After enjoying the stunning settings in the Alabama Hills and Death Valley, we set off to be amazed by a slightly less natural kind of surrounding…the bright lights and over-the-top decoration of Las Vegas. We pulled in and got parked (oversized parking at the casinos….we’re winning already!), and got right on the tram to go down to Mandalay Bay and then worked our way back up the strip to see some of the cooler themed casinos. We walked the kids all over the place that day — I had forgotten how much walking you do in Vegas. We went through Luxor, ExCalibur, New York, the Bellagio and Paris. The kids loved the roller coaster at NY, and the interior street scene where all the restaurants are. Maya was mesmerized by the fountains, and also by the flower displays at the Bellagio. We had steak frites for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, so she got to see four or five other songs/fountain performances while we sat for dinner. It never got old.
The kids thought some of the hotel interiors were cool, including the ones we saw the next day, the Venetian and Caesars. But honestly, after the first few and getting over all the bright lights, they were kind of “over it.” A few nights later we watched Ocean’s Eleven and Vegas Vacation, and they did like being able to recognize the sights and get all the jokes. Well, most of them, anyway. And we all admitted to appreciating sleeping in plush hotel beds and getting to take endless hot showers and deep bubble baths. And lightning fast wifi!! Oh, the luxuries!
And since the kids are in “road school” of course they needed a lesson about how Vegas makes all that money to run fountains and put on light shows…Dennis explained how the sports book works to Wyatt and got a sheet of exotics for the football games while we were there. He picked four games…and then lost three of them. Luckily the one he won had a larger payoff, so he only lost half his investment. We’re going to call that hands on learning. (Although, interestingly, Wyatt had tried to get him to put some money on two additional choices. He declined. Both would have paid. whomp whomp.)
We drove out to Hoover Dam on a dam fine day to take a dam fine tour. (Maya got MAD every time this joke was made…although she did loosen up a bit when even the tour guides were adding “dam” to everything.) Seriously, the Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel. To think that in the 1930’s they were able to divert the river, build a 460 foot thick base and 725+ foot tall dam, and build and start up power plants that provide a huge amount of energy to Nevada, Arizona and California to this day…amazing. We took the tour down deep into the dam walls, even looking out one of the air vent shafts and going into the power plant. The tour finished on top of the dam walls, where the look down, down, down all 726 feet really impressed the scale of the project on you.
Our final night in Vegas was a huge hit. We went to dinner at an amazing Korean restaurant called My Best Friend, by celeb chef Roy Choi. To get in the restaurant you had to walk through a storefront that looked like a tacky souvenir/convenient store and through to the “back room” to where the tables were. With awesome, loud party music. Maya asked the waiter if a dance party ever broke out in the restaurant (his answer: once that he knew of). The food was incredible.
After dinner, we went to Blue Man Group. The kids knew it had to do with drumming but we didn’t tell them much else because we wanted the element of surprise to be there for them. They LOVED it. Maya caught a marshmallow, my name was on the screen before the show, and Dennis got a selfie with a Blue Man during the selfie skit. We all had an absolute blast and it was a great show for them to get to see.