Nevada

Vegas Entertainment

I personally think it is a sin not to go to a show in Sin City.  Over the years I’ve seen several including Garth Brooks, Absinthe, Cirque du Soleil – O, Le Reve, Celine Dion, Terry Fator, Penn & Teller, Carrot Top and more.

Cirque du Soleil – Michael Jackson ONE!

This time I talked my friends into seeing Cirque du Soleil – Michael Jackson ONE!  I was very excited about this as I LOVED his music as a kid.  Once he turned a little weird in my book, I stopped following him, but still I was looking forward to finally seeing him in concert before he passed.  Thriller was my favorite song and I literally dressed up as him in the 6th grade for Halloween – a red jacket, one glove, wig and more.

Outside of the venue at Mandalay Bay, two of his outfits were on display.  I had no idea we were really going to get to see some of his things.  This was a pleasant surprise.  My friend Virginia ordered the tickets and the next surprise was that we were in the 4th row!!  It’s always nice to see the acrobats and dancers close up.

The performance was spectacular.  Everything from the special effects, lighting, costumes, dancing, slack lining, acrobatics, and music was extremely well done.  The only person a little creepy was the double jointed fellow.  Overall, I was in sensory overload.  My head was on a swivel trying to watch actors swinging in on wires, the twists and flips of the acrobats bouncing from place to place, and the precise dancing moves.

The cast was extremely well represented too.  By looks, it seemed like virtually all races and sexual preferences were represented.  In addition, a one-legged performer on forearm crutches that was far from disabled was included in the cast.  He swung around, flipped, and then landed on one leg…completely incredible!!  I was feeling like a real slacker as I can hardly balance on one leg for 30 seconds.

This show was really great, and it was interesting to see how Michael Jackson’s music changed over the years.  Like I said, I had stopped following him, but appears he wrote music to support different causes…hunger, race and more.  I’m thankful to my friends for indulging me.

Circus Circus

We entertained ourselves in non-traditional ways in Vegas too.  We were staying at the north end of the strip, so one day we walked up to Circus Circus to find out a little bit about its history.  If it weren’t for Virginia, I would have never done this simply because I didn’t know anything about it.

Circus Circus was originally built as just a casino in 1968, but without a hotel it suffered financial difficulty.  Hotel towers were finally added in 1972 and later.  What is different and fun about Circus Circus is the circus act, arcade and midway games.  The games didn’t open until 10am and I’m not sure when the circus act preforms, but families with kids, Virginia, and I were all ready to wander through the midway, when the rope blocking the entrance was removed.

The arcade include skee ball, basketball, Galaga, Ms. Pacman, and many other games I didn’t know.  The midway included dart throwing, camel races, balloon popping, water gun squirting and more.  We decided on two Midway games…the camel races and balloon popping.  We figured the camel races was the longest game for our /$2.  Some kids sat down right when we were about to start, and the employee asked if we wanted them to join.  Of course not!  They would beat us, and we wanted a chance to win.  Virginia was better at rolling the ball into the slot than I was, so she won a whale which she gave to one of the kids who could trade up for a bigger prize the more times they played and won.

I wanted to win something to, so I threw a bean bag at a balloon that pushed it back into a tack and popped.  Sadly it took me two tries, but I got a goofy stuffed animal that I gave to a little bitty girl.  The parents were far more excited than she!  Regardless, it was fun, cheap entertainment, and totally different from the normal casino visits!

 

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Moving on, another unique and different adventure in Vegas is a visit to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  The is a lovely, 13 mile scenic drive which takes cars past some of the best sights in the Mojave Desert. While most people are going to Vegas for the lights and gambling, if a little break is needed from the crazy life style, the park is only 45 minutes away.

The entry fee is only $7 and lasts for the day.  While driving by while admiring the multi-colored rock formations is nice, I prefer a hike in nature.  As such, Virginia and I opted for the White Rock/La Madre Spring Loop Trail, a 6 mile hike noted as strenuous.  I figured at a much lower elevation, it couldn’t be that hard, though I found a few sections were noticably steep.

The loop may be accessed from several parking lots.  We drove seven miles into the park to start at the Willow Spring Picnic Area.  From the picnic area, we headed west on Rocky Gap Road which had turned to gravel at the parking lot to White Rock Loop where we turned right at the split.

