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Las Vegas Road Trip 2015

Wow, we are back in the land of the working people! We had a great vacation... the 28 hour drive actually wasn't that bad. I won't say that we will drive each time, but I would do it again!

The Hubby decided to journal some of our trip, so he will be my guest blogger for telling you about our latest Vegas vacation!

After 21 hours of driving yesterday, we are back at it early Saturday morning. Yesterday's 21 hours was definitely an adventure to say the least. We left our house at 9 pm Friday night. We didn't stop driving until 6 pm. We got all the way to Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Check out the trip state by state!

Indiana
I drove during this portion. Not much to talk about. As soon as we passed Terre Haute and entered Illinois, it was the furthest west I'd been in a car in my adult life.

Illinois
The excitement and the newness of the trip quickly began to wane as we drove through Illinois. It was dark and windy. After driving about 2.5 hours, I gave up and let Dusty, the night owl, take over. I really struggle sleeping in a car. So much so that I decided to take sleeping pills to help. I laid down in the back seat, waking up 4-5 times over about 4 hours, trying my best to get a decent rest for the marathon ahead of us. A marathon in both the sense of the 28 hour drive staring us in the face and the 6 nights in Vegas that await us.

Missouri
Dusty drove about halfway through Missouri while I was sleeping off and on. Kara took over after Dusty. It was still dark at this point. I would guess it was probably 4:30 am. I then took the front seat and Dusty the back. I slept off and on the next 1-2 hours. It was rainy and windy in Missouri.

Kansas
Kansas, the butt crack of the Midwest. I can say with a certainty that only comes with driving across the entire state on little sleep, that Kansas is the most boring state in the US. I took over and drove through this state while the sun came up. 




There is nothing in Kansas. Most of the state is nothing. No buildings, no trees, no civilization. Just open fields on either side. I did see lots of wind farms and lots of cattle grazing the open fields. Adding to the boringness of Kansas, Kara and Dusty were both taking their turns sleeping.

Colorado
I expected the landscape to change when we got to Colorado. I was wrong. The beginnings of Colorado didn't look any different from Kansas. Fields on both sides of the interstate as far as you could see with very little traffic. Kara took back over the drivers seat a little into the Colorado drive. We started seeing mountains in the distance about 50 miles from Denver. 




The mountains in the distance were covered in snow and I started getting excited. This was why I wanted to make this trip in the first place. I wanted to see the country. I wanted to see the landscape change from crops to desert... I just thought that change would happen before the middle of Colorado.  

Kara drove into Colorado about 12 local time. There was more traffic than you would expect to see during a non rush hour time. Denver wasn't near as big of a city as than I had previously thought. I looked online and learned the population was only 600,000. (We didn't get to see Peyton Manning....boo...)

About 10 miles outside of Denver we entered the mountains. The beauty of these mountains was an experience I hope I don't forget. Going up and down hills and seeing the snow on the mountains during an 80 degree day was amazing. We stopped to get gas and I again took over the drivers seat. After taking a bathroom break in the ladies room for the second time that day,  I returned to the car to see that Kara had overfilled the gas tank.  Gas everywhere! I guess the gas never clicked off. We smelled gas in the car for at least an hour! 

What a mistake I made agreeing to drive. We kept getting higher and higher in the mountains as we drove. The snow we saw at the top of the mountains earlier was now right beside the road. What goes up, must come down. I remember a 7 mile stretch where I did not hit the gas once and rode the breaks essentially the entire time. Such a stressful experience not being able to stop or even slow down for that matter. Not long after the 7 mile coast came a different 10 mile coast this time! Once we got down from the mountains I was able to calm down and relax a little after the white knuckle trip down. 

We drove for another 2 hours THROUGH the mountains. Now instead of going up and down, we went left and right, turning through one beautiful mountain outcrop to another. 

We got to Grand Junction, Colorado and stopped for the evening, so that we could watch the NCAA basketball games and rest up.



Utah

We have another 7 hours and 500 miles today until we arrive at our oasis! That little spot in the desert where anything is possible. 

We are driving through Utah as I write. It's 6:27 am local time and the sky is just beginning to change from black to dark blue. The outline of the desert mountains is beginning to show itself. I'd never have known the mountains were so close to the road!




Utah has been the most visually stunning state we've driven through. The views of the mountains and of the open desert are tremendous. Lots of left and right and up and down driving. I'm glad we drove through during the daylight.

Arizona
We drove about 30 miles through Arizona. The mountain rock has changed a little. Some of the rock is red and it looks very pretty.

Nevada
Talk about the easiest directions for a road trip ever! Get on I-70 until you can't go any further, then take another interstate south until you get there. What a feeling as we rounded a mountain corner and Vegas became visible. The euphoria I felt seeing the city I love after a 28 hour drive is tough to explain. I remember screaming.

We entered the city on the North side of town. We drove past Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kara thought it was UNLV from a distance, but I knew better. 




Day 1: In Vegas
We checked into the Riviera one last time before it's demise. The Riviera is scheduled to close after the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight in early May. 

Kara and I have a lot of memories at the Riviera, as we have stayed there 4 times together now. The iconic hotel was open for over 60 years and hosted some of the best and most famous entertainers this world has seen in its hay day. 



