Vegas/LA Fall 2019

I didn’t write about our last trip to Vegas (back in late July/early August) because it was a super short trip just to sell B’s crash pad car. However, he bought a new crash pad car and we needed to drive it out to LA. So … we did that.

Sunday, September 29:

At the last home game of the Colorado Rockies season, the players come around and hand out stuff to the fans and it’s all fun and great. When we booked our 15 game package, we made sure to do this game as we enjoyed the experience last year. As our Vegas stay was booked starting the 30th and it’s a 12-13 hour drive … we figured we’d just leave after the game and make it as far as we could.

Wellllllll the Rockies decided to go into extras and it finally got to a point where we had to leave. So we did, sometime in the 11th. We listened to the rest of the game during the first part of the drive, happily learning they won in the 13th.

In any case, the delay meant no Utah, but almost – just a few miles from the border in Fruita.

(obviously we could have made the state of Utah, but the best option for hotels once you cross the border is like 100 miles in and that would have put is in super late.)

Food Eaten: (on the trip) Dinner: nachos and beer at El Tapatio.

Monday, September 30:

Woke up fairly early in order to get on the road as soon as we could. As caffeine is needed in our family, a stop at the Starbucks in Fruita was a must. And as Fruita has had some dinosaurs found there … it might be my new favorite Sbux.

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Looooooook at all the dinosaurs!!!

From there, a steady drive to Las Vegas. We drove straight to the Bellagio (do we stay anywhere else? not really) where we proceeded to have issues post-check-in for the second time in a row. A few months ago: get to our room and the keys don’t work (electronic lock thingy had dead batteries). This trip: our room that we thought had been ready … wasn’t. Got transferred to a new room, but still, annoying.

We got settled and headed to the fitness room to get a quick workout in (treadmill run and lift). Back upstairs to shower and then out for an early dinner. B had been really craving pizza, so we went to Giordano’s across the street at Bally’s. B had a mini personal deep dish and I had a chicken broccoli fettuccine alfredo.

Gambling might have happened too, but I’m not 100% sure.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: hotel, Starbucks, random gas station snacks (I got a second cup of coffee and gas station coffee goes down better with a snack). Lunch: … I think maybe a bite at Taco Bell? and then just random snacks. Dinner: Giordano’s. Dessert: gelato from Cafe Gelato.

Tuesday, October 1:

We woke up and went for breakfast and coffee, stopping in a quiet conservatory along the way.

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So much nicer when it’s not packed with people.

On the way back from coffee, I bought a necklace from the art vending machine inside the Cosmo, but I forgot to keep the picture I took for this blog. Oops. We then went back to the fitness room to bust out a workout before our main event for the day.

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This doesn’t have much to do with anything … except the fact that the amount of dinosaurs we travel with now has doubled over the years. Oops …?

Anyway, the main thing we had booked was the Happy Place, which had a pop-up in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place. I had first heard of Happy Place when it had a pop-up in Boston and I had friends who went and it looked totally cool. Completely designed for the instagrams? Yep, but whatever. When I learned it was coming to Vegas and that our drive out coincided … I talked B into going. #worthit.

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First room.

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(yes I totally also took a picture of me not smiling in front of this wall)

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You could also lay down and make confetti angels. Which I did for the boomerang for the instas.

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Sadly, the free cookies weren’t very good.

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Super bloom room!

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Wish I had done my instagram research to make the shots from this room more believable.

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My husband totally looks like a serial killer here.

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There is a picture of me on the lips couch behind the o in the previous photo, but I figured this super awkward photo of B was way more amusing to share.

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Sure, Cornelius. Absolutely.

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Very, very true.

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Always look up.

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Quite possibly one of my most favorite husband photos ever.

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Yes there were people in each room to take pictures of you if you needed it. I’m serious when I say this place was basically designed for social media.

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This ball pit was B’s favorite part of this whole thing. Because dude. Ball pit.

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Confetti in my eyeballs … but still fun.

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Yes, yes we did, Happy Place.

In case you’re wondering … YES I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY RECOMMEND THIS PLACE. Pop-ups live now in Vegas and in Philly. GO. If it ever comes to Denver I’m going again. SUPER fun. And I probably should have given it it’s own blog post. Meh.

Afterward … we did a tiny bit of gambling at Excalibur (cheaper craps tables for the husband) before stopping at Eataly in Park MGM for food.

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B had a panini. I went simple with steak and potatoes. Next up was Margaritaville for a quick drink.

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Saw this across the street. We were there on the second anniversary of the shootings.

We went back to the Bellagio for a little bit to chill out and gamble some and also gather our energy for dinner.

Dinner was at Black Tap inside the Venetian. We heard about it watching “The Flay List” on Food Network – Black Tap was the place Bobby Flay’s daughter Sophie liked for burgers. It looked fun, we found out there was a location in Las Vegas … we decided to go.

