Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Family Side of Vegas (Part 3)

Part 2 is here

Day 6: Valley of Fire
Thursday, we drove up I-15 North of Vegas to the Valley of Fire State Park. It was really amazing to see how suddenly the landscape changed from brown to RED!

The kids had lots of fun climbing the rocks and playing the sand that was everywhere. It was pretty HOT that day, and we were very worn out after we went on a couple of hikes.

After we got back, we spent some relaxing time at the pool - one of the kid's favorite things to do!

Day 7: The long way home
We decided to spend most of the day to travel back, seeing some sites along the way.
We stopped for a few minutes at Hoover dam to marvel at the progress of the new bridge. I'm not so sure I'll want to drive over it when it's done. It is REALLY high up there!

We decided to take Route 66 from Kingman to Ash Fork since we had never gone that way. It was really interesting! We found a few neat places to stop.
Hackberry General Store

We stopped for lunch at Peach Springs on the Indian Reservation for lunch. I had an Indian Taco. Yummy! For dessert, we got fry bread and ate it with butter and honey. WOW! Good stuff!

We saw Mater on Route 66!

We came back with oodles of these squished pennies. We had to stop at every machine. (In case you can't tell, I am rolling my eyes)

Our last stop was in Prescott Valley to visit Great-Granny Neville. We love you!

And that's it! We had a great trip, but were very happy to get HOME!

The Family Side of Vegas (Part 2)

Part 1 is here

Day 4: Red Rock Canyon
Less than 20 miles outside of Las Vegas is one of the most beautiful spots I've seen - Red Rock Canyon. It only cost $5 per vehicle to get in, and it was a great spot to spend the day!
Our first stop was the Visitor's Center where they told us where to find the Children's Discover Trail. Sounded perfect for us!

We had a picnic lunch near the trail head where we saw these ancient handprints. Pretty neat.

We walked a little way to see petroglyphs (they are on the dark wall behind the kids)

The trail had lots of signs along the way so we could learn more about what we were seeing and the plants and animals around us.

Just a short hike up the trail was a waterfall! It was beautiful!

We had to stop at a Joshua Tree. We are each doing our best impression of a crazy looking Joshua Tree. (yes, I'm a dork)

We had a great time in beautiful Red Rock Canyon. We enjoyed the pool when we got back.

Day 5: Family Fun in Vegas
We decided that we would spend at least one day IN Las Vegas, and see if we could find family friendly things to do. Our first stop of the day was the M&M store where we let each of the kids pick their own color combination of M&M treats. Zander picked blue, red and orange, while Ady went with two shades of pink (of course!)
We got to see a big M&M with legs! (Ady thought this was Super exciting!)

Then we went to Circus-Circus to see a free show. Of course, they make you walk through the WHOLE place to get to where to acts are preformed. But the kids really liked watching the clown.

They weren't quite as impressed with the acrobat - and I admit, her act was a little bit odd...

We had lunch at the McDonalds there, and then headed to the Nevada Natural History Museum.

They had a history of Las Vegas including a "play" casino where Brandon taught Zander how to play Blackjack. I'm not so sure that was the best idea...

We stopped by the Las Vegas Farmer's Market and got some fresh strawberries (YUMMY!), and then we decided to find a place to eat. As we were driving, we saw a sign for an Italian Restaurant. We thought that sounded pretty good, and decided to try it out. But, when we pulled in to the parking lot, we realized that it was ONLY valet parking. I wondered if it was a good idea, but Brandon insisted that we could just try it out and see. Well, when we left the car with the valet, he told us to go to the front door of the restaurant and ring the bell. Then they'd let us in. Umm... weird?! When we went in, it was pretty much pitch black. The only light was coming from candles and some very dim chandeliers. Each of the menus had a little LED light attached to help make out what you were reading. There was live entertainment from a lounge singer. Again, I wondered if we really should be going in to a place like that - especially with three young kids. But, we stuck it out. We ended up getting two plates of spaghetti - to share among the five of us - and payed almost $50! Not the best financial move, but it was most definitely an experience. Brandon thinks we may have stumbled on to a mafia hang out. Maybe we did!

