Since my family is spread out we decided to meet up with Joel and Virginia from Utah in Vegas for a few days before we all headed back to work and school.
It was a quick mini-family vacation and a nice way to get out of Riverside and see family at the same time.
We rolled in town just in time for downtown Rush hour traffic then loaded up on some food for the next few days and Panda Express for dinner. My aunt works for Hilton Grand Vacations so she helped us book a one-bedroom timeshare place...the kitchen and dining room table came in handy and I liked that it didn't have a casino in it!
The Oleson's met up with us not too long later. Some of us watched Pirates of the Carabean in our room...(you can see our view of Circus Circus from the window) and the rest of the kids watched Kung Fu Panda 2 down the hall. It actually was nice to have 2 rooms close enough together to split up if the kids wanted but still be close enough to come back and forth.
Dean was very excited to see "Asheee!!!" He loves Ashley! He also loved Taylor throwing him up in the air and Jacob pushing him in the stroller.
The next morning this is what we find after breakfast. Kids hanging out in front of the TV while Joel and Jeff take the Oleson car to the shop (leaking fluids on the drive down) and buy tickets for the adults to go to a show that evening.
We planned out our day by starting with a recommendation Joel found for the Pinball Hall of Fame...it had a 5 star rating. We were open but I have to admit I was thinking it would be more of a museum,
it was more of a warehouse.
There were lots of pinball games, and some other kinds. Basically it was an arcade so we let the kids play for a bit.
Here is Ashley getting some $.25 popcorn which was a hit with the kids (notice all the games that came here to die in the background)
Jacob found the popcorn too...
Ashley spent her money on fake mustaches and this machine. It was basically a foot massager/vibrator thingie from maybe the 50s or 60s.
It said "Step up for a pick up" and "Bet a hit, this is it, keep young and fit"
Don't know how vibrating feet keep you fit but Ashley had fun with it.
Classic Mrs. Pacman kept Jeff and Taylor occupied while we were there and then we were off to Fazoli's for lunch and a trip to Red Rock.
I would never know about Red Rock Canyon if I didn't have an aunt that lived in Vegas but we loved it. About 1/2 hour away from downtown there is a national park that has trails and canyons and hikes that take you to petroglyphs and Indian sites.
Here's the view from the visitor's center
When we drove up closer we could see all kinds of people rock climbing and repelling. It was fun to pick them out in the distance hanging precariously from the rocks.
We found a trail that took us ...
To some petroglyphs and wall paintings.
Joel thought this would be a good idea at the time...people eat cactus don't they?
Well I already learned my lesson the hard way you don't have to just worry about the big spikes...there are lots of little ones you can't see very well.
Lets just say Joel's experiment left him with spiky lips...
Some more hiking.
I loved that Dean would reach out and touch whatever dad was walking by.
After a nerve racking brush with running out of gas on the way back, picking up the Oleson's car with only 15 minutes to spare (they would've been without a car for the next 4 days) we made our way back to the hotel and got the kids dinner so we could go out as adults.
With a million choices for dinner it was hard to pick...even harder when a lot of the best places had 2 hour waiting times...we settled on a place called Bahama Breeze and it was great. Yummy island themed food and not too expensive!!
We ended up going to a show at the new hotel Aria.
It was Viva Elvis with Cirque du Soleil.
Fun and we loved it but we were hoping for a tad more acrobatics and a little less Elvis...in fact there wasn't even an Elvis! They had his songs sung by a gospel chior, plenty of videos of him but no person actually acting and singing as if they were him.
There was still plenty to keep us entertained.
We came home to the boys up playing Monopoly. Jacob was in heaven because nobody will play it with him at home any more. They ended up continuing their game the next day but finally got bored with it.
On Saturday we went and explored some of the downtown sights...like treasure island...
The Venetian all decorated for Winter.
They even had an ice skating rink but looking at it closer we read that it was a "simulated ice skating experience that was eco-friendly" It was plastic that you ride around on with greasy skates. Not worth $10.00 a pop if you ask me.
