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Las Vegas & Some of the Grand Circle – October 2011

I realised that I haven’t blogged much about our holiday trips, and figured that I really should, before I start forgetting about what we did on each holiday. We both thank God for this wonderful opportunity to travel more within the US, especially since most of our trips have largely only been within Asia thus far!

We are overwhelmed with the favour of God at every turn… fantastic weather, free upgrade of rental car, and everything always working together for our good without our conscious planning.

This will be a rather long entry… here it goes!

Day 1: Arrival at Vegas & Night displays

We took our virgin Southwest flight to Vegas and arrived in the late afternoon. We chose a later flight because it was the cheapest… Well, Vegas never sleeps at night, so we managed to still get quite a bit done!

We covered the ‘must see’ night shows/displays at a few of the resorts, including Sirens of TI at Treasure Island, Mirage Volcano Eruption, and the Bellagio water fountains. Since the night was still young after that was done, we continued to explore some of the others too, including Caesars Palace and Paris.

Sirens of TI at Treasure Island

'Volcano Eruption' at Mirage

Fountains @ Bellagio

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens... the tree's face can move!

Paris... in Vegas

Caesars Palace.. 'daytime' at night

Day 2: Exploring the Las Vegas Strip

A day of walking, walking, and more walking! We set out at 7am for breakfast off the strip at Eggs and I. Hubby had a breakfast skillet, and I had an egg-crepe hybrid. It was a pretty interesting meal, only that it was a little too salty for our Asian tastebuds.

We headed to the strip immediately after breakfast… and we realized that Vegas doesn’t wake up too early! Anyhow, we proceeded with our plans to explore the strip, and covered Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, MGM, Planet Hollywood, M&Ms, Cosmopolitan, the Fashion Show Mall, Wynn, Palazzo, and Venetian. The Venetian was our favourite because of how we were transported into the world of Venice, with the architecture, gondolas, street performances, live ‘statues’, etc. According to our friends, the other IRs used to have people dressed in costumes walking around. Sadly, it seems that the Venetian is the only one which carries on with this.

The Venetian

In the evening, we watched Mystere by Cirque du Soleil, after which we went to the Fremont Street Experience, which is supposed to be the old Vegas Strip.

Day 3: Zion National Park

An early day! We set off at 7am for an approximate 2.5hr drive. We took the shuttle through the park, stopping at every stop for photos. We then hiked at various stops on the return shuttle. We did the Riverside walk, Weeping Rock, Emerald Pool, and the Canyon Overlook.

Our favourite: the Canyon Overlook hike! The trail was much less ‘perfectly’ paved than the others, which made it feel like a more interesting hike, rather than just a walk. The view throughout the hike was lovely, and the view at the end was surprising fantastic!

View at the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail

Day 4: Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce 'Amphitheatre'

Set off at about 7am. Oohed and ahhhed for a while at the first sighting of the ‘Amphitheatre’ at Sunrise Point,  then did the Queens Garden Trail-Navajo Loop Trail for 2 hours, which was one of our favourite hikes. Being at the bottom of the canyons was quite something. We got a lovely ‘shock’ when we entered the Wall Street, where the ‘walls’ closed in on us! We spent the remainder of our time driving around to the various look out points. We were left with about 2 hours of daylight at 4pm, and decided to embark on the fairyland trail which was 4 hours long. On hindsight, we should have done the fairyland hike and not the various look out points.

The hike was a little scary (ok, to me at least) because there wasn’t a single soul around! And I was paranoid of running into any animals, e.g. the Mountain Lion! I was already rehearsing in my mind the various options.. e.g. ‘in Jesus Name, go away!’ I even asked hubby what he would do…. After just about 40 minutes of hiking, I convinced hubby that we should return before it got dark. So very sadly, we only completed less than a quarter of the hike. I really do hope we will have a chance to return and complete the hike somehow. I think that if we had embarked on the hike earlier in the day, there would probably be other hikers around, and it would be less scary. The hardcore hiking without anyone else around is just not something a city girl like me is accustomed to.

the Wall Street

Day 5: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Grand Canyon National Park

so surreal walking into this canyon

The most out of this world place.. the Antelope Canyon! We set off at 6.30am, only to discover upon arrival that they were on Pacific time (1 hr behind what we thought). We also didn’t make a reservation, and the first place we went to was booked. Thank God that He provided! We were driving around the other tour providers, and it so happened that one of the tour groups were starting that time, and a staff was around to help us. There was also exactly 2 more vacancies for us. We couldn’t close our jaws from the moment we stepped in. Awesome. Canyon Overland Tours with Rob was great!

sandfall!

dancing flame

a heart

On the way to Grand Canyon, we passed by a scenic lookout for the Horseshoe Bend, and decided to u-turn back to take a look. It was the right decision! Very nice! Some of the locals were just lying down and looking over the bend. Took about 30min.

Horseshoe Bend

Finally, we arrived at the Grand Canyon, but weren’t as impressed as we thought we’d be. Drove around to all the lookouts that were open to cars. Walked just a very short distance down one of the trails, which already appeared to be very strenuous. We didn’t have enough time, if not we would have attempted one hike.

Grand Canyon

After dinner, we took the shuttle to the most popular point for sunset (Hopi Point). On the way back in the shuttle, we realized that the moon was ‘rising’, so we ran with other tourists to a spot where the ‘moon rise’ could be seen. Everyone was trying to get good shots… using rocks and each other’s heads (?!) as tripods!

'moonrise'

Day 6: Back to shopping and eating

On the journey back to Vegas, we passed through the historic Route 66 at Williams (where we stayed for the night after Grand Canyon), as well as Hoover Dam (the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere). We spent the afternoon shopping, then checked-in at Mandalay Bay, took a short nap, and headed out to watch KA by Cirque du Soleil. It was simply AWESOME and mind-blowing, and in our opinion, much better than Mystere.

the historic route 66

Hoover Dam

Day 7: Mandalay Bay

Finally, a day where we could sleep in a little more and just relax! We headed straight for the ‘beach’ in the middle of the desert… the pool that Mandalay Bay is famous for. Loved our stay here!! Last stop was the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.

Mandalay Bay

the lazy pool.. with a tide that pushes you along..

the wave pool

Goodbye Vegas for now. Thank You Jesus, and thank you hubby for the wonderful, fruitful holiday!

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