Easter Vegas vacation, day 4

IMG_0836Our final day in Vegas was subdued. Our flight left late afternoon, so there really wasn’t a lot of time to do big adventures. I started out the morning with a 4 mile run along the wash, however this time I took a different fork and ran along the south side instead of the north. This ended up bringing me to this really cool overlook that resulted in the panorama that I set as the featured image in this post. The overlook was basically a small hill with a path leading up to the top, but it was fun to climb and had a great view.

IMG_0840Once I got home and cleaned up, the wife and I headed over to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. My wife is into birds, and this was only a few miles away from the apartment, so it was a perfect final day activity. The bird preserve consists of various ponds that used to be a part of the wastewater treatment plant, but had since been segmented off just for bird viewing. They offer loaner binoculars, which was awesome, but once again I regretted not packing my big camera. Next time I’m out there I’m bringing a nice big lens.

IMG_0841We wandered around the preserve for a good 90 minutes as we watched various birds that we never see in the Midwest. Because these were ponds, there was plenty of waterfowl to be seen. However, we also got to see a few other neat birds like a yellow headed blackbird, and multiple hummingbirds. One humming bird even sat still in a tree branch near us, giving us a great view of something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in Minnesota.

Once we finished at the bird preserve it was time to return to the village to pack and wait for our flight. We had a few hours to kill, so we spent it resting and talking with family. Soon it was time to head out, and so we loaded up some cars with the luggage, while we returned the rental car. Our flight home was uneventful, although with the time difference it meant we weren’t getting into bed until close to 1 am.

IMG_0842Overall, this was a good trip, and we had some fun. Unfortunately, when you get a couple dozen people together for a family event it’s hard to call a trip “restful”. There’s simply so many things going on that it gets hard to just chill and relax sometimes. That aside, I’m very glad we were able to go and spend time with everyone. As families age, and people move, it becomes harder and harder to take time to be together. Spending time with family when you can is vitally important, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity on this trip.

Easter Vegas vacation, day 3

Our third day in Vegas was a bit quieter. Our large family group headed out to Lake Mead for a brunch cruise on a paddleboat. This tour brings you around Lake Mead, and over to the backside of Hoover Dam. In the past when we’ve taken this tour there has been a presentation about the history of the lake. However, this time it was simply a brunch cruise with time to visit with family. One of the fun highlights before the cruise was getting to see some waterfowl and fish that congregate around the entrance to the docks. They get fed quite often and so they come very close to the walkway, making for some fun pictures.

IMG_0820After a nice leisurely cruise we decided to also stop off at the Lake Mead Visitor Center nearby. My wife and I collect pins and patches from all the parks and sites that we visit, and so we wanted to add to our collection. The visitor center was fun, with a large scale model of the entire valley area, and information on how it was all formed. We take our lakes for granted in Minnesota, but out in the desert they rare and valued.

IMG_0828After our stop at the visitor center we headed home for a bit of rest and a nap. The evening activity consisted of church, and then a visit to a local casino. That sounds weird when I type it out like that, but that’s pretty much what we did. Since we had been sticking with family for much of the trip we hadn’t been to one yet, and decided that a stop off at my mother-in-law’s favorite casino was in order. We stuck around for an hour or so, and lost a bit of money before heading home for one final morning away from home.


Easter Vegas vacation, day 2

On Saturday we decided to take my youngest son, and my wife’s nephew, on a few fun adventures. First though, the wife and I started the day with a run along the Las Vegas wash. This is the canal that brings all the rainwater from the city out to Lake Las Vegas, which eventually feeds into Lake Mead.

IMG_0775One of the coolest things about running alongside the wash is that you’re surrounded by a dichotomy. On the one side you have barren desert with hills and scrub brush. On the other side, next to the water, you have thick vegetation, wildlife, and even bugs. There is even a noticeable air difference when you step just ten feet to one side. The main path moves towards and away from the wash as you travel along it, and as soon as you cross over the threshold, you suddenly feel cool, moist air, instead of hot, desert air.

