Am I in Korea again?

January 12th, 2014

Las Vegas, NV

We spent a full day exploring Las Vegas. Our very healthy morning breakfast consisted of froyo (I put mostly healthy toppings on!) for me and a smoothie for Leah in addition to our usual coffees. We were both shocked at the vast number of Starbucks in the area, as well as the expensive prices of food and drink in general!

We set off through the MGM Grand first of all. For the record, this place smells AMAZING!! They surely must infuse their air with vanilla or something. We were impressed with the cool looking Rainforest Cafe, and Leah got a squished penny, which was pretty exciting.

We continued down the strip and were duly awed by the Bellagio (amazing blown glass and Chinese New Years garden, plus the fountains), and Caesars Palace, which is home to the Colosseum, where Celine Dion plays her shows here. The casinos are well decorated and quite clean, however, the smoking inside thing is really enough to make me not interested in spending any length of time in them.

By this time we were rather hungry, so we made our way over to Planet Hollywood, which has Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR in it. We waited for not too long and soon sat down for a well-deserved lunch. It took what felt like foreverrrrr for someone to come over to the table, and when it was it was some other guy, not our actual server. We choose pudding shakes (#4 and #5), which were AMAZING and so decadent as our drinks. When our waiter finally appeared he seemed not the friendliest of guys, to be honest, and we registered our order of Earth Burger (me) and Hell’s Kitchen (Leah). Burgers here run about $14-18 apiece NOT including sides of any sort. Leah was also keen on trying the sweet potato fries which had a delicious sounding sauce and seasonings. When our burgers finally arrived, they were good but I wouldn’t say anything to write home about. Somewhere along the line, our fries ended up getting missed, which turned out ok because we were both so full. Our waiter never checked in with us to see how things were, and so overall I was pretty unimpressed with BurGR. Go elsewhere, I’d say!

We took a quick rest break at the hotel after that, then headed out to the Celine show. It was AMAZING. Her voice is SO good still and she is quite the showman. Definitely worth every penny!

After the show, we watched the fountain/volcano explode at the Mirage, and explored the inside of the Venetian a bit. We thought about going up the Eiffel Tower, but it was $20! Couldn’t quite justify that one…

On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped in for a roadie. They have adorable mini bottles of wine, which seem to make the perfect mobile bevvy. As we walked down the street, a stranger said, “Be careful, it starts with the little bottle of wine!” Haha! Sadly(?) (Wisely?), we passed on clubbing for another little bottle of wine and some cheese with our poor blistered feet kicked up in the hotel.

Las Vegas can be summed up as follows: ostentatious, extravagant, often obnoxious, excessive, and glittery. It’s the land of plenty and the land of none. I can safely say I think I can live quite happily never returning to this place, although it was amusing while here.

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Bright Lights, Big City

January 11, 2014

Flagstaff to Las Vegas

We departed Flagstaff mid-morning after a wonderful breakfast prepared by our awesome host Dhruva. Thank you again for your kindness and hospitality!! We truly enjoyed our stay in Flagstaff.

The drive to Las Vegas showcases more beautiful desert views and we were most excited to see people driving convertibles with the top down. Surely we are headed in the right direction then!! This was confirmed when we stopped at a “scenic view” point where we were pleasantly surprised with a warm breeze and no need of a sweater. 

 

We soon came upon the Hoover Dam and pulled in for a visit. There is a security check, but when we pulled up, the guy asked (gesturing to the stuff in the back seat), “Is this all yours?”, to which we obviously answered, yes, and he told us to have a nice day and we moved on! Clearly we are not the most threatening looking individuals. Especially when we pulled up bopping along to Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape…

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So, there are some parking lots (the ones closer to the actual dam), that cost $10, but if you drive up a bit further, they are free. We took a stroll along the dam, and a few photos. The dam is actually directly between Arizona and Utah, so you can stand in two different states and two different time zones on the dam. Our cell phone was most befuddled by this. We, on the other hand, were super befuddled by all the security and the masses of tourists. It’s just a big, man-made, cement….thingy….right?! We hadn’t seen as many tourists ANYWHERE other than NYC and maybe parts of DC, and could’t quite figure out the attraction. 

