Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Las Vegas, Nevada, The Aria Hotel, The Stratosphere and a Grand Canyon West Rim Helicopter Ride

It's a little crazy to do San Antonio and then Las Vegas both in August, but hey if it's free, I am not going to argue about when, or where for that matter. One of David's consulting clients sent us down for a little vacation and he presented at their conference, all expenses paid.

It was great even though I grew up close to Las Vegas and it was never one of my favorite places to go. I was just there for my uncle's funeral three weeks ago, although we drove that time. It was different this time though. I don't gamble and so I had never really stayed on the Strip before, but this was a real vacation and not just passing through or visiting family.

We stayed at the new Aria hotel which was fabulous. It's wired with all new technology and so if you can figure out how it works its awesome! Even the curtains moved electronically. We had a nice view of the city's West side, the hotel was decorated very contemporary and so I got some nice abstract shots, they pumped vanilla fragrance throughout the hotel, the bed was the best hotel bed I have every slept in and it was right in the middle of everything. New York, New York, Luxor and MGM was to the right, and The Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and the Mirage was on the left.

This was the first time I remember flying over my home town. La Verkin and Hurricane are in distance, Quail Lake is in the middle and the beginnings of St. George are bottom right

The Aria was quite an interesting hotel. The floors changed every few feet

There were some interesting walls and they also changed every so often

More artistic walls

They even had interesting ceilings

We ate at the buffet three times just because once we tried it we couldn't think of any better place to go and it was so convenient right there in the hotel. It was a little pricey for dinner but breakfast was very reasonable. For dinner they had many different ethnic food areas 

Chocolate Flowers that were at least 2 1/2 feet across

This is my reflection shot for the trip

The bed was better than mine at home. We both like it and so we looked at the label. It was a Posturepedic deluxe pillow top mattress

The pool area was nice but not huge. I thought 3 lifeguards for a small 3 1/2 foot deep pool was a little overkill, but at least I felt safe from drowning. Later I learned it was 114 degrees that day

Mandarin Oriental is on the left, the Aria is the middle and the Cosmopolitan is on the right

Sorry but this was the only way I could get the statue in with the New York too

We decided to check out the Stratosphere since we were in San Antonio and they told us that the Stratosphere was the tallest in the US, The Tower of the Americas in San Antonio was next tallest and then the Seattle Space Needle. Now I have been to the top of all three!

We were there at sunset and got some nice city shots

That night we walked down the strip for some night shots

We watched the volcano at the Mirage

Hmm where have I seen this before only the real thing? And it definitely wasn't this color

We watched the fountain show at the Bellagio

The morning that David was presenting I took a Helicopter ride with Sundance. I found it cheaper online than at their actual website, but they picked me up at the hotel in a limo and it was about a 4 hour tour all together. Our pilot's name was Matt and he was great. There were I think 7 helicopters that took off all at once and we flew together and landed together in the same area of the West Rim

This is my shadow shot for the trip

And this is my feet shot for the trip

We flew over some amazing scenery

We saw the Hoover Dam

Some pretty dry dessert

Lake Mead

And then into the end of the Grand Canyon

The place we stopped for lunch had these interesting bushes I had never noticed before

Lots of Cactus

Lunch was great. I was with a group from Spain in my helicopter

Flying back in we flew along the West side of the Strip

We listened to "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley on the way back

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