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37 in Las Vegas

At the end of September I celebrated my 37th birthday with MJ by taking a trip to Las Vegas. I enjoy Las Vegas, but we thought about where to go for my last birthday before the kiddo arrives a fair amount. Ultimately, time and health were the big deciders. We’ve gone up to the Tahoe region a couple years for my birthdays, but our favorite thing to do there is visit the hot tubs while the brisk, mountain air surrounds us. Alas, hot tubs are out for pregnant me. Our time was limited due to work obligations, so we couldn’t go very far from home. I can’t drink alcohol, but I can eat, and go to shows, and sit by a pool. Las Vegas!

We flew out on a Wednesday night, and spent the first day in town at the MGM Grand pool where we rented a pool side bed for the day. It was a good choice, the day was warm and the quiet relaxation time was precisely what I needed. I read, we enjoyed the lazy river, and had snacks throughout the day.

Food definitely featured prominently throughout the week. We made it over to the buffet at the Aria one afternoon, and snagged dinner reservations at two Michelin rated restaurants. The first was Aureole. We enjoyed the tasting menu and they were able to make me a lovely mocktail to accompany the dinner. The food was exceptional, but the really fun part about this restaurant is they have a giant, glass-enclosed wine tower where they store the bottles. To top it all off, they have a “wine angel” who retrieves the bottles for guests by hooking into series of pulleys and cables which then hoist her up into the tower.

We also made it over to L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon. Another tasting menu and another mocktail were on the agenda for me. We had bar seating here which gave us a view into their open kitchen where we could see the chefs doing the intricate preparations required for all the delicate dishes they served. It was a delightful dinner, even if it was rushed a bit at the end so we could get over to the Cirque du Soleil KÀ theater next door for 9:30PM showing.

Beyond food and Las Vegas itself, we had rented a car during our stay, assisted mightily by our status at MGM which granted free parking. This allowed us to easily take a day trip out to Boulder City. We stopped for lunch at The Tap before making our way over to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City. I saw this museum from the road the last time I was in town, and knew I wanted to return at some point on a weekend to visit and take the train ride. My birthday was that day! The ride was fun, and I enjoyed the model train layout they had there on site inside of a Pullman car (cute!). The outdoor museum continued by getting to see and climb inside several cars, including a caboose and a USPS mail car.

From there we drove up to the Hoover Dam. I had visited the dam once before, but it was a side-stop on a Grand Canyon tour and we merely drove across it and stopped for a few minutes. This time we were able to spend about an hour walking across it and visiting the surrounding area a bit. We didn’t opt for the paid exhibit portion, I was a bit low on energy from the heat (peaked at around 101F!) and pregnancy. I’m a sucker for Art Deco, so I really enjoyed the walk, but I think the most unexpected delight was visiting the women’s restroom perched right on the dam. All green and Art Deco, looks like it’s never been updated aside from being maintained and cleaned.

More photos from Boulder City here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157696144472140/

We departed Las Vegas much too soon on Sunday. MJ was due to be in a conference in Vancouver, and I had to head back home. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip packing so much into three days. Next time we’ll definitely relax a bit more. Still, I’m glad we did it, aside from the Thanksgiving visit we’re planning in Philadelphia, it very well may have been our last out-of-California adventure together for the year.