Before ANYTHING else can be said, our visit to the place where things that happen, are supposed to stay there, the REAL goal was to renew our old friendship with Jim & John….. THAT goal was met in spades, and not just at the casino. It was fabulous to see them, and nothing there was as exciting as being with them for that short visit. EVERY time we get to see them, we end up wishing we lived closer to them than we do.
The visit began with that interesting drive from Riverside through the desert….that I had forgotten completely was bordered by the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains to the west….peaks I had “assumed” were much lower than the Cascade range in the Northwest….NO, a quick google taught me these rugged mountains were over 11,000′ high! NO WONDER they look so beautiful at the desert’s edge.
If you live in the rain forests of the northwest, you have limited long distance views….not so here. It seemed unsettling to reach a little high point, and look out to a highway that vanished straight ahead in the far distance. I had forgotten about “color” in the desert…..nice viewing. Not so much the last few towns in California….Victorville (made what it is by the big prison there), Barstow, Baker, do not seem like cultural centers I’d love to have been raised in. We DID, however, pass one of the most unique Road Names I’ve ever seen at one exit:
Zzyxz ? Are you kidding me? Named after….. ??? Well, link can tell you….it DOES have a history….. NEXT time I have an urge to go rock collecting, I’ll have to book a flight into Zzyxz …..
We continued bravely on, and fearing gas spikes in Vegas, fueled at the last CA stop…Baker. Woops! $4.07 a gallon? (We later found gas in Vegas to be stable at $3.52…… gees, should have known, everything in Vegas is subsidized to make SURE you have a few coins left when you enter about any building there, eh?
SO…..we continued, using the Droid as our gps guide, and soon arrived at a quite elegant, beautiful gated community…. What a fabulous place the boys allowed us to stay in……..
The boys took the days off we were there, and kept us busy…………… touring ALL the time except Sunday Night. Why would that be? We arrived at the gated estate to find party preparations underway! Huge platters of snacks, desserts, baked puff pastries awaiting US and the beginning of………Oscar Night !!! We didn’t need to go ANYWHERE! We spent a lovely evening renewing all the old gossip not just about us, our old friends and everyone we knew, but about all those rich celebrities too! THANKS, Jim & John, for a fabulous evening! When asked, it became apparent I was a fashion nobody. I was wearing Levi Strauss and a lovely sweatshirt…yep, it was cool in town.
Up early, after a fabulous night of rest (in fact we came home from THAT visit to trash our Sleep Number Bed and get one as close to their guest room mattress as possible)….. We began a tour of the Vegas “STRIP” . . . .land of the towers now, the new moneyed part of town. First stop was at the BELLAGIO for BRUNCH. You enter the restaurant after walking through the domed gardens that are changed seasonally (and lavishly. (((THE LINK just above is directly TO the Botanical Garden there… you should see it) …I can’t imagine what this costs to get done)….the pic chosen not for the gorgeous sections, but for, of course, that gorgeous bunny:
What a brunch! Crab benedicts and a luscious hollandaise…..yum. The food itself was top notch. One strong visual highlight for me was the lobby of the Bellagio. I’m truly curious what Dale Chihuly was paid to do this, but the ceiling is a huge installation of his, and is absolutely striking:
Then we walked through the attached high-end boutique shopping mall to learn THIS little fact: This mall takes in more revenue than any mall in the world. Rodger liked a pair of designer swim shorts but declined when he found the price was at $595. plus tax. We enjoyed the designs of the place for sure, excesses everywhere:
We wandered all through this area and when ready to leave, entered NY NY casino for two things, a great lunch at the NY Deli, and ride on the NY NY roller coaster set along the roof of the hotel……FUN DAY.
A day trip to Hoover Dam, tours into the power chambers, seeing the massive turbines spinning…… The new Bridge over the canyon was magnificent. I had completely forgotten about the RICH colors of the canyon:
**Ah, our hosts, the famous and fabulous Jim and John! We walked across that bridge above, saw things about this dam I’d not known.
Evening of DAY 3:
A chance to see the old old Fremont part of town. Here was yet another completely different set of players…..seems this was the blue collar set, the retired locals, some younger kids wanting to ride the zip lines, and higher returns on your Casino gambling…… The highlight was seeing the fabulous light shows that happen here ……all themed different. We saw two: One about Anime, one about the Doors and the music matched the show perfectly:
I learned more about Las Vegas than maybe I was comfortable with….. there are neighborhoods, sections of town that ARE different but there is NO getting away from the primary goal: Get your money away from you. From the noveau Riche visitors to the blue collar vacationers in the Fremont District to the poor locals, even senior citizens at the several neighborhood “stations”. When we went to the “SUNSET STATION” for a Breakfast Buffet (if you can imagine a ‘breakfast’ buffet with a few “hundred” items to choose from)….there was a catch-you gimmick for seniors lined UP to gamble away for about an hour….with some “special” offer thing that mostly meant they went home poorer than they were.
Last stop, that evening, we drove back to the BELLAGIO to see the spectacular Water Fountain show…….
Las Vegas is QUITE a place, and we KNOW two of the FEW MOST fabulous, delightful, lovely, fun people there! THIS friendship has history….Jim and I have been bestest friends for 40 years now….. that is a treasure to me.