(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)
Two weeks into our five-week RV stay in Phoenix, we left the fifth-wheel at the RV Park and drove northwest to Las Vegas opting to stay in a hotel for a week. Look, I was desperate for a bathtub. The RV shower closet isn’t cutting it. Seriously, a girl needs a soak. There’s something about warm water and time alone with my thoughts that’s healing to my body and soul. I usually gain clarity, a fresh perspective, and shaved legs.
Oh, and John had customers to see so the Vegas plan was set into motion. He drove separately and visited customers along the way. I was most excited to take the kids around the city we’ve spent so much time visiting over the years. We’ve made lots of memories in Vegas:
- We got married at the Little Church of the West in 1999.
- We honeymooned at the Bellagio, which was brand new at the time.
- We’ve celebrated nearly all New Year’s Eves there through 2008.
- Some of our best trips have included the Mandalay Bay wave pool and lazy river.
- It’s the only city, outside of Dallas, where we’ve vacationed with extended family celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and things that will ‘stay’ in Vegas!
- John celebrated his last boys’ trip to Vegas with his father in 2005 before he passed away in 2006.
We liked the Vegas strip better before many of the hotel owners merged forming large conglomerates. It was intimate. Buffets were affordable. Pit bosses had authority. But it’s Vegas where bigger is better and excess is expected. Gawking permitted. We went with a plan:
- We booked a boutique hotel without a casino so the kids weren’t traipsing through adult gaming areas just to go back and forth to the hotel room. The no smoking policy throughout was a bonus. Our room also had a full kitchen.
- We reserved tickets for our evening shows and left days available for strolling in and out of hotels along the strip.
- We set aside a day to visit and tour the Hoover Dam.
- I booked a morning at the spa for manicure/pedicure and an afternoon massage later in the week.
If you’ve ever visited the Las Vegas strip, you know to pack comfortable walking shoes. Over the course of the week, we walked into and explored every hotel on the strip. Many had been remodeled since my last visit and, in all of my travels to this city, I’d never gone to the Stratosphere, the tall tower at the north end of the strip. We rode the elevator to the top and ate lunch in the rotating restaurant giving us a complete 360-degree view of the city. Periodically, crazy tourists bungee jumping from a ledge above us would plummet past our lunch window creating a buzz and gasps among diners. You know, typical stuff.
We indulged in some other novelty tourist things:
- Aquarium at Mandalay Bay – Skip it. Fish. Water. So many better ones elsewhere.
- Sports Experience at Luxor – Sort of fun, different. Interactive walk through every sport testing your skills including hockey puck handling and shooting, vertical jump height testing, NFL peripheral sight drills, long jump skills compared to gifted athletes, and throwing a baseball to see who’s pitch registers fastest on the radar. Good for some family competition!
- Body travelingexhibit at Luxor – I felt like the kids were finally old enough to appreciate thisexhibit and not be grossed out or embarrassed by the human anatomy. For the most part, they enjoyed it, walking ahead of us to keep their curious glances and giggles to themselves.
Daytime walking up and down the Vegas strip is fairly low-key, and visiting during the week is certainly less crowded than the weekends. It just so happened that we were there during Chinese New Year, 2014 – the year of the horse, and the NFL Super Bowl, featuring our horses – the Denver Broncos. We made reservations at a Super Bowl party in a family friendly Bellagio restaurant with lots of big-screen TV’s. We put on our jerseys and showed up ready to win the big game. The Broncos did not. The food was incredible. The game was not.
My favorite daytime activity was definitely the Dam Tour. The Hoover Dam, of course. Great one-hour tour taking us deep into the engine room where our guide explained the dam purpose, the dam turbines, and the dam engineering considerations making it a dam wonder of the USA.
Vegas evenings call for good food and great shows. Here’s a rundown of the shows we saw:
- Michael Jackson’s ONE – I was so excited to see this new Cirque du Soleil show but unfortunately, four songs into the performance, they had technical difficulties that prevented the show from continuing. We had a brief intermission while technicians desperately tried to make adjustments but, after resuming, failures occurred once more bringing the house lights up and automatic credit card refunds. Bummer.
- Jabbawockeez – Blake and I are dance crew junkies. This crew won America’s Best Dance Crew on TV several years back and their show did not disappoint. It’s fun, interactive, and downright entertaining. Blake bought a shirt. Alek bought sunglasses and declared it his favorite show.
- Mystere – One of the original Cirque shows on the strip. It was our third time seeing it and a first for the kids. Feels most like a circus with super-human athletes. It was Aleyna’s favorite show.
- Tournament of Kings – Tossed this one into the mix. First for all of us. Showing at the Excalibur and includes a three course meal that you eat with your hands. The arena is divided into countries and the audience is encouraged to cheer on your countryman as he, with open shirt and flowing locks, competes in jousting and various Knights of the Roundtable events. Great for families.
- La Reve – Not a cirque produced show but combines athleticism with fire, water, costuming and staging that are a feast for your eyes. I saved this show for our last night as the grand finale to our Vegas trip. The cherry on top. It’s my favorite.
Moments before La Reve began, the security guard from our CO neighborhood called. Uh-oh. John answered to find out that the fire department was inside our house trying to determine the source of a burst pipe and to turn off the main water valve. The frigid Colorado temperatures had frozen the water in a copper pipe causing expansion and the break. The recent warm-up in temperatures caused the flow. Fortunately, we have sensors alerting the neighborhood fire department of inconsistencies; however, the water had done its damage. Most of the main floor hardwoods were soaked and water had found its way into our custom finished basement drenching the carpet.
John was still on the phone with the dispatcher as the show opened. He walked up the steps away from the stage still gaining needed details. Without spoiling the show, the first minutes offer the most spectacular invitation to visually experience the strength of the human body fighting against the brute strength of water. Light chlorine filled the air as the breezy mist kissed my face. Surreal.
I sat steps away from a stage full of water imagining what must be happening in our home miles away and months away from my planned return. My mind envisioned my basement as a swimming pool and my furniture wearing floaties. First, Blake’s car accident and now, a drowned house.
I let it go. Not in Disney’s Frozen sort of way. I immersed myself in the warm, healing waters. Not the waters that flow from a faucet filling a bathtub. But living waters that flow from Jesus when we let him carry our burdens. I took his light, easy yoke and rested, enjoying the breathtaking production, fully present on our final night in Vegas. I knew God would give me peace, clarity, and perspective as I tackled yet another insurance claim. Tomorrow. After a bath.
Next stop: Detour…
Excellent trip report! The Vegas Chamber of Commerce will likely be contacting you to give you thanks for the influx of ‘Natalie-driven’ tourists 🙂 Loved it, keep it up! All your readers are right there with you and the family!
Loved your “dam” tour photos! You crack me up.
Thanks Kim. We had a dam good time! Wished we had a dam at our house in the neighborhood!
Really enjoying the ongoing story. We thank God that you are safe in His care as you travel His creation.
Thanks Kate. Love ya!
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