And we're back! More to come on my latest travels, but until then, continue enjoying my trip through California. :) tSH
We woke up the next morning feeling decently refreshed. Unfortunately Churches was coming down with a flu, so that impeded things. She continued to sleep and relax as we went down for one of the few complimentary breakfasts we got.
I'd have to say that Hamptons has a pretty nice breakfast set, all included with your room. This makes sense in hindsight - they are suites after all, meaning that most rooms (like ours) have fairly full kitchens (microwave, fridge, even burners sometimes, along with coffee maker and other accouterments of actual living). We had three beds to split between us with the fold out sofa bed and two queen sized beds. Fabulous.
The breakfast included things like make-your-own waffles in a waffle iron, hot and cold cereal, several types of coffee and tea, breads and assorted breakfast pastries, yogurt, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, and even hot food - sausages, Western omelettes, and bacon.
We're all girls being health-conscious though, so naturally only the healthiest of things was eaten - fresh fruit, oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, etc. Eventually I caved near the end of the trip and got a breakfast pasty, but otherwise they were completely untouched by our group.
You know, I'd have to say Barstow was pretty alright this time around. Maybe my sister and I, which was before the age of internet, just happened upon the bad side of town. This time we were located right next to the Barstow Outlets, which we were more than happy to avail and pillage before heading out to Vegas, a short 2 hours from where we were in Barstow.
On our way there we put on the "best of childhood" songs that we could think of and, I will admit embarrassingly, sang at the top of our lungs things like Backstreet Boys, NSync, Alanis Morisette, Spice Girls...I think you get the point. It was a great way to enter Vegas, pumped up as we could be considering the tiredness that had started to set in from constant daily movement.
We checked into our hotel, the most expensive of the trip - Aria. It was the new hot hotel last time I was in Vegas (which was over two years ago, I believe) and one of the few still available for four people by the time we bought our NYE party tickets and were making the plans. It was either this or the Excalibur, and well...I think we're a bit old for the Excalibur now (it catering to the younger set with its excellent dorky castle and medieval knights theme). Aria was definitely more our style. Though ridiculously pricey.
The rest of the time before our NYE celebration was a blur of finding food, visiting the CVS pharmacy several times (we joked at the end of the trip that CVS was clearly our favorite store...we're turning into such old people, with all our ailments), and being grumpy.
By the time we were ready, it was dark outside:
It is a gorgeous hotel, no doubt. It is also ridiculously expensive. I will likely not stay here again unless there is some sort of deal. That kind of expensive (it was even expensive splitting it in four...way too expensive). But it was beautiful *sigh.*
We ended up having to walk to our NYE party at the Mandalay Bay Light Club, because it turns out on NYE Vegas shuts down Las Vegas Boulevard, the street that runs down the main strip. This makes sense, really, since there will be so many drunken revelers walking around. Still, this had not been part of our plans since we expected to be able to take a taxi everywhere. Luckily in my planning I made sure our hotel was near the party venue so the walk was only a little over a mile instead of several, which can easily happen on the strip. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this means it was two hotels away. The hotels and their grounds really are that big. Deceptively small-looking from afar until you see the destination hotel you wish to go to and it still takes you a solid 45 minutes to walk to it. I've had this experience many times in my life. Lesson learned.
The party itself was glorious. Light is set up by the same people who do Cirque du Soleil sets, so it was beautiful in its synchronized lighting, large video screens, and acrobats that descend from the ceiling. Since it was ticketed guests only, we were ensured enough space to dance and move about, plus free party favors (NYE hats and crowns for our taking).
Sorry I don't have a picture better than this (this is already stolen from Hong Kong P), but I decided to embrace and enjoy the moment rather than recording it. It was very liberating.
Needless to say we partied late into the night. None of us were really in a drinking mood though, so not many drinks were bought. The only thing that was insisted upon was a glass of bubbly by Churches so we could cheer in the new year the right way. I happily agreed. I went to the bar while she was in the bathroom and soon discovered how much this ridiculous club (beautiful though it was) was charging for drinks that night - four glasses of house bubbly (I specifically said sparkling wine, rather than champagne, since this makes a difference) - was a whopping $84.
We're at the point in our lives now where some things just aren't worth the price. This one was. We danced and sang in the new year with our expensive bubbly and toasted to a much better and happier 2014.
Letting go of the past, celebrating in the new. New chances, new opportunities, new adventures. Here here!