Vegas Diary

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011 at 15:18

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Tuesday 6th September, 2011

Our priorities in Vegas were to ensure David was adequately prepared for his race in 5 days time, and to stock up in a major supply point for our road trip through Nevada, Northern Arizona, and Southern Utah and then any remaining time could be used to see the sights of the Vegas strip and shows etc.

So, first day in Vegas for us was spent driving around various shops and trying to get acquainted with life in America. We got groceries from Walmart, spent hours in Best Buys, and then the Wireless Geeks (?) trying to sort out our mobile phone, and then Boulevard Mall, and for fun we went to Halloween City and the kids got incredible masks, tails, claws etc. Also for fun we bought Leah a purple hair extension and cut it to size. It clips into her hair at the part line and makes her look the way she wants – she’s always been saying she wants to dye a strip purple so hopefully this will get that whim out of her system with less pain for me!

After our big day out we enjoyed the resort pool and David followed his coach’s notes and did a run. It was too hot for outside so he used the resort gym. He ended up hurting himself though and said he pushed through it but then realised he had hurt himself quite badly, and had to ice his quad.

This setback really played on his mind and upset him terribly. He was concerned he had spoilt his race. He also felt he had messed up his ability to stick to the coach’s program of preparation running, riding and swimming but I tried to encourage him that the RICE method works quickly. I made a meal in our room using our great kitchen facilities and we let the kids watch the cartoon channel on the TV in their room.

Wednesday 7th September, 2011

Everyday starts with complimentary breakfast in the resort lobby with a continental and hot breakfast buffet so after a feed of scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, rice bran cereal and yoghurt we were ready to start our day nice and early.

We stuck to the coach’s plan to swim and ride the course of the race today, which meant a big drive out to Lake Las Vegas. Not many would know there is a lake in Vegas as it is not normally available for swimming and is in a very exclusive resort area on the edge of the Lake Mead National Park – a very remote area of extremes but also incredibly beautiful. There were lots of triathletes running, and riding, and so that helped with David’s attitude. I knew the kids would want to swim too so we packed a bag and walked down to the area where we thought the race would be – not very clear on the notes we had. About 40 other competitors were also doing the same but we were all taken aback by the Ironman noticeboard at the pontoon that said strickly no swimming. Most people ignored as we did. The event organisers did have a swim practise session scheduled for Saturday 6am the day before the race but this seemed silly as normally you have a day of total rest the day before a race of this distance so like most people, this was the only opportunity. The Lake is rather beautiful but it appears it is not normally open ton swimmers. After the swim, Chardae got a huge splinter in her finger and wouldn’t let us take it out! David then got on his bike which we had put in boot of our car and we stayed to explore the shops that look quaint in the style of a European village, while he took off to explore the bike course with no real idea of what to expect other than hills and heat. I received a call from him about 20mins later saying he had no money and needed to pay to get through the National Park entrance to Lake Mead. We didn’t have any information to even know that was required so he rode back to us, got money and more water and then retraced his path (up more hills). Meanwhile, the kids and I were a bit bored – the lovely façade of the Montebello village was all it was – only about 4 shops were tenanted and none opened until after 10am and the icecreams we really wanted was 11am. David rang us again just before 11am desperate for us to drive out to where he was deep in the hills as he’d run out of water. We left before we got a coffee or icecream and I drove the car for the first time.

Vehicle entrance fee to US National Parks is $25 and we knew we’d be visiting about 4 or 5 parks so I got an annual pass for $80 called America the Beautiful!

The kids were very impressed with Lake Mead National park, we drove along the Northshore drive which featured rolling hills and breathtaking barrenness. When we found David he was clearly struggling in the heat as where all the other riders – seemed all the competitors had chosen today to test ride the course but it was well over 40 degrees . We took some photos of David on the bike as we wouldn’t get to see him out here on race day. After getting into the airconditioned comfort of the car, we took some diversion roads and went right down to the edge of Lake Mead an amazing oasis in this extreme desert used by massive houseboats, clippers, wake boats, jet skiers etc.

