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Archive for June, 2011

Editor’s Note:  Due to a broken computer and getting back to everyday life upon our return, the trip blog posts for Leg 4 of our YLA are about 5 weeks behind real time.

After leaving our hearts in San Francisco, we spent the night in Barstow, California.  Ask our kids, and they’ll tell you that one of the coolest things about Leg 4 was visiting most of the cities mentioned in “Route 66”.  Then they inevitably will break into song – the Depeche Mode version.   They were a little disappointed that San Bernadino was not on our itinerary, but we promised visits to Chicago, St. Louis, Joplin, and Oklahoma City on Leg 5.

Las Vegas was up next.  Dad lived in Vegas for a couple of years back in the early 90s, so he was eager to play tour guide for the rest of the family.

We stopped at Hoover Dam for a quick tour, and found that all of that concrete can get really hot.   Unfortunately, we could not take the behind-the-scenes Dam Tour because the minimum age was 8, but the kids were still amazed at the size and scope of the dam.  Mom was more amazed at the size and scope of the crowds.

After our trip to the Dam, we headed to The Sunset Station Hotel & Casino.  We chose to stay off the Strip in the suburb of Henderson in hopes of avoiding the crowds.

Upon arrival, we almost passed out when we saw the Check-in line of several hundred people wrapping all around the casino. Luckily, it turned out to be a line to pick up tickets for the two upcoming concerts at the hotel.  The acts were Merle Haggard and Dokken w/Quiet Riot, so it was an incredibly diverse group of people sharing the same line.

Once we found the correct line, Dad checked in and surprised Mom by getting an extra room adjoining the room that we had reserved.  We had stayed in a couple of suites on this leg of our adventure, and once Mom “goes suite”,  it can be hard going back.  She was a little surprised (but VERY grateful for the extra space), and Dad assured her that he would pay for it with his winnings at the craps table. (And he did).

The rooms were very nice, and during our short stay, we took advantage of many of the resort amenities Sunset Station had to offer.

After unpacking, the kids enjoyed their first trip to a Las Vegas Buffet and were completely enamored with the seemingly endless Dessert Buffet.  Dad recounted a story of how his grandfather used to get 3 desserts at buffets and eat them under the glare of his wife, who watched his diet like a hawk.  The girls honored their Great-Grandfather’s memory by getting at least 3 desserts each.

The next morning, we headed down to the famous Las Vegas strip, and found the masses that we had been avoiding.  We explored the MGM Grand, New York-New York, The Excalibur, and the Luxor.  The kids enjoyed the sights and sounds that Vegas offers, but not the smells.

Excalibur

New York, New York

Sphinx at the Luxor

The intense, dry heat drove us back to our hotel for some much welcomed air-conditioning.  Later that evening, we had one of the best meals of the trip at the Capri Italian Ristorante located inside Sunset Station.  After dinner entertainment included some great people-watching from our window as concert-goers arrived to see Merle Haggard play outdoors.

After another cheap Vegas breakfast the next morning, we challenged the kids to a game of bowling in the on-site bowling alley.

On our way out of town, we made one final visit to the Strip.  We needed to stop at Caesar’s Palace to verify that it was “pager friendly” and to tour the Forum Shops.

Dick Butkus signing books at Forum Shops

Reviewing our Greek Mythology

Our trip to Las Vegas was short but sweet.  Next up – Utah!

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