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We didn’t get one of the fancy burgers – just the All-American – but it was delicious. My only complaint: bun needed a tiny bit of toasting. And the fries (regular and sweet potato) were mediocre.

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They have CRAZY milkshakes. We went fairly subdued with the Brooklyn Blackout. Only thing that was a disappointment on it were the brownies – super dry and almost seemed hollow when you bit into them. Shake itself was delicious, if not extremely rich.

Didn’t gamble as much back at the hotel as the MLife system went down, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Sadelle’s, Starbucks. Lunch: Eataly (separate drinks at Margaritaville). Dinner: Black Tap LV.

Wednesday, October 2:

We had no rush to leave Las Vegas, but kind of decided to head out of the hotel fairly early anyway. We grabbed a small bite at the hotel before heading to a place we tried last visit, Saint Honore, a sister concept of our favorite coffee shop, Cafe Lola. We tried a regular doughnut last time, but I really wanted to try the beignets this time around.

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Pretty dang good.

A hop across the street to Target to pay my bill and then up the road a block or two to Cafe Lola. Because of course.

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All decorated for the holidays. Also: spot the dinosaur.

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Our coffees and my favorite, the pasteis de nada.

After B got a bit of work done, it was off to LA. We were tossing around the idea of Palm Springs or somewhere else in California … but ultimately decided to just explore LA some more. Ended up being a fairly low key evening with a run and some food.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Cafe Gelato, Saint Honore, Cafe Lola. Lunch: random drive snacks. Dinner: our standard Whole Foods in Manhattan Beach. Also a later evening snack at Taco Bell (and a gas station Haagen Dazs bar).

Thursday, October 3:

We decided to do one of our favorite little places for breakfast in Hermosa Beach in Martha’s 22nd Street Grill.

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Mostly because of this view. Ah, ocean.

After breakfast, off to the LA Farmer’s Market. B got some coffee and then it was time to wander around. We really didn’t buy anything, but it was pretty cool. Bonus is that it was right next to the Grove (fancy shopping center) which had a Sprinkles in it. Sprinkles makes the best pumpkin cupcake I’ve ever had … and their cupcake store/ATM shut down in Vegas (booooo). As we’re in the season of all things pumpkin/pumpkin spice … I wanted the damn cupcake. So this location was a bit fortuitous.

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Tried a doughnut in the farmer’s market.

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So pretty.

From there, a few miles away so I could visit the actual store of Trashy Lingerie. It was different from what I was expecting, but I’m glad I went. Didn’t buy anything, though.

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Street art across the way.

We had a touch of car trouble after this (seriously never buy from the used car lots on West Colfax, people) so our afternoon plans kind of got thrown out the window. Thankfully we didn’t have many. I’m not going into details about all of what happened … but know that it sucked. Hard.

And also made us feel a lot better about dinner that night.

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Mmmm, In-N-Out.

I wanted to try to catch the sunset at the beach as I usually try to do, and we kind of made it.

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The peace of walking along the shoreline hearing the waves crash along the shore was exactly what we needed.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Martha’s 22nd Street Grill, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Bob’s Donuts. Lunch: Norm’s, Sprinkles cupcake, Whole Foods. Dinner: In-N-Out Burger.

Friday, October 4:

Early wake-up call to get to the airport as B had to leave on a trip and I had to get home.

Also, did you know that the Delta SkyClub has a toast bar so you could make your own avocado toast? Well, now you do.

Food Eaten: Breakfast: Delta SkyClub. Lunch: Athenian Restaurant once I got home. Dinner: … random stuff around the house.

A Week In Vegas

I spent the first week of the new year in Las Vegas. B had an overnight there on the 31st and we were planning on being there the subsequent weekend for some college hockey … so instead of me flying in and out of LA twice and driving his car back and forth across the desert, we just decided to have me drive out and live there for a week.

(As I also wanted to get my first full week of Ironman training down, this was a much better plan.)

I left on December 30th and drove to St. George, Utah, where I spent the night at a Fairfield. And had a band-aid (or breathe right strip, or SOMETHING) in my shower. And the hotel did very little about it (disappointing, because that’s gross).

The 31st, I woke up pretty early and drove the last little bit into Las Vegas. I found a gym to swim at and then found a Target to go pay my bill at. I wanted to paint my nails, but since that’s not something you really do in a public place (smells) and I didn’t want to pay for a manicure … I just decided to do it in my car since hey, I had nothing else to do until B got in. I also read a book at the same time and that took up several hours.

At this point, I was fairly hangry, so I drove over to the MGM Grand, parked, and went into their food court and ate a Raising Cane’s knockoff that was pretty terrible. I then went back to the car to time it so I got to B’s tower at the Signature the same time he did. This worked well. Both of us were still pretty hungry, so I showered, we got changed, and we headed over to the Bellagio just to eat their buffet for New Year’s Eve (didn’t want something SUPER fancy or to fight with reservations).

As they were closing down the Strip for the festivities after we finished, we got to walk back free of crowds down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, which was pretty cool.

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Yay NYE!