Another perk of staying in a timeshare is that you can often get freebies. We took a tour of the resort and in return, we got free breakfast AND free tickets to a magic show: Rick Thomas and his Tigers. Pretty neat! Regular ticket price is at least $50, and we got four tickets!
So, after dinner, we went to the show.

We even had "VIP" tickets, so after the show, we got to go on stage and meet Rick Thomas and the tigers.

The Family Side of Vegas (Part 1)

This week was Spring Break. No school. Good times.
We have a Timeshare that we bought many years ago, and we got a letter to let us know that one of our weeks was about to expire. We had to use it before the end of April, or we would use it. So, we figured Spring Break was the perfect time for a vacation, but we didn't want to go anywhere very far. So, we looked for an exchange that was close enough to home that we could drive. What came up was Las Vegas.

Las Vegas. Not exactly known as a vacation spot for families. Smoke-filled casinos. Lots of alcohol and strip clubs. hmm... could we really make a family vacation work there? We set out to do just that, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Day 1: The Drive
The typical route from Phoenix to Las Vegas involves crossing the Hoover Dam. There were signs several miles out that said "expect delays at Hoover Dam: Spring Break". So, I guess we were not the only ones with the idea to spend Spring Break in Vegas. We opted to take a different way and drive through Laughlin instead. It may have taken a little bit longer, if there wasn't any traffic, but it really wasn't bad at all. Total of 5 1/2 hour drive - including a stop for lunch along the way (In Wikeup, AZ - at pretty much the only restaurant in town). The kids were very well behaved (we were well stocked on snacks to keep them occupied) and it was a rather enjoyable trip.
We checked in to our home for the week. In case you've never had the chance to a timeshare, you should check it out. It is NOT a typical hotel. We had a fully equipped one-bedroom apartment, complete with a full kitchen, a jacuzzi tub, and a pull-out couch for the kids to sleep on. Pretty nice. We had brought food with us from home that we put in the fridge, saving us the need to eat out every meal. (I'm all about saving money - even on vacation!)
That night, we did go out to a buffet. (It's Vegas after-all). Brandon's parents were spending the weekend in Vegas for his Dad's birthday. Papa Floyd did not know that we were there, and we surprised him by meeting them for dinner. It was fun, and we all stuffed ourselves silly!

Day 2: Sunday in Sin City
We found a church near our place and attended Sacrament Meeting. We arrived a few minutes early, and several people came over and said hello. At least four people asked if we had moved in, and when we said we were just visiting, they gave a very disappointed "ohhh." I guess they don't have very many new families? Anyway, it was very nice and we enjoyed it.

After church, we had lunch in our apartment with Brandon's parents. It was nice to see them.

After lunch, we drove out to the Las Vegas temple. It is set up on a hill, looking over the city. The flowers were beautiful. We had fun walking around.

Day 3: St George
My brother and his family live in St George, Utah, which is about a 2 hour drive north of Las Vegas. We figured that since we were so close, we should take the time to see them.
Thanks to Daylight Savings time, we forgot that we were no on a different time then them, so we got there an hour later than we planned on. Whoops. But we were still there in time to have a fun picnic lunch. They took us up to Snow Canyon, right outside of town. There were lots of sand dunes there, which the kids LOVED! It was like being at the beach... but without the water. Each of the kids, and daddy, took a turn getting buried in the sand. Unfortunately, when we walked to the dunes, we left the camera, and the sun screen in the car. So, we didn't get any pictures of the event, and left with very red faces. My brother had his camera with him though, so maybe some time I'll get to see those pictures (hint hint).

After our sandy adventure, we went back to my brother's house. The kids watched a movie and we played cards. FUN! Then we had a dutch oven dinner and played some badminton. It was great to see them!
A very pregnant Anna (thanks for putting up with us!)