Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Wonders both natural and man-made

Today I hopped on with Grand Adventures tours and headed out to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. I saw both the dam and the beautiful arched memorial bridge that was opened in 2010 to ease traffic flow over the mountains. The dam itself was an engineering marvel, especially considering it was built in the 1930's during the Great Depression. One factoid I found interesting was that to avoid scratching the black stone used to build a commemoration and dedication area, the builders set the stones on ice and then guided them into position as the ice melted. Pretty slick! I would love to come back and tour the inner workings of the dam if I'm ever back in the Vegas area.

Hoover Dam! Memorial Bridge (top), Lake Meade as the high side of the dam (middle) and view of the dam from Memorial bridge (bottom)
Next was the south rim of the Grand Canyon. My favorite view was from Eagle Point, named for the rock formation that looks like an eagle with outstretched wings. I got pictures at Guano Point, named for the bat guano harvesting that used to happen from a cave in the canyon. Bat guano is apparently good for dynamite, cosmetics, and fertilizer, among other things. The skeleton of the crane that drove the mining activities still stands, but the mining stopped in the 50's after a Flyboy accidentally sheared some of the cables with his back rotor.

Also, they do not have railings except on the Skywalk. You could literally fall over the edge ANYWHERE. Our tour guide cautioned us to stay away from crowds at the edge, lest we get bumped by accident. Yeesh.
Me at the canyon! The bottom picture is an illusion - I was only about 20 feet in the air, not on the side of the canyon. But the picture is still fun!
Finally, the part about Vegas I have been excited for - the food!! I took myself to Estiatorio Milos at my own hotel (Cosmopolitan): a Mediterranean restaurant renowned for fresh seafood. I had fresh bread (oh my!), grilled octopus, lobster pasta, and baklava. All three courses were amazing, but the baklava was to. die. for. I was on the phone with my sweet boyfriend Jeremy so we could catch up about our days, and he will attest to how many times I punctuated our conversation with, "this baklava is just...indescribably good." One bite hit me with such a wave of euphoria that I sat back in the chair with my eyes closed, head tilted, and fork almost falling out of my hand, wondering if I had reached heaven. Worth every penny!

On a side note, I didn't realize how much food I had consumed until I stood up and waddled back to my hotel room. Note to self - be careful how much food I eat when not at my hotel, lest I have to walk half a mile back home on an aching stomach.

Tomorrow, the conference starts!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Vegas - sandals on the ground

I landed safely in Las Vegas this afternoon! I'm staying at the Cosmopolitan, and my room is gorgeous. I explored my own hotel and the Bellagio while hunting for affordable food that wouldn't clog my arteries. I finally landed on the Earl of Sandwich shop and ordered the Earl's club: turkey, bacon, Swiss, tomato, lettuce, and their "special sandwich sauce" - tasty! I then headed to the Jean Phillipe Patisserie for dessert, and I have now seriously considered spending the bare minimum on food and blowing my whole budget on pastries and gelato. I mean, after seeing that chocolate fountain, wouldn't you!?

Here are a few pictures of the food, the Cosmopolitan, the conservatory in the Bellagio (flowers and plants arranged around an underwater theme), and the Chihuly sculptures on the ceiling in the Bellagio.

Tomorrow - Grand Canyon!
Food! Sandwiches and pastries.
Entrance of the Bellagio
Entrance of the Cosmopolitan - high class!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Travel Blogging

I've decided to revive this blog so that I can track my travels this summer and fall. First stop: Las Vegas! My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon, and the destination is the ITHERM conference at the Cosmopolitan hotel. I've spent a few hours pouring over these books and scouring the shows to watch, so heaven help me if I can't find enough to do.

Comment and tell me what to see, where to have coffee, and what restaurants to check out (or stay away from)!