Tub beers, and then bed after we saw the east coast ball drop.

We woke up pretty early on January 1st (not easy since the midnight fireworks definitely woke us both up). I was hoping to catch the sunrise … which I technically did, but it was crap. Our run wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly cold for Vegas.

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The Venetian, nice and quiet and pretty.

We grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut (and a donut at District Doughnuts).

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Fun chairs.

We didn’t have too much time back at the hotel before B had to leave, but enough time to spend some together.

He left, and I packed up and headed to Cafe Lola to get a lot of stuff done and spend a few hours. I started off with one of their amazing cappuccinos and, I forget the name of it, but some outstanding Portuguese pastry.

I stayed so long that I ended up eating lunch there, too.

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Mmm, salad.

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Newest tiny adorable dinosaur Sprout on their couch.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I headed over to the house of a pilot friend of B’s who lives in North Las Vegas, my home base for the next few days. Said friend and his wife were only around for a bit, as they have Vegas Golden Knights season tickets and there was a game that night, but one of their sons was in town for the holidays, so I hung out with him and his boyfriend (and the dog, Reggie) that night. Dinner was some insanely massive calzone from a pizza place nearby.

I woke on the 2nd much later than I would have liked, but whatever. Clearly I needed some sleep after a very stressful holiday season. I went and swam … and was very hangry during/after, so I ate brunch at a breakfast place near the house called the Cracked Egg.

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Menu.

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Foooood. Got the avocado for some green and ended up making my own avocado toast. It was pretty delicious.

I did a bike ride that afternoon and then did a lot of admin stuff at the house before venturing back out for food (and chamois cream). The drive took me over to Summerlin for the bike shop … and dinner just ended up being at a Whole Foods. I did, however, decide to try the cookie shop that was right near the Cracked Egg – Crumbl Cookies.

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They had oatmeal chocolate chip, which I was super excited about since that’s my favorite cookie and hard to find … but it had the spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie, which, IMHO, don’t belong when you swap the raisins out for the superior chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie was SO GOOD – definitely the best of the three I tried. The sugar cookie wasn’t bad … but too much frosting. I am barely a frosted sugar cookie person as it is, so frosting basically the same thickness of the cookie? Too much sugar.

Woke up the 3rd and kind of lazed around … so much so, that I had to scrap my original planned run location and find a park closer to McCarran so that I would be able to pick B up on time. I could see the planes landing at the park, so when I got the text from B that they were descending, I could keep an eye out for his plane (and did indeed see it). Thankfully, though, I was able to finish my run as planned and pick him up without him waiting too terribly long for me.

We went to Cafe Lola after I picked him up because he was not NOT going to have one of their cappuccinos himself. I had another of the Portuguese egg pastries and he had some of their oatmeal.

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On the swing outside.

From there, we found a much better trail and went for a ride. Grabbed a quick bite after before heading to the Bellagio (our happy home for the rest of the trip). We showered, walked over to T Mobile Arena to purchase tickets for the Ice Vegas Invitational (whole reason we planned the trip), and then met up with his cousin and his husband over at the brand new Eataly that opened up outside of Park MGM.

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Mmm, pizza.

Woke up on the 4th, ate at the buffet for breakfast (we found a package that gave us breakfast credits every day), got coffee … and I threw $40 into a slot (Heidi’s Bier Haus) and cashed out with $205. Nice morning. We then drove out to Henderson to ride some more. There’s a trail that got meh reviews due to the nature of it being pretty much right by the highway, but we thought the Union Pacific Railroad Trail was actually quite nice to ride on. Sure, quite a bit of it WAS boring, but it ended up opening up on some other trail right outside of Boulder City and it got great. Very nice way to get in 20 miles.

Got a bit hangry after that, so just grabbed food at Chick-fil-a for some calories before heading back to the Strip. Showered, grabbed a cappuccino at Cafe Gelato inside the Bellagio, lost a bit at Heidi.

Dinner pre-hockey was at In-N-Out … where we amusingly sat in the same booth we sat in back in September with our friends Blair and Jenna-Caer.

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Night at the Linq.

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Us at the game.

We skipped the first game of the night – Western Michigan vs. UConn – because all we really cared about was the Air Force/St. Lawrence game. Happily, Air Force won (and we got to see some sled hockey in intermission).

The 5th was another run day, so after another buffet breakfast, we drove back to the same park I ran in the other day. I wanted to go to the Cafe Lola pop-up shop in the Macy’s in Fashion Show, so we headed there after the run.

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Yes I’m obsessed.

Once we got back to the Bellagio, it was spa time which was vastly needed by both of us.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Vegas Golden Knights’ store to see if there was any merch for the tournament – unfortunately not.

We gambled a bit, grabbed some food, mostly stayed fairly chill.

A lot of this was because I had been feeling unsettled all day (and a bit the previous day too if we’re being honest). I finally just wondered if puking would help … and so I did that. First time I’ve thrown up in probably about six years (probably since my last concussion). It was gross, and it hurt (and I burst a blood vessel in my eyeball), but it did make me feel better, so mission success?

