10.20.2011

(Death Valley) California Dreaming: part 3 - Vegas bound, baby!

Part 2

Our final breakfast in Death Valley consisted of more of the same from the previous 2 days...bacon, biscuits & gravy, coffee, fruit, and a happy, full tummy.

Derek and I had been scheduled to take one of the last shuttle busses back to Las Vegas in the morning, but our newly engaged friends Cliff & Nicole invited us to ride back with them in their rented SUV--WIN!!! We caravaned with another vehicle full of our teammates.  Rather than taking the traditional, more direct route back that passes by Zabriskie point we followed the course out to the standard turn-around on top of Jubilee Pass, then on to Pahrump via Shoshone. Derek and I had driven this route a couple of years back, so it was nice to show it off to friends.  It was also sweet to make a quick stop for photos at the very spot where the previous day's engagement had taken place.

The group of us were able to be photographed (via camera with self-timer) atop the pass in a much more civilized manner than biking 52 miles, first.  Beers at Jubilee Pass is a new experience for the team, as well.  Beats sport drink, if you ask me!

We stopped for lunch at a Sonic in Pahrump, then easily found the Golden Nugget casino hotel on Fremont Street, aka "Old Vegas," where we'd be spending 1 or 2 nights before returning to Michigan.  Staying on Fremont street was a new experience for the entire group...and I think a pretty positive one, at that.

Nighttime at "The Tank" pool at the Golden Nugget
Immediately my husband and I were impressed by the Golden Nugget.  Smaller, quieter, cheaper, and less smokey than the strip hotels, but no less nice.  Our room was enormous.  And the pool with shark tank and water slide that passes THROUGH the shark tank, sweet!  Needless to say, none of us wasted much time getting down to that pool (though we did enter the water a LOT slower than we did the water of the spring-fed pool at Furnace Creek Ranch...that pool was like bath water and required no acclimation to enter).

After a couple of hours in the pool and hot tub we cleaned-up for Dinner at Lillie's Asian Restaurant just yards from the elevators in the hotel.  We discovered this eatery shortly after checking-in and decided that a hibachi-style grill table would be ideal for our group of 16.  Turns out we were right.

We arranged ourselves around the grills in a square...just cozy enough that we could all converse and share a fun and DELICIOUS dining experience.  And the meal prices really were relatively reasonable, compared to what we would have spent on a similar meal on the Strip.  I had jumbo sea scallops and Derek had the tenderest filet EVER.  Our entrees came with rice and grilled veggies and we both had Japanese beers and a bottle of California gewurztraminer.

Onion Volcano
Once we were all stuffed to the gills we wandered our way through the casino and out to Fremont Street to order drinks and watch the overhead LED lights show.  On the street we ended up separated into smaller groups.  Some of the team were out gambling until the wee hours, while others *cough* Derek and I *cough* stumbled our way back up to our room.  That's the first and last time I order some random drink in a big, clear, plastic football.  It didn't even taste good...at least not until I'd had enough to apparently kill my taste buds.  Then it went down a little too easily and about the only thing I clearly recall was the bartender dumping at least 8oz. worth of booze into a clear plastic cup before adding it to the football glass.  Blech.  That was $13 of misery.  I haven't been that inebriated since about 2 weeks before I turned 21 (nearly 18 years ago).  I was thisclose to tossing my amazing dinner.  Next time I stick to "known" intoxicants, like beer.  Being that inebriated is only fun for about 30 minutes, then I want to be sober and in-control, again...bed-spins are icky.

Dreaded football!  I feel queasy just looking at it...
Prior to plodding back to the room we laid around the pool and watched the fish and sharks glide around in the tank.  The main pool and water slide close at 8pm, but there is an adults-only pool that remains open until later.  Next time we go we'll have to check that one out.

The next morning Derek and I hit the buffet at Golden Nugget.  It was good for the money, but after having eaten at the Bellagio buffet on my last trip to Vegas it positively paled in comparison.  I really wanted more breakfasty-foods and they were phasing them out by the time we arrived.

We spent several hours of our last day in Vegas just lounging by the pool.  It was a great low-key day highlighted by a short visit with the "little girl" I used to babysit for and her 15 month old doll of a son, Jaxon.  Lauren lives in Vegas, but isn't so little anymore, as a 25 year old married mama.  It was really a treat being able to visit with her, as it's been at least 15 years since I last saw her.  I hope we can touch-base the next time we're in town, too.

The final chapter of the saga...


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