Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 9 - Sin City

With the hotel breakfast in our bellies (a fine meal, it was!), we pressed on for Las Vegas.  Hearts were a little heavy because we knew out trip was winding down but we still had plans for a full and fun day.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just outside of town.  While I suspect the birding there is better outside of the winter months, we didn’t let that stop us.  With a 13-mile driving loop and plenty of opportunity for pull-outs and hikes, we made the best of our morning.

We managed a flock of Mountain Bluebirds.  Let’s be clear – the stunning shade of blue on these birds against the browns, tans and reds of the desert is really quite a sight!  So was the point-blank view of the Juniper Titmouse (new for Nat). The Golden Eagle was neat, too.   

We can certainly say that we were not the first ones to take a look at the birds of the canyon.  With pictographs and other evidence of at least six different Native American cultures dating back almost 13,000 years, it looks like people have been using the canyon for a loooooooong time…..

With Vegas just a few miles away, slipping into town for lunch was easy.  McDonald’s got the call.  The closest brewery was actually the Chicago Brewing Company.


We fly across the country to experience what the west has to offer and one of the few breweries is influenced by Chicago?  Whatever.  The part that really bugged me was the policy with the sampler. They have nine beers on tap. Cool, right?  You must order all nine.  Nine or nothing. No choosing.  How stupid.

In any case, I had the All Nighter (#1529). I think it was  pretty fair beer overall.  They consider it one of their lighter beers (which was fine with me given the hiking and all).  Very grainy.  Lightly hopped.  Okay overall.

After lunch, we did what any reasonable couple would do – we returned to Red Rock.  Natalie was really itching for another hike, and the last time I looked, Detroit does not have any deserts.  I’m not sure we saw a single bird on that hike, but we experienced the same thing we did outside of Death Valley – pure silence.

That was about to change.

By late afternoon, it was time to get to the rental car back so we could get to our hotel. For 15 minutes, the only sound that could be heard was me swearing enough to make a sailor blush.  It turns out the return desk for our rental was inside the casino with no signs outside. The GPS had us in the right place, but we had no way of knowing it!  How patently stupid.  A quick taxi ride got us to our hotel.

Except it is not a hotel.  It is a palace.  A casino.   A shopping mall.  Restaurants.  A movie set.  If you can think of it, it is probably a part of the Bellagio.  As a part of our wedding gift, my parents thought it would be nice to put us in one of Las Vegas’ most amazing hotels. 

You can just ask Fran Tarkington.  I saw him.  No, really.  I did.  I swear it was him.  Every kid growing up in the late 1970’s would know him not as a Minnesota Viking,  but as one of three hosts from "That’s Incredible."  It was him. I’m certain.  Of all the people to see and recognize in Las Vegas?  That’s incredible.

After cleaning up from our hikes and acting like a 10 year old by controlling the blinds with the switch on the wall, it was time to go find the beer….

…in the mall?

Yes, folks, the Sin City Brewery has an outlet in what can only be described as a shopping mall. Mind you , this is a different mall that would be across the street in the Bellagio.  This was average stuff, where the Bellagio is more high-end.  In any case, the outlet is about 8 seats at a bar.  That’s it.   They don’t even serve food (something many breweries are doing nowadays…or not doing depending on how you look at it).  So after having a nice pizza a short walk up the way, we returned to the Sin City Brewe….,er, uh, outlet , for some of the most average beers you are ever going to get.

First off, the names are boring.  If you are regular reader of this blog, you know I hate dumb names for beer.  Calling your hard effort nothing more than Amber, IPA, Light, Stout, and Weiss (#1,530-1,534) is just soooo lame.  You're in Vegas - give is something with some more pizzazz. That said, you might try and give you beer more pizzazz. I not knocking them, but they we all very very average.  Well, not the Light. That was water.  I gave that one a "2".

A brief walk around the strip showcased the insanity that Vegas.  The lights and the people. The people.   Did I mention there were people?  It was easy to see who was  a local and who was an out-of-towner.   Locals were dressed like the “tick kid” from A Christmas Story as they struggling with the cold.  Nat and I were wearing a fleece. 

After enjoying a brief water show at the Bellagio fountains, it was time to just turn in.  Nine days. Lots of hikes.  Even more driving.  Exhaustion might be a good word.  The image below is from our room. 

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