Dinner pre-game was at the buffet (ugh I know again) and then we got ourselves a nice treat of Ghiradelli sundaes.

Air Force unfortunately lost to Western Michigan, so our teams are currently 0-2 in championship games in tournaments in random places that we’ve traveled to. Thankfully UND doesn’t go anywhere this year for us to see them lose.

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Rainy T-Mobile reflections pre-game.

The original plan was to swim on our way out of town, but I still felt kind of crappy and I didn’t want to suction goggles over my weird eyeball … so that didn’t happen. We grabbed breakfast at Sadelle’s, a new restaurant in the Bellagio (off the conservatory, where Cafe Bellagio used to be), and then gambled a bit more before checking out. Which ended up being smart, since we both ended up winning a bit more.

We checked out, got coffee on our way out of town, stopped at Red Lobster in St. George for lunch, and drove through a lot of foggy crap to stop for the night in Grand Junction.

The drive home the next day was terrible thanks to a lot of snow (and an hour and a half to get through the tunnel), but overall, it was a nice trip to start the new year off on.

Vegas, December 2017

This was a trip that was planned sometime earlier this year (I forget when, exactly), when we got a mailer from the Wynn for some screaming deal – two nights, two buffets, and two tickets to Le Reve for $400. Depending on how you look at it, we either ended up getting the stay free or the show/meals free.

In any case, we flew out to Los Angeles early the morning of December 4th to grab B’s car and drive to Vegas.

Monday, December 4:

Our flight was super early and we didn’t really eat much prior (well, B; I had eaten more), so we grabbed a bit more food when we landed as well as some coffee. We then started the drive to Las Vegas.

We took a small detour just outside of town to see the Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation, which apparently has been around since May of 2016 and will be on display until May of next year.

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It was a bit windy and cold, but still super neat. I would recommend checking it out before it ends, as it’s a quick and easy drive outside of the city. I don’t know Uber/Lyft/taxi rates, but you could seriously rent a car for an hour and go.

Our next stop was the Wynn, where B dropped me off with the bags and then went to go park the car at the Mirage, the closest MLife property (free parking). I hung out waiting for him. We then got checked in and quick ran across the street to Fashion Show for a bite to eat. I tried a new lobster roll in Luke’s Lobster.

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Close-up.

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With the bag.

Spice blend was a bit weird – it reminded me of the shrimp/spices Noodles and Company uses on the Buttered Egg Noodles and Parmesan – but it definitely wasn’t the worst lobster roll I’ve ever had. Proper bun … I’d put it about average.

Snack eaten, we wandered around the Wynn a bit before doing a quick workout.

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Some of the holiday decor.

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View from the room.

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Room.

We weren’t too terribly hungry, so we just grabbed a snack waiting for the show to start – a very expensive beer and popcorn that we split.

Le Reve, however, was AMAZING. A bit abstract for sure, but visually stunning. I wish I had seen they allowed photos (just not flash) as I would have taken a few, but on the other hand, I’m also glad I didn’t as it really allowed me to be immersed in the show. Both of us highly enjoyed it. It is an expensive ticket for sure, but totally worth it.

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End of the show.

Ate: egg and oj at the house, oatmeal at the Delta Sky Club in DIA, plane snacks, Starbucks, Chick-fil-a breakfast sandwich, road trip snacks (including tasty doughnuts at some random place in Hesperia, Calif.), Luke’s Lobster lobster roll, half a Jamba Juice, popcorn and beer.

Tuesday, December 5:

The original thought was to run in the morning – north side of the Strip, could run without all of the stupid stairs and bridges – but Las Vegas was actually kind of cold this trip (silly desert) and we neglected to bring proper running clothes. Oops. So we figured we’d get our workout in later when it warmed up.

So, first things first, we hit up the Wynn buffet.

Visually, it was gorgeous.

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Inside.

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Close-up of one of the displays.

However, the food? Actually fairly mediocre. I’ve eaten at enough Vegas (breakfast) buffets to know that a regular salad bar is usually a thing; not at the Wynn (unless I wanted a Caesar salad, which no.). So that was disappointing. The eggs Benedicts were very hit or miss in terms of the ham/Canadian bacon on them (I picked up one to try it; no meat; had to grab another one); the bagels were tiny and since they toasted them for you, got kinda burnt; desserts were terrible. Very glad we got it free and didn’t pay for it. You should not finish a buffet feeling full yet terribly unsatisfied. Ugh.

Walked over to Fashion Show to get coffee afterward (Starbucks for me, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for B) and since it was still too early for anything to be really open there, grabbed the car and headed to the Gamblers General Store, a place B wanted to hit up. Not entirely my scene, but it was still pretty cool. Want to buy a full-sized craps table or just some playing cards/dice/chips for the house? This is your place.

