VEGAS BABY!! … with teenagers….

Our trip was quickly wrapping up. I’ll be honest. I had mixed feelings. We had a great time with the kids and Uncle Dan!! But it’s a delicate waltz living with one person full-time in a camper. This pounding Celtic jig the five of us had been doing around each other in our small space for the past week was starting to wear on me. Not to mention, the jig was being stomped out in fine terra cotta-colored dust and sand that was coating every inside surface. I’m no neat freak but this was unbelieveable!

After reviewing our route we decided to boondock it another night on the way back to Las Vegas so we wouldn’t be in such a hurry. But that left me scuttling in the truck looking for a place to stay. This time we wanted something to do – not just a pull over for the night. My trusty atlas outlined the Valley of Fire State Park right across the edge of the Nevada border. It was a first-come, first-serve campground so we hoofed it there as fast as we could.

When you full-time you get all kinds of experiences. But the best ones are the ones you never expect or don’t plan. And this was one of those times.

This park was hidden away. We kept driving and driving, wondering why it was called the “valley of fire”. And almost as we turned a corner we saw it – out in the middle of nowhere these gigantic red rocks burst from the ground! Huge, jagged forms EVERYWHERE! and RED! And you could CLIMB on them!!



Remember how I said this group likes to climb rocks? Did I mention Indy, my dog, is a natural rock climber, too?!





Do you see them ↑ ? Waaaay, waaay up at the tippy top? That would be Michael, Z, Uncle Dan and Indy….

And of course, we can’t forget “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, Valley of Fire State Park, NV”

Valley of FIre SP UT

That night we all sat outside looking at the stars. The sky was so clear that far out and away from city lights. If you have never had the privilege of viewing stars out in the country you need to make it a top priority. There is nothing that will remind you how small and insignificant you really are in the scheme of the universe. It was this deep thinking that had all of us sitting out in camp chairs, looking up at the night sky, contemplating the cosmos that night. Uncle Dan summed it up nicely when he acutely observed, “Looking at so many stars makes you realize that you’re only just a tick, on a tick, on a tick, on a tick on an elephant’s butt.”

The next morning before we left we headed further into the park and saw Rainbow Vista. Any guesses as to why they call it that?



And I realized if I flip the screen on my fancy pants camera I can take really high resolution selfies too!


We were sad to leave and marked this in our campsite journal as a place to DEFINITELY return!! One night just didn’t cut it. But we had to get back to Vegas because we had a show to see!!

Friday night we all hit the town to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at Aria!! I think Z and I were the most excited of the bunch. Neither of us had seen a Cirque show before and I know I was really looking forward to it! Before we hit the show we hit, none other than, a buffet!! It’s Vegas! You  must eat at least once at a buffet!

Now I scoured the buffet lists and I found several that ignited my culinary flame! But alas, they were usually $40+ per person. And Michael was paying for 4 of us. Let’s face it, a picky 13 year-old and a 16 year-old are NOT going to appreciate these particular choices. So I went looking for one that was cheap and close to Aria. That left The Buffet at Excalibur.

I am a foodie. I love gourmet food and home cookin’ alike. But when you go to The Buffet you are getting what you pay for. At $26/ person (it was a little more that night because it was ‘seafood’ night), it’s food is ‘eh’, but satisfying. You aren’t going to get food poisoning. (at least none of us did) But I didn’t find anything outstanding there. Let’s say, for me, it was uneventful.

However, for everyone else, it was a HIT! Z got to try “sushi” and he LOVED it! (None of it contained raw fish. They had cucumber rolls and something filled with an overly-mayonnaised fake crab. But he didn’t know the difference and was delighted.) Since it was seafood night they had boil and peel shrimp, skinny crab legs, mussels and a few seafood-inspired dishes. And S, who claims to detest seafood, loved the buffet because she could pick at her salad, mashed potatoes and gravy and then the dessert bar and no one would yell at her for not eating anything. (Even though her father forked over $26 for this privilege.)

So maybe The Buffet didn’t hit my snooty food mark but it won in everyone else’s book. According to Z it was “the best meal he ever had!” (mumbled with food in his mouth as he continued to shove it in by the forkfull.) So I’ll count it as an overall win.

Zarkana. It. Was. Amazing. If you’re in Vegas, go see it.

And the last, current, installment of “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, The Las Vegas Strip.”

Vegas Strip

The next, and final day, consisted of going to a water park in Vegas. The kids got to don bathing suits before hitting the plane later that night back to cold Syracuse. We thought this would be a great idea since temperatures were to hit in the 80’s that day. Well… it wasn’t exactly as we had expected. The temps reached the high 70’s. But it hadn’t been consistently hot enough to really warm up the water. It was FREEZING! I hit a few slides than called it quits. Michael and Dan hit a few more than me. Other than that we let the kids play until closing.

We put the tuckered out kids on a plane that night and let them sleep the night home, all the way back to New York. It was a great trip! And now, almost 2 weeks later, I still don’t have this camper completed rid of red dust and sand. But that’s ok. It was worth it!

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