Wednesday, March 10th 2021
Courtney, Claire, Corey and I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas visiting Grace and having a real vacation. We took off from our house bright and early as our flight was at 0700. Flight was no problem – kind of a pain to wear a mask for the entire time – the flight was 99% full also – but we made it with no troubles. We rented a really nice car at the airport and immediately took off for the Grand Canyon. We’ve never been to the Grand Canyon and its always been on our bucket list so we were excited to finally be going. We stopped at a Target to stock up on some road trip supplies and after a few stops for pregnancy related emergencies we were on our way. It was about a 4 hour drive from the airport and after taking in two different time changes it was about 4:00PM when we got there. We went to the south rim of the canyon and stayed at one of the lodges there – Bright Angel Lodge which was a 1940’s era lodge smack on the edge of the canyon. Courtney and I had a little cottage that you literally walked out the front door and you were at the edge of the canyon. It was really nice. After quickly unpacking we went on a short hike around the rim trail. It truly is an amazing sight. Picture don’t do it justice. We had a dinner reservation at El Tovar which was a fancier hotel just a short walk way. It was a very nice place with great canyon views. It was nice to sit, relax, have a cocktail and have a really nice dinner. We were very tired after dinner after a long day of travel so were happy to go right to bed.
Thursday March 11, 2021
We woke up early as we were still on eastern time but we planned on going to one of the lookouts to watch the sun rise so we were happy to be up early. We were surprised to see snow on the ground when we woke up. We met Claire and Corey and then took the shuttle bus that was right around the corner farther down the trail and got there in perfect time to see the sun come up over the canyon. Although it was cold out – it was beautiful out and a blessing as there was pretty much no one around – we had the whole place to ourselves. We walked for an hour or two down the trail taking in all the beautiful views. We shuttled back to the lodge, grabbed some coffee and pastries from the diner there and had breakfast in our cottage. We walked around some of the buildings and studios in the village, packed up, checked out and then drove to the main visitor area where we walked around a bit and then took the shuttle to another area a few miles down the road. We hiked again for about an hour back to where we were parked and then it was time to start the trek back to Vegas. I wish we had a bit more time to explore – but it was worth it to make the trip. We hit the road back to Vegas about noon and stopped on Rt 66 again for lunch at a mom and pop place that turned out to be really good – taking home some banana cream pie and carrot cake that looked too good to resist. We stopped at the Hoover Dam on the way back – driving over the Dam to the Arizona side, parking the car and then walking across the dam. I was there a few years ago so I have seen it before but it is quite an amazing thing to see. We then drove the last 45 minutes back to Vegas. Courtney and I stayed at the Mandalay Bay which was nice and we had a really nice room. After settling in we drove to Grace’s place which was just a 15 minute drive. It was good to see Grace and her new apartment. We went to dinner at Pinches Tacos which was right around the corner and had a good dinner of tacos and margaritas. Claire and Corey were staying at Grace’s and we took off back to our hotel room and stayed up and gambled all night…. ha ha… went back to our hotel room and promptly fell dead asleep.
Friday, March 12th, 2021
We slept well and didn’t get up too too early on Pacific time. I went downstairs to the casino in search of coffee and found the Starbucks with about 30 people in line. I found another bakery kind of place with a shorter line and grabbed coffee, fruit and pastries and we had breakfast in our room. The weather looked like it was finally starting to clear a bit so we took off mid-morning to hike down the strip. Mandalay Bay is at the very southern end of the strip so we walked north going through all the casinos – always interesting people watching and seeing how the casinos are trying to reel you in. There were not a lot of people out and about which was nice – but it was still early. All the casinos were open but it looked like about 50% of the food places were closed and all the shows due due the pandemic. We stopped at the Eataly in Park MGM for some more coffee and pastries. Note to self: stay at Park MGM next time as there is no smoking there. We continued down the strip as the sun came out and it thankfully got warmer and warmer. We met up with the kids at Fashion Show and did a bit of shopping and then looked for a place to lunch. We ended up at Virgil’s, a BBQ place in the LINQ promenade. We got a table outside and had beers and BBQ and watched the increasing larger crowds walk by. We took off walking back towards Mandalay Bay and the kids went to explore some more. We took a nice rest and then got ready for a night on the town. We drove down to Old Las Vegas around 5:00, got a beer on Fremont street, walked around a bit and then met everyone at Circa – the new casino on Fremont street that just opened this year. We had a reservation at The Legacy Club, their bougie bar way up on the 60th floor. We met Grace’s boyfriend Thomas and had a nice cocktail hour checking out the view and enjoying our pricy cocktails. We had dinner at 8 East, a pan-asian place that was also in the Circa. We had a great meal in our own little room sharing dumplings, pork belly bao, brisket fried rice and other things. Everything was great. We joined the growing crowds on Fremont street and made our way to El Cortez where we played black jack for awhile. No more $5 tables… just $10. I came ahead $40 playing just for 1/2 hour which is all I gambled the whole trip. We left the kids there – still going at it – and we made our way back to Mandalay Bay where we hung out in one of their bars for one more beer and then hit the hay after a long, fun day.
Saturday, March 13th, 2021
We drove to Grace’s in the morning and had bagels and donuts for breakfast and then drove to Red Rock Canyon park which was just a short drive away. Red Rock is a beautiful place – we did the loop around stopping at several spots but didn’t go on any lengthy walks as it was still pretty chilly and we weren’t dressed very appropriately. I don’t remember what we did for lunch…. mmmhhhmm? The ladies went out in the afternoon to get their nails done and Corey and I went to the grocery store and to search for bean bags. We spent cocktail hour playing bean bags and soaking in the sun. We grilled steaks and vegetables for dinner at Grace’s nice set up and enjoyed a quiet evening relaxing.
Sunday March 14th, 2021
We were taking the red eye home tonight at 11:00 so we relaxed in our room in the morning, packed things up, checked out of the hotel and met the kids for brunch at ARIA. We went to a french bistro called Bardot Brasserie and it was fabulous – best meal of the week. We all had bloody marys, mimosas and Corey had a morning manhattan. Everyones food was first rate but the french toast I had was truly a work of art. After brunch we walked around the strip enjoying, finally, some warm sunny weather. We stopped at Momofuku milk bar in the Cosmopolitan for some treats, walked through the spring exhibits at the Bellagio and people watched at the growing crowds of Vegas humanity. We made our way back to Grace’s where we chilled, sat by the pool, and played some more bean bags. Thomas came over later and we got burgers and fries from In & Out. We packed up around 8ish, not looking forward to the flight home. We made it the airport, turned in the car with no problems and all survived the red eye back to CLE.