Headed back to Fashion Show after to officially walk around since we never (I have, but years ago) have officially OFFICIALLY walked around.

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USA Hockey has a store there!

We were debating on what to do for lunch and ended up deciding on Ra Sushi. Nigiri was great, as was the cucumber roll. The shrimp tempura roll? Something was off about it. The hot green tea was also some of the worst I’ve ever had. Would not recommend; would not go back to.

Felt like death afterward, so moved the car back to the Mirage and headed back to the hotel to chill a bit.

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Holiday dolphins in the Mirage.

After things settled a bit, we headed down to the Wynn fitness center again (which is AWESOME I might add) to get in a quick mile or so on the treadmills and then a lift. We were initially going to meet up with a pilot friend of B’s (and his wife) for a drink before they headed to the Golden Knight’s game, but they were running late so no meet up for us. We still got ready for our (late) reservations because we wanted to walk on down to the Bellagio.

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The Wynn has a baby fountain choreographed to music … competing with the Bellag?

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Conservatory at the Bellagio. Love the little detail like the hook.

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Stunning as always.

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B and one of the polar bears. I think Coca-Cola was a sponsor …

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Frolicking polar bears. I think I like the murderous penguins from a couple years ago better …

Dinner that night (December’s date night) was at Prime Steakhouse. We had kind of hoped for patio seating (out by the fountains), but would have had to wait an extra half-hour for it. Since it was pretty cold out … we decided we’d pass and just grab a table. We got led to the table … and it wasn’t officially ready, so we got herded back to the bar area. A few minutes later, table is ready, we go back for good … and got free drinks for the inconvenience? Which, given that the glass of Pinot Noir I ordered was $20ish, I’m not really complaining about, but I feel was also unnecessary as seriously, shit happens.

We essentially ordered the same thing – filet mignon – with Yukon gold mashed potatoes to split as well as Brussels sprouts, and the Market Tomato Salad to split.

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Essentially a twist on a Caprese salad, it wasn’t bad. A bit too much arugula for my tastes (so. peppery.) and the burrata cheese was a bit too smooth (?)/off texture for me, but the tomatoes? Delicious.

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Potatoes, steak, sprouts.

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Close-up of the sprouts, with pears, bacon, and chervil.

Okay, so the main course. If I’m going to eat at a ridiculously schmancy steakhouse (and pay $68 for a piece of meat), I expect the quality of that piece of meat to be way up there. I’ve eaten at enough ridiculously schmancy places* (thanks, dad) to know that a properly well-cooked piece of beef? Should not need sauces to make it taste good. We think it was under-seasoned, for one (where’s my salt crust pre-cooking?), and secondly, the parts that were more well-done (we ordered it medium-rare and it was cooked properly, but the outside bits are more done; you know how it goes) didn’t taste of high quality beef and rather had the texture of something you’d get at more of say, a Texas RoadHouse or something. Which yeah, is good, but not at that price point.

The potatoes weren’t bad (and quite good when eaten in combination with the filet)(even though I make a better mashed potato) and the sprouts … well, let’s just say that B ate most of them. Not cooked well, too mushy, bacon needed to be crispier, and the pear, which took the texture role, was too sweet for how they were prepared.

(I think I watch too much Chopped.)

Dinner took a bit of time to come out, but I wasn’t too worried about it since these schmancy steakhouses tend to do that. However, our waiter and like two other people came to apologize about the wait (or say that the food was coming right out or whatever). In apology for the wait … we got free dessert (and coffee). Um, okay?

(for you keeping track at home, this means that our drinks and our desserts (that we probably honestly weren’t going to order as it was) were going to be free, and not due to anything on our parts. we said absolutely nothing and honestly didn’t care about the slight delays.)

We got two desserts – a molten lava cake made from Valhrona chocolate with vanilla bean ice cream and a New York style cheesecake with cranberry sorbet.

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Made me think of D Bar’s “molten cake thingy everybody has”. Pretty dang delicious.

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Didn’t eat the sorbet/cranberry stuff (don’t like cranberries), but the cheesecake was really good.

Dinner, in short, was ass expensive, but it could have been a lot worse. Would I recommend Prime? Maybe. Depends on if you like dropping a lot of money on food. While I don’t like frequenting those types of joints often, I’d be intrigued to see if say, Fix, is better.

Walking home was really nice after that dinner. Urp.

Ate: Wynn buffet, Starbucks/Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Auntie Anne’s, Ra Sushi, Prime Bellagio

Wednesday, December 6:

We woke up and legitimately had a food hangover. Oh dear lord. I did something I don’t really ever do and worked out without eating food first. I am very much a creature of habit and like breakfast FIRST THING. This morning? Nope. Sweating a bit made me feel a bit more human, which was nice.

I had a couple options for coming home as B started a trip later that day, with, ironically, a Vegas overnight. I could …
– head back home on a flight that morning
– stay in Vegas by myself for the day, spend the night with him down at the Signature, and leave on a flight the next morning
– drive back to LA with B and catch a flight home that night while he goes off to work.

