Thursday, August 25, 2011

There and Back Yet Again, By Davebo Baggins

Greetings! Back from Vegas, and what a trip!

First, apologies for not posting before or during the trip. As I thought about it, I considered the wisdom in announcing to who-knows-whom that wifey and I would be out of town, when I'd already established that our kids were staying home. Yeah, not smart. "Hey, I'll be away from home for the next week or so, and my sweet little girls will be home, all alone!" I don't know who reads this blog... but I found out recently how easy it is to get my contact info (phone, address, etc) right there in my Facebook profile (I've since hidden it). Yeah, not cool. Anyway, I decided to stay mum about it all, and wait until I returned to announce that we'd officially gone.

So, yeah.

We started out vacation by taking the family to the San Diego Zoo last Saturday. I hadn't been for a long time -- and now I remember why. Yeah, me and crowds don't mix. The sun cooked me, and every adult there was accompanied by a child or children, of varying degrees of loud and/or obnoxious. But the girls love it, so we put the admission price ($$!!) toward year-long passes, so they can run off to the zoo and/or Wild Animal Park for the next year, to their hearts' content.

The Wagner Girls + Rhino

We bid farewell to the girls Saturday night, left them in Grandma's care, and spent a night home alone. Sunday around midday, Sister dropped wifey and I off in downtown San Diego with luggage and high expectations. We checked into the Hilton Bayside, grabbed a quick bite to eat at a gaslamp eatery, then hit Petco Park for an afternoon Padre game. They were starting off with a "number retirement ceremony" for the great Trevor Hoffman. We had really good seats...

Sorry for the shoddy photo-stitching job. I didn't feel like making it perfect. Anyway, Petco is a terrific park. It was hot, so we left after 6 innings. Padres ended up winning the game, but I didn't really care either way. It was fun to soak up the atmosphere. And apparently, Trevor Hoffman retired a few years back, with a staggering 601 career saves, which is the highest number of career saves in Major League Baseball. Kudos to him. He's a shoo-in for Cooperstown, apparently.

Here's the Hilton, eh. Nice! Coronado bridge in the background. Just out of view to the right is the waters' edge.

Here I am, on the cool walking bridge between the Hilton and Petco Park.

The little woman and I, enjoying the game. She has a kids' head growing from her shoulder! Runnn!

We enjoyed another meal downtown after the game, and then retired to the hotel, to work out in the fitness center, and go to sleep. The next day (Monday), we packed up our luggage, checked out, and took a nice, leisurely 3.5 mile stroll to the airport! Yes, we walked to the airport (luggage in tow). I didn't think I could do it, but we made it! Yeah, I'm, like, in good shape and stuff.

We flew out to Vegas (boy, were our arms tired!), and took a shuttle to the Vdara. Here is a pic of it I found online...

It is in the heart of the Vegas strip, in a massively expensive new zone called City Center, which includes three high-end hotels, a large, high-end shopping/dining center, and some high-end residences/towers. Only the Aria (the largest hotel) has a casino... the rest (including Vdara) are just really nice, low-stress places to stay, away from the uproar, while right in the center of it (if that makes sense). Here's our view from the 51st floor...

Click to enlarge. It was really nice. Sorry again about the poor photo-stitch job.

I found a video clip on YouTube by a guy that did a quick tour of his room at Vdara, which is identical to the one we stayed in, if you're interested. Again, it's not me, it's some other guy!

The view of the pool 50 floors below, from our room.
And here's a very strange, large sculpture made out of canoes, right in the heart of the Vdara-Aria plaza. Some yahoo probably got paid millions of dollars to design and build that sculpture. It's probably called "Canoe Believe I Got Paid For This?"

And so evidently there is a new side of Vegas that shuns the traditional drunk college crowd and chain-smoking middle-aged slot-playing crowd, and instead caters to people (like wifey and I) that just want to stay in a really nice room, and eat really great food. We ate twice at Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace (owned by Bobby Flay), and I have to say, it ranks among the very best food I've ever eaten. We ate at a place called Olives, overlooking the huge fountain at the Bellagio hotel. Also very good. And we ate at one of Wolfgang Puck's Pizzeria's, which was also exceptionally good. Here's the appetizer we ate...

I'm not normally one of those people that takes pictures of their food (to post on Facebook, usually), but in this case, it was too beautiful to pass up. The fact that it tasted even better than it looked was an added bonus.

We also each ate a Pink's hotdog, but we were not impressed...

Beyond that, we walked all over the place, roamed through countless shopping centers, ate great food, and relaxed. We even hit up the fitness center, and laid out at the pool (in 110 degree heat!). It was a terrific trip, in nearly every regard. It was romantic as well, but there's no need to go there... :)

All in all, I am super-glad we went, and I look forward to going back. We may try and stay at the Wynn Encore next trip.

An interesting side-note: I was asked today (now that we are back) if it was supposed to be a secret that wifey and I went to Las Vegas, as though people at church were not supposed to know that we were going there. That question, asked in all seriousness, sort of baffled me. The idea being that good Christians aren't supposed to go to Vegas or something. For the record, I have absolutely no problem with going to Vegas, or with letting anyone and everyone know I went there. "Sin City"? Sure, if you look for it. But our time there was enjoyable, and untainted. I had a wonderful time with my wife, had great food, unwound, loved it. The junk was easy to avoid/ignore. Maybe it isn't that way for others, but for wifey and I, it was. I'm not ashamed in the least, nor do I feel I should be.

I guess that's grist for another day. Bottom line, I'm glad we went, and I'm glad we are back. I don't know if I could have afforded another day. It was terrific, but man, was it not cheap. Now, back to my diet and workout regimen. I'll join my wife in great shape soon... I'm making great progress, vacation notwithstanding.

Other stuff to talk about, but it will have to be another time.

Onward and Upward.

Dave the Traveler.


Rug Warrior said...

Cool photos Dave! And in regards to "sin city" - basically there is sin anywhere you want to find it... so it's all about the "source" - good people do good things no matter where it is.

Glad you two had fun - you deserved it!


logankstewart said...

Sweet trip, friend. I've ne'er been to Vegas, but our local, tiny podunk airport has just started flying there on the cheap, so we may have to go some day. In fact, now that I think about it, this airport only flies to Orlando or Vegas... Hmmm.

Anyway, glad you had a great trip.

Michelle said...

So glad you had a great trip. Both you and your wife look so relaxed and happy.

Dave-O said...

awesome pics brother, and glad to hear your trip was a good trip. I love vegas and not the normal "lets get drunk and blah blah blah" lol. I love the city and all the stores and sights. anywho, glad you and the wifey could enjoy your trip. and as always.....

you are the man lol

Abbie Josephsen said...

Glad you are back and had a good trip! Thanks for sharing the pictures and stuff :)

David Wagner said...

Lisa: I'm a good guy, I think... except now that you mention it, I do wear black a lot... MUAHAHAHA!!!

Logan: Someday, sure, you should go at least once. But it isn't cheap... well, I mean, you can find cheap places to stay, but probably not in the parts of the city you want to hang in... in any case, probably not somewhere you want to go with a new baby...

Michelle: It was a very relaxing, enjoyable trip... happiness feels weird on me... I could get used to it, though...

Dave-O: It's pretty remarkable what they've accomplished there, as far as building the city up... I can't believe they get enough people and $$$ through there to support the sheer size and cost of it all.

Abbie: Glad to be back, thx.