Our vacation started on Thursday of last week (Wow... has it been a week already???) with our first commercial flight together. I fly for work all the time and we've flown together in private planes (Mitch is a pilot) but we've never done this before. I made sure Mitch got the window seat on every flight. We had a long layover in Denver which I was happy about because Denver has a pretty awesome airport.
We arrived in Las Vegas around 5:30 or so - a little late because someone packed dry ice in the same compartment with an animal on the plane and they had to fix that. By the time we picked up the rental car and drove to the hotel, it was closer to 7pm. We almost doubled our rental car price by adding the insurance.
We stayed at the Stratosphere... actually now called The STRAT. Cool things happen on this tower, like people jumping from the top on bungee cords. Yikes! There are also rides at the top, but we never got around to going up there.
I booked our room through Hotels.com at a pretty awesome rate. Unfortunately, to get a room with any amenities (like a refrigerator) we had to pay another $25/night. Between that and other "fees" our room cost almost doubled. At this point I'm starting to think Vegas is stupid expensive. The room was sufficient, but certainly not impressive.
After an expensive buffet for dinner we decided to go for a walk from the hotel. It wasn't our intent to head all the way down to the Strip, but that is what we ended up doing. We walked over 5 miles from our hotel almost to the other end. I cannot believe how many people there were. It was so crowded. The sights were amazing though and I loved watching the Bellagio fountains.
On a day that we spent 3 hours on an airplane, we still managed to get SO. MANY. STEPS. That was even after taking the Monorail from the MGM to the STRAT rather than walking back. We capped off our first night with a trip to the hotel bar where I paid $10 for a 12 oz beer and Mitch paid $3 for a glass of ice and a splash of diet coke. Bedtime was around 2:00 am.
Friday & Saturday are mostly about the marathon so I will leave those details for the race recap post but in those two days we did get to Fremont Street. On Friday it was during the day and Saturday we went at night so we could see the lights.
I love this guy so much!
One of the best places we ate the whole trip: Mickie Finnz
The street tacos were really good and not too expensive.
Entering Downtown Vegas (not the same as the Strip)
Fremont Street at night was cool!
Possibly Mitch's favorite attraction - A giant preying mantis that shoots fire to music (in this case Funky Cole Medina)
Sunday was ROUGH. I've never been so beat up after a race - even walking on flat ground was difficult. But not being the type of people to sit around when visiting a new city, we headed out to see Hoover Dam. Our stay at the STRAT was done anyway so we booked a room in Henderson and got out of the city.
Boulder City is on the way and if I had to live in Nevada, I would pick here. What a beautiful city and who could resist the opportunity to bump in to aliens. We stopped at the local brewery where the beer was good and the service sucked.
Hoover Dam is an amazing feat of engineering (yes that's my finger... don't judge)
Equally as impressive as the dam is the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (view from the dam)
If you pour water over the dam the wind will blow it back at you!
Our evening in Henderson was blissfully relaxing. We had dinner at a little Mediterranean grill and then walked over to Boulder Station Casino. This is the only place we put more than a couple of dollars in a machine. We put in a $20, played for about 45 minutes and cashed out at $30. We're not big risk takers.
Our last full day we headed back to Las Vegas because I booked a room next to the airport to insure an easy departure. We liked Fremont Street so much that we went back and wandered around. I finally made it to Banger Brewing, suggested to me by one of our friendly Billings Area Trail Runners, Jessica.
The beer and the service were good and the happy hour prices were reasonable.
Mitch was hoping that Nellis Airforce Base would have a display area that we could visit but they don't allow any civilians on base. Instead we parked the car out by the Vegas Motor Speedway and watched as several jets took off. We eventually moved to a street at the end of the runway but we were asked to leave by a couple of soldiers who didn't have a sense of humor. As we headed back in to town we saw the Thunderbirds practicing and coming in for a landing at the base.
Our last big meal was at Hash House a Go Go - This chicken pot pie was the "small" version. I can't imagine what the full size plate looked like. This was so much food and I don't think I got through half. The food was delicious, not super expensive and the service was good too. By this point, I'd given up ordering beer with my meals because it cost almost as much as the food.
We took one more opportunity to visit the Strip, but spent most of the time exploring Caesar's Palace. This place is incredible. So much you can't see from the Strip... like an indoor walking mall. The artwork and statues were amazing.
With our hotel being right next to the airport, we asked for a room that overlooked the runway. They put us in a huge, handicap accessible room with a perfect view of the runway and the city. Mitch was in heaven watching the planes take off and land right outside our window!
I let my anxiety about large airport security get the best of me and we ended up wandering the Las Vegas airport for 3 hours. It was the dirtiest airport I've ever been to and everything was unreasonably expensive. I never thought I would think Denver Airport food was cheap.... but I do now.
To sum it all up, Vegas was a fascinating place to visit but overall way too overpriced. I ate too much, drank very little and walked 41 miles NOT counting the marathon.
What's next? We're heading to Helena in two weeks to run Don't Fence Me In 30K on Mother's Day weekend. Everything else we have planned this season will be on trails and for that I am thrilled.
Don't forget to check back on Sunday for a recap of the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon.