Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mini-tour of Las Vegas

Inside the MGM

We’re not really into the casino scene, or all the “Viva Las Vegas” type of partying, but no trip to Nevada could be complete without a visit to the city.

While Tom and Nick were still in Michigan, I did a google search for “Things to do in Las Vegas with a teenager”, and came up with a few options, so Bryce and I took a drive into town on Monday afternoon.

Our primary destination was the CSI Experience at the MGM,

CSI Experience

but we had a couple of stops to make on the way.  Our first stop was the Ethel M Chocolate Factory.

Ethel M Chocolates









Ethel Mars was from the same family that founded M&M/Mars, but this particular branch of the family makes fancier chocolate treats.  We walked through the self-guided tour,

Inside the chocolate factory

Very clean!!










and sampled a few treats in the Gift Shop.  We couldn’t buy anything to take with us, since we weren’t going home and it was pretty hot out, but it was still a fun visit.

Mom with the blue guy


Even though it’s a separate branch of the family, there’s still quite a bit of M&M presence, including a M&M Store!








Back outside, we walked through the Cactus Garden,

Flowering Cactii

In the cactus garden


and watched a few planes fly overhead!

Right on the flight path!

Our next stop sounded cool, but Bryce wasn’t too impressed, so we didn’t stay long.

These old machines are pretty simple!

Pinball Hall of Fame

Vintage Pinball Machines

I thought it was kindof cool, but Bryce thought there were too many creepy people hanging around in there!

We finally made it to the MGM then, and found our way through the smoky lobby and casino floor, to the District – where the CSI Experience was located.  We had gotten a 2 for 1 offer on Facebook, so it was a pretty good deal. 

Fullscreen capture 4262014 101455 PM


There were no photos allowed in the experience, but we had fun “solving our crime”, and we both got CSI Diplomas when we finished.


Bryce said he felt like he was doing one of his Forensics Labs, so I guess he should get Extra Credit for this adventure!



He didn’t want to hang around at all, or venture out onto the Strip, so we just headed back to the RV Park for dinner. 

When Tom and Nick got back, we had a few more Las Vegas experiences.  I have a cousin that lives in Vegas and keeps his boat at Lake Mead, so we joined him for a couple drinks at the Marina on Wednesday afternoon.

Lake Mead Marina

Walking along the docks, we saw a bunch of carp in the water . . . big ones!          Big Carp!









He gave us a tour of his boat,

Mike's Boat

and we visited for awhile before he went back to his “Guys Night Out” at the Marina Bar, and we went home for dinner. 

There are some pretty nice views from the Marina.

Lake Mead

Tour Boat

Lake Mead Marina

On Thursday, after our Anniversary Narrows Hike, we headed back downtown one last time. 

the Pawn Shop


Nicolas wanted to see the Pawn Shop, and Counts Kustoms – both from History Channel fame.  When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what the History Channel has done for some of these small businesses – it’s really made them famous!

The line at the Pawn Shop was really long, so we didn’t stop, but we did take a tour of Counts Kustoms.





At Counts Kustoms

We checked out the collection of restored vehicles,



and the boys spotted a couple of guys from the show hanging around.



From there, we made our way back to the Strip, and treated ourselves to a Buffet Dinner.  It was good, and EXTREMELY filling, so we were in need of a walk afterwards!

It was getting dark by then, so we made our way over to Fremont Street to see the light show and action at the Fremont Street Experience.





Fremont Street



Fremont Street Experience


The Light Show and music were pretty cool, but we found Fremont Street to be even more crowded and rowdy than the Strip!  I was surprised . . . I thought it was supposed to be MORE family-friendly, but it definitely wasn’t! 


The kids, of course, hated it, so we made our way back down the strip, and back to the RV Park on nice, quiet Lake Mead . . . that’s more our style!!



One last picture of the Strip,

On the Strip

and of course the required picture of the Las Vegas sign!

Welcome to Las Vegas

Saturday, April 26, 2014

This was a really cool hike!!

Once again, thanks to Nina over at Wheeling It, we had a tip on a really neat hike on the northwest side of Lake Mead.  We’re really glad she included it in her “Top 5 Things to Do at Lake Mead”, because we really enjoyed it!

We took Lakeshore Drive to Northshore Drive, and the further we drove, the more beautiful the scenery got.

Northshore Drive

We followed the online directions to the trail, and it was a good thing we had them or I don’t think we would have found it.  At mile marker 16, we turned off on the dirt road and saw a group of cars parked there.

Going offroad!

The online directions indicated that we had a couple miles to go to get to the trailhead, and that high clearance vehicles should be able to make it there.

We're still going!

Our car isn’t exactly high clearance, but we figured we might as well drive in as far as we could!  The road stayed pretty smooth, although it did get narrower as we approached the old Anniversary Mine.

We haven't gotten stuck yet!

There were several times when we thought about stopping, but around every curve the road just seemed to continue.

Getting a little dicey

Almost the end of the road










Finally we reached the end of the road! 

We found the trail!

Anniversary Narrows Trailhead

This is it – we reached the trailhead – and we weren’t the only ones who drove all that way!  All I know is that I sure wouldn’t have wanted to walk all that way from the main road!

It was fairly hot on Thursday, and we weren’t really sure how long the trail was, so we agreed that we would walk for 45 minutes, and then we would turn around.

We set off into the narrows!

Into the canyon

The narrow slot canyon between towering walls offered both shade to keep us cool, and breath-taking vistas to keep us captivated!

Through the narrow passages






There were plenty of places for the boys to climb the walls, and they took full advantage of the opportunities!



Climbing rocks

Areas like this just bring out the adventurer in them . . . they can’t resist it!

Hiking in the narrows




The slot canyon was very cool and interesting . . . and really enjoyable to hike in!

Slot Canyon

As we exited the narrows, the canyon opened up in front of us and became a dry wash.  Some other hikers that we met along the way told us that in a big flash flood, the water can get 20 feet deep in the canyon!

Then the canyon opens up!

Beautiful Canyon


Take a seat!

We had only been hiking about 25 minutes when we exited the narrows, so after a short water break, we continued on through the canyon.  We weren’t sure how far the canyon continued, but we figured we would just keep going until we reached our 45 minute cutoff, and then turn around and go back.







The boys found some more rocks to climb on . . .

Looks like a walrus!

and we took advantage of the beautiful backdrop for some pictures . . .

Enjoying the amzing hike!

A great day for a hike











and the boys continue to play!

Can they lift it!?!

By the time we turned around, we were ready to get back into the coolness of the narrows!

Photobombed by Nick!

A group of Canadian hikers caught up with us , and in addition to giving us a geology lesson on the area (this canyon was caused by flooding, not an earthquake), they offered to take a photo of the 4 of us.

Family Hiking Day


It wasn’t too bad of a photo – even if it was at the end of our hike!!










We left the group behind, and made our way back to the car.

Back to the car



Arriving back at the car, Bryce’s hiking app told us that we had gone about 1-1/2 miles in 90 minutes . . . a pretty slow pace, but they were doing a lot of climbing and we stopped to talk to other hikers quite a bit!

It was a beautiful day, and a gorgeous slot canyon!  We’re so glad we read about it and were able to find the trail!  It was definitely worth the trip!