We ultimately decided on option three, which was nice since I usually always have to take the first flight out of places. So, we packed up, I hung out while B grabbed the car, and we popped over to the Peppermill for some breakfast, because as much as we didn’t particularly feel like eating ever again, we knew we needed breakfast.

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My type of breakfast.

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Love this place.

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B likes getting pancakes the size of his head.

We grabbed coffee and some Christmas presents at Starbucks on our way out of town (and I had a conversation about dinosaurs with one of the baristas) and settled in for the drive back.

I bought a cookie at Starbucks just in case … and I eventually ate it sometime in California … but my stomach was still not happy with me from the vast amounts of food I had consumed the day prior. As a result, dinner ended up being snacks (cheese, cucumber, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, and ramen) in the Delta clubs. I got home super late, but it was worth it.

Ate: Peppermill, Starbucks, Delta Sky Club noshes, plane snacks

We did talk a bit about the stay on the drive back to LA, and we determined that while the Wynn was nice, it’s not the place for us. It was also a bit too far north – we love our Bellagio, basically. Definitely worth the experience, though.

*While I am familiar with eating at the “high rolling” places, mostly from my relatively extreme youth, it does not mean that I am comfortable at them. That’s for the rest of my family. Typically the more expensive the place, the stuffier it is … and I just don’t do stuffy.

2017’s September Road Trip: Part Two

So, initially, when I started this story (on the trip itself), I figured I’d have three posts – the previous one, one on Santa Cruz/Monterey, and then one on Las Vegas. However, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures in Las Vegas as I thought I would … so we’re wrapping this up in one longer tale. Good? Good.

Friday, September 8:

Friday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast at our hotel, and then drove the few hours from Sacramento to Santa Cruz. We didn’t stop driving until we hit San Jose, when I needed to fill up my tank. I don’t know where we stopped, exactly, but it was not the nicest area and the people driving around seemed batshit crazy … so we snagged a less-than-ideal lunch in Wienerschnitzel (mmm, corn dogs) and got back on the road.

We checked into our hotel, the Ocean Pacific Lodge, which we thought was maybe a few blocks from the race? Well, it was a few blocks from the race start, but literally across the street from transition. Like I could see the bike area from our room window. We wanted to check in for the race right away, so we went ahead and did that, as well as bought a few race items.

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Hotel. Transition would be to the left.

After a short ride to test out the bikes and a shower, we headed out for some dinner. Since lunch was so greasy, we decided on some nice sushi for dinner at I Love Sushi, which hit the spot.

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The Friends Roll, one of the ones we got.

Bellies full of delicious sushi, we walked around a bit to explore.

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Because a.) why not; and b.) he calls me his siren.

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Rides wouldn’t be going until the weekend.

Saturday, September 9:

We woke up fairly early Saturday morning as we had to drive back into San Jose to find a Chick-fil-a so as to get sandwiches for bike food (we eat pickle juice-soaked chicken patties on the bike. don’t ask …) as well as a few extra chicken egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches so as to eat something for breakfast the next day. We also hit up a Target for some bottled water to prep our race bottles with.

Back in Santa Cruz, we dropped our bikes off and went for a short run to shake out our legs, stopping by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, because why not.

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Inside.

It was super simple. Not sure if I’d recommend it.

Post-run, we showered and then went off to drive a bit more of the bike course, grabbing lunch along the way in Davenport, Calif.

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Whale City, our stop.

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I had the North Coast Chicken Sandwich – grilled chicken breast topped with sauteed leeks and mushrooms on a fresh bakery roll. It wasn’t too shabby.

Drove back to the hotel to prep everything for the next day and to just relax. We left around 5ish to get our nails done at The Nail Club (no website; not the best mani/pedi I’ve had, but totally not the worst) before grabbing our typical breakfast-for-dinner at the Santa Cruz Diner. Fantastic meal except for the bacon. Mediocre bacon. Sad, sad day.

Sunday, September 10:

… was race day, so the vast, vast majority of the day was spent doing that.

We did grab dinner at the Seabright Brewery, which was a letdown. I think we just need to realize that neither of us particularly like the food at brewpubs. I might have had the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty terrible.

Monday, September 11:

We woke up, packed up the car, checked out, and headed toward Monterey so we could hit up the Aquarium.

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Roadside fruit/vegetable stand we stopped at. You can sorta see B inside. Some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had in my life.

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Monterey.

We hadn’t been to the Aquarium since our engagement trip back in 2009, so it was nice to revisit.

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Super friendly bat ray we were petting.

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Cuddling up in a giant clam. We have a similar picture from ’09.

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Jellyfish.

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Gorgeous sign in the cafe area.

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Cute little crab.

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B outside.

We ate lunch at the restaurant inside the aquarium, which was actually really tasty. I had mussels while B had a much better fish and chips.

Post-food, we spent a bit of time wandering Cannery Row.

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Pier.