The rocky path ascended to another split.  Here we veered to the left to follow the out and back trail to La Madre Spring, a year round spring that is home to bighorn sheep.  Unfortunately for us, we likely started too late in the morning to spot the animals as the day was heating up quickly, but we did stumble across a tarantula crossing the path!

After checking out the unexciting spring, we returned to the trail junction where we took the other direction.  The now single track trail which thankfully was also less rocky led us through pinyon-juniper woodlands to its highest point at 5,446 feet.

Soon we dropped down toward White Rock Springs Trailhead as we meandered through scrub and abundant cacti before crossing a wash.  We entered the parking lot at the trailhead, turned toward the right and followed the trail signs to the Willow Springs parking lot.

Three times along the trail we stopped at signs that marked agave roasting pits that looked like “donut shaped mounds”.  Sadly, we couldn’t make them out.  We also had a difficult time making out the pictograph panel at the picnic area, but for those who study Native American history, remnants of their lifestyle were there.

So for a little different taste of Vegas…try these things.  ETB

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Nevada

Luscious Las Vegas…Restaurant Reviews

Some of us girls who met in Italy reconnected in Las Vegas for a mini reunion as Mary had a conference in the area.  Virginia and I got a nice deal at the Venetian which included a resort credit at its restaurants.  As such, we found ourselves eating a lot!  Below are a variety of restaurants we tried over the weekend: Continue reading “Luscious Las Vegas…Restaurant Reviews”

Nevada

Hiking at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

April 20-24, 2017

I decided to compete in a triathlon over the winter because it gave me something to do during the cold weather while most of my friends headed to the mountains to ski.  Unfortunately for me, the weather was mild, and I could have been hiking!!

The good news is, I chose to compete in a triathlon at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, so I could do some mini hikes, and they were great!  Not wishing to wear ourselves out prior to the triathlon, we picked a short, flat walk at St. Thomas in the Northshore area.  St. Thomas was a thriving farming community established in January of 1865.  Over time, the population grew to a few hundred people.

The town’s main street featured a post office, grocery stores, a church, an ice cream parlor, and several car garages.  Around the corner was a school.  When the Hoover Dam was built in 1928, members of the community were told they would need to relocate as the dam would cause the Colorado River to back up and submerge the town.  By 1938, St. Thomas was inundated with the waters of Lake Mead.

The level of Lake Mead fluctuates based on the snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. As such, the town surfaces during low water years.  After being submerged throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, the ghost town reappeared in 2002 and remains above the surface.

Steve and I followed the 2.5-mile sandy loop peppered in shells that led us along main street past remnants of the town.  Not much remained, mostly foundations to a few people’s homes, an engine house, a hotel and more.  The school and the ice cream parlor seemed to fare the best, which wasn’t too well!  It was interesting to see the town, but I felt sorry for all those people that had to give up their homes and community.  I wonder when it will be back underwater.

The second hike we completed was the day after our triathlon, thus again we looked for a short, easy trail.  We found a hike called Owl Canyon in the Lakeshore area of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  The 2.2 mile out and back trail was described as moderated with 300 feet of elevation gain.

As we descended the trail from the parking area, we came to a junction of several trails zig-zagging through the brush in every direction.  We followed the most used path and ended up in the right place, a beautiful slot canyon.  The side walls did not seem as solid as most other canyons I’ve visited.  They seemed eroded.  Soon we realized, this area was once underwater as well as we crunched along the sandy trail also laden with shells.  No wonder the trail wasn’t shown on the park map!

The narrow canyon was definitely the prettiest part of the hike.  A few desert flowers were still in bloom, so that was nice.  The wash wasn’t too exciting though the culverts traveling beneath the road were kind of cool.  While I wouldn’t rank it as the best hike I have ever done, it was nice to get out and stretch our legs.

We had time for one more hike before we left Boulder City.  Steve’s legs were still shot from the race so we picked what looked to be another easy hike called Liberty Bell Arch with seasonal access near Lake Mohave on the Arizona side of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  It was 5.5 miles with only 275 feet of elevation change.  We weren’t exactly sure why the park rated it as difficult unless it was due to the hot desert sun.

