If you know me well, you know I love to travel. God is good because gave me a husband full of adventure and a love to see the world outside of the box we live in each day. If we learned anything from Trey’s journey, it was to begin a bucket list and pursue it with all our might. On our bucket list was Las Vegas for our 25th wedding anniversary! I want to share with you a little of our trip since so many shared with us.
Most people think of Vegas as Sin City and the place where you naturally would want to go to gamble. Vegas offers much more (to my surprise). I was shocked at the number of families in our hotel and walking the strip. I will admit, the summer after I graduated high school, my mother took me to the West Coast and I went to Lake Tahoe. I walked through casinos with my mother where you did not see ANY young children! My how times have changed.
I began my search through the airline, Allegiant. Their fares are so low that you cannot beat other airlines. Yes, you do have to pay for certain carry on luggage, beverages on the flight, but you still end up paying less than you would flying with another airline. Especially if you package your air with a hotel. That is what we did and flew on their schedule and ended up staying 8 days in Vegas for an unbelievable price in a suite that we would have not been able to otherwise afford. So do your research! I love that part of planning our trips!
I call myself an OCD travel planner. If we are going on a trip, we do not leave without a color-coded excel spreadsheet with each day planned. (Just ask my sisters – they have survived Hawaii and Disney multiple times.) Each day has confirmation numbers, telephone numbers for excursions, rental car numbers, you get it. Believe it or not, I left Memphis with a blank spreadsheet with nothing pre-planned for us to do. (And we survived!)
We stayed at the Venetian Hotel which is the sister hotel to the Palazzo. My mother-in-law stayed at the Palazzo on a visit to Vegas and told us of the shops and convenience to restaurants. This is an understatement. It has to be the most beautiful hotel on the strip. We can testify that it’s the biggest. Jay and I made it our goal each day to see if we could make it from one end of the hotel to the other without getting lost. This is NO LIE! We would circle through restaurants, high-end shops, back through the restaurants, through the Palazzo Hotel, end up on the Palazzo casino floor, wait…the Venetian is at the other end. Then, we would turn around and head back. There is a REASON they do not have windows! The first day, after walking the strip, including walking to the M & M store, we calculated we had walked almost 10 miles. Jay’s achilles was swollen where he had surgery and I had chin splints. We couldn’t walk the next day or the next. We laughed at ourselves trying to make it to the elevator!
We did see two shows, Cirque du Soleil O at the Bellagio and Cirque de Soleil Michael Jackson One. Both shows were fabulous. If you are in Vegas and are a Michael Jackson fan, do not miss this show. We opted out of buying tickets to see Jennifer Lopez or Mariah Carey, or Donny and Marie Osmond. That might have been a mistake, but one I can live with.
No, we didn’t go see Hoover Dam. So many friends told us before we left that the heat was going to be so different in Vegas and I just couldn’t understand that concept…until I got there. If you didn’t have a bottle of water with you at all times, you were in trouble. At least in Memphis you can sweat a bottle of water! The dry heat wore us out. We actually slept EVERYDAY from 3-6 p.m. and would then go to dinner. I don’t think I have ever done that on a vacation! Oh, that’s what vacation is for! Jay would be on the couch in our suite in front of his TV and I would be in our king bed in front of my TV and we snoozed.
There were two days that we did choose to get out in the heat. I pre-arranged for us to have cabanas next to one of the pools because I knew Jay would not be able to handle the sun. What a set up! The cabana had a television, fridge (stocked with water), couch, chair, air condition, fan, chairs outside, misting system, and your own waiter. Even with all that, Jay and I could only stay in the heat from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. We were in our room in time for our afternoon nap. The cabanas were well worth it. If you were in the sun, you were not in it long without getting in the pool.
Besides shopping (and yes, I hit an outlet mall!), I would have to say that our evening dining was what we enjoyed most. We had a lot of referrals, talked to locals, and to some that frequented Vegas every year. Taking all of that into consideration, I think we only had one bad experience and it really wasn’t a BAD experience. It just wasn’t what people had told us to expect and that was the Caesar’s buffet. For the price we paid, well, you don’t want to know. We were told to try the Wynn buffet and it was surprisingly better than Caesar’s. Vegas hotels are very much in competition with their buffets.
For reservations, I used the app Open Table. In the comment section for special occasion I put 25th wedding anniversary. It’s amazing how service steps up a little when they know you are celebrating your anniversary. Not to mention the nice dessert you get at the end of your meal. We ate at Delmonico (Emeril Lagasse’s steakhouse) 5 star, Buddy V’s (Buddy Valastro – the Cake Boss) 4 star, Yardbird (Known for their fried chicken), Caesar’s buffet in Caesar’s Hotel, Wynn buffet in the Wynn Hotel, and I can’t leave out In and Out Burger TWICE!
I would like to share an experience I had walking from dinner at the Wynn hotel. I rounded a corner on a long walkway on our way back to our hotel and I saw a large black man in a purple jacket. It just so happened I had a purple tank top on and Jay had on a purple t-shirt. That was not planned. It was August 4, several days after Trey’s 20th birthday. Jay and I had spent July 31 grieving Trey together. I felt this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I approached the man (as Jay kept walking) and I looked straight at him and said, “Do you know what purple stands for?” He looked at me with a grin and said, “Minnesota Vikings? Baltimore Ravens? TCU?” He kept naming every sports team he could think of and I gave him a minute as I grinned. I finally put an end to his torture. I said, “No, it’s for pancreatic cancer.” He cocked his head and said, “I thought that was for breast cancer?” I said, “No, pink is for breast cancer. Purple is for pancreatic cancer. My son was 15 years old when he passed several years ago of pancreatic cancer and he loved the Lord and he loved purple.” He got the biggest grin and he said, “Can we get our picture together?” I said, “Sure, cool.” So I have a picture with a man in a purple coat that turned out to be one of the security guards for the Wynn Hotel. When I walked away, he had a smile on his face. I don’t know why. Maybe he likes purple too. But I told Jay when I saw the purple coat, God opened the door and I couldn’t pass it up.
All in all, even though we didn’t walk the strip each night, stay up all night gambling, go see Hoover Dam or Lake Mead, we did exactly what we wanted to do for our anniversary which was basically waking up and having no agenda. Don’t get use to THAT Jay Erwin! We’ve got another trip to plan and THIS time, we are going to a BEACH in 2017! A beach in the Caribbean!
Let the research and planning begin!