 5:00pm. With Paris in the middle of the Strip, this meant that we walked from Paris down the Strip one direction, circled back around, and went all the way to the other end. It was a lot of walking. But we did make a few stops to sit at slot machines, including some time in Caesars Palace with super overpriced frozen drinks. As it turned out, though, our restaurant choice was perfect for resting after a long day of walking.

Vegas! Visiting Pawn Stars and the Hoover Dam

Hooray for summer vacation!! Jason and I seriously counted down the weeks (and days) until our summer vacation starting in January. We needed to get away…badly.

This year, Jason and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary, and we knew there was no place else we would rather celebrate than in our very favorite place: Yosemite. This time, though, we added a new twist to our travel plans. Instead of flying into San Francisco like we always do, we flew into Las Vegas to spend a couple of days there before driving up to Yosemite.

Jason had been to Vegas a couple of times before. I had never been. Jason likes to gamble. I do not. I wasn’t really sure what I would think of Vegas. I’ll leave my overall assessment for another post…

Our flight left Milwaukee bright and early at 6:30am on a Saturday morning. While it made for a brutal start to the day, it put us in Vegas by 9:00am. This gave us two whole days to spend there before leaving on Monday morning. And boy, did we hit the ground running. After picking up our rental car, we immediately headed to Gold & Silver Pawn of “Pawn Stars” fame.

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We love “Pawn Stars” and were really excited to see the shop in person. We had been warned by friends that it was nothing special, and they were right. First, it’s really small. They do some amazing camera work on that show. They do an especially impressive job on the shots of people in the parking lot outside. It’s nothing more than a glorified alley. Second, things are pretty expensive (not that we weren’t expecting it). Jason had all intentions of buying something, but we left empty-handed after only 15 minutes. We’re still glad we saw it, and I have this lovely picture to remind me of our visit:

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Thank you, Jason.

After our short stop at Gold & Silver Pawn, we immediately headed out to the Hoover Dam. But our visit to the dam got off to a rocky start. I got stopped going through security. First issue: a small pocket knife in my bag. It’s a small Swiss Army Knife, like the size of my pinkie finger, that I have attached to a safety whistle, etc. I had switched it over to my new bag weeks before the trip and forgot about it. Apparently, it’s considered dangerous at the Hoover Dam, but it was completely acceptable going through airport security.

Second issue: I had “food” in my bag. The food in question was gum. Gum is considered food at the Hoover Dam and is not allowed.

After running back to our car to remove my contraband, we returned and went through security again. Third issue: my Buddy Bison, tucked into my bag for photos, raised security concerns. After a little joking, they decided that a small stuff animal was harmless and we finally got through. Just so you know, they take security very seriously at the Hoover Dam.

Jason and I were hoping to do the full Hoover Dam tour, but we didn’t want to wait an hour and a half for it. So we went with the shorter Powerplant tour. After a short film about the dam, which felt more like propaganda, we descended into one of the construction tunnels where we saw one of the massive pipes. Then it was back up to view some of the dam’s generators. We had more pictures, but a snafu with our nice camera later in the trip resulted in the loss of those pictures. Here’s all we got:

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After the tour, we headed outside to view the dam itself.

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By this point, it was very hot outside, and the heat finally made the tiredness from an early flight kick in. We walked along the top of the dam quickly and got out of there. The Hoover Dam was a good thing to see, but I left the place feeling underwhelmed. It felt a little like seeing Mount Rushmore – It’s cool to see and something that everyone should try to see, but it’s not as impressive as you think it’s going to be.

We headed back into Vegas and I crashed. It had been a very long, very hot day. And I knew that the next day would be more of the same. So on my first trip to Vegas ever, I was in bed by 8:00pm. Do I know how to live it up, or what  😀

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Complete 2012 Western Road Trip

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Over a year later, I have finally finished my recap of our 2012 road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Thank you for hanging in there with me as I wrote these last posts about our trip. I couldn’t start writing about this summer’s adventures without closing out last spring’s fun.

So here it is, in one post, our complete 2012 Western Road Trip!

The Badlands

Mount Rushmore

Devils Tower

Arriving in Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs

Our First Grizzly Bears

More Wildlife and the Hayden Valley

Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Lamar Valley

Evening Wildlife Watching

Artist Paintpots

Baby Bison!

Lower Geyser Basin

Old Faithful

Leaving Yellowstone

A Grand Visitor Center

Grand Teton Home Base

Mormon Row

Early Morning Drive

Wildlife in Grand Teton

Rainy Days in a National Park

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