VEGAS!

Mike turned 33 on Monday and we celebrated the weekend with a group of friends in Las Vegas. I’ve been to Vegas once before about 4 years ago so was due for a trip back; a trip that started luxuriously because we splurged and flew first class. Holy leg room!

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Glorious leg room!!!

We arrived in Vegas around 10:30am and took a Lyft to the Mandalay Bay. Our friends Ben and Sandra had arrived a few days before so we met in their room to drop off our stuff until we could check in. Our other friends Lauren and Ian had also flew in that morning and were already there waiting for us. The gang was together again.

After a few AM tequila shots (#vegas) we headed to the pool. I couldn’t believe how crowded it was! Luckily we had access to a private(ish) pool that didn’t have as many people. We dumped our stuff on a lounge chair, piled on sunscreen, and got in for a dip. Lunch wasn’t that great. We ordered chicken tenders, fries, chips, and guacamole. I tried to get at least one green, healthy food in there with the guac but was still disappointed overall.

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Catching waves 🤙

After some time spent in the wave pool (endless entertainment!), it was time to check in. One of my favorite parts of vacations are hotel rooms. I love them! Mandalay Bay has pretty nice rooms so I was happy to get there and unpack. Then it was a quick shower and NAP TIME! A little sleep was much needed …especially with how late we ended up staying out that night.

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We went off the strip for dinner to a place called Marrakech that Ben has been to a few times. They serve a fixed 6 course fusion of Moroccan, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisines. The night started with washing our hands in warm rose water and ended with Moroccan mint tea and a decadent banana, chocolate, and walnut dessert; shrimp in garlic butter, plenty of bread, hummus, and belly dancing highlighting in-between. Highly recommended if you’re ever in Vegas!

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Mike and the belly dancer!

Stuffed and ready for more drinks, Mike and I spilt from the group and went to Fremont street, in downtown Las Vegas. Our first stop was Commonwealth for a round of cocktails. The bar had a pre-Prohibition feel with its dark ambiance and hidden nooks to sit in.

Something about Vegas made me uneasy at this point in the trip. Call it taking the “sin” in “sin city” too seriously but suddenly I wasn’t having the best time being there. Everything felt cheap and sad to me. I was having a bit of anxiety by the time we stopped at the next bar. We ordered beers and I tried to snap out of it but I was in a funk. I felt bad for being a drag during Mike’s birthday weekend but, luckily, Mike is the sweetest guy I know and took time to chat with me. I felt better after and was excited to meet back up with everyone to continue the night. Mike always makes me feel better.

We stayed at The LINQ for the next few hours; drinking, gambling (or, in my case, watching gambling), taking pictures, and laughing. So.many.good.laughs, especially between myself, Lauren, and Sandra (and a certain purple zebra #insidejoke). And the best part was everyone had won money by the end of the night!

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We left the casino around 3:30am (what!?) and I was like, I NEED FOOD NOW. Sadly, In n’ Out was closed (I was craving their grilled cheese on the secret menu) so we got food at the only place open in our hotel. Mike and I ordered potato skins to go, devoured them in our room, and went to right to bed (after I showered because, even drunk, I need to shower before bed!).

Everyone in our group slept in on Sunday and lazily met for coffee around 11:30am. Mike and I spilt banana bread that was more filling than I thought it would be. We all spilt up again after to do our own things before a fancy dinner that night. Mike and I ended up walking the strip down to The Venetian (a hot, long walk!) for a small lunch and round of $5 margaritas.

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The “Brooklyn Bridge” on our walk down the strip

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After that it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. The day flies when you sleep through the first half of it! Lauren made reservations at Bardor Brasserie for Mike’s birthday dinner. They had great cocktails (perfect for the birthday boy!), fresh baked bread to start, and really good food. Mike and I started with an endives, walnut, and blue cheese salad and each ordered a fish dish (rhyme) for our mains.

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Next up was BRITNEY, BITCH! Lauren and I walked to Planet Hollywood to see Britney Spears at The AXIS &omg I loved every second of it. (We all know Brit lip syncs but I don’t care!) Of course Lauren and I knew every word to all of her old songs – I have to admit I didn’t know a few newer ones – and danced on booties off. Our feet were killing us by the end of the show but it was worth it.

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The guys and Sandra meet us after for a few last drinks and rounds of gambling. Unfortunately, everyone lost money this time around. And the tram closed before we thought so we walked back through 3 hotels. We were all in bed much earlier than the night before but still managed to stay out until 2am.

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Late night mirror selfies

Everyone left on Monday – Mike’s actual birthday* – expect for the two of us. We woke up around 9am and headed straight for the wave pool to kick of the day. After a few loops around the lazy river, we were back at the hotel getting ready and packing up. Post check-out, we walked to Mandarin Oriental for afternoon tea. Mike loves tea so I thought it would be a perfect birthday present for him. The tea lounge was relaxing but I thought our table was placed a little awkwardly right behind another table, which completely blocked the view of the strip.