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Kidlets looking out over the water.

We also got a bit of a treat at Ghiradelli.

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Brownie Sundae. *drool*

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B with his hot fudge sundae.

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Spotted this on the way back to the car. Oh Monterey and John Steinbeck …

We took ourselves and our stuffed bellies back on the road. Our original plan was to drive to L.A. to stay at B’s crash pad for the night … but he forgot the keys back at home. So, we decided to give ourselves an easier drive to Las Vegas the next day and made Bakersfield our stop. It was better than Wendover, let’s just say that. It had a Hooters near our hotel, though, and wings and salad made for a great dinner.

Tuesday, September 12:

We took a somewhat leisurely morning in Bakersfield, hopping on the hotel treadmills for a tiny bit and eating breakfast before getting back on the road. The drive from Bakersfield to Las Vegas wasn’t one of the more exciting ones I’ve ever experienced, but it wasn’t Utah, so there’s that.

We got to Las Vegas, I dropped B off to check in to the Bellagio while I parked the car (and got the greatest garage parking spot ever so we just decided to stay in it for the entire stint). I met him inside and then we went to get the rest of our stuff and get settled. As soon as the bags were in the room, we went right back out to snag the In-N-Out burger we’d been wanting since the moment the race ended for lunch. It was delicious and totally hit the spot.

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View from the room.

The rest of the evening (since we ate lunch pretty late) was spent mostly relaxing with a little bit of gambling. I had a pretty good night at the slots, actually winning for a change. We did eventually wander back out for a bit more food, which we got at PBR Rockbar. We got a spinach/artichoke dip (meh) and some of the best potato skins I’ve had in a really long time.

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Food consumed, back to the Bellagio for a bit more gambling and watching the fountains from the privacy of our own room.

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Dinosaurs watching out the window.

Wednesday, September 13:

We had maybe thought about waking up early to go ride our bikes in Red Rock Canyon on this day … but that didn’t happen. Instead, the day went a bit more like this:
– Starbucks for coffee.
– Room to change.
– Bellagio Pool Cafe for brunch.
– Bellagio Pool for a few hours, sitting out and playing some cards.
– Room to change and … other things.
– Out and about toward the south end of the Strip, grabbing snacks and booze along the way.
– MGM Grand to play the Sigma Derby horses for a couple hours (and drink).
– Back to the room, grabbing a few more snacks in the process.
– Room for … things.
– Eventually back out to Mon Ami Gabi for a loose dinner, more hooch, and profiteroles.
– Room for the night.

Thursday, September 14:

We weren’t in as rough of shape as we might have feared the next morning – luckily we spaced out the drinking enough. Woo! (we don’t drink much usually. the previous day was abnormal for us.) We were, however, thankful that we had our free breakfast buffet that we were using that day. Oh beautiful delicious salad. I may have been on vacation but I can’t go that long without you anymore.

Post-breakfast, we wandered the other way up the Strip, stopping in the Venetian for coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Post-coffee, it was window shopping time! The Venetian shops are great for that, clearly, as well as they are for loose food (the Lobster Me lobster roll isn’t doing it for me anymore, though, so sad day). We did the same thing over at the Forum Shops over at Caesars, and eventually ended up back at the Bellagio. Where I got myself a crepe at Jean-Philippe Patisserie.

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Nutella crepe, obvs.

A little more gambling was also done before we got ourselves our second In-N-Out of the trip, because it sounded delicious and we were on vacation, damnit!.

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We also decided to do something new in the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.

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No, seriously.

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Ain’t technology grand?

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Actual cupcake? Frosting was better than the cake; cake was a bit dry, actually; and too many sprinkles. I know, I know. I wish I had known about the seasonal pumpkin cupcake on the ATM, as I totally would have gotten that instead.

Friday, September 15:

The greatest thing about driving to and from Las Vegas is that you don’t have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to try to catch a flight out so you can actually have a leisurely breakfast. Whaaaa?

So since we weren’t originally planning on driving straight through back home, we had a nice meal at the Cafe Bellagio and were able to see them putting together the Conservatory (which was actually closed for the duration of our stay. womp womp.).

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Peacock!

We checked out and hit the road. We were thinking of hitting up some national parks in Utah on the way … but we couldn’t figure out which park and how to make the timing work and a place to stay … so we just decided to press on through the whole way. Which was mostly fine, except for the lightning that either hit the car or right next to it just outside of Rifle, Colo. Eek.

All in all, though, it was another great road trip adventure!

Vegas: June 2016

With this being the double-Ironman year, we weren’t sure we’d be able to get to Vegas much, if at all, this year. Luckily, we were able to swing a super quick trip in late June. We headed to one of my cousins’ wedding in Indianapolis and then jumped a plane (after a lengthy delay in O’Hare …) to Las Vegas. The delay meant we got to the Bellagio around 2 or 3 in the morning – not ideal. We convinced the front desk to give us a room that we would happily vacate for our regular reservation the next day just so we could get some glorious sleep.