Here is as close to Vegas nightlife as our kids got...
in front of Madame Tossaud's Wax museum.
The Venetian was pretty cool and Jeff told us all about how it compared with Italy.
The Christmas tree looked like a big foil cone with balls on it.
We figured it looked much better lit up at night.
At this point Dean insisted that only Jacob push him in the stroller. I think he thought Jacob was a fun stroller driver.
We went inside to see the gondalier's...Jeff said these were much nicer than the real ones...
A quick lunch in the food court. (We aren't big eaters so it was nice to have the Oleson boys to finish up our leftovers ;)
Dean wanting to hold Ashley's hand while we're walking...awww how cute.
The tram that took us....one hotel over...the kids wanted to ride it and they got to.
We had to go to M&M world...5 stories of all M&M stuff....
it took us 1/2 the time to find the actual M&Ms
Here they are.
Not only did they have every color that had pretzel, coconut, peanut, peanut butter, mint, cherry and rasberry M&Ms. So we started putting some of each in baggies.
Before we knew it we were up to 2 pounds.
I asked Jeff how much it ended up being..."A lot"
Yeah $25.00 for two pounds, (he didn't realize how much a pound it was)!
We tried to see the dolfins at the Mirage but after winding through the maze to get to them we found out it was $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for kids to see them. Yeah right.
So we went to the MGM to see the lions for free instead.
This guy was full on playing with them and manhandling their mouth and everything and they seemed fine. They attracted quite a crowd.
We were wondering if the guys from "Tanked" did this one...
The last stop for the afternoon was the New York New York...Inside made of candy...
Outside...hmmmm the roller coaster...
does anyone want to try it??
Taylor and Scott wanted to try it...$15.00 for a ride....so only those two went on it.
They liked it but by the time they were off the ride everyone was pretty much done...
Besides the streets were starting to get pretty crowed. We had an hour to get off the street and back to our hotel. They were closing Las Vegas Blvd from 5:00pm to 5:am to all traffic so we would be stuck if we didn't get back to our room.
We got back and decided to swim since the pools were heated and it was nice to relax in the hot tubs and then get the kids showered and relaxed.
We ate in again and had planned to play games but the boys decided to hang out together in the other room playing more Monopoly and us adults hung out and talked until about 9:30 or so.
We were curious what the streets would be like since they were all shut down. We wanted to take a walk and when noone wanted to go (they were done walking) Jeff, Joel and I went to check it out.
I actually was expecting craziness but it was very tame.
We found cheap New Year's party stuff....
And more stuff...
We walked as far as Treasure Island and the Venetian (the tree did look better at night)
And then we headed back to be with the family at midnight and watch the fireworks
They were prepared for chaos but the whole time we were walking we saw normal people, families and even kids in strollers. I thought the few high heeled, mini skirted moms walking next to their husbands and boyfriends looked funny towering over them. Only a couple of people looked noticeably like that had been drinking all in all it was very tame, there wasn't even any music or anything...but I think we were on the "tame" end of the strip and away from the partying...fine by me.
Jeff was asked to have his picture taken 3 or 4 times and he was called "wee-man" once or twice.
At 11:30 we gathered the kids and headed to the top of the parking garage to watch the fireworks show.
It's fun to have the kids old enough to celebrate New Year's with them!
Ashley and Dean are ready!
The fireworks were shot off all down the strip, they kept coming and all seemed synchronized even with the colors that were being shot off!
Right behind us was the stratosphere fireworks!
The next morning we found a 10:00 church service and was on the road by 11:30 to try and escape the traffic going back to California.
There were plenty of cars but it only got really bad at State line and at the fruit check-in place.
We got home to work being done in our kitchen.
After 2 years of trying to house hunt and having deal after deal fall out we decided to give up and redo the kitchen instead....so here is the first step, we put in smaller windows so we can extend the counter farther and put a return...more pictures to follow as more gets done...
Happy New Year Everyone!!