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Lake Mead, which is dammed by the Hoover, is quite pretty and looks like a fun place to spend time in warm weather. From the dam and the lake, it was only about 30-40mins into Vegas. We were struck by the vast expanse of buildings in the desert and it is quite cool to drive into, as it appears on the horizon, the largest accumulation of human life we’d seen in the desert for a bit. We definitely got excited seeing all the buildings in person, and they do look just as in the movies and tv – glittery, huge, and outrageous. 

Checking in to our hotel, the Excalibur, (Leah keeps expecting Robin Hood to pop out), I really felt like we were in America as we saw a bunch of cheer teens. It is unreal the amount of makeup on these girls. And the bows on their heads….bleghhh!! So yes, it is just like on TLC. Apparently, America has also not received the memo on secondhand smoke and the wide variety of smoking-related illnesses as it would seem that smoking is still allowed indoors here. Yet another reason we will not be frequenting the slots!

After a little down time, we prepared for our evening’s excursion – a trip across the street to New York, New York to see Zumanity. I was expecting a wild time and I was most excited for the pole dance portion of the show. Unfortunately, they seem to have changed their show a bit and it no longer includes pole, but apart from that, the show was the usual amazing Cirque standards: great live band and singers, hilarious audience participation (Cindy from Colorado, a recently retired teacher, especially seemed to enjoy getting pulled up on stage!), extremely flexible people, and overall good entertainment. Zumanity is less acrobatic than other Cirque shows that I’ve seen, but was funnier and more like a cabaret-style show. It seemed very appropriate to see while in Vegas! They definitely had us giggling away, and at times, totally losing it, the entire performance. I do think that they need to bring the pole dance part back for sure!!

After the show, we walked around the Strip a bit, until our feet told us it was time to go to bed. I can see how Vegas is like an adult playground, but I think it is also a very sad place. The juxtaposition of poverty and extravagance is a little disturbing with too much ponderance. However, I am sure that keeping this in mind, we will certainly have a fun time today as we explore!

(Sidenote: no photos of Leah because they are all on her camera! She was there tho… 😉

Itinerary of the Itinerant wanderers – subject to side routes and meanderings, of course

Here’s the synopsis of our travels so far. Hopefully we’ll pretty much keep on track…but you know what they say about the best laid plans! Please let us know if there is anywhere we MUST eat, anything we MUST see or do, or any other awesome recommendations. We are planning on couchsurfing in: St. Louis, Kansas City, and Las Vegas, if anyone out there has a super comfy couch, or better yet, spare bed for us to crash on. We are super fun and will have heaps of good stories – promise!

Also! If anyone has tips for the best routes to take….we LOVE scenery! Whatever scenery you can get in the dead of winter that is…

December 26th: Depart Moncton, NB. Arr New York City

December 27-29th: Livin it up in NYC

Dec 30th: NYC to Germantown, MD via Philly and Baltimore. Cousins reunion!

Dec 31st: DC New Years! Touring the Pentagon, National Mall, the Whitest of Houses, Smithsonian… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

January 1st, 2014: Chincoteague, Assateague … Wild Ponies!

Jan 2nd: Knoxville – Smokey Mountains, Grandfather Mountain

Jan 3rd: Nashville – Grand Ol Opry, here we come! Korea reunion numero 1 with Alex!

Jan 4th: Louisville via Mammoth Caves. Korea reunion numero 2 with Brian-san.

Jan 5th: St. Louis and Cahokia Mounds

Jan 6th: Kansas City

Jan 7th-8th: Denver. Korea reunion numero 3 with Miss Lija.

Jan 9th-10th: Grand Canyon

Jan 11th: Las Vegas

Jan 12th-16th: LA!!! Disney, Rodeo, Hollywood, and the Fam Jam. Planning on tickets to Ellen and maybe a little POP Pilates with Cassey?!

Jan 17th-19th: San Francisco. Another Korean reunion with Erica from America herself.

Jan 20th: Depart for Portland, OR

Jan 21st: Vancouver, BC – Back to the Homeland!

That’ll be it for a bit…..must make it through this last few weeks of school before heading out. Keep watching from Dec 26th for photos, stories, travel quotes, and daily musings.