We got all this done well before lunch so drove back to our resort, rested for the rest of the day but went out again for dinner and a show at TI (Treasure Island), one of the hotel/casinos on the central strip area where we’d heard of a free outdoor pirate vs wench battle outdoors on fullsize pirate ships with explosions and acrobatic divers and a sinking ship! It was fun and we got to watch the show from our table eating dinner at the Gilles bar and grill. The food sounded nice but was very average and therefore expensive. Leah had ceaser salad, David a gourmet burge, I had a grilled chicken salad, and Chardae macaroni cheese (which has become her staple diet ever since).

Thursday 8th September, 2011

I felt pretty good this morning finally over the jet lag so went for a morning run south along the strip at about 5:30am for about 5km. I really enjoyed the cool morning air, and felt perfectly safe. I went past the Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and just past Russell Road and back and then when I returned David and the girls were ready to go down to breakfast.

Today was registration day! T2 and the finish is in Henderson, another part of the greater Vegas area and registration and expo was here for three days. 3 pages of disclaimers, collecting the competitor race bag with timing chip, swim cap, race numbers to affix to bike and clothing and gear bags and shopping at the expo took us most of the morning so it was hot by the time David started out to run 1 lap of the course, which was done deliberately to simulate conditions on the day. He was worried his leg would hurt but instead he loved the run and whilst we followed in the car he kept waving us on further and finally stopped and said “I’m ready!”, which pleased me.

Spent a small fortune but got all the things on our wish list (Newtons for David and I, Timex watches for David and I, plus IM slogan tshirts for David and Leah and an IM running top for me, some gifts and of course the cow bells and clappers for the kids to be noisy spectators!
We then wanted to do something fun for the kids so headed back to Vegas and straight to the Mirage hotel/casino to visit their Secret Garden with dolphin and white lion habitat that we’d heard so much about. On our way through the casino we found their buffet and stopped for an incredible lunch and very well priced for great food, that was fun, and very varied with quality international cuisine, and surprisingly some great salads so we got to enjoy a healthy lunch. Although we probably ate too much! After feeling satisfied we headed outdoors to the animal exhibits and felt a bit stung by the entry price – more than a day at the zoo and we were done in less than 2 hrs. It was good though, but like everywhere, you need to be ready to say no to avoid upselling and get the kids agreement that there would be no stopping as you pass through the exit (in the gift shop)! We spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool and skipped dinner.

Friday 9th September, 2011

This morning I ran for 11km going north up the strip in my new Newtons. It was such a novelty to run beneath the towering hotels and it was actually a really good way to see it. Our resort is one street south and one street east of the MGM Grand hotel which is at the southern end of the main strip. I went ran all the way to Caesars Palace using the walk bridges and took all the steps before heading back down the other side including Palazzo, Paris, Hard rock etc. Surprisingly, the streets of Vegas at 6am are much cleaner and have far fewer derros than any Sydney street at that time of day. I never felt uncomfortable or bothered and in fact I wasn’t the only runner. So I’d had a good day before it had even begun for the family.

David’s race bag didn’t have his competitor tshirt and my new Timex watch didn’t last its first swim in the pool yesterday so our plan for today was to go back to Henderson to sort that all out. Easily fixed with pick up of shirt and replacement watch we went across the road to the big REI store (like Mountain Design, Paddy Pallin etc). The pricing was great and we got to buy everything off our hiking wishlist in preparation for our trip out to the canyons in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

We also had a mission to find the 3 stores in Vegas area that sold Pokemon merchandise as the kids had their own wishlist. We found the one in Henderson, then the one west of the strip and got some info on where to near San Diego to buy at cost at a gamers market warehouse.
That night we had to drive back out to Lake Las Vegas for the welcome dinner. It was a full American extravaganza with a performance by the Marines band, and an exurberant MC. Then another long drive back after dinner.

Saturday 10th September, 2011

Today was meant to be rest day for David but he also had to take his bike and gear bags back to Lake Las Vegas. I started the day with a run on the treadmill to lessen the impact on my calves which had some niggles but only did about 4km. Very strange using a treadmill giving mileage but the gym was good so I also did some core work, and weights.