We soon found out what 275 feet of elevation change meant.  We just didn’t get higher than 275 feet above the trailhead.  It didn’t count all the undulations of the rocky canyon and wash!  We started walking down hill through the wash.  We found the first trail marker where we continued straight though the arrow pointed diagonally which was slightly confusing given another unnamed trail went off to the right.  Eventually, we came upon the next trail marker where we did turn right and began ascending slightly.  We kept climbing and soon we reached some leftover mining equipment and the entrance to a magnesium mine.  I always find mines and the people who found them interesting.  How does someone decide to wander over uneven terrain through the canyons and desert to settle on a spot to dig a hole?

Anyway, after inspecting the old mining area, we continued toward Liberty Bell Arch.  We descendent the hard dirt path to the flats only to climb back up again.  We had hiked nearly two miles and still couldn’t spot the Liberty Bell Arch in the expanse of the colorful canyon.  Finally, as we climbed up the next hill we spotted it.

Sadly, it felt anti-climatic was we approached it.  It didn’t seem that big and the main trail didn’t lead to the opening of the arch.  It was clear a short scramble in the gravel through the brush would get us closer, but we didn’t really feel like adding anymore distance to the hike.

The ranger who told us about the hike specifically said, “Make sure you don’t stop at the arch and you still go up to the viewpoint.”

We followed her advice, and it was well worth it!  We continued climbing until we reached the overlook which provided magnificent views of the blue Colorado River tumbling through the red and green canyon.  We could also see the Pat Tillman Bridge in the distance.  This hike ended up being spectacular!  We really liked it and were thankful for the overcast sky as we started around 8am and it was warming up quickly.  I was excited to get some hiking in and am looking forward to the summer hiking season in Colorado!  ETB

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Nevada

Things to Do Around Boulder City, Nevada

April 20-24, 2017

We arrived in Boulder City, Nevada on Thursday morning to compete in a triathlon at Lake Mead Recreation Area on Saturday.  Not leaving until Monday evening, we had time for a mini-vacation, and found a variety of attractions in Boulder City and the surrounding area.

First, we visited Hoover Dam, which was only a few miles away from the Hoover Dam Lodge where we were staying for the event.  This was my third time to Hoover Dam, though Steve’s first.  We paid $10 park and walked down to the dam to take in the view of Lake Mead, the water intake towers, as well as the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.  Then we wandered into the visitor’s center where we paid for the shortened tour of just the power plant that took place every half hour.

In the power plant, we were shown the water tunnels that transfer nearly 90,000 gallons of water each second to the dam’s hydroelectric generators.  Next, we visited the 17 generators on the Nevada side of the dam.  These generators are held in a wing 650 feet long which is about the depth of the dam at its base.  I marvel at the construction of this dam in the 1930s every time I hear about it.  Amazingly, it was built ahead of schedule and under budget.  If only the government could do that now!

After visiting the dam, we stopped for a walk along the Pat Tillman Bridge as well as for a lovely view of Lake Mead from a nearby overlook.  From the overlook, we could see the marina near where the race start would be.  It was approaching lunch time, so we tried The Bighorn Cafe at the lodge.  It was sustenance.

While we spent much of our time hiking over the weekend, we tried hard to limit our mileage in order to keep our legs rested before the race and stretched afterward.  As such, we stopped at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.  We were pleasantly surprised.  A variety of rail cars and engines were on display under a pavilion.  We could explore at our leisure.  I personally liked the mail car and learning about mail-on-the-fly.  The Railway Post Office would use mail cranes and catchers to retrieve mail without stopping!  Then mail was sorted (very quickly at times) so it could be ready to drop off.

Dinner came early at Southwest Diner.  We both order pasta.  The portions were enormous!  I got three meals out of my chicken, artichoke, mushroom alfredo.  They must have cooked a whole box of angel hair per plate!  I think they may be better known for their Mexican food, however.

The following day, we drove over to Lake Mead Recreational Area.  We stopped at Boulder Beach and then drove thirteen miles along Lakeshore Drive to check out the bike course and enjoyed spectacular views of hills peppered in a medley of colors including different shades of reds, browns, oranges, and greens.  Along the way, we enjoyed a nice hike at St. Thomas Town Site and a quick stop at the Redstone Picnic Area where red boulders peppered the region.

