Saturday, January 19, 2013

Las Vegas / Grand Canyon Trip

I just came back from a fabulous weekend trip to Las Vegas to meet my friends from Etsy and can't wait to share these pictures with you. I have been talking with these successful artists / entrepreneurs online since 2008, and this was the first time we finally got to meet each other in person and spend some time together, so I was super excited. This was the day when my "virtual friends" turned into "real friends". It's amazing to finally be able to look into their eyes and know they are real people in real world, and as awesome in person as online!

Most people (including me) don't realize it actually can get a little chilly in Las Vegas in winter. In fact, there was a cold front during the time of our stay, and the temperature dropped to 20s at night. Mike and I spent most of the time inside the hotels on the strip because of that. I am really glad we finally put on our thick jackets and walked down the strip one night to see the famous Ballagio Fountains. I felt like I could just stand there watching the fountains all night long.

I would say the best meal we had there was at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. At close to $20, their burgers are pretty pricey, but in my opinion they're worth every penny. The ingredients are very fresh and full of flavors. I also love how I can choose between regular fries, sweet potato fries and zuccini fries (in fact, I had half zuccini fries and half sweet potato fries to go with my turkey burger). Their service is also excellent.
We saw some street artists during the day, and this guy was my favorite, probably because I've always been intrigued by ventriloquism.Both him and his dummy have these super shiny teeth and gorgeous smiles which I envy.
The highlight of our trip is to the Grand Canyon. I booked a tour online that included bus ride from and back to Vegas, a helicopter ride from the West Rim down to the Colorado River, and a 15 min boat ride. We had to get up at 5 for the 6.10 bus pick-up at the hotel. The company offered our choice of a honey bun or protein bar as the morning snack as well as some coffee while we were waiting for the tour bus to Grand Canyon. Originally I was a little concerned about getting bored on the bus, but our bus driver/tour guide Cassie kept the whole trip interesting with tons of stories and jokes. Plus there were plenty of beautiful scenery along the way, so I really enjoyed the whole drive. 
After we arrived at the West Rim, we checked in at a counter for the helicopter ride. They weighed each one of us, and stamped "FRONT SEAT" on the back of my left hand (woohoo!). So, here you go, my view from the front seat. --
 I have seen so many pictures of the Grand Canyon before, but just like so many things in life, it is more amazing when you experience it in person. It's such a beautiful thing to feel so small, young, and unimportant when you stand in front of this sheer greatness.

 Of course one must not forget  to take a "I-have-been-here" tourist shot before leaving. I think I look rather happy here despite being totally freezing --

I found it funny there were Chinese signs everywhere at Grand Canyon. But, seeing so many Asian tourists there, I guess this shouldn't be a surprise. On our way back to Vegas, the bus stopped at this funky place called "Last Stop" so we could take a bathroom break. Cassie said they had the best burger ever, but since we were not hungry, we didn't get to try it. Mike did get to shoot some machine gun , and he seemed to really enjoy that 2 min of adrenaline rush. Before we left, I was surprised to find one of the 15 flags or so outside of their shop was a Taiwanese national flag (the one next to the sun), so I had to take a picture. They must have tons of Taiwanese tourists for some reason. 

This was my second trip to Vegas, and the first time to Grand Canyon. If  I could do it all over again, here are what I would do differently ....

1. I would rent a car in Vegas so I could go see downtown or other places instead of getting stuck on the Strip. There are many things to do and see around Vegas that would require a car. Being stuck on the strip means one is more likely to participate in activities that involve more money (such as gambling).
2. Instead of sitting inside the hotel buildings and buy water at $3 per bottle, walk down the strip to those gift shops where the same bottle would only cost 50 cents.
3. I would try to see some famous shows, even through they are a little costly.  
4. I would want to stay at Grand Canyon overnight.
5. Restaurants right next to casinos tend to have very horrible service. Do not eat there.
6. Write down the taxi driver's name or license number, because some of them are dishonest and will take you through a long route just to make more money (ask how I know!).

Also, in case you didn't know, the shark reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay is too small and boring for the price they're charging. I have been to quite a few aquariums and this one is among the least exciting one.

I guess that sums up my whole trip! I'm in a pretty good mood today because my facebook page
just reached 1000 likes yesterday. Yay!!


Nicole Beadwright Campanella said...

Yes the desert does get cold. Glad you had such a good time

earmark said...

It was SO GREAT to meet you Mollie!! I Love your Grand Canyon photos, looks like it was an amazing activity despite the freezing temperatures!! :)

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