Viva Las Vegas!

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They say that whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But they didn’t expect a girl with nothing going on her in life to walk the Strip. Besides, I came of age in the era of social media. Nothing is staying private for long.

So it is with no qualms that I write this post. I want everyone to know about the wonderful experience I had. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you just want some ideas for your own trip to Las Vegas. Either way, I’m spilling the colloquial beans.

The only reason I got to go on this amazing vacation is because of my amazingly generous Aunt Pat and Uncle Joe. They’ve already done so much for my family and I, and yet they still refuse to stop! But don’t get me wrong. I’m eternally grateful for everything they’ve done, including inviting me, my sister Carolyn, my best friend Ciara, and my sister’s boyfriend Tevin to stay in their house for a week.

We did so much over the course of seven days that I think the best way to share our experience with you is to tell you about the highlights of each day. And yes, there will be lots and lots of pictures! Put on your sunglasses because those Sin City lights are bright!

 

Day One: Settling In

After a long flight (nearly five hours!), we weren’t up for much activity on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t experience anything!

On the contrary, we got to check out our home for the week. How can I even explain Pat and Joe’s house? I mean, “luxury” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s immaculate. And yet, it’s also welcoming and homey. Perhaps that’s just because I was staying with family, but I like to think the muted, cozy decor truly made that house feel like a home.

This two-story house feels like a resort. Pat and Joe nearly treat it as such, keeping each bathroom well-stocked with towels, soap, shampoo, and more! Carolyn, Ciara, Tevin, and I stayed downstairs, where we each had our own bedroom (Well, Carolyn and Tevin shared the downstairs master bedroom.). And each bedroom had its own bathroom attached! If you think I’m weirdly excited about a bathroom, then you’re probably right. But I’ve waited nearly twenty-six years to have my own bathroom, so it was a big deal to me.

Downstairs also houses the home theater, furnished with those comfy recliners a lot of updated movie theaters have. Next to the theater is a fully-stocked bar. (The bar also features a popcorn machine and a snow cone maker!) You can bet your ass we made use of that (though not too much).

Out back, there’s a heated pool and a hot tub (in which Ciara and I took our first dip that night). There’s also a fire pit where we made s’mores! We had a lot of fun out there, and went swimming whenever we could.

Upstairs is the living area, the den, the kitchen, the main master bedroom, and an office/bedroom. And then there’s the balcony.

The view from the balcony is breathtaking, no matter what time of day it is. Best of all? You can see the Strip! Honestly, I could’ve spent an entire second week just hanging out at that house.

Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t be sharing any pictures from inside the house. However, I will share pictures of the view! Below you’ll find pictures of the balcony view during the day, sunset, and nighttime:

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Day Two: Living to Excess

We kicked off the first official day of our vacation with a brunch buffet at the M. It was delicious. I also got my first ever Mimosa there. It was pretty dang good too.

That evening, our squad of four took our first trip down to the Strip. Joe drove us along its entirety and then had us to pick a place to be dropped off (Their generosity extended to driving us to the Strip each day. We took a Lyft home each night). We chose the mall at Caesar’s Palace. That mall is perhaps the prettiest mall I’ve seen in my entire life. The ceiling simulates the sky, and throughout the day it cycles through day and night. It’s lovely.

The mall was also filled to the brim with designer stores that made my bank account quiver with fear. To quote Carolyn, “I feel too poor to even look at these stores.” Needless to say, none of us bought a single thing in that mall.

Next we headed to In-N-Out for a late dinner. I’ve heard this fast food restaurant hyped up for years, and this was my first chance to finally try it (they only exist on the West Coast). And the verdict is… it’s okay. Average, at best. Five Guys remains vastly superior. Sorry, not sorry.

After dinner, Carolyn and Tevin headed back home. Ciara and I, on the other hand, went to Sugar Factory! We finally got to experience the majesty of their sixty ounce drinks (we each got our own, and both drank the whole thing). We both got the Fuzzy Peach Penguin Mango AKA the Tongue Twister. This glorious monstrosity was apparently created by Pitbull. And it was miles better than his music. As expensive as it is, it’s worth trying at least once.

Check out how massive this drink was (and click here to see what happens to a Sugar Factory drink when it’s poured):

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Day Three: Traveling the World in a Day

On Monday, we stayed in and basked in the luxury of Pat and Joe’s home. That is, until the evening. Then Carolyn, Ciara, and I headed back out to the Strip (Tevin stayed behind).

That night it was our mission to visit as many casinos as we could. We started with perhaps the coolest-looking casino I’ve ever seen in my entire life: the Luxor.

The Luxur’s theme is Ancient Egypt. It’s decked out with obelisks, a Sphinx, and hieroglyphics! In fact, the whole thing is a giant black pyramid, shooting a beam of light into the sky! Pretty awesome.

We wandered briefly into Mandalay Bay, where we each tried one slot machine. I didn’t understand what happened in the machine I played and I still don’t. All I know is I lost my dollar. So… maybe gambling’s not for me.

