10.20.2011

(Death Valley) California Dreaming: part 4 - Leaving Las Vegas

Part 3

Traci & Brad
After leaving the pool and cleaning ourselves up we took the Deuce bus to The Chapel of the Bells to witness the vow renewal of our teammate, Brad, and his wife, Traci. This was only my 3rd trip to Vegas and my 2nd attendance of a vow renewal. Good stuff. Anyone can get married, nowadays, so it's truly a privilege to see couples recommit.

Following the ceremony we made a quick stop to the Stratosphere casino for drinks and a round of machine gambling. I think the bride won about $8, which is more than I've ever gambled in Vegas and definitely more than I've ever won.

We then waited for what seemed like forever before we hopped onto another Deuce bus and walked a few blocks on-foot to a recommended Italian restaurant behind the Flamingo hotel, Battista's.  There we had very reasonably-priced all-inclusive dinners that featured soup or salad, bread, entree, unlimited carafes of red and white wine, and "cappuccino."  I had excellent lasagna.

Battista's bathroom art
Once we had (once again) gorged ourselves we wandered through the Bellagio to look at the Chihuly lobby art, then through the conservatory with their astoundingly gorgeous seasonal flower arrangements.  Then we took in the Bellagio fountain show and made our way back to the Strip, where the group split up.  Some were returning to Fremont street, while others were staying on the Strip a while longer.  Derek and I headed across the street to the Planet Hollywood shops to find a souvenir for Dane, not realizing that it was closing time, so after trudging though the mall we caught an express bus back to the Golden Nugget.

The hotel gift shop was still open, so we purchased a funny shark tank-themed "triathlon" shirt for Dane.  We also got him a set of Vegas dominos at the airport on our way out.  He was pretty thrilled by both souvenirs.

The next morning Derek ran down to the Starbucks at the base of the hotel elevator and grabbed coffees and pastries for breakfast while I showered.  We finished packing and met our teammate, Mike, down at the airport shuttle stop.

Yay for elbow room!
After a brief wait we were on our way to the airport, where we would meet up with 4 more teammates for our trip back to MI.  We knew in advance that our flight was delayed by about 25 minutes.  This left for a very short layover in Minneapolis, but we arrived back in MI on-time, without hours of delays and time trapped on planes, THANKFULLY!

The person who was to share our row on the first and longer flight never showed, so Derek and I were treated to 3 seats between the 2 of us, SCORE!

The aftermath of returning home has included many loads of laundry (and our various ride kits won't be home until tomorrow, when we pick up our bikes from the transport truck), trying to stay warm, running in the rain while feeling a little blue (and more than a little annoyed by the wet, cold, windy, wretched MI weather), snuggling cats and kid, and sleeping.  No longer am I feeling thirsty all the time or yelling "drinking" any time I take a swig from a bottle or glass (in Death Valley everyone helps keep each other hydrated by yelling out reminders to slurp up some water or sports drink.  No one is found without a bottle in-hand).

Next year the team talk is leaning towards Tahoe for our ride destination, but I can definitely see why several team members always ride in Death Valley, even if it means raising money to do more than 1 ride in a season.  There is something special about that location.  We take over a resort and the isolation of the place forces a level of intimacy that wouldn't be present in very many other ride destinations.  Add to that the severity of the landscape and temperature and it's nearly like being on another planet with a relatively small group of people.  Everyone HAS to look out for their fellow rider, because of the inherent risks of not doing so.

There's a certain amount of mirroring of the JDRF Ride to Cure program in the Death Valley destination, really.  Even those of us who are not directly touched by type 1 diabetes NEED to help those who are.  If a cure is found for this autoimmune disorder, it stands to reason that cures for other autoimmune disorders can't be far behind...things like asthma, allergies, lupus, celiac disease, thyroid disease, Chron's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, arthritis, and endometriosis could potentially be eradicated.  I doubt there is anyone alive who is more than a single degree away from someone who suffers with one of these diseases. As a team we are doing so much to help improve the quality and quantity of life for so many.  I can't wait to be a part of it again in 2012!



2 comments:

  1. I think I came across your blog shortly after we met a while back, and bookmarked it... But hadnt come across that bookmark again until I was reorganizing all of them last night. Anyway, I really like your writing style and design!

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