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I ordered the Mandarin Orange Blend, a black tea, and it was really good! I’m typically more of a coffee drinker but this tea was bold enough to satisfy me. The food included freshly baked scones, tea sandwiches, and a pretty plate of desserts. Sadly, we didn’t eat a single dessert because we were too full (and, honestly anything sweet didn’t sound appetizing after so much drinking). We took them all to go but they melted quickly in the Vegas heat so we ended up throwing them away. 😦

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After tea, we walked to the Bellagio to check out the conservatory and botanical gardens, a display that seasonally changes. Next we walked through New York-New York for a slice of greasy pizza for me and a hotdog for Mike (hangover food!). Then it was  time to grab our stuff from our hotel and Lyft to the airport.

We recently both got TSA pre-check so security was a breeze. We also had first class status on the way home again. Extra legroom and free drinks, holler!

See ya next time, Vegas!

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Throwback picture of us at the Bellagio conservatory 4 years ago!

*Same as Beyonce’s, y’all

 

 

South Lake Tahoe

We’ve been planning a trip to south lake Tahoe since the end of last year with 4 other couples and it finally happened this past weekend! Tahoe is the perfect weekend escape if you live in the Bay Area (and recommended as a detestation even if you don’t!) because it’s only about 4 hours away and has all different activities to do in the summer or winter. Mike and I usually frequent north lake (you can read about our trips here and here) but I feel like the south shore has more of a party vibe and is better to go with friends.

All of the couples spent the weekend in a cabin we rented close to the state line (between California and Nevada) but Mike and I drove up late on Thursday night. We split a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with our friends Ben and Sandra because the boys wanted to spend all of Friday on the mountain snowboarding and skiing (instead of driving up like everyone else). On our way up, we stopped at Panera, which is a go-to place when we are on the road since it’s relatively healthy.  The restaurant recently rolled out a new campaign using clean ingredients and having a “transparent menu.” In my opinion this should be standard for waaaay more (if not all!) restaurants but at least someone is making the first steps. I am happy to support businesses that care about nutrition and the health of their costumers so I gladly spend my money here. Sadly we nixed our weekatarian ways and ate meat during this meal. I ordered the broccoli and cheddar soup and a Cobb salad without cheese; both were good and kept me full for the rest of our journey to Tahoe.

When we got there around midnight, Ben and Sandra were still about 45 minutes out and we couldn’t check in without them since the hotel was under Ben’s name. Instead we grabbed a beer in the casino and tried not to inhale too much. #smokingkills

On Friday the guys went straight to the lift and Sandra and I spent a leisurely day getting coffee, sushi, and drinking wine while watching Ellen. Since I broke my no meat on the week rule the day before, I ordered vegetable tempura and  a cucumber roll for lunch with a side of edamame. Around 6pm most of the other couples arrived and we got ready for dinner at MacDuff’s Pub. This place was cute and cozy; basically a quintessential Irish pub. Half of our group ordered the truffled mac n cheese and, as good as it looked, I knew it would be too rich for me so I got the corned beef and cabbage instead. I also went against tradition and got a hot toddy instead of a beer. After dinner, we went back to the cabin and played Anomia, this crazy fun card game that involves a lot of quick thinking and shouting at each other.

Saturday started with a lazy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fruit + a coffee run. It could be just me but heading to Starbucks with a huge list of coffee orders makes me feel oddly very much like an adult…

Back at the cabin, armed with caffeine and Chromecast, we alternated between watching Beyonce and Justin Bieber music videos. (Also, very adult like;) Finally around 1pm we collectively decided it was time to go outside and play in the snow. We gathered our gloves, hats, beers, and googles to go sledding nearby.

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I was starving when we got back to the house and was stoked that I had leftovers from the night before. After scarfing down the rest of my corned beef and cabbage, it was time to hot tub! While we were soaking in the jacuzzi the last couple arrived. We all went to Cold Water Brewery & Grill for dinner with the intention of going to the casinos after. Mike and I split pretzel bites with beer fondue, a rice + veggie bowl, and fish & chips. It was a lot of food and we just couldn’t rally after… The whole group was tired and suffering from food comas so we went back to the cabin and fell asleep. …I guess that’s what  happens when you vacation with a group of 26+ year olds.

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Everyone!
On Sunday there was another coffee run and some brunch action before going home. We saw the brunch menu at Cold Water Brewery & Grill the night before and went there again to try their monkey bread. Mike and I split an order of the ooey-gooey-carmel-delcious- ness and each got an order of eggs Benedict which was WAY too much food.

Overall the weekend was filled with more beer than vegetables and essentially no exercise but a lot of fun with good company in a great location! Sometimes you just need a weekend away with friends… amIright?!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley