Last month on the last night of my trip out west, I got to see KA at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. A perfect ending to a trip packed with so many fun activities, this was spectacular.
Kà is a show by Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kà describes the story as “the coming of age of a young man and a young woman through their encounters with love, conflict and the duality of Kà, the fire that can unite or separate, destroy or illuminate.” Wikipedia
Photos or video of the performance are forbidden and fine by me as I wanted to experience it fully, not through the lense of my iPhone. The photos shown here were taken pre or post-show.
Once again I’m knocked out by the creativity and beauty at Bellagio’s Conservatory where the current theme is Bellagio’s Opus. There isn’t a visit to Vegas which doesn’t include this “must see” display.
The Conservatory – Bellagio’s Opus
Each season, the enormously talented Horticulture and Engineering teams transform the 14,000-square-foot Botanical Gardens into a showcase of inspiring sights, sounds, scents and colors. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are all featured—along with a special display for Lunar New Year. When the seasons change so do the displays. The talented Conservatory team changes out the design and also replants and repurposes as much of the living plant material as possible, further celebrating Mother Nature and our commitment to sustainability. This excerpt is from Bellagio’s website.
Of all the trips I’ve made to Nevada, I’d never been to the Valley of Fire State Park. A few weeks ago, I visited this magnificent natural wonder – well worth the drive from Vegas – to witness firsthand the breathtaking beauty of these incredible rock formations.
Valley of Fire State Park is a public recreation and nature preservation area covering nearly 46,000 acres located 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada. The state park derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, which formed from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago. Wikipedia
There’s something about the Great Smoky Mountains that connects with my soul, a sense of peace that I crave. After rescheduling my May trip due to Covid-19 lockdowns, I made the trip this month and immersed myself in the beauty and calm of the Smokies.
One of the first things on my list was to drive the Cades Cove loop. It’s an eleven mile, one way, slow and scenic drive with a high likelihood of seeing wildlife. It never disappoints.
When visiting the Smokies the food is a major part of the appeal. There are endless choices – I’m highlighting a few that I love.
My longtime favorite bbq spot, Smokin Joe’s in Townsend never disappoints. While I’ve had their brisket and ribs this time I ordered the pulled pork with fried okra and corn nuggets (fried cream corn). OMG.
A new find was Trailhead Steak and Trout House also in Townsend. I started with fried green tomatoes, a Caesar salad followed by their grilled trout that was perfectly prepared. While I neglected to photograph those meals (too hungry?) I did manage to capture the following:
Driving the Cades Cove Loop you’ll find several churches with small cemeteries. It was early Sunday morning when I came upon them and I was able to hear parts of the sermons and hymns at each as I walked with reverence around the graveside pathways. It was peaceful and I was in awe of the history in this place.
The Dan Lawson Place, which was originally constructed in 1856, is a transitional piece of architecture – the home features both sawn lumber and hewn logs. In addition, the pioneer cabin featured a modern chimney made out of bricks.
Over the years, Lawson expanded both his land holdings and his residence. By the time of his death, the cabin had been expanded to have a large porch and an additional second story. The large, covered porch was used as a post office that Dan ran from his house.
I visited Cades Cove on three occasions this trip and my posts only provide a glimpse of the beauty. The peaceful meandering loop road connects you to nature. At any hour of the day you’re assured of unforgettable scenic views and often wildlife sightings making it a must-see when you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains.
A trip to the Smoky Mountains isn’t complete without driving the Cades Cove Loop. I drove it three times during the trip choosing daybreak, midday and late afternoon to experience the changing light and wildlife sightings. It’s a one-way 11 mile drive that progresses slowly as you savor the scenery, take photos and stop for animals.
I get a thrill seeing the black bears that are a beloved fixture in Tennessee. I’d been following several Facebook groups in the weeks before my trip with numerous posts of mother bears with multiple cubs. I’ve always had multiple bear sightings on past trips – my hopes were high. I saw one bear cub on my late morning drive. He scampered across the road in front of me and was gone before I could get a photo. He was my only bear on this trip but there’s always next time.