On Upgrades in Vegas

Sometimes in life, things suck.

Case in point: all the damn bills that have been rolling in from my bike crash. Ugh, even with health insurance, getting medical care is ridiculously expensive.

However, even amongst all the crap, sometimes, good things can happen.

Take, for example, the trip to Vegas that we took at the end of May. Back in February, we found a deal on Twitter for a suite at Mandalay Bay for pretty cheap. So, we booked a room for a night mid-week in late May for a mini-vacation.

Due to the flights filling up, we got out a night early and stayed at some Candlewood Suites way off strip and just walked the three or so miles to Mandalay on our scheduled arrival date. Once we got to the hotel, we got into the check-in line and it was loooong. We checked-in on Facebook mentioning the long line and tweeted as such to the Mandalay Bay Twitter feed.

Eventually, we got up to the counter and surprisingly enough, found ourselves randomly upgraded to one of the penthouse suites. Brandon asked if this was common – it’s not. We have no idea how that happened, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they saw my tweet and changed our reservation given that Mandalay is one the hotels to well utilize social media.

The room? Awesome.

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The bar/second bathroom.

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Our living room.

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The bedroom.

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Tub/shower.

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Our two sinks.

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Enjoying the space.

The rest of the trip was actually fairly low-key; a little gambling, a little walking. We also made it down to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign for the first time, so that was pretty awesome.

All in all, good for a little R&R and a few photos.

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What was once O’Shea’s Casino.

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On April’s Boston Trip

Ooooh boy did I get behind in writing this damn blog.

I did have a good reason for a while; mainly, I crashed my bike (link takes you to the triathlon blog I share with my hubby and includes the gory photos). This put me out of commission the week before we went to Boston and then … well, the boring parts of life get in the way and not happens in terms of fun exploration.

Ha. That was cheesy, I know. I’m sorry.

In any case, back in mid-April, we went to Boston to watch our friend Kris run the marathon. For me, it was also a homecoming of sorts, as that’s where I went to school and spent four years of my life. I also got the chance to show Brandon my version of Boston, much like he showed me his Grand Forks in April 2011.

The city was both the same and different, much as I expected it to be. 95% of the food I remembered was outstanding with very little of it disappointing. It’s really funny to see how much campus has changed and how much of it hasn’t. Of course, things changed drastically over the four years I was there; colleges and universities are constantly evolving. Brandon thought it hysterical how the both the evening and morning staff at one of my local college haunts, T. Anthony’s, still remembered me even though I hadn’t been back on campus in five years. Granted, I spent enough money in the place for them to remember me, but y’know.

Going back was also nice in that it reminded me that, as much as I love Boston and I loved my time there, I really have no desire to move back. I am a Colorado girl, born and bred, and there isn’t anything that’s going to change that. The lack of humidity out here doesn’t hurt, either, though.

Watching the marathon was a whole new experience from when I was in college. I truly didn’t get into the Marathon Monday experience until my senior year (and the year after when I came back for it), what with all the drinking and partying in South Campus (marathon comes right through south). The only running I did back then was when the hockey team forced me to for dryland or I had some crazy urge to go knock out a mile or two.

Now, I’m a part of that community. I’m nowhere near fast enough to Boston-qual, but I’m a triathlete. I run regularly and have completed two half-marathons. I now know what work it takes to get into a marathon like that, the dedication in either training to be fast enough or raising the amount of money you need to for charity to earn one of those spots. It’s something that I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do. The Ironman World Championships in Kona are similar, and yet I feel like that’s more in reach than Boston is. Of course, that’s part of the Boston mystique.

But this trip wasn’t about running (we had hoped to run a 5K, but me literally breaking my face the week before nipped that thought in the bud). It was about cheering Kris (and Mark, in the BAA 5K) on. It was about seeing old friends. It was about food. It was about reconnecting with a place I had fallen in love with in September 2001 and sharing that love (and food) with my husband.

I’m going to share the rest of my experience through pictures, but I’ll mention the foooood first.

Friday night: nothing. Got in too late to enjoy anything
Saturday: Breakfast: Some little place in Allston with my best friend from college, Brian. I honestly forget the name of it. Lunch: Boston Chowda Co., in the Prudential Center. Dinner: T. Anthony’s. Still the best chicken parm on the planet. Followed by frozen yogurt at Angora Cafe, which is not replicated ANYWHERE out here and it makes us both very sad.
Sunday: Breakfast: Hotel. Mmm, free crappy breakfast sammich. Lunch: Brown Sugar Cafe and that Thai fried rice I’ve been trying to replicate. Followed by ice cream at J.P. Licks with Brian and his fiancee, Phelan. Preceded by cannolis from Mike’s Pastry. Dinner: Fire and Ice. The one truly disappointing meal. Fire and Ice has gone way downhill the past few years.
Monday: Breakfast: Dunkin’ Donuts/T. Anthony’s. The latter was definitely better. Lunch: T’s Pub on campus after our Agganis Arena tour. Dinner: Legal Harborside. Not as good as one of the regular Legal Sea Foods’ restaurants (in my opinion), but it’s one of their more concept-type restaurants.
Tuesday: Breakfast: Free hotel food. Lunch: UBurger. A new burger joint that’s popped up on campus and around the city, and came highly recommended by Brian. Also had poodle fries with cheese from Spike’s Hot Dogs, which are some of the best cheese fries out there. Dinner: Sunset Grill and Tap. Mark wanted a place with lots of beer and this fit the bill. It also served as a great trip culmination, with Brian and Phelan as well as my old roommate (and bridesmaid) Courtney joining Brandon, Kris, Mark and myself. Followed by more Angora. Mmm.

Now, photos:

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Boston Public Garden.

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Swan boats in action.

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Paramount Theater in the theatre district.

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Granary Burying Ground.

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One of the many food cases in Quincy Market.

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Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry.

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Runners in the Boston Common waiting for the buses to take them to Hopkinton, Mass., to start the marathon.

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Paradise Rock Lounge, a Boston fixture (located handily on the BU campus).

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The best part of Agganis Arena, hands down. BU/Hockey East people know why.

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Kris with a mile to go, running through Kenmore Square.

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Brown Sugar Cafe. Favorite Thai place ever.

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Playing with a lobster at Union Oyster House.

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The “Make Way for Ducklings” statue (with dinosaurs).

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Swan boats.

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More swan boats.