Friday, November 6, 2009

Las Vegas & Grand Canyon

We recently spent a week in Las Vegas in October.  A lot of people thought we were crazy for spending a whole week out there.  We actually had a great time, even though we ended up working a couple of days while we were there.

Ashley and Lee at the Bellagio Conservatory Fall Exhibit

We did take part in some gambling while we were there.  Ashley did quite well focusing mostly on the craps tables.  I didn't do very well playing blackjack, especially at Planet Hollywood.  In fact, I would have lost money for the trip were it not for Ashley's rolling skills on the craps table.  Our last night in Vegas we went to see Ka at MGM Grand (great show!).  After the show, we decided to play some craps.  The tables were pretty crowded, but we were able to find a couple of spots.  We played for about 30 minutes and we were down to the last bit of money we were playing with that night.  We decided to each roll one more time before leaving.  My roll didn't go very well, so Ashley was our last hope.  She ended up rolling for over 30 minutes (at least it seemed like that long).  Everyone at the table was high-fiving and going nuts.  This funny guy at the other end of the table kept yelling "Sista!" after she rolled.  Needless to say, it ended up being a profitable night.  After we left the table, we overhead the guy say "Where did Sista go?"  Good times.

Our friends Aaron and Natalie joined us for the first 3 nights of our trip, and we had a blast with them.

Aaron and Natalie at Venetian Canal Shops

Highlights from Las Vegas
Simon at Palms Place (We ate here with Aaron and Natalie the first night.  Excellent food.  It's off the strip, but worth the drive.)
BLT Burger (Great burger place at the Mirage.  We hit this up with Aaron and Natalie after seeing the Beatles Cirque show.)
Battista's Hole in the Wall (Sentimental favorite of Aaron and me.  It's not gourmet dining, but it's a fun experience.  The singer that roams the restaurant does not disappoint.)
Mesa Grill (I'm a huge fan of Bobby Flay.  Ashley and I went here the last time we were in Vegas, and we went to the one in the Bahamas in July.  We ate here twice this trip.  Great flavors overall.  Tasty Margaritas.)
Marinelli's at M Resort Casino (We went here with Ashley's friend Gwynne and her husband Brian.  Excellent Italian.)
RM Seafood (We wanted to go here after seeing Rick Moonen on Top Chef Masters.  We splurged a bit, but it was worth it.  The seafood is really fresh.  We got the shellfish sampler and could have ended it there.)
Wolfgang Puck (We didn't have any plans for dinner after seeing Ka.  Wolfgang Puck was by the theater so we decided to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Great food, service and atmosphere.)
Pinks (Decent hot dog.  I've always wanted to go to the original in Hollywood.)
Earl of Sandwich (We hit this up several times.  The sandwiches here are really good and very reasonably priced.)

Ghostbar at the Palms (We went here after dinner at Simon the first night.  The cover is a bit steep at $25, but it's worth it for the views from the top of the Palms.  The view of the city at night is amazing.)
View from Ghostbar

Red Square (One of the coolest bars I've ever been to.  We had martinis here before dinner at RM Seafood.  The theme is Russian vodka bar.  They have tons of vodkas to choose from all over the world.  The bartender was awesome.  The bar has a strip of ice on it.)
Martinis at Red Square

Hard Rock (This is off strip, but it has a young vibe.  We went here the first night, and we had a great time.  The blackjack dealers are really friendly.)
Planet Hollywood (Since this was next door to the Marriott Grand Chateau, we went here the most.  I really like gambling here because it's open and they play good music.  However, I had no luck here at all.)
Bellagio (I didn't play here much, but it has surprisingly reasonable table limits for craps and blackjack.)
Mirage (Didn't have a great time playing blackjack here.  Maybe I need to give it another shot.)
M Casino (Didn't gamble here, but it's a really nice, new casino.  It's a hike from the main part of the strip, though.)
MGM (Hit it big playing craps here.  This place had a much younger vibe than most places on the strip.)

Grand Canyon
Since neither of us have been to the Grand Canyon, we figured this trip was the time to check it out.  We made the 5 or so hour drive from Vegas going over the Hoover Dam and stopping at In 'n Out on the way.
The Grand Canyon definitely lives up to its billing.  We got to spend a few hours here, and we saw the sunset.  It was definitely worth the trip.


 There were elk everywhere.

We spent the night in Flagstaff after visiting the Grand Canyon since we had a flight home out of Phoenix the next afternoon.  I mention this because we had dinner at a really awesome Mexican restaurant called Salsa Brava.  If you're ever in Flagstaff, this place is worth checking out.

Tacos and Dos Equis at Salsa Brava