We wanted a simple dinner and early night before our race, so we went to Chilly Jilly’z.  They really should change the name!  It sounds like a yogurt shop, which it is, but it has fantastic broasted chicken.  The chicken, fried in a pressure cooker was so tender and tasty.  We went back on Monday for our last meal in Boulder City, but they were out of breasts, so that was disappointing, but their sandwiches were good too!

After we competed in our race Saturday, we wandered through an art festival which was taking place in town.  A variety of photographers, painters, and handicraft artists displayed their wares.  Having strolled around town for a few days now, we noticed that Milo’s Cellar and Inn had a very popular restaurant with a patio so we treated ourselves to nice a dinner before stopping at Grandma Daisy’s Candy Store and Ice Cream Parlor for dessert.  We tried the ice cream which was mediocre, but the shop was cute.  Perhaps the candy was better!

We saved Sunday for a visit to Las Vegas.  Boulder City is only about a half hour away. Before we headed out, however, we had to try breakfast at the Coffee Cup Cafe, which was featured on Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  Guy Fieri suggested the pork chili verde omelette which is highlighted on the menu. Steve ordered it while I stuck with good ole bacon eggs.  One good thing about competing in a triathlon is I can eat whatever I want!

We finished off our visit to Nevada with another hike in Lake Mead Recreation Area, though we had to cross the border into Arizona to do it.  The hike to Liberty Bell Arch offered spectacular views of the Colorado River and canyon.  Who knew there was so much to do in Boulder City!  We didn’t even get to ziplining, kayaking, or four-wheeling.  Boulder City is a great town for those interested in the outdoors!  ETB

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Things to do Around Boulder City, Nevada

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Nevada

15th Annual Rage Triathlon – Olympic Distance in Boulder City, Nevada

April 22, 2017

Somehow, I got a wild hair and thought that I would try to do an Olympic Triathlon.  I think I was inspired by the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K my tennis partner Ann and I ran last fall in Las Vegas.  I felt good at the end of the race that it was fun!  I found out what it is like to train at altitude and then compete at an elevation 3,500 feet lower.  There is a big difference.

As such I searched http://www.trifind.com, to find an Olympic Triathlon that took place before summer hiking and tennis leagues and in a place with a lower altitude than Denver.  I found the Rage Triathlon which was this weekend at Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Boulder City, Nevada.

The race itself was rather dinky and the swag and after race food was not worth the price of admission, but I wasn’t there for that.  On the flip side, the race director, crew, and volunteers were all fantastic and the location as far as being picturesque couldn’t have been better.  The view of Lake Mead and its surrounding peaks was lovely.

Steve likes to be early to his races, so we arrived at set-up time, 5:30am.  We already had our numbers from picking up our packets a day previous at the bike shop, so we only had to check in to get marked and pick up our timing chip.  With our numbers inked on our arms and our age and race written on the back of our calves, we wheeled our bikes into the transition area and found our designated sections.  I was on one side farther up the hill, and he was on the other closer to the lake.

Having only completed one sprint triathlon in my entire life, I wasn’t terribly sure of the best way to set up.  I looked to see how others set out their bike, bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, towels, drinks, food, and more.  I had the oldest bike around, and my hydrating system seemed archaic compared to others.  I walked over to Steve and exclaimed, “I’m going to be last!”

He responded, “It’s better to be DFL (Dead f*#?ing Last) than DNF (Did Not Finish).”

This was true, and I was only there to finish…one and done!

He did a much better job studying the swim, bike and run course maps than I did, so we went over them once more even though we performed reconnaissance mission on Thursday afternoon.  I believe my nerves were finally start to set in an hour before the race while Steve’s nerves seemed to settle an hour before the race!

With everything set up and zipped into our wetsuits, we made our way down to the rocky beach.  The rocks were very sharp, and I couldn’t between flips or no flips.  In retrospect, flips probably would have been a good choice, though most people went without.  Lake Mead’s water comes from the snowmelt of the Rocky Mountains, so it was cold.  Steve wanted to get used to it, so he joined a few others in the small waves.  I decided I’d assume stay warm until my heat was called to the start line, so I found myself zipping people into their wetsuits as I stood on the beach aimlessly.

