Day 1 had brought us through Vegas with a brief stop but this time we made it a destination as a close friend so happened to be staying right on the strip and had invited us to come through.
I had apparently lived here for a short time period as a child but with no memories of it while Bia had visited numerous times as a touristic spot with friends and family that would come visit. Driving into night the last few hours brought us by the Hoover Dam just about 30 miles South East of Vegas before traffic started to slow down and then back up.
Our friend Evan who we had lived with in San Diego and who came to the Joshua Tree with us had business in town and it was a nice cross through to say hey as well as explore the town before moving on. Vegas was all lights, building walls lined with L.E.D. billboards and other projections on everything the eye could see. Traffic bobbing and weaving streamlined to the nearest casino parking lots as we made way towards the MGM Aria hotel on the new strip.
On arriving we grabbed what we thought to be essentials along with our haggard selves and marched through bedazzled hallways into an extravagant casino ground floor. We were surrounded by lounges and high-stakes betting rooms. Our appearance disheveled, smelling of smoke and the closest to cleanliness we had known since day 1 was washing our hands in the few stores we had passed through along with the use of wet-wipes. Evan meeting us in a lobby area primped and clothes pressed, ready for a later conference still meeting us with all smiles leading us up to his 52 story suite. The mirrored elevator ride confirmed our road-worthy look, hair frayed and styled with natural oils. Sweatpants and flannels along with the said camp-fire smoke infused duds really stood us out from even the Vegas crowd.
The suite was incredible with views of the strip, a main room with couches and bathroom divided from the master suite and master bath. On the main bed he had laid a heart of chocolates and insisted we take the master room during our stay. Over the top and definitely appreciated we accepted as we gathered ourselves together before a much needed clean-up, shave and change of clothes.
Day 5 finished up with an excellent Korean BBQ a few miles from the hotel. Soju, ample BBQ and heavy eyes brought us to Ubering back to the Aria, making a few last minute bets ,winning a few dollars and calling it a night.
The next we took advantage of a study/breakfast lounge before taking it to the strip and exploring the many casinos that stood mountainous over us while connecting to each other. The weather was gray and slightly chilly but each hotel brought you into a different world letting us forget about what the outside held. Christmas spirit peppered the walls though just about everywhere we went with multi-story high decorated trees, giant hanging ornaments and larger than life toy soldiers and other beasts. As Evan worked his conferences through the day Bia and I explored the rest of the strip.
Into the evening we took time to bring our soiled clothing to a laundry-mat on the outskirts of the strip while re-organizing the car once again. We were able to clear out just about the whole back seat now without leg room and a laundry basket filled with more donations that we deemed unnecessary for our travels. After visiting a Goodwill donation area, we connected with Evan before booking it to the last hour of a seriously outstanding and oh-so-filling upscale buffet at the Bellagio. Snow-crab was the hit but prime rib, a plethora of sweets and whatever else we could fit on our plates filled our tummies before catching the Bellagio’s water show spectacle after. I will note a pit-stop on the way out as I ran to the bathroom, Evan and Bia played an automated horse race track winning $40 and causing a stir. Still holding our stomachs, we walked up and down the strip burning off a few of the calories that we could.
To finish up the evening while Evan turned in, Bia and I popped down Fremont St. or the old Vegas strip loaded with classic neons everywhere and everything you would expect to see from any classic film or show involving the Sin City. We had hoped for the last showing of the Fremont Experience but with winter season shortening the act to midnight we had just missed out. All good things, it had been a stellar evening and with good sleep and a great reset we were both ready for an early departure and off to our next adventure.
In the morning the three of us grabbed coffee and with hugs and great appreciation we hauled our bags back to the car, gathered our wits and waved goodbye to the city for a while and welcomed the great outdoors (behind the windshield) once again…