Then we cut back through the Luxor to get to our next destination: Excalibur. This casino’s theme is King Arthur and the Round Table or Camelot. I didn’t find it quite as aesthetically pleasing as the Luxor, but it was certainly fun to explore a castle— even if it was pretend.

Next we headed to New York, New York. As someone who’s been to NYC, I have to say this casino is a pretty accurate replica. It even features its own Statue of Liberty and miniature Brooklyn Bridge!

After a brief trip to the M&M store, we headed home for the night. So maybe we didn’t see the whole world, or even the whole Strip. But we saw a whole hell of a lot and had fun while doing it.

Check out some of my favorite shots from that night:

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Day Four: The Red Carpet

Since we’d spent the past couple days in the house, Ciara and I took a day trip to the Strip. Our destination? Madame Tussaud’s. Oh, come on. Like you wouldn’t go to a museum filled with wax figures of celebrities if you were given the chance.

It’s fun if you let yourself be silly. And we were downright ridiculous! I was disappointed to find out that the Demi Lovato wax figure is in the Los Angeles location and not Vegas, but I still had a good time.

After that, we tried our hand at virtual reality! We went on two missions: one rebuilding a spaceship on the moon and the other shooting arrows at dinosaurs. It was a blast!

We wrapped up our day trip by visiting the Venetian. I’ve never been to Venice (or anywhere out of the country), but I know beauty when I see it. This casino even has a canal running through it. You can take a ride in a gondola and be serenaded by a gondolier, but we opted to just watch instead. Then we took a stroll through the Palazzo before heading home.

Though we’d planned to go back out that night, we decided instead to chill at the house. We swam in the pool with Carolyn and Tevin, finally together as a group once again.

Check out some of my favorite “meet & greet” pictures from Madame Tussaud’s:

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Day Five: Backstreet’s Back!

Halloween in Vegas— can you imagine anything cooler?! How about seeing the Backstreet Boys in concert with your best friend on Halloween in Vegas? While dressed as unicorns?!

At 9 o’clock that evening, Ciara and I were front row in Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in all our dark and light unicorn glory (I was the dark unicorn, naturally). And then there they were— the Backstreet Boys. I grew up in a Backstreet Boys household, but I never thought I’d see them live.

But there I was, making eye contact with AJ and touching Kevin’s hand. They sang all their biggest songs, including my favorites “As Long As You Love Me,” “All I Have to Give,” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” They even played part of “It’s Gotta Be You” (another personal favorite) during one of their costume changes!

They still sing and dance as well as they did as young’uns (and yes, they sang live). Though, I must admit, it was one of their backup dancers I fell in love with that night. I can’t find her name anywhere, but she’s the one with the short silvery-blonde hair. And I would give my life for her.

For the encore, they each came out in costume! I was so glad to see their Halloween spirit (which was strangely lacking in the crowd). All-in-all, it was a great show! And I can now proudly say I’ve seen all my childhood favorites (except for Aaron Carter, who can suck it).

Since we were nearby, we headed over to the Bellagio after the show to see its world-famous fountain! It was very beautiful, but not as fantastic as I’d always heard. Still, it was worth checking out. As was the inside of the Bellagio, even though we only went in because we were chilly. And then these two Backstreet Boys fans went back home.

Check out Ciara and I in our costumes and some of my favorite shots from the concert:

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Day Six: Downtown Girls

Thursday evening, Ciara and I kicked off the fun by riding the High Roller. It’s a Ferris Wheel that takes you 550 feet in the air! From up there, you can see almost the entire Strip. The ride takes a half hour, but it was time worth spending.

After that, it was time to head downtown to Fremont Street! Downtown Vegas can be sketchy, but Fremont Street is constantly filled with excited tourists. Fremont Street features a few casinos of its own, including the Golden Nugget and 4 Queens. In fact, this downtown party scene is where Las Vegas first set down its feet. That’s right, mobsters walked those streets.

You can watch live shows at one of the three stages along Freemont or visit one of the shops. However, the main attractions are the hourly light show and the zipline! It was almost as if Freemont knew Ciara and I would be there because that night’s light show featured music by The Killers!

We wanted to try the zipline, but unfortunately it was sold out until 12:40 that night. Still, the flashing lights and soothing sound of Brandon Flowers’ voice made the trip downtown worth it.

Check out some of my favorite shots from atop the High Roller and of Freemont Street:

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Day Seven: A Haunting Spectacle

Speaking of Brandon Flowers…

Hang on, we’ll get to that. First we have to talk about the thing I’d been looking forward to all week: our visit to Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum.

I don’t know if any of you guys watch Ghost Adventures, but my mom, sister, and I never miss it. Zak Bagans, for the uninitiated, is the host/lead investigator on that show. So obviously we had to go see his museum when we got the chance.

For the first time in a while, the whole crew was back together: Carolyn, Ciara, Tevin, and I. We had originally planned to visit the museum in the evening, but another commitment (that we’ll get into soon) came up. So instead we opted to go in the afternoon. And hey, if ghosts are real, then they should be active no matter what time of day it is.

