Just back from my first flight since February 2020, for a small family reunion with all four of us vaccinated. Spending time together sans masks, with laughter, hugs and fun was a gift after months of pandemic isolation. When in Vegas, we always visit the fabulous Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Their Conservatory and Botanical Gardens change seasonally and the horticultural creativity and scale of their displays are inspired and breathtaking.
The beauty of Nevada continues to thrill me. Since my sister and brother-in-law moved here last fall I’ve made several trips and am more in love with it each time.
One of the highlights, the pool at sunset overlooking the iconic Las Vegas strip, surrounded by mountains.
from Wikipedia: Las Vegas Springs Preserve consists of 180 acres dedicated to nature walks and displays and is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The Preserve is located approximately three miles west of downtown Las Vegas.
My recent trip to Nevada included a family reunion which in and of itself was filled with a lot of laughter, simultaneous conversations and catching up on each others lives. That would have been more than enough but my sister, a new Nevada resident, had researched area attractions that would appeal to our gang. Not only was Springs Preserve a huge hit, it was much more than we could’ve anticipated. We availed ourselves two of the many offerings, the Butterfly Habitat and the Botanical Gardens.
Ethel M Chocolates are a Vegas treasure and a visit to their chocolate factory – a delicious treat. Featured at their factory is a botanical cactus garden that you can stroll through for free and see a variety of fascinating cacti. Here’s a few of my favorite photos:
In my last post I talked about my first solo trip since losing Spence and how empowering it felt to reconnect with my love of travel and regain the confidence to do it alone.
The winter of 2018 seemed longer, colder and drearier than any in the past. Spurred on by the successful trip to Scottsdale I asked myself “where next?”
My next hurdle was to return to a place where Spence and I had many fun times, Laughlin Nevada. I needed find out if I could go back and create new memories.
By now, I’d passed the one year mark since my loss, had one solo trip under my belt and knew that the time was right. I felt Spence’s presence at every turn as though he was sending me good luck.
Just a few of my slot winnings over the course of my stay!
Situated along the Colorado River with Bullhead City Arizona across the way, Laughlin was a balmy and beautiful respite from the cold and snow I’d left behind. The hotel pool and the riverwalk were perfect breaks from the casino as was a spa day at Laughlin Ranch.
Of course I had to post a few fine dining photos……
They say “you can’t go home again”. They would be wrong – my trip to Laughlin made me realize that it’s all about timing, readiness and a desire to reclaim my happiness.
Spence and I love Laughlin Nevada and just returned from a comped stay at our favorite Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.
Located right on the Colorado River, in the middle of the Riverwalk that connects all hotels and casinos on the watr, we love the location. The comfort of the rooms, friendly staff, cleanliness of the casino and hotel, great restaurants, comped drinks and lovely landscaped atrium with hundreds of Bromelaids and trees with waterfall make this a desert oasis. Having visited all the area casinos, hands down – it’s the best casino with the most fun and up to date slot machines.
Bubba Gump’s, Saltgrass Steak House and Claim Jumper are the featured restaurants as well as an on-site Starbucks and a deli! Bubba Gumps has both indoor and outdoor, on the water seating.
Saltgrass Steakhouse had Country Fried Steak which was delicious and for one of the happy hours, Spence and I split an appetizer with our drinks.
Good times to be sure! We had breakfast every morning at the Claim Jumper – the best soft breakfast tacos (2) were a great start to every day.
The Riverwalk is a nice way to see both the Colorado River and visit other casinos. We loved walking here, safe and a good way to get in some exercise! And as we did, you can take the Water Taxi anywhere up and down the river for $4 per ride/per person.
Just a few more interesting photos….
Forty second thing: For my next entry in this series about things that make me happy I want to talk about traveling with my soulmate and husband, Spence.
In my almost sixty years of life, I’ve gained a substantial amount of wisdom. Many times I’ve shared this vital relationship litmus test with my girlfriends.
“Find out early on if you travel well together. If not, the relationship is doomed”.
I have more than a few painful-at-the-time, hilarious-in-the-retelling stories from my pre-Spence dating/travels but this post is about the joy of travel when you find a partner that is simpatico. It truly makes every trip better.
Spence and I will celebrate 25 years as a couple later this week. During that time, we’ve traveled extensively both across the USA and internationally. Spence’s fearless nature and grasp of languages has afforded me great adventures with lots of off the beaten path experiences. Ever flexible, we don’t overthink where a trip will take us. Less interested in tours, we’re inclined towards finding where the locals go and our own spontaneous exploration. What I love about travelling with Spence is that we feel the same way about places, frequently going back to destinations that hold happy memories.
Last week, we went back to Laughlin Nevada. We’d last travelled there for a few days when en route from Las Vegas to a rental in Sedona. We liked the laid-back vibe in Laughlin and in particular, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. The hotel had sent us offers since our last visit and a few weeks into 2016, we booked a 6 day/5 night free stay. Using Delta SkyMiles, we snagged two free tickets flying direct from Detroit to Vegas. We did tons of walking checking out other casinos, solidifying that the Golden Nugget is our favorite. While strolling along the Riverwalk (which is on the Colorado River), Spence struck up a conversation with a guy wearing a U of M t-shirt. Gary, who’d moved there from the Detroit area a few years back, was a wealth of knowledge, sharing local history and enthusiastically suggesting we visit Oatman, Arizona.
“Oatman?” we asked. He told us how to get there and since we had a rental car, we decided to take a road trip the next day.
We started the day with a delicious breakfast, mine – breakfast soft tacos with avocado, eggs, cheese, bacon, sour cream and pico de gallo, Spence – two fluffy scrambled eggs and a dish of fruit. Driving across the Colorado River to Bullhead City Arizona, we continued out of town and into the desert in search of this old mining town. It was a fun day in a unique old west town (I’ll be blogging about Oatman in the next post) and a fine diversion from the casino action.
My favorite thing about trips with Spence is that we make our own fun, enjoying each other in the process. Our expectations are alinged, the delight in places we love is shared and our flexibility to spontaneous side trips and discovery of hidden gems creates new memories.
What works splendidly in travel for us, may not work for others but isn’t that what makes our world an interesting and diverse place?
I hope that you find that soulmate who can make your journey better just by being part of it.
For more on my series, 59 Candles, 59 Things, check out “59 Things” under Categories. What makes you happy?