Vacation Part 3: Las Vegas

Our very first stop driving into the city was at Pawn Stars location.  Of course.  Because we love that show!  The guys weren't in that day, which I wasn't surprised by.  It was really cool though seeing all the places that they are during the show but in real life. 

Then we went to our hotel room.  We stayed at the Trump Hotel.  We booked through Hotwire and I purchased a 5-star hotel because it was so inexpensive and it said that it was on the Strip......on the Strip It Was Not.  It was WAYYY north of the main strip, no possibility of walking, but the hotel itself and the amenities were above par.  Incredible experience.
The room:

What you can't see here, because the bathroom was so large, is that there was a large walk in shower out of view on the left of the photo (you can see the entrance to it in the reflection on the mirror), and a large jacuzzi tub to the right of the picture.  Amazeballs!!
After we got settled in, we were out on the town!  Friends of our through Bechtel, Jen and Paulie, now live in Las Vegas working on a Solar project, so they came and picked us up to go out to dinner.  We ate in Mandalay Bay at Hubert Kellers Restaurant, Fleur.  He has a restaurant in St Louis, and I've actually met him twice, so I thought it was a good idea to visit his restaurant while we were in Sin City.  Silly me though did not take a single photo with them while we were together.  I was too caught up in catching up.  :-)  The food did not disappoint (again, post to come on the food), and it was a wonderful evening with good friends.

After dinner, we walked over to one of my bucket list items:  Seeing the wine and the wine angels at Auereole.  There were no angels flying because the restaurant had closed, but it was still as awesome as I expected the wine rack to be.  I wished I was an angel in there. Ha

Jen and Paulie had to call it an early night since they had to be at work the next day, so we wandered the strip.  We walked in and out of a few hotels to get the feel and vibe of the different themes.  I just can't get over the excess in that town.  Everything is so over the top and to the extreme.  I mean, I should have expected it, but actually seeing it and being immersed in it is such a different experience. It makes perfect sense how people could get addicted to being there; it is a definitive escape from reality.

The next day, we actually ended up going back to Mandalay Bay to go through their Aquarium.
Gilla Monster!

Reflections.  Nerd Alert.
Nerd Alert Take 2: I love this photo because it looks like we're in the water.  Sharks swiming all around us.

Love this shot.

We stopped for dinner in Todd Englishs Pub.  Again, great food in a low key atmosphere.  I think that I was just still full from the night before where it looked like I hardly touched my plate.  (It was great the next morning for breakfast though, ha)
Then we walked to see the Water Show in front of the Bellagio.  It was SO HOT outside, so once the show started, there was a continuous mist from the water that was delightful!  It was beautiful to witness, regardless of the heat.

We did a bit more wandering through the Bellagio and the Venetian, and then headed home to get ready for what turned out to be one of the most exciting parts of the trip and a meal that made both of our Top 3 meals of our lifetime; dinner at CraftSteak by Tom Colicchio.  Out of this world experience.  Next post will be me droning on about how exquisite the experience was.  Pictures abound!
We rolled ourselves out of dinner and made our way across the street to the Tropicana to attend a comedy show at The Laugh Factory.  It was very low key, a small crowd, and just what we needed after dinner. 

No, that's not a Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, or Saks 5th Avenue bag I'm carrying.....that's leftovers from dinner!!  Priceless!! 
The next morning, we headed back to San Diego to catch our return flight back to the mayhem of moving out of our house and driving half way across the country to good ol' Dallas Texas.  It was a wonderful and much needed break from reality, and I'm so happy we had the time to share together.


Vacation Part II: Visiting the Family at Grampa's house

Grampa lives just outside of Los Angeles in a town called Oxnard.  It was a very scenic drive up along the coastline from San Diego to get to his house, and it's always so wonderful getting to spend time with family.
With the seafood that we picked up in most amazing market ever in Santa Monica, we put together a homemade dinner for them that A) mom didn't have to cook and that B)we could have more time to spend together.  
While the fish and shrimp were marinating, we all spent time in the backyard.  Grampa crushed cans.

 While I admired all of this flowers.
 And fruits.

And then I admittedly went a little crazy with the tree trimmers on the lemon tree.  There were some lemons that looked more like grapefruit in size.  It was also just fun to slice them down out of the tree.  I cut two dozen. 

This was photo op number three.  I think I finally figured out who Terry got his "scowl" face from.  Its remarkable especially when the scowl is side by side.  ;-)

Always so happy to see Mom!  

We spent a good bit of the evening together, and then we came back in the morning to have breakfast together (which reminds me Mom that I still need to get that quiche or egg bake recipe from you...so good!).  Aww man and now I'm not going to be able to get that Cinnamon Bread Loaf out of my head.  Stomachs growling now.  Go figure.

It was a quick trip with the family, but it seems more often than not that's how it goes these days unless you're coming here to visit in Dallas.  Speaking offfffff..... Who's coming to visit us in Dallas?!?!  Anyone??!!?

Up next: Vegas
Up after that: it wouldn't be a vacation without a post about all the food and wine ;-)


Mid-chaos Vacation Part I: San Diego and Laguna Beach

In the middle of transferring from St Louis to Dallas, we figured it'd be as good a time as any to hop a plane and decompress for a few days.  My last day of work was July 6th, and that night we drove to the airport en route for California.  We got into San Diego a little later than anticipated as we got hung up on the tarmac in Denver waiting for a storm to clear, so we didn't see any of the city Friday night. We were up bright and early though (yay for time zone changes but body clock not changing) Saturday to take on the day.  We hopped back in our car and headed over to Coronado to get some beautiful views of the city.  Highly recommended!

They had a cute market area with art galleries and boutique shops that we wandered through a bit.  Then we started driving down the coast to Imperial Beach. Full disclosure, we drove there because I wanted to go to the most Southwestern part of the US without being in Mexico (nerd flag flying and I don't even care), and Terry found reviews for a fresh seafood restaurant out on a pier (done and done! Will write about it in a food post about the trip).
Obligatory feet in the Pacific photo.

 He joined us for lunch on the pier.
We drove back into the city later in the day and went out around the gaslamp district to various restaurants and bars.  
The next day, we did the downtown tourist scene all day and had a blast.  We walked through a farmers market, we strolled through Seaport Village and the San Diego Marina, oh and we did a lot of fresh seafood eating while we could.

Monday we were up early to start our drive up to visit Terry's family.  His grampa lives right outside of Los Angeles in a town called Oxnard, so we drove up the coast and made a few stops in Laguna Beach and Santa Monica.  The views in Laguna were beautiful and we were the only ones on the beach. 
 I'm a lucky girl.

 We stopped in to Santa Monica to walk up on the pier and get some lunch.  We found a fish market on the way out of town that had us both drooling and wishing we didn't have to leave. 

We did happily pry ourselves out of the market though because we had family to visit.  I'm going to write up a full post about our visit, but here's a preview.

Until tomorrow :-)