Friday, July 13, 2007

What Happens In Vegas...

We took a trip out west to visit our mother/mother-in law in Grass Valley, CA and to get some free babysitting so B and I could go have some fun in Las Vegas. We had a great time and came back more exhausted than when we left. Part of that was due to staying up late. The other part was because we didn't sleep in the same place more than twice for 9 days.

We began our adventure with a 3.5 hour flight to Sacramento. This wasn't bad, but we flew out of San Antonio because it was $200 cheaper and direct. Which meant we got up at 3:15 to catch a 7 am flight. Which meant waking up J at the crack of dawn. B insisted he would go right back to sleep. Oh no! He was way to excited by all of the lights on the sides of the highway to do that. He babbled for nearly an hour before nodding off again 15 minutes before we got to the airport. The little guy is never in the car at night, so this was a big adventure. I let B have a big "I told you so" for that.

The flight wasn't full, which was good, because J wanted no part in staying in his seat. He insisted on visiting with the family sitting behind us (A mom, a dad, his 2nd wife, and three kids. Yes, you read that right). After we arrived in Sacramento, it was another hour and twenty minutes to the farm. I visited the farm back in December and honestly have to say I was a little overwhelmed by being out in the middle of nowhere and the bumpy roads and such. I'm not that much of a country girl. This time was much better because I wasn't there by myself, and there have been many improvements made to the property (patios have been laid, some roads have been laid, it was summer and warm, so it was very pleasant.) Plus, J was old enough to enjoy being outdoors with all of the new animals- 1 goat, 3 pygmie goats, many chickens and 2 enormous, unsheared (not by choice) sheep. For J it was love at first baaaa.

J's first goat and sheep encounters

After spending a day and a half on the farm (enjoying a visit from B's cousin L for one of those nights.... I can't believe the first time I met her she was 6 and now she is starting her senior year of high school with many scholarship prospects at top colleges...) we left the little man and jetted of to Las Vegas. This wasn't the first time we had left him, but it had been quite a while, so I was a little nervous about it. I'll just say that our phone calls tapered off dramatically as the days went on. By the last day we were down to 1 call. Not bad for our first kid.

J and his Nummi share some laughs and kisses

Vegas was so so so so fun. We did too much. We didn't lay around and do nothing quite enough. We didn't win big. We did eat some wonderful meals, drink some terrific drinks, and see some great shows. We spread out our trip at two hotels, The Golden Nugget and Bellagio. We wanted to try The Golden Nugget because neither of us had been to downtown Las Vegas, which was interesting to see for one night, but we stayed for two. It's your old fashioned glitter gulch.

After relaxing by the shark tank pool during the afternoon, we got gussied up for dinner at Hugo's Cellar in the Four Queens Casino. This place has been rated among one of the best places to eat in Vegas not only for it's food, but also its service. It was scrumptious. B and I shared chateaubriand and lobster for two and a bottle of wine chosen by the sommelier. It was a bit tricky walking in my 4 inch heels after that meal! Y-U-M.

The shark tank pool at Golden Nugget

The next day we had lunch at what is was supposedly the best restaurant in Vegas. It's called Rosemary's Restaurant and it's way off the strip in a shopping mall. From the outside you would think that it's nothing, but inside, you don't even feel like you are dining in a building shared with a supermarket. We had a prix-fixe lunch for $20 a piece. B had roasted duck and french lentils and I had an eggplant dish that was to die for. Oh, and we shared a wonderful salad and carpaccio/blue cheese appetizer. Dessert was a little disappointing because I was misled by the name, but it was still very good. I would recommend this place to anyone going to Vegas. It would be worth a cab ride and is extremely easy if you have rented a car.

Following our culinary adventures, we decided to check out some hotels and attractions because we had purchased this power pass thingy that got you into various attractions for one set price. This ended up being trickier than it sounded because many of the attractions we were interested in had decided not to participate anymore or were closed, so we had to bust our butts a little harder to make back our money and thensome. Which was annoying, but not impossible. It just left us with a little less time for lazing around. Without going into too much boring detail about all of that, let's just say we basically saw anything and everything that was on the strip-- from the dolphin habitat and the new three week old dolphin, to Madame Tussaud's and the top of the Stratosphere and the Rollercoaster at New York New York.

Life got a whole lot better when we checked into Bellagio. Mind you, it wasn't bad at The Golden Nugget, but it was downtown, which ended up being a little inconvenient the second day. It was a nice place to stay for the super cheap rate we got, but being right at the center of the strip was so much better. I got a great rate back in May for Bellagio, which is the only way we could afford to stay there. Little did I know that the rate had a "lake view upgrade if available." We were lucky because it was available. Check out the pictures for the view from our room. And of our room. The neatest feature was the electric blinds that you could open and close from your bed. So if you felt like watching the fountains in bed, you could. Well, our window was too small, but you could sit in the two chairs and watch in your robes.

The view from our room

That night we also traveled off the strip to another shopping mall for what was dubbed "the best Thai restaurant in America" by Gourmet magazine. It's called Lotus of Siam. If you ever go, make sure you have the address with you before you travel. They aren't listed in the phone book and are not recognized when you call information. A little Internet searching saved us and our reservation. This place is in a dive of a shopping mall, but again, once we were inside we knew we would not be disappointed. It smelled wonderful, like nothing we can get in Texas! I think we shared 5 different appetizers and entrees and two drinks and the bill was less than $35. mmmmmmmmmmm.

From there it was off to see Spamalot at the Wynn. This hotel is even fancier than Bellagio. The show was hysterical and John O'Hurley of Seinfeld and Dancing with the Stars fame played King Arthur. We decided to decline the free admission to the lounge at the Wynn and head back to our own hotel to have some drinks there. We settled in at the Caramel Lounge for some of the most expensive martinis I'd ever had, but they were so good and we were on vacation and we were dressed up... and I had two. Pomegranate martinis made with Effen Black Cherry Vanilla vodka, pomegranate juice and rock candy syrup. We ended up going back again the second night because they were that good and the music was fun as well. I've been looking for this vodka online and from what I can tell it's made in Holland and only has a limited distribution in the states. I am going to have to get myself some so I can make my own at home.

We also saw O, which was amazing and did some wine tasting at the Rio. I would get a really bad grade on these descriptions if I were in school, but I just want to get it down, so be patient with me. It also reached a record high of 126 degrees on the strip while we were there. Needless to say, we weren't outside much.
B and I were excited to get back to see our little guy and his brother and sister-in law, who are expecting a little girl in November. We had a baby shower for her up in Lake Tahoe before leaving. J was so spoiled by his grandmother that he didn't even bat an eyelash when we walked in the door. He was more interested in playing with Uncle D than to give us any attention. It's tough competing with food, goats, and a rambunctious uncle! It was so great to get away and I hope we can do it again soon. It would be nice if our family lived closer so we could take advantage of free babysitting more often!