The Olympic Tri under 40 men started first at 7am.  They were followed by the over 40 men (Steve’s group), then the under 40 women, and finally my group, over 40 women.  The Sprint Tri division followed us.  We were staggered every 5 minutes.

Given swimming is not my strong suit, I joined my group in the back of the pack as I didn’t want anyone swimming over the top of me as I would have come unglued.  We waded onto the sandbar, I adjusted my goggles and swim cap and off we went.  We started out swimming into the waves.  The forecast called for 10mph winds and dying, but judging by the one foot swells, the wind was more like 15 mph and building!

I felt like my arms were swinging and legs were kicking yet I was going nowhere.  At least the wetsuit was keeping me afloat.  As we turned around the first buoy, I was bringing up the back of the pack with a few others.  We headed for the next buoy that looked far away, as did the safety kayaks.  I struggled to stay straight, and found myself stopping to see where I was going, correcting my path while running into people, and telling myself to calm down!  Apparently, I have a fear of drowning because all I could think of is where is the closest kayak in case I need to rest.

It wasn’t until after the second buoy when I somehow settled down.  I managed to get a swimming rhythm that I learned in the pool with the help of the nicest guy, Richard.  He is a great swimmer, and when I noticed he was lapping me in the pool, I got the courage up to ask for a few pointers.  Who knew I was doing everything wrong!  I’m so thankful for his time and expertise.  I could have kept the rhythm if I could have swum straight, but the waves really posed a challenged as my body raised and lowered with the swells and constantly turned left.

Eventually I rounded the third and fourth buoy and was on the home stretch in very shallow water.  Knowing, I could stand up if I got tired and that I was more than half way finished with the mile swim, I sped up, though I was still bringing up the rear. Given I was so far back relative to some of the other swimmers, I assumed I had a terrible swim and took my time tip-toeing across the rocky beach to my bike.

I wish there had been a clock at the swim exit.  I looked for one, didn’t see it, and then managed to forget to look at my watch.  I figured I was so bad at the swim, that I took my time mounting the bike.  I slowly pulled of my wetsuit, dried my feet, ate a banana, put on my shoes, walked through the transition area and slowly climbed the hill to the street which was not blocked for traffic.

The bike course was very hilly!  It gained and lost just under 3,400 feet over 24.8 miles.  I climbed up each hill and hoped to pick up speed on the other side as I descended, but the cross wind made the downhills difficult.  The desert bushes swayed in the strong breeze, still far greater than 10 mph, as I held somewhat tightly to the handlebars while trying to keep from blowing sideways.  As I neared the 10th mile, I saw Steve on his return at around mile 20.  I was a good 30 minutes behind him which is what I expected.

Fortunately, at the start of the race, there was only light traffic, but upon my return to the transition area, now mid-morning, the trucks with boats and campers started passing more frequently.  Most of the time, it wasn’t a problem, but occasionally I wished for a little more room on the shoulder.  I managed to over-take a few riders along the way, though overall my bike time was nothing to write home about…around 2 hours and 12.5 mph pace.

I was finished with two of the three legs in the triathlon, however, with gas in the tank, so I knew I would finish, which was the main goal.  Of course, I had two times in mind…an all goes well time of 3:45 and an achievable time of 4:00.  Assuming a 10-11-minute mile pace, I suspected I’d miss both.

As I left the bike transition area to start the run, the Sprint racers as well as some of the Olympic racers were already packing up to go home, and the winners were being announced over the loud speaker.  I must admit this was kind of demoralizing, and I felt annoyed when volunteers clapped and shouted, “good job”.  Whatever!  I know they were being supportive, but it was like rubbing salt in the wound…way to go…you are last!

None the less, I kept going and I heard “Steve Johnson” get announced over the speaker at the finish line.  I thought great, he is going to have to wait an entire hour for me!  As such, I just stopped and went to the bathroom.  This was the first time I took off my prescription sunglasses and looked at my watch…it was 10:10am. I was stunned.  My heat started at 7:15, which meant I was under my four-hour pace.  While I didn’t know it at the time, I completed my swim in 42 minutes which was within my three best times in the pool.  It was just still much slower than good swimmers. Regardless, seeing that I was within my total time energized me a bit as I started running with purpose up the hill.

