Monday, February 22, 2010

There's More to Vegas Than A Slot Machine...

I do love living in California (though, yes, it is the only place I've actually lived for more than a month or two and didn't involve pitching a tent and washing my clothes on a tarp. The Philippines. Ya know.), and one of the reasons for that, is that there are plenty of ways to take an awesome weekend vacation.

You can head up to wine country and hit the Dutch town Solvang on the way back. You can fly up to San Francisco and take in the sights of the Bay. You can head down to Mexico, skirting past dirty Tijuana and hitting up Puerto Nuevo, the little lobster town with a thousand restaurants. If you're up for some skiing, there's Mammoth and Big Bear.

Many of these little gems often get over looked in the movies thanks to a little place called Sin City. Yes, Vegas, baby. The place where reality is fictional, and if you don't remember it, it didn't happen in the first place.

I've got less of a love for Vegas than most, mostly because, having family there, the glamour has become a bit rusty, the shiny a little more dull. And though I love a good party, I've never been the type to head out and hit the clubs, stumbling back into my hotel room at 6AM. I'm more the type to complain about my heels at 9PM, start yawning at 10PM, and hobble to the taxi line at 11PM.

As for gambling? My only real sport is Poker, and I still don't have the confidence to sit at a table with the pros. So I stick to the slots, and everytime I see the little credits line go down and the little images sort across the screen, think, 'This is so lame. I hate this. I'm wasting money. I spent a dime to win a nickel. This is so dumb.'

Yeah. A vegas gambler I am not.

Luckily, Vegas does have some amazing things for the non-gambler, non-drinker.

For one, the food.

But we won't focus on that, because I've already gained enough weight this weekend. Instead, take a look at these attractions:

The Red Rock Canyons
Located about 20 minutes away from the strip, Red Rock National Park is just an amazing, gorgeous place to get away from the cigarette smoke and the flourescent lights. The water carved sand stone canyons look like paintings, and you can be a kid again by climbing and scampering all over the rocks, pretending you're a real life cliff-hanger! No? Just me then? Okay then.

It's a 13 mile drive, with stops along the route. Keep your eye out for wild donkeys, agave plants and sacred roasting sights left there by the Native Americans.

And give a good glare to anyone that dares to litter this gorgeous treasure of a park.

Vinnie Favorito at the Flamingo - website
The ultimate insult comic. You sit in the audience and take your lickings, because no matter what, Vinnie finds you, prepared to skewer you whole for the laughter of everyone else.

And you have to laugh. Because it's pretty damn funny.

An hour of non-stop funny, actually. Definiately worth going. But take your sense of humor with you, and be prepared for your pride to take a few dents. The upside is, pretty soon, he'll move on and make fun of the guy's big head next to you. And then you can laugh at him.

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Tucked away at the Mandalay Bay, is this gorgeously planned Aquarium with some pretty amazing water animals. They've got komodo dragons, pirahnas, tangs, rays, jelly fish, octupai, and pretty much every shark you can imagine, all put together in a floor plan that fells like you're traveling deeper into an abandoned jungle.

It's costly (18 bucks/person), but the aquarium is at least an hour's worth of entertainment and, let's face it, wouldn't you spend that much on a slot machine in twenty minutes?

And honorable mention goes to: Southwest Airlines
Now, I may have lost 60$ to the slots in Vegas this weekend, but luck was definitely on my side on the flight back. Okay, not really. I was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles at 9:30PM, and when I got to the airport, I found to my dismay, that my flight was delayed to 11:30PM.

That meant waiting around in the airport for 6 hours, waiting for a one hour flight. Oh, hells-no.

Luckily, the nice lady at the counter of the flight leaving for LAX at 7:30PM, put me in on standby and then put me on the plane. I got a middle seat, and I had to check my carryon, but I was snug in my bed with my pooch by my side at 11:30PM, and NOT huddled in an airport cursing airports and airlines and the man who made them.

That's a win in my book.

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