Sleep … was had. So was some pampering at the spa (new thing for us). I didn’t get pictures from the spa because they’re kind of not allowed, but … why have I never done a spa in Vegas before? So awesome. We got massages, hung out in the saunas/steam rooms/hot tubs … pure bliss. Totally going to be a thing for us from now on. We did a little gambling, a little eating, a little window-shopping, a little pool time, a little walking around … it was a good mini vacation.

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I talked Brandon into going to Madame Tussaud’s while we were waiting for our actual room to be ready. I hadn’t been since I went to the London location way back in … 1998? and Brandon had never been. Since, you know, Vegas, here’s a picture with him and the two “Ocean’s Eleven” stars.

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Because The Rock.

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Boxing fan had to get in on this.

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With Grumpy Cat (a.k.a. Tardar Sauce).

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I don’t remember why there was a cop car in Madame Tussaud’s (something to do with “The Hangover,” maybe?), but I had to get a picture in it.

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With margaritas at Margaritaville.

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Ocean display back at the Bellagio Conservatory!

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Chilling at the pool.

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Living the life.

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The new park outside of Monte Carlo/New York New York.

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Awesome sugar/chocolate display outside Jean-Philippe Patisserie in Aria.

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So the secret pizza place inside the Cosmopolitan? Exists. The pizza is no T. Anthony’s, but it’s good. And awesome. And no, it doesn’t actually have a name, nor am I going to reveal its actual location. But it’s easily found, if you know where to look.

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Fishy display at night!

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View from our room.

#VegasSeason

The Las Vegas tourism department bills the summer as #VegasSeason. This is ostensibly to get people to travel there despite the fact the days get into the low-100s. Yes, it gets hot.

After our trip last November, we weren’t planning on heading back for almost a year until October 2015, when we race Ironman 70.3 Silverman. Plans changed, however, when the stupid Bellagio decided to sucker me in with a harmless tweet. I am a sucker for aquarium/fishy type things. (see: blog theme) We decided to call and see how long the exhibition was going on – until September, they said. So if I wanted to see it, I had to go out before our race.

As luck/fate would have it … we got a few days off together (the few days after the concert in the previous post, actually), so we said “screw it” and decided to go.

We went out early Wednesday morning, stayed the night, and left late-ish Thursday afternoon. We also tried out a new MLife property – the Mirage.

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Next to a siren statue in the lobby.

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Anchor Bar, the official buffalo wing inventors, now have an outpost in the Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian. As it was National Buffalo Wing day, Brandon got them for lunch.

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Flamingos at the Flamingo.

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Happy to be in the Bellagio Conservatory with aaaallllll the fishies.

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View from our room at the Mirage.

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Thai shrine thingy outside Caesars by Serendipity.

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Poolside.

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I’d say working on our tans, but we prefer our paleness, so just hanging out?

November Vegas Trip: Part Three

Saturday began early-ish. We woke up and went for a quick run to shake out the legs. It was only at 9 or 10 in the morning, but for Las Vegas on a Saturday morning? That’s early. The strip was quiet, and you get to see the “behind the scenes stuff.”

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(Case in point – maintenance being done on the Bellagio fountains.)

After the run, it was off to the Bellagio buffet for breakfast/brunch and then to the Pinball Hall of Fame/Museum which was very cool and highly recommended.

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Walked in, saw this game, threw some quarters in … that was a good 10 minutes of entertainment.

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So many machines!

There were also quite a few very cool retro hockey games. I played them all.

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From the 1930s.

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This was a hybrid between air hockey and bubble hockey.

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After the Pinball Museum, it was off to Mandalay Bay and the Shark Reef Aquarium. It … was okay. By general rule, you typically want to avoid aquariums in land-locked states, and Shark Reef proved the rule to be true. Still, we got to play with sting rays, so that made the visit worth it for us.

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Entrance.

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Brandon in the shark tank (he’s a nerd and likes the CNBC show).

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Splashy the Ray. He was awesome.

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Our friend, a fan of obscure Russian historical figures, in front of the statue of Lenin outside Red Square restaurant in Mandalay Bay.

After Shark Reef, we wandered around shopping a bit and then got ready for our second nightclub of the trip – Marquee at the Cosmopolitan.

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It … was okay. I don’t like crowds and climbing several flights of stairs in six inch heels and yeah. Like at Tao, we didn’t stay long.

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After we left.

Sunday was a lazy morning sleeping in and then not a lot of wandering around – after all, we did have to race.

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Playing with my pre-race sandwich.

The race … was okay. If you’re really curious as to how it went, mosey on over to the triathlon blog.

Monday was taken pretty easy. Brandon and our friend Mike played poker while I wandered around a bit. The most excitement that day was going to see Zumanity at New York New York. THAT was a cool show. I hadn’t seen a Cirque du Soleil show in years and this was one was just as awesome as the last one I’d seen. Again, highly recommended.

Tuesday … out of town and back to reality.