Wow, it feels like almost forever since I posted anything! At the end of April, as a combination birthday/the-kids-are-out-of-the-house-woohoo! thing, I accompanied my husband to Las Vegas for a business conference. For 4 days, he worked, while I used the gym facilities, hiked Red Rock Canyon, laid by the pool at The Green Valley Ranch, read, ran on the amazing running trails in Henderson, and just relaxed with another accompanying wife. Not a bad birthday treat, huh? After the conference was over, we took a few extra days and went to Bryce Canyon, and then on to just about the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in the US – Zion National Park. Finally, back to Las Vegas proper, where we took in LOVE – The Beatles Cirque du Soleil and walked up and down and in and out all the casinos, shops and restaurants on The Strip. While I’ll share some of the abundant photos with you of our trip in the next few posts, I’ll leave you with a couple impressions about some different aspects of our trip.
1. The picture above has to be about one of my favorite views EVER! When we left, it was overcast, gray, rainy and cold. Within minutes we were above the fluffy white clouds and the sun was shining, the sky crystalline blue. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on an airplane, looking out the window at our ant-like population, I feel irrelevant and connected at the same time. To see how small our lives really are from a physical perspective always affects me. Yet somehow, from that God-like view, I nonetheless feel that no matter how small I feel, I know Someone cares about every single moment in my too-small life. That Someone doesn’t think it’s too small; I matter to Him, infinitely more than I can comprehend. Also, when I’m at this altitude, I find our world beautiful in a way I can’t see from the ground. Kind of the forest-for-the-trees kind of thing…
2. We stayed 1 night in Las Vegas 10 years ago on our 6 week “See the American West” camping trip, and I have to say that it’s much less seedy and dirty than it was then. I grew up in Disney country, so when I saw people outside sweeping the street on The Strip/Las Vegas Blvd., it reminded me of Disney parks. Las Vegas like Disney? There seems to be a much bigger emphasis on high-end shopping and dining than all the “see naked girls” pamphlets that were so prevalent on the last trip. Don’t get me wrong, gambling in the casinos is still the prime order of business, but there was also a great deal made of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and Mariah Carey coming to town. To the majority of tourists, entertainment, eating and shopping seem to be the lure of the city. Since we first stayed in the suburb of Henderson, I discovered I actually liked the area as a whole. The weather was lovely, surrounded by mountains, and the people in the suburbs were just like the people in the suburbs of the two biggest towns close to where we live now. Lots of churches, nice shops, restaurants… I could live there, if push came to shove, surprisingly….
3. For years, I’ve heard of the wonders of In-and-Out Burgers, as well as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, both chains primarily west of the Mississippi River. They don’t disappoint! If they showed up east of the Mississippi, I’d be happy.
4. If I’ve said it once to anyone who will listen, I’ll say it again…. I’m constantly amazed by the geographical diversity of the continental United States. Both on the flight over (window seats are the BEST!) and on the ground, it’s crazy how the physical landscape can change in just a few miles. Beyond so many other things America has to offer, we truly are a blessed nation to have all that we have in one country.
5. Kids are wonderful and a blessing, but now that ours are (for all intents and purposes out of the house), it’s nice to “date” my husband again without worrying if everything is okay at home. I’m still doing that whole “empty nester” grief thing for the most part, but this trip helped me relax and just enjoy “us” again….
6. I now realize that I might be what others refer to as an outdoor person. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors as most kids do, but over the past decade or so, I’ve learned to love camping and hiking. I’ve always enjoyed exercising outside more than inside – something about the fresh air clearing my head – but I never considered myself an outdoorsy type. I think I do now.
7. It’s a great trip for me if I can do laundry before I get home. Maybe not all of it, but I despise walking into the house and unpacking suitcases full of dirty clothing. It almost doesn’t feel like I vacationed if I have to spend the next couple days doing laundry as I jump back into everything else. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a humongous laundromat in one of our hotels. I met the nicest woman from New Jersey, whose son lives only an hour from us. It’s a small world indeed.
8. After any trip, I realize just how much I want to be a contestant on The Amazing Race.