Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Desert Also Blooms

And I have proof!



We're back from Las Vegas, exhausted, broke and happy.

The gaming was fun (though not too profitable, despite two separate straight flushes in the last 24 hours before we left), the people were incredibly friendly and the meals? Holy cow... I think we ate our way through the city. It was true fine dining every night, starting with Circo, an impeccable Italian restaurant in the Bellagio Hotel, overlooking their fountains. We had tenderloin accompanied by risotto with white truffles (only available in November and December). Heavenly!

On another night, we ate at one of our favorite LV restaurants, Shibuya in the MGM Grand. This restaurant puts all other hibachi restaurants to shame and can even make Benihana, one of our favorite places to eat, seem stogy and unappetizing. Of course, it doesn't hurt that their Sake selection is huge. Here are our dinner companions...

First-time sake drinkers, before...





First-time sake drinkers, after. 

What a hoot they were. (Sorry for the blurry image- I'd had a little sake myself!)

 

Being at the MGM also allowed me to photograph the lions in their enclosure. 


 

Our last meal was truly special: a seven-course, chef's choice tasting menu at The Mix, which sits high atop THE Hotel. Scroll down the page and you'll find a link to the menu that says "Click to view prix fixe Menu (PDF file)". We tried the "Grand Tasting"... oh, my lord, was it amazing! The view from up there is a full 360 degrees of the Las Vegas cityscape. Spectacular.

It wasn't all hedonistic pleasures while we were there, however. We rented a car one day and escaped the city into the desert beyond. We saw the Hoover Dam...




...and took a tour of the huge turbines that generate power for six states (of particular interest to my engineer hubby).




You can still drive across the Dam for now, but by the end of next year, a newly-constructed overpass will redirect motorized traffic across the gorge. On one side of the Dam, you're in Nevada...



And on the other, Arizona...




We also drove the thirteen-mile loop through Lake Mead National Park. The lake is down about 150 feet due to a lengthy drought, but it was still quite stunning.


  
After the Dam and Lake Mead, we headed in the opposite direction, shot past Las Vegas to the west, and visited Red Rock Canyon, a truly rugged playground for hikers, sky-divers and nature lovers.

The sky was mostly overcast by that time, but when the sun would break through the clouds and shine on the mesas, it was breathtaking.

 

A few brave souls left the relative safety of the trails to rock climb.



This park is also home to ancient petroglyphs (images chipped into the stone cliff edifices) ...

 

...and pictographs (images painted onto the rock).
 


Being back in the real world feels a little odd, and we're still a bit jet-lagged (we lost two hours coming back), but both of us feel refreshed after this much-needed vacation.

This week I will be preparing fifteen yards of fabric in preparation for dyeing. Mom bought a small rag-rug loom at the International Quilt Festival and now needs chartreuse/lime green yardage to make her first rug.

Also, I will be (re-)starting work on my commission piece, so a resupply trip to the Dharma Trading site will be necessary. What a strain, eh?

And finally, I have completed the stitching on my most recent quilt and will be adding a binding, and I will also be finishing the binding of a smaller piece I completed a couple of weeks ago. Will post photos when they're available.

To see more (hi-res) photos of the desert and Red Rock Canyon, you can visit my photo blog, Approachable Photos. I should have a post up in another hour.

In the meantime, happy creating!

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