Travel

USA Sept 2010: A Las Vegas Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me…. Except when the alarm goes off at a shockingly early 5am, I really don’t feel like celebrating… Mr Fletche tentatively asks if I still want to get up for sunrise. Hell, I’m awake now aren’t I… and as much as I would love to spend another hour or two catching up on the sleep that has eluded me over the last 72 hours, sunrise at the Grand Canyon is too good an opportunity to miss.

So, bleary-eyed, we head for the Rim. I’d originally planned to get the eastbound shuttle towards Hopi Point, but instead we decided to take a walk along the rim towards El Tovar and find a good vantage point. To be fair, the whole thing is a good vantage point! The sunrise was another WOW moment; photos just cannot capture the amazing change of colour as the sun hits the canyon walls.

Sunrise at Grand Canyon
Back towards our lodge; and we spontaneously decide to hike the Bright Angel Trail. Well. I say hike. I mean walk down to the first switchback, decide today’s really not the day to try our first hike, and then walk back up again. But at least I can say I’ve been in the Canyon can’t I? Even if I could practically still reach the rim if I stood on tiptoes… Please say it counts….

Bright Angel Trail
Back to the lodge and I finally remember it’s my birthday – YAY! Whata beautiful way to start the day! I open the cards from home that I’d packed, although it’s short-lived as they are soon put back in their envelopes, packed into the suitcase, and into the Fletchemobile to start our return to Vegas.

We stop for breakfast in Williams; how can I not have birthday pancakes? So it’s off to Old Smokey’s Pancake House for a dose of something sweet. Strawberry crepes with fresh fruit bowl, unlimited waffles with blueberry topping, coffee & orange juice.

Breakfast at Williams
Seems like a LONG drive back to Vegas via I-40 and US-93. We sailthrough past Hoover Dam, but the queues the other side (coming from Vegas) are horrendous! And as the temperatures are soaring past the 100 degree mark again, that could be a very unpleasant wait for some people…

However, we’re soon re-entering Vegas; those sparkly shimmering buildings are in sight and we’re back on the Boulevard once more, this time heading for Mirage!

We leave the Fletchemobile to cool down in the self-parking garage and enter the Mirage for the first time. There’s a bit of a queue for check-in, so we have time to gaze around our new home while we wait. Love the aquarium behind the check-in desk, and can hear the waterfall from the atrium rainforest trickling softly… which reminds me to check out the restrooms as soon as possible.

Another smooth check-in despite the wait (how come we take about ten minutes less time than everybody else to check-in? We’re in; we’re out, like hotel guest SAS…). Not so keen however on the walk through the casino to the guest elevators; unlike MGM where you can creep around theedges you are forced to struggle right through the middle of the casino and all the crowds stopping to take photographs of the atrium and the Revolution Lounge. And my huge pink flowery suitcase is hardly inconspicuous…

Up to the 20th Floor; and our faces drop as we realise that room 20-084 is, in fact, the last room of the corridor. We contemplate stopping for a rest halfway, but we finally make it to our room. And it is totally worth it for the double strip view we’re rewarded with!

View from Mirage Hotel Room 1 View from Mirage Hotel Room 2

Mr Fletche decides to take a well-earned snooze, while I go and pick up the LOVE tickets for tonight. I steel myself for the long walk back to the elevators. Find the LOVE theatre quite easily; no queue for Will Call tickets.

And then a thunderbolt hits me. I’ve forgotten to bring both my Credit Card AND my Proof of ID! What a muppet! So, it’s ALL THE WAY BACK to the room (Oops, no room key either so a sleepy Mr Fletche has to let me in…) and then ALL THE WAY BACK to the LOVE theatre… Finally I have my LOVE tickets in my hand (cheap seats courtesy of the Summer of Cirque promotion, somewhere up in the heavens of the theatre…) as well as Two for One Drink coupons for the Revolution Lounge (which we never took advantage of…)

When we decided where to book my Birthday Meal, we didn’t want to go too far as we’d already booked the LOVE tickets. So our choice was between Kokomo’s and Stack. We decided on Kokomo’s (Mr Fletche: “because it’s in a jungle…” and me because someone in a Tripadvisor review described the food as “mouth love”….) and booked a table for 7pm. Sneaky Mrs Fletche booked the table in Mr Fletche’s name so that “he” could point out that it was his wife’s birthday…

Now don’t get me wrong. The service was impeccable, the setting was perfect (if a little chilly) and the food was mouthwateringly good (apart from the sweet potato mash. This tasted like rice pudding and no-one wants rice pudding with their steak. Do they?). But we didn’t feel that it was worth the $180 pricetag. Mr Fletche still shudders to this day when he remembers the shock of seeing that check for the first time.

I guess when the Birthday Girl forgets all about the Prix Fixe menu that she’s researched so meticulously and instead chooses the off-menu Surf & Turf, then we should have expected this meal to practically wipe out our two-week food budget….

Kokomo $60 meal

But we did get FREE BIRTHDAY CHEESECAKE!

With Mr Fletche still speechless, and mumbling about eating at In-N-Out Burgers and Denny’s for the next two weeks, we’re off to the LOVE theatre (via a few slot machines in order to get drinks from the cocktail waitress – Mr Fletche is refusing to give any more money to this hotel than he has to tonight…). We hand over our tickets to the rather nattily-dressed ushers (now, I’m a little too young to remember 60’s British outfits, but these are interesting representations…) and we’re told that we’re getting an upgrade!

It appears that our “upgrade” is due to the balcony in the heavens being closed for that performance, and when the usher sees that we had Front Row Balcony tickets, she offers us Front Row “Front Row” tickets. By this I mean that I am literally two foot away from the stage. I can feel the sweat dripping from the performers. If anyone falls off the stage, I am first in line to be pulled up as a replacement…

LOVE is absolutely amazing – possibly the best show I have ever seen. The energy, the skill, the interpretation of the wonderfully re-mastered Beatles soundtrack – everything was so slickly done and timed to perfection. Being so close, we could see every transition, every change of stage set, yet everything was done with such precision. Although I’m not sure if the performer smacking his head off the side of the telephone box during “Back in the USSR” was part of the show or not….

Fave moments? The beautiful ballet of “Something” and the amazing “see-saw” man during “Benefit of Mr Kite”. And also the fact that absolutely everyone was singing “All You Need Is Love” as they exited the theatre…

Cirque De Soleil Love 2

To top off my wonderful birthday evening, we pop into (or out to) Rhumbar for a cocktail. The cocktails – a Zombie and a Tatonga – were lush, but service was extremely slow. To be fair there was only one server on, but we would have enjoyed the experience a lot more had we been attended to a lot quicker.

Time for a few more slots and video roulette –  and then time to sink into our wonderfully comfortable Mirage bed!

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