|Traci & Brad|
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|
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!|
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!