Fair warning for anyone who wants to go to this museum, you could be in for a long wait time. In total, I think we waited a bit less than an hour and a half before we finally got to start our tour. They start a new tour every twenty minutes, but there could be a few groups ahead of you. So plan the rest of your day accordingly. I recommend going about an hour before you hope to actually see the museum.

There are also some jump scares. I won’t tell you what they are or where (I don’t want to spoil the surprise). I just thought it was fair to mention in case that’s something you can’t handle. And, even though I don’t truly believe in ghosts and demons yet (I want to, but I need to see it with my own two eyes first), I recommend going through the museum respectfully. Perhaps taunting the alleged spirits that reside there would yield more results, but I didn’t want to take chances and don’t think you should either.

The museum itself was pretty cool. There was actually a lot more history than I expected, which was cool. Each section of the museum has a different theme. Any room that was allegedly particularly dark or demonic was optional. Naturally, I went into every single one.

My favorite room was the one that held Peggy the Doll. According to legend, she’s possessed by a demon. But the cool part was the spirit box. For the minute or so we were in there, we were allowed to try and communicate with her. I was stuck with some lame asses, so I was the only one who attempted it. Unfortunately, I did not get any responses. I could hear a voice, but no intelligent interaction. Thus, it was probably just the spirit box scanning through radio channels.

I didn’t see or hear anything I feel I can conclusively call paranormal activity. I saw some puppets move by themselves, but there could’ve been some trickery behind the scenes. In one of the pictures I took outside the museum, a large orb is visible. I’m not saying it’s not just a glare from the sun or some kind of UV light trick. I’m just saying my phone has never done that before.

Throughout the whole museum, I felt like my normal relaxed self. However, in the room they call Dr. Kavorkian’s office, I felt a random spike of anxiety. Again, I was fine in all the rooms before and in all the ones after (including the next room, where Dr. Kavorkian’s “death van” is— check out the history behind it here!). I will admit I have an anxiety disorder and sometimes have random spikes of anxiety. I just found it interesting that it only happened in that room, especially after I’d gone so long without any symptoms. Was it definitely a ghost? I don’t know. But it was interesting nonetheless.

And alas, we did not get to meet Zak and the gang. They were in town and, according to the director of security, Zak had been in earlier that day. Unfortunately, he did not make a second appearance while we were there. Unless you count all the pictures of himself he hid throughout the museum. God, I love/hate that loser.

Check out the pictures I took outside the museum and in the lobby (the only places we were permitted to take photos), including the orb picture:

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Okay, now it’s time to talk about Brandon Flowers. As I said earlier, our original plan was to go to the Haunted Museum after dark. However, that morning we learned something interesting on the news. That evening Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Jacky Rosen was holding a rally in the Arts District. And who was going to be at that rally but Nevada-native Brandon Flowers?

So yeah, Ciara and I went to a rally for a candidate in a state where we can’t even vote to see Brandon. But to be fair, we’d never gone to a rally before. Sadly, we live in a conservative area and the only person who’s held a rally here is the Evil Orangutan. This was our chance to see what a rally for our party is like and also see Brandon Flowers!

Brandon was charming and well-dressed as always. He sang a stripped down version of the Killers hit “Read My Mind,” as well as the Nevada state anthem. We were hoping to meet him, but I don’t know that I could lie to Brandon. And I don’t think it would’ve been a good idea to tell anyone there that he was the reason we came.

Either way, he was amazing and I can’t believe we were that close to him. Again. (Twice in one year, y’all!) But he wasn’t the only speaker that evening, nor was he the only one I was impressed by. Andra Day spoke briefly and performed a couple songs, including the inspirational “Rise Up.” Vegas-born Jimmy Kimmel also gave a speech that was filled with his signature humor. Despite not considering myself a fan, they were both still cool to see.

As far as politicians go, we saw some incredibly inspirational speakers. One of those speakers was Senator Kamala Harris from California. I was riveted by her speech. And can I just say… Harris 2020?

We also got to see Senator Jacky Rosen speak (yes, she has since been elected to the United States Senate!). I loved everything she was fighting for: health care, DACA, and equal rights. I left that rally ready to commit voter fraud! (That’s a joke, GOP.)

That night, after a brief jaunt to the Stratosphere, Ciara and I ended our vacation the same way we started it: a relaxing evening in the hot tub.

Check out some of my favorite pictures from the rally:

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If you’re ever able to go to Las Vegas, definitely do. It’s not just a gambling town. There’s so much to do! And, while we didn’t do anything particularly sinful, I feel ours was a successful trip to old Sin City. If you want to see more of what we saw and experienced in Vegas, check out my Instagram!

Every day since I’ve been back, all I’ve wanted was to be there again. You can’t just live that bougie and then go back to real life. Maybe I’ll move out there someday. I won’t be able to live in a mini-mansion like Pat and Joe, but I’ll still be where all the action and diversity is. And isn’t that what life is really all about?

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