I drove away from home at about 7:20 AM, about the same time Barb was heading for work, and hit the freeway heading west. Traffic was pretty good and I made good time, but it was still over an hour before I actually left PHOENIX (the metro area) and was on the way northwest toward Wickenburg. I stopped briefly in Wickenburg to use the facilities and then continued in the same northwestern direction, heading for Wikiup.
I stopped for a little longer in Wikiup (and bought the snake mug), also got a drink, and started what's really the LONG leg of this trip. The route between Wikiup and Kingman is beautiful country, but a lot of the road is very narrow, one lane in each direction, but traffic was good and I made it quickly to the junction with I-40 and then through Kingman to Coyote Pass and over.
There are only about 80 miles between Kingman and Hoover Dam, but it's a long flat area and seems like forever, with very little to break up the monotony. Not even the dam itself anymore, because WHAM, you're across that bridge before you've even realized you're on it!
I took the Sunset exit and found it twists and turns a little through foothills before getting to the airport and Las Vegas Boulevard, where I stopped to take pictures of the sign before going up the few blocks to the MGM Grand. Like all hotels the self-parking is clear and easy to get to, and before you could shake a stick I had a parking spot and was meeting my mom in our room. We went and got some lunch at the Stage Door Cafe and then just hung out for a while, a little gambling and a little settling in before catching the Drew Carey Improv-A-Ganza. There was a great cast (Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Ryan Stiles, etc.), but I can see that what shows on television is edited together from a LOT of shows, because there were, frankly, some seriously dead parts. It was fun, though.
Saturday we walked down to the Bellagio to check out the atrium (we do love the Bellagio), looked at the inside of the new Cosmopolitan (GORGEOUS bar, seriously), then walked back, wandering through some of the stores and stopping for one of those water massage thingies (which are really cool, even if they look weird).
Saturday night was the George Strait concert. Now, I know I have my problems with mainstream country, and seriously, a lot of Reba's stuff? Who really thinks that's country music? SERIOUSLY. But it's nice to see that a guy in his 60's, in a plain shirt and Wranglers jeans, who just carries a guitar and sings, nothing flashy, and sings plain old twangy country music, can command a crowd of nearly 20,000 people in LAS VEGAS. And make no mistake, they were there for HIM. That was a crowd who loved King George, and he was who they were all there to see. They liked Reba, they liked Lee Ann Womack, but they LOVED George. As a bonus, he did all his old stuff that I loved and nothing of those lame "they all sound the same" ballads that marred the middle of his career in the late 90's and early 2000's.
For dinner we went to Diego, a fairly posh upscale Mexican restaurant in the Studio Walk at MGM Grand, and for a change, I found a place like that every bit as good as a gourmet restaurant should be rather than just overpriced gringo Mexican. It was certainly fusion rather than "authentic," but it was staggeringly delicious (I had pollo con mole and Mom had three-meat enchiladas), with excellent chips (always the hallmark of a good Mexican place) with two kinds of salsa and pico de gallo, fresh guacamole and smoked, flavored salts (various chilis). Everything was magnificent; and despite a rather sizable bill, we discovered it was almost completely comped, since the room charge only docked us for the tip!
Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, and as a part of the package deal we had there was a huge Super Bowl party in the arena. There were big screens showing the game and a great crowd, lots of free food and beer, and it was just as much fun as going to a live game (only with the bonus of Super Bowl commercials AND it wasn't as crowded OR as rowdy, despite the free beer). We went in certain we wouldn't stay for the whole game, but ended up doing so anyway, and I'm just redneck enough to have enjoyed the hell out of all of it.
We did a little gambling; I won $300 on the quarters and we just had a plain ol' good time. We had breakfast Monday morning and I HAD to go see the lions one more time, and boy, was I glad, because they had cubs again, and I got to pose for another picture with one! SQUEEEE. I have to scan that one, though, so I can't share it yet. I even got a little lion tongue again.
Then I headed for home, pausing only to get lost in Boulder (as I always do) and to see the bridge and the dam (pictures in previous posts).
This is what it looks like, driving between Kingman and the dam:
For a couple of hours, that's pretty much what it looks like. And yes, I know I have to have that chip in my windshield fixed.
So that was my weekend, and I'm finally caught up on pictures. YAY.