Though my legs felt like posts and my pace felt incredibly slow, I was overtaking additional runners.  The 10K course for the Olympic racers had been adjusted due to construction on the trail, so we had to go out and back twice.  I think this extra loop helped me even more as I could grab extra water at the aid stations and at least feel like I was passing more people than I probably was.

With about 1.6 miles to go, near the Sprint turn-around point, I caught up with another girl.  As I tried to pass, she’d speed up.  I’d try again and she’d speed up again.  By this time, my left leg was screaming with a knifing pain on the inside ankle.  She started talking to me about the adjusted course and extra loop.  This was her first Olympic Tri as well, though she had competed in several sprints which she thought were more fun.  She was from the area.  Eventually, we exchanged names.

The talking passed the time and kept us motivated.  She wanted to stop because she was winded.  I wanted to stop because my ankle hurt so bad, but we kept going.  The end of the run took us down-hill toward the beach which was welcome…no more climbing.  I told Rachel as we turned the corner on the rocky beach, “Let’s sprint it in.”

“On the rocks,” she questioned.

“Yes, that will probably get us to normal speed as the rocks slow us down,” I answered.

Not to mention, I was always told to finish strong, and I did!

Shockingly, I ran under an 8-minute mile which I don’t think I have done since high-school, and I finished the whole race in 3:42:52, below my best case hope of 3:45!  Steve was at the finish line cheering me on.  I asked, “Did you finish in 3:30?” (which was his best case).

“No, I had a DNF,” he responded.

Knowing how analytical, methodical and even keel he is, I asked in disbelief, “What happened?”

Steve had the same struggles in the swim as I did.  He fought the swells, got off course, and couldn’t get back in line as other swimmers were in the way.  He swam to the kayak I was eyeing for the first 500 yards as well.  To his credit, he went ahead and completed the bike and run, so he knows what to improve on the next time.  He is going to compete in more events!  More power to him.  If I ever do another one, it will only be a sprint as there is far less training required.

Overall, it felt good to finish the race with gas in the tank, and I wasn’t last!  I was about 2/3rds of the way down.  Looking back, I probably should have checked my watch more often.  I got contact lenses this week, so maybe I will be able to see the time without taking off my long-distance glasses if I ever do another.  While I may have made up a few minutes along the way, at the same time, having no pressure may have relaxed me enough to PR on my 10K run!  As I mentioned at the beginning, it sure helped competing at a lower altitude.  It was a good race in a beautiful setting.  And despite all the problems with the race’s fund raising page, I was still able to raise $2,500 for Alzheimer’s.  Thank you so much for the donations! ETB

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Nevada

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Nevada

On and Off the Vegas Strip

November 12-13, 2016

Well I think most people would talk about gambling and clubbing after they visit Vegas.  I, on the otherhand, prefer the dining and shows in Vegas, though I think the food may be more expensive in Vegas than New York.

Ann, my tennis partner, and I traveled to Vegas to run the Rock’n Roll 10K.  Given neither of us had trained much at all, we were trying our hardest to rest up for the event on Sunday night, but the casinos are so big, we still managed to talk nearly 6 miles a day!  And that was with the help of a taxi and the monorail.

Aside from lounging poolside at Bellagio, we ate and went to see Carrot Top.  Our first meal of our trip came at lunchtime on Saturday.  We stopped at Morels French Steak House and Bistro on our way back from the expo at the convention center where we picked up our race packet.

Morels is located in the Venetian and has a lovely second story patio.  We thought it would be a great place for people watching and the menu was appealing.  I picked the mussels which came with fantastic fries and Ann opted for a shrimp salad with a side of fries.  The portions were enormous and we loaded up since we’d be burning countless calories tomorrow.

After a relaxing, yet somewhat cool afternoon at the Bellagio pool and a stroll through the atrium to admire the Thanksgiving decorations, we dressed up for dinner at Julian Serrano Tapas at the Aria.  We were a bit more discerning about dinner, and spent a short time researching restaurants on Yelp.  This one got high ratings and Spanish food sounded good to me, so we reserved a table.  Little did I know Julian Serrano is an award-winning chef who recently guided a team on the popular Top Chef TV show to victory.  Apparently he is going viral…but I wasn’t following the trend.

