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My husband and I decided to be spontaneous this year and plan an impromptu vacation. He had never been to Vegas and had never seen the Grand Canyon.
So we sat down and we started planning our trip for the week between our 2 year wedding anniversary and his birthday. We booked our flights to Vegas, our hotel on the strip, and a rental car.
Since we weren’t planning on spending a lot of time in our hotel room we picked one of the cheaper hotels on the strip, The Luxor.
We already had concert tickets to see Alt-J the day before our flight so we knew it was going to be a great start to our vacation. Luckily we were flying out of an airport very close to where the concert was so we stayed in a hotel close to the airport that offered airport parking and a shuttle.
I will admit that this vacation was amazing, but we were also pretty exhausted. We did agree that the exhaustion was definitely worth it! Not to mention, it is the middle of a semester and we are very lucky that I attend classes online. However, weekly assignments are not available until Monday morning and are due on Sunday night…when you read how my schedule went you will understand exactly why we were exhausted.
Monday – Our Anniversary – woke up at 5am, started a few homework assignments.
Worked from 8am to 3pm
Drove to our hotel at 3:15pm
Alt-J concert until 11pm
4 hours of sleep
Tuesday – woke up at 4am, arrived at airport at 5am
Flew out at 7am (a stranger used my husband’s shoulder as a pillow)….traveled in time… Landed in Vegas at 8am
Waited an hour for our rental car…but we got a free day and a free tank of gas out of it.
Drove to the first In-n-Out that we could find because we had never ate there (Amazing!)
Finally checked into our hotel
Dinner and a little gambling in our hotel casino
Exhausted and in bed by 8:30pm…gotta love Jet Lag.
Wednesday – 6am wake up
Red Rock Canyon
Drove almost 2 hours to Beatty, NV to see a ghost town and one of the iconic “long roads”
Drove about 30 minutes into Death Valley
2 hour drive back to Vegas
We skipped lunch….getting pretty hangry over here…
Dinner at a Thai restaurant in Vegas that was off the beaten path
Thursday – 6am wake up
4 hour drive to Grand Canyon National Park (not the glass bridge, don’t worry, I’ll explain)
3-4 hours at the Grand Canyon
4 hour drive back to Vegas
Friday – 7am wakeup
Breakfast at Hash House A Go-Go (You HAVE to do this!)
Pawn Stars Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
Vegas Strip during the day
Dinner at Ri-Ra in Mandalay Bay
Vegas Strip at night
Saturday – 6am wake up
Flew out at 9am….traveled in time…Landed at 4pm
Drove the hour home…it is now 6pm
Sunday – 8am wake up
Homework…all day…a week’s worth in 24 hours
Hubby’s Birthday Dinner
Monday – Back to work
Are you tired just reading it?
We flew about 3,100 miles, drove about 1,000 miles and thanks to my FitBit, we walked 45 miles….in 4 days. And I did it all in flip flops without getting a blister.
Now onto a few quick reviews of our trip and of course, the photos.
When visiting the Hoover Dam we were disappointed to hear that the $30 Dam tour was not being offered due to the elevators being out of service. So we had to settle for the $15 Power Plant Tour.
Here is the best suggestion that I can give you in this entire blog post, DO NOT GO ON THE TOUR. My husband and I feel as though we threw away $30 to learn everything that you can read on Wikipedia. They stuff you in an elevator with about 25 people and go down about 50 floors. You don’t get to see a lot and you are stuffed like sardines into an elevator 4 times in 20 minutes.
The best part of our trip to the Hoover Dam was walking around outside of the Dam on our own taking pictures. You can do that for free. However, be advised, it gets pretty windy! I made the mistake of wearing one of my favorite hippie skirts. I had to use my hair tie to tie it off to the side so I wasn’t giving everyone a show whenever there was a gust of wind.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is only a 30 minute drive outside of Vegas and is absolutely beautiful. You and drive the 13 mile Scenic Loop for $7 and go at your own pace stopping at as many outlooks as you want.
Beatty, NV Ghost Town
After Red Rock Canyon we made our way towards Death Valley, CA. On the way we stopped at an actual ghost town in Beatty, NV right before you cross the California state line. Across from the ghost town is the Goldwell Open Air Museum. I’m not going to lie, there is not a lot to see. A couple of deteriorating buildings and a few weird sculptures. My husband was not a fan. For starters, he’s not really the artsy type. When it comes to the ghost town, he didn’t really want to get out of the car. His words exactly:
“I feel like we are in The Hills Have Eyes and a mutant child is going to try to get us to follow him.”
But my main reason for driving through Beatty was to get this beautiful view:
Death Valley is literally the hottest place on earth. While we were there it reached at least 111 degrees. You also need to map out your destinations throughout Death Valley before you go. It is HUGE! We only stopped at Stovepipe Wells and everything else on our way to Zabriskie Point. Just an example: From Stovepipe Wells to Zabriskie Point without stopping is almost a 40 minute drive. It is definitely worth seeing!
On our way to the Grand Canyon from Vegas we stopped off in Seligman, AZ, the birth place of Route 66. This is a definite must on your trip!
A lot of people asked us if we went to the glass bridge. The answer is no. We were originally planning on it until I did a little research. The glass bridge part of the Grand Canyon is only about a 2 hour drive from Vegas, it is not part of the national park, and it is on an Indian Reservation. Due to it being on an Indian Reservation you have to pay about $25 for parking and it is about $35 per person to even walk out on the bridge. I also read somewhere that you are not allowed to take any photos while on the bridge. So our decision boiled down to driving 2 hours one way and spending about $100 where I’m not allowed to take any photos OR drive 4 hours one way, spend $30, and take all the photos I want. We opted for the 4 hour drive to the Grand Canyon National Park. In the park we hopped on the FREE tour bus taking us to almost a dozen outlooks. Definitely do the tour bus!!
Vegas Strip & Freemont St.
We started our day on the strip with breakfast at Hash House a Go-Go inside the Plaza Hotel & Casino. Your plate is heaped with “twisted farm food” and it is absolutely delicious! (Two other great food suggestions while in Vegas are Pinkbox Doughnuts & Jamm’s Restaurant)
We then hopped the bus with our $8 all day pass and made our way to the Pawn Stars Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. We only waited about 5 minutes to get in. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside and we had just missed the stars of the show.
After the Pawn Shop we went to Freemont St. They call it the Freemont Street Experience, trust me it is an experience. Lol.
We then hopped the bus back to the Las Vegas Strip and took our time exploring. We saw the beautiful and free views of the glass sculptures in the Bellagio, the various statues around the strip and inside Excalibur and Luxor. We walked around New York New York and the Venetian. If you take away your money spent on gambling and food you can basically entertain yourself for a full day without spending any money in Vegas. You can find a slew of locals selling bottled water out of coolers on the strip for $1 a bottle.
After a long day we had dinner at the Irish Pub Ri-Ra before heading out to see the strip at night. At night the locals switch from selling water out of their coolers to cans of beer. If you are lucky you can find the local who is selling them 2 for $5. We saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage and the Bellagio fountain show. While the Mirage Volcano is pretty, don’t be too disappointed when it only last about 2 minutes. The fountain show was definitely our favorite. We did hear a few people making fun of the music choice though. My husband and I were definitely not complaining. The fountain show was put on to Metallica’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.”
It was after the fountain show that we realized my husband had lost his bus pass somewhere. So we had to walk the entire strip! At first he was pretty pissed, but then was glad we got to experience everything on the strip at night.
To view all of my photos from the trip check out my Flickr album.
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