Las Vegas

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.  St. George is only a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas, and we knew eventually we'd get sucked into its glittery black hole.  This city is hard to avoid -- it's so pulsing and ridiculous.  For as much as I trash-talk Vegas, I've been there three times already.  I guess it's the contrast that pulls me in.  If this blog proves anything, it's that we spend most of our weekends in remote natural places -- just the two of us coated with a layer of dust and cactus spikes.  Now, flip that 180 degrees.  An overdose of glitter, debauchery, noise, and booze was like an alternate universe smacking me in the face -- WHERE ARE WE?!  To makes things even more surreal, May 13 was our 1-year anniversary.  One year ago, we eloped out in Capitol Reef National Park.  The contrast between a leafy orchard and a decadent, seedy hoard of humanity was too good to pass up.  As the late, great Hunter S. Thompson said, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."

winning at life

New York New York

And secretly, we had a blast.  Sure, you can sell your soul in Vegas and drop a bunch of money, but we decided to do it on the super-cheap and see how little money we could spend over two days.  The whole place is such a spectacle that just walking around gawking is 100% entertaining.  If you go mid-week and avoid holidays and big conferences, hotels are stupidly cheap.  I found a room at a Howard Johnson just off the strip for $23 (seriously -- I've spent $20 on a campsite.)  If you stay at a casino/resort, just watch out for the mandatory 'resort fee,' which they all sneakily tack on at the end.

After work on Monday, we drove 2 hours to Vegas and checked into our hotel.  Clearly, 8:00pm was too early to call it a night -- we loaded up on liquid refreshments in our room, then started exploring the strip.  We roamed around the MGM, New York New York, the Bellagio (I laaaav the glass flower ceiling!), Paris, and Tropicana.  It's all colorful, tacky, and entertaining.  Neither of us really care about gambling -- we played a few penny slots and lost about $5 before we got distracted.  Instead, we used the 20 Things to Do Under $20 list as a rough guide, ran around, made random buddies, and reveled in the ridiculousness.

glass flower ceiling at the Bellagio

The next day was our one-year anniversary!  We slept in (of course,) then stepped out for an encore of the night before.  This time we rode the roller coaster at New York New York, went out for a snazzy dinner at Le Provenal, and caught a Cirque du Soleil show.  If you're going to drop some cash in Vegas, a show is definitely the way to go.  It's the quintessential Vegas experience -- kitschy, over-the-top, and 100% entertaining.  All in all, it was a great trip.  I always feel the need to roll in the dirt after a Vegas trip to shake off the glitter, but it's undeniably fun to immerse yourself in an alternate universe every so often.  I'm sure we'll revert back to our usual outdoorsy-Utah-desert weekend adventures for while, but then, inevitably, we'll find ourselves back in this town.  Viva, Las Vegas!

GUITAR HERO

Paris

MGM

the ride home -- hungover and triumphant!