We managed about 6 miles, out and back, and then got cleaned up for the rest of the day. Our first stop was at Red Rock Canyon, a favorite of ours. We had forgotten that it was a weekend, and so the traffic near the site was heavier than we’ve had before, but we managed to get in after about 10-15 minutes. We stopped by the visitor center and then headed out on the scenic drive around the canyon. About half-way around we stopped to take a small dirt road out to a path that we could walk around. This dirt road was barely serviceable, and I was thankful that the rental car I was driving was a gigantic QX80. Even in such a large vehicle it was slow going.

IMG_0790 (1).JPGWe eventually made it to a parking spot, and got out to stretch our legs a bit. We found a cool spot to take some pictures and soak in the view. The heat of the day would soon be upon us, so we headed back down to head into town for some lunch. After our quick stop for food we hit the Pinball Hall of Fame and let the boys each spend a few bucks of quarters in the machines. My youngest is a retro gaming fan, so he really enjoyed some of the old original cabinets like Tron and Ms. PacMan.

IMG_0807By this time it was getting to be mid-afternoon and it was time to get back. We dropped the kids off in their rooms and then headed out again for some adult time at a couple of new local taprooms. Our first stop of the day was at Lovelady Brewing, right in old downtown Henderson. They had a food vendor there, so we ordered up an appetizer sampler and a full flight of their beers.

Overall, their beer was strong. They had a great pineapple sour that I grabbed a six pack of so I could bring some home. They also had a spicy brown ale that intrigued my brother-in-law and I, but was WAY too spicy for my tastes. This didn’t stop me from taking a giant swig as a way to show off my manly-ness. This inspired my brother-in-law to follow suit, and for the next few minutes the two of us were talking in raspy voices and downing tons of water and food. Fun times.

Once we finished at Lovelady we headed over to Crafthaus, also in Henderson. There we got a full flight on their beers on tap, minus their imperial stout. I’ve had Crafthaus before, and it’s good stuff. In particular I liked their sour table beer and their saison. I grabbed a six pack of the sour table beer as something unique to share with friends at home. After sampling we decided it was time to hit the apartment again and take some naps.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and hanging out with family, which a band played in the village. It was a very busy day, but was certainly a good time and a lot of great memories.

Easter Vegas Vacation, day 1

This past weekend we had the opportunity to spend time with family in Las Vegas to celebrate Easter with a big family gathering. We started our trip early on Friday, with a morning flight that got us to Vegas nice and early so that we could have the majority of the day to hang out and do fun things.

The plane ride was mostly uneventful, although there was some nasty turbulence on the landing. We had a few moments where the plane did those sudden drops that makes your stomach churn. The landing was otherwise smooth and once we finally made our way to the terminal and to our rental car the flight was a distant memory. Because we needed to haul a bunch of people around we ended up with a 7 passenger rental car, an Infinity QX80. This beast of a vehicle made us feel like we were escorting some famous rap star. I haven’t driven this large of a vehicle in a while and it was an interesting weekend remembering how to look for larger parking spaces.

One of the funnier moments of the trip was shortly after we picked up the vehicle. We were leaving the airport and heading to where we were staying, however the previous destination was still programmed into the car’s nav system. The computerized voice of the car kept complaining that we were going the wrong way and demanding that we make a u-turn. At first it was funny, but soon became so annoying that my wife was pressing any buttons she could find to shut the stupid thing off. She ended up finding the button that silenced the voice, despite the route still displaying on the screen.

IMG_0771Once we were safely into the small apartment where we were staying out in Henderson, we settled in for a relaxing afternoon of visiting. I hit the local village market and got some amazing local beer (Joseph James Citra Rye Ale), which I enjoyed out on the patio in the setting sun of the desert. The next day was going to be full of activities, so I made sure to get in some nice relaxation before the deluge of being busy. We had a fun dinner at a local Mexican place, watching the birds begging for food, while also trying to lure each other with funny mating dances.

IMG_0768As the evening cooled into the mid 50s I was reminded about just how warm it was going to be here this weekend, and made plans to pick up some flip flops (since I forgot my sandals at home). Soon it was time to head to bed to try and sleep through the two hour time difference and get ready for the next day.