Back in our room, I returned to find Chardae woke up very sick with a headache. It was apparent David would have to do his gear drop off without us, as we needed to get Chardae rested.

But first David wanted to give his bike one final test ride and fix an annoying creak. He got a bit fussed as he didn’t have the tools or lubes he needed so took it back to the bike service tent at the expo at Henderson. We suspected he’d have to leave it there for a while so I asked him to go to some shops and buy an esky for our road trip. He did very well and got all sorts of useful things, and sorted everything out with the bike and gear drop off. Chardae spent the day asleep in bed and came good by the night so that was a relief with race day tomorrow at a 4:30am start.

Sunday 11th September, 2011

Finally, race day was here. We left our resort by car at 4:30am and struggled through traffic, mostly taxis going to the airport. We all wore our TriathlonOz jerseys matching David’s trisuit and we had a big Australian flag that we wore – which was fun. We had a long wait for David’s wave start but the girls were great and I got some good photos I think. We saw David’s swim exit and start the bike but then we had to drive to Henderson where the ride ended and the 21km run started (3 laps) and the finish line. We watched the first of the pros cross the line – a win for Australia by Craig Alexander! And of course, we were there for David’s finish. We were so proud of him.

We whisked David away in air-conditioned comfort for a few hours rest back at the hotel but had to leave again at 5pm to attend the after party all the way back out at Lake Las Vegas in the incredible Lowers Resort. This time, the buffet was held around the pool and even though a short rain storm spoiled a few minutes during dinner service, the rest of the night was great. David could hardly move so I drove back to our hotel when the awards were over.

Monday 12th September, 2011

This was meant to be our last day in Vegas but David felt he hadn’t seen it yet so we extended our stay by another night. We started the morning late after I did a session in the gym on the treadmill and more core and weights. We drove to the Mandalay Bay for a visit to Shark Reef, their aquarium exhibit. It cost about $60 for the 4 of us so we hoped it woukld be worthwhile and it was (but think it was too expensive). The kids really enjoyed the touch pool and the shark tank and in the shop I let them each buy a shark tooth necklace. Venetian was next – I had heard of the Gondolas and had to see this for myself. I thought we might do this but when we saw it lasted about 10mins and cost $60 for us all to ride, we had to pass, which brought tears and a long sulking session from Chardae. Instead we had a fun lunch at a place called I love Burgers. The waitress was hilarious with the kids, and the food filling and novelty. But best of all we loved our malt smoothies. I had the vanilla bean and could have just be done with that but also ordered a big salad (not many American salads are healthy though I am learning). After a big day, it was time to chill out at the pool.

Tuesday 13th September, 2011

With one last thing on our shopping wishlist we headed for the Vegas oulet shopping south of the strip. None of us really get too excited by shopping so we tried to get through it as painlessly as possible. We got the Nike runners for the girls and I got my favourite running bra from Champion, some cheap protein powder, and watches for the girls. I had a nice lentil and vegetable soup from the food hall, Leah had a greek salad, and David and Chardae had Subway before heading back to the resort for an afternoon of rest. At 4pm David encouraged us to head out again for an evening walking tour of the strip. First stop New York New York, where David and Leah rode the rollercoaster. Then all the way up to the Bellagio just in time to watch the hourly fountain show – incredible! Then across to Paris Paris where we tried to ride to the top of the eifel Tower but again it was a ridiculous price of $60 for us 4 to take the 1 minute lift and get to a viewing platform so we gave that a miss and promised the kids some lollies at M&M World a bit further down. We then had to return to the Rainforest Café inside the MGM to buy Leah the cheap boardshorts from their gift shop, $15 and exactly what she wanted and we couldn’t find elsewhere. And finally back to our hotel after 11km of walking.

We were all a bit sad to be leaving Vegas. It had been fun and we were getting into a routine but was time to move on tomorrow as we had reservations for 2 nights at the Kachina Lodge on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!
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