On the first night we played at the Westgate, formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton and home of the largest sports book in the world. We went to Matt Kazaam's comedy show "40 Is Not The New 20" at the Riviera. The show was funny, although it was written for a slightly older crowd. There were less than 40 people at the show. The decline of the Riviera and it's popularity is sad. We will definitely miss it. It's away from the hustle and bustle of the strip and it just seems much more laid back than other casinos.

Day 2: In Vegas
After leaving the Riviera for the last time, we drove to the Rio. We loved the Rio on our last stay. This time we had 5 nights comped, excluding a $28 resort fee. We stayed on the 34th floor of the Masquerade tower. We really like being away from the crowds and the chaos of the mid strip, but we still like to be able to see the beautiful hotels. 




We went to see The Mentalist again. We loved it last time and Kara found really cheap tickets on Groupon for $13 each. The show had a few new tricks in it but was mostly the same show. The different and most exciting part was that Kara was picked to go on stage and assist with a magic trick. I was so excited for her! She was so nervous! She kept laughing when Gerry was asking her questions. She had to help the magician with a trick involving nail guns.

Day 3: In Vegas
The next day at the Rio we decided to relax a little and enjoy a little bit of sun at the pool. The pools at the Rio are top notch!




We spent a little time at our favorite poker room at the Excalibur. We really like the dealers there. They have been over the top friendly on each of our trips. They keep us coming back! 



After playing a little at the Excalibur, Dusty and I had a tee time at Bali Hai golf course. Kara had a massage scheduled at the spa at the Excalibur. We went our separate ways to enjoy ourselves. 



Bali Hai golf course is located just south of the Mandalay Bay. The Mandalay Bay hotel is a backdrop for much of the shots on the course. The course was in incredible condition. I started the round making a 35 foot putt for birdie! It was 90 degrees during the round! All in all, I enjoyed the round, but 18 holes in the 90 degree heat was a little too much me after a 28 hour drive a few days earlier and 2 nights of not much sleep. I ended up shooting 87.

Day 4: In Vegas
On Tuesday, we had 2 show tickets to Zummanity at the New York New York that were free through My Vegas. 




My Vegas is a Facebook game and cell phone app that let's you play for free, all while earning real comps to Las Vegas. I know it's tough to believe, but through My Vegas, Kara and I were able to score 2 free tickets to Zummanity, 2 free tickets to KA, 2 free breakfast buffets at Circus Circus, and 2 free lunch buffets at Palace Station. All of these comps valued over $500! All for playing a game online that we enjoy! Zummanity was okay. Neither Kara or I was crazy about the show. It was a little too sexual for our tastes.

Day 5: In Vegas
On Wednesday, we needed a break from gambling. We drove to the Orleans hotel to go bowling. The Orleans has a 70 lane bowling alley above the casino floor. 




After bowling, we went to the Orleans movie theater, which has 18 screens, also above the casino floor. We saw "Get Hard." It was hilarious! Our date day was just the break we needed. 

Afterwards, we went to KA at the MGM. This was my favorite Cirque Du Soleil show seen to date. We've now seen Michael Jackson One, Mystere, Zummanity, and KA. Kara wasn't the biggest fan of KA. This show actually had a story-line I could follow, unlike the other Cirque shows we have seen. 



After the show, we played a little at the MGM. We found a free bet blackjack table with a $15 minimum bet. Dusty and I decided to try pooling our money at the free bet table. We each put up $60 for a total buy in of $120. I then went on one of the sickest blackjack runs of my life. I turned the $120 into a single chip. A $1000 chip! That run provided some much needed cushion for our gambling budget. When we returned to the Rio, we decided to go graveyard bowling at midnight. We bowled for $1 per game and they also had $1 drinks at The Gold Coast. Needless to say, we had a great time!



Day 6: Our Last Day in Vegas
On our last day in Vegas, we slept in a little bit. We went to the Palace Station for our 2 free lunch buffets. The Palace Station is located about a mile from the strip. It was so nice being able to drive in Las Vegas. Kara and I will probably rent a car on our next Vegas trip. Navigating the city isn't all that difficult as long as you stay away from Las Vegas Boulevard. We then went downtown to old Vegas. 


We always enjoy Freemont Street. It's a much different experience. It's slower paced, old-fashioned gambling fun. The hotels and casinos are much smaller and attract a different type of crowd. We went to 2 casinos we had never been before; El Cortez and The Downtown Grand. 

We collected $1 chips from those 2 places, along with the Cromwell, South Point, and The Linq. We collect $1 chips from each casino we visit. We now have over 80 chips and counting! The night ended with me making another ridiculous blackjack run. I bought in for $100 and cashed out $935. I should have went up to the room and called it a trip then. We ended up losing back about $300 of that money.

The Trip Home
After spending 6 nights in Las Vegas, we were all ready to head home. This part of the trip was more interesting because we went through more cities. However, we were all tired on the way home. We drove through Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and back to Indiana.


On the way we were able to meet up for breakfast with an old high school friend of mine and Dusty's. Eli drove up and met us just outside of Oklahoma City.



What a successful trip of driving to Las Vegas! I was able to knock something off my bucket list, relax, and have a ton of fun.  We saw 4 shows, I played golf on the strip, Kara had a spa day, we went bowling, we saw a movie, we gambled like crazy, and ate endless amounts of good food.

We can't wait until our next vacation! 

Until next time,

Kara & Joe

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