After spending 2 adventurous days in the Grand Canyon, we ventured further west into the desert to live a bit lavishly in Vegas. I’d only been to Vegas for a work trip (boring) and the summer prior to visit my sister (fun but didn’t do the Strip) so I was excited to stay on the Strip and really ‘do it up,’ as Alex said.
The 4.5 hour drive flew by; we turned on a long podcast, stopped for lunch in Hurricane, UT (stop at Sonny Boy’s BBQ - so good!) and 2 short more hours on the road, we parked our car in Vegas.
We stayed at the Trump because Alex was able to snag a good deal on Hotwire but I would not recommend this hotel. It was nice enough but being off the Strip made it difficult to get to the ‘fun parts’ of Vegas very easily, among other things. Our first night in Vegas, we walked the entire length of the Strip and racked up nearly 20,000 steps on my phone’s pedometer!
Originally, we’d planned to be in Vegas just Saturday and Sunday nights, leaving Monday for Zion National Park but after a crazy year and in the midst of this major life change, we both wanted to stay one more day in Vegas, relaxing. We checked out of the Trump on Monday morning and checked into the Venetian, thanks to a steal on Hotwire. We slept in, read books by the pool, gambled most of our Vegas allowance away just for Alex to win it all back in the last game of roulette.
Vegas was a blast and, just like everyone says, 2 nights of play time is enough; it was time to leave behind the hot desert and copious amounts of people, smoke and expensive prices for the wilderness.
The next stop on our tour was Vail to camp with our good friend Justin. Justin recently moved to the area to run a vet clinic in town but he’d already scoped out great camping in the White River National Forest (highly recommend checking this out, Denver friends!). We parked our cars shortly before dusk, set up camp and, most importantly, drank beer around the fire swapping stories of our past few weeks; Justin shared entertaining stories of mountain vs. city pet emergencies while we relived our time spent on the road.
We’d built in one extra ‘free’ day into our schedule and decided to spend it in Beavercreek with Justin. Putting our new-found frisbee skills to use, Justin brought us to the top of Beavercreek mountain to play frisbee golf!
Spoiler alert: throwing a frisbee disk is far harder than throwing a regular ol’ frisbee. I found that out preeeetty quickly and spent most of my afternoon digging through grass to find my lost disk. But it was fun, regardless. Any afternoon spent in sunshine, on a mountain, with friends? Winning.
After a quiet evening in Beavercreek, we packed up and trekked into Denver! Coincidentally, my brother, who works on Harry Connick Jr’s tour, and Alex’s high school friends both were in town on that same day so we made sure our trip coincided with theirs. We spent the afternoon at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with my brother, getting a behind the scenes peek at what goes into a major concert, and the evening with our Cincinnati friends, showing them our city and enjoying one last dinner in town at our favorite restaurant, Euclid Hall.
We had a couple of hours between seeing my brother and our friends so we drove through our old neighborhood and decided to stop into the State Capital, knowing there are free tours throughout the day.
This was Denver bucket list item for me; for my 25th birthday, I visited the Denver Mint and after that tour, I’d wanted to check out the Capital, too, but because tours are only offered Monday through Friday, during the day, I hadn’t been able to swing it.
The tour was really interesting! Only 30-45 minutes long, the guide shares many interesting historical tidbits and facts about how the building was constructed. At the end, tours are allowed up into the iconic gold dome and onto the viewing deck outside for incredible views of the city. It was a perfectly Colorado thing to do on our very last day in town.
Early the next morning, we stopped by the kennel where Philly had been staying for the past week and officially began the easterly portion of our trip. It was a quite ride out of Denver, both of us just soaking it all in and realizing, HOLY SHIT. This is happening right now.