The restaurants in Vegas are giant!  We opted to sit at the bar to enjoy the atmosphere.  The service at Julian Serrano was impeccable.  The bartender could rattle off every detail of each dish on the extensive menu.  Our tapas were served extremely quickly.  We were shocked at the speed.  The cheese stuff peppers were excellent.  Ann loved the tuna cones so much we got a second order, and I loved the shrimp black rice.  The tenderloin was extremely tender as well.  The paella looked out of this world, but we had plans for Carrot Top later, and paella required planning (60 minute preparation).  While we probably had enough time, we chose to eat at a leisurely pace rather than wait and then rush.

Carrot Top plays at the Luxor, so after dinner, we headed south on the strip, but not before we admired the semi-circle of Lamborghini’s parked outside of the Aria.  According to the license plates, most of them seemed to be owned by “Gia Lai”.  For car enthusiasts, this was so cool!

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Carrot Top is a character.  He uses props for most of his act, and I have to say he had us in stitches!  I wish I could even remember even one of his jokes, but he talks SUPER fast, and many wouldn’t be appropriate for the content on this blog anyway!  From the Luxor, we took a taxi back to the Bellagio and called it a night.  We didn’t even gamble!  I brought $100 to waste on the slots, but I managed to save it.

Our eating continued the next day at Palio for breakfast.  The berries were outstanding and the pastries looked divine.  I mean the nutella pocket and almond croissant were huge.  I really wanted one, but behaved.

We ended up back at the Venetian around lunch time.  Ann wanted to do a little shopping at a favorite store.  We ended up at Il Fornaio (a chain) for a carbo-load.  Our pasta was quite tasty and our server was even more interesting.  She used to ride horses with the Canadian Olympic team and her husband was the chef at One-O-One, the best fish restaurant in London.  He has also been a chef for President Elect Trump and might have a chance to cook at the White House!

With lunch over, we prepared for our race.  We pinned our bib number to our running shirts and attached the tracker to our shoe.  We walked over to the monorail at the Flamingo which took us to the SLS, the last stop on the train and the start of the 10K.  I learned a lot about the public transportation at this time.  There is a tram that goes around the City Center and it is reachable while weaving through the Bellagio.  The monorail, however, is different an operates on the opposite side of the street.

The station at the Flamingo was packed.  We could hardly squeeze off the escalator.  45,000 runners were going in different directions.  Those running the 10K headed north to the start line, while those running the half and full marathon headed south.  It was a little confusing!

We reached the start line about 45 minutes before the 4pm start time and milled around the area on the clear sunny afternoon.  We began the race with a view of the Stratosphere.  I must say the roller coasters on the top of that building are terrifying!

One of the fun parts of this race, was the fact we left the Las Vegas strip and got to see other places.  We ran by the famous A Little White Chapel where Michael Jordan and Joan Collins were married.  We passed by more chapels as well as the famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop where the TV show Pawn Stars is filmed.

Soon we turned down the old Las Vegas Strip and eventually we ended up on the current Las Vegas Strip.  I’ve never run a race in the afternoon/evening.  They usually start at the crack of dawn.  This was fun to run by all the lights with the street closed to traffic!  We celebrated our finish with a beer before we treated ourselves to sushi at Yellowtail in Bellagio.

I ate here two years ago, and generally don’t return to the same places because I like to try different options, but this restaurant was so good, I wanted to return.  I hoped that the food was just as good and met my expectations.  It didn’t disappoint.  While they change the menu regularly, the tuna pizza always stays under the appetizers.  Yes, it sounds terrible, but two years ago the waitress recommended it to us when we wanted one last dish and we had wished we’d ordered it first as we might have gotten two!  This time we got it first, and I’m happy to say it was decadent.  So was my “protein” roll…solid sushi…no rice.  Perfect!

Not only is the food great at Yellowtail, so is the view.  We got to see the Bellagio fountain show every 15 minutes.  It was a perfect way to end a short weekend in Vegas.  ETB

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