Suffice it to say that we had a great time. We spent some time in Vegas, doing the casino thing (not gambling, by and large, mostly just ogling the excess). We spent quite a bit of time at the various parks in the area - we went to Red Rock Canyon National Park, Valley of Fire State Park, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon, where we spent 2 days. We saw Barry Manilow's show, and Dave ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. We were busy bees! Speaking of bees, we saw a warning sign at the entrance to Valley of Fire that warned that there are africanized (killer) bees in the park....I'm glad we were there during winter.
Because it sure was winter! Vegas was in the midst of an unseasonal cold/wind spell, so the temps rarely got over 45 degrees during the day. And in the parks the wind was fierce! It made it challenging to do as much hiking as we wanted to do, because we just didn't have good enough winter gear with us. It was epic cold at Grand Canyon - snow on the ground, and ice on the roads and paths, daytime temps in the high 20s. I'm really glad that we got to see it like that, though - I think the snow made it even more beautiful that normal. We took a lot of pictures, which I will probably post to Facebook, but at some point it seemed futile. Without the right equipment and some training as a photographer, there's just no way to capture the grandeur. You're better off looking at professionally done pictures, and even they won't do it justice.
One thing I learned is that altitude is no joke! When we were at the Canyon, there were times when I was literally gasping for breath, even on short walks up very mild inclines. At first I felt kind of bad about it, thinking that my backsliding over the summer had taken a greater toll than I had imagined. I couldn't believe I was that out of shape. Then my husband reminded me that we were at an altitude of over 7000 feet - well over a mile in the air. Even he had some trouble catching his breath after walking back up some of the paths.
Food wise, it was strange. We went shopping and had our room stocked with healthy breakfast and snack options. And besides breakfast and a snack, we only ate one other meal a day. Some were on the healthy side, and some were not. But some of the food we had was truly outstanding - very different from our norm, and things we couldn't get or make at home. I anticipate a weight gain this week, even after being able to spend this week on plan. The food choices were challenging, we didn't get in as much activity as I had planned (although we did quite a bit), and I injured my foot when I misstepped on a rock....it's still a bunch of cool colors! It is what it is, and I accept it!
I loved the trip, and I would tell anyone who goes out there to definitely plan a day at Red Rocks (there's a convenient 13-mile one way loop to drive that contains lots of places to park and get pictures, or pick up hiking trails). It's a 25 minute drive outside of Vegas and truly spectacular. And most definitely worth going up to the Valley of Fire - it's about an hour drive, but the sites there are stunning. Both parks provide some much needed peace and quiet and open space - a nice alternative from the bustle of the Strip.
So that's the Vegas wrapup! Now I need to get started on the holidays....