Las Vegas Bay Campground, NV

That's the back of our campsite, a long point along the canyon rim. Pretty cool. Awesome for sunrise and sunset watching. Note the chairs in the background. Note that there are no trees to tie the dog. Mara thought it was a good idea to tie him to the black chair. Five minutes later, our Dutch neighbor came frantically knocking on our window screaming: Da dag is ranning dawn da canyon with da chair!!! Ahem.

The Bluff trail, right from the campground.

Let me tell you a bit about my fixation with cups and glasses. We've been making do with thrift store plastic glasses since we are on the road and I really wanted to upgrade to some nice durable stainless steel ones. I used some of my birthday money (thanks Dad and Hélène!) to get 4 tall smoothie glasses, 4 small ones - perfect for a sip of water and wine - (love them!!) and two medium cocktail ones - great for red wine too. I've realized that if I can't live clutter free (an impossible task when you live in a bus with 4 other persons), I at least need to surround myself with some beautiful and useful objects. And looking at these glasses all neatly aligned in the cup holders along the kitchen wall make me so ridiculously happy! Oh, and my story wouldn't be complete without telling you about my favorite pottery mug (a gift from my friend Helen Ann, from her hometown in BC) for my morning triple shot latte and my bilke cup (from my friend Martine, from Rossland, BC, an avid biker) for my afternoon two shot latte (I know this sounds totally coffee snob, but you'd think otherwise if I'd make you one!). And there's also my Jennifer souvenir mug (absent for the picture) for the mornings when I need a 4 shots one or a warm tea at night!

Just walking to the end of our site...

Glory bowl in the making. One of our staple camp recipe.

One of the most dangerous beer there is. So refreshing and delicious! Not your Father's Ginger Ale from Small Town Brewery.

Making Negronis! Yum! It tastes like Italy!

Some bus and bike mechanics, lots of drawing and writing by the canyon, some drink mixing, lots of delicious food cooking outside (and playing cards by the lantern light). That's the right way to start a vacation!

We camped here last year and deemed it the best campground we stayed at (campsite #52). It was only $10/night last year, but it is now $20/night (no services, water and dump onsite, no shower building). It is still a gorgeous place, but with Lake Mead Rec Area BLM right there (free), it felt like a big splurge. Still, having a campsite with your own canyon rim is a pretty cool thing!

We also went back to Bootleg Canyon for a bike ride on my official birthday (I know, I know, bear with me...). I remembered that I hadn't liked that trail network much last year, but thought it might be a matter of experience. Well, it wasn't. I just don't care for loose rock and poorly maintained eroded trails (much worst than last year) with slippery narrow exposed sections... It really wasn't our best ride... And you know what it reminded me? That I have taken to celebrate my birthday over a long period instead of on that one day because historically, since we have had kids, it almost always ended being a really rough day with the girls and a birthday flop. So cheers to a birthday month! And yes, it's over now. You won't hear about it till next year!

Hiking Ice Box Canyon, Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, NV

This is the waterfall at the end of the trail. Some people tried to climb all the way up there (think people coming to Vegas and that never hiked before...). It is very steep and sleek. Much easier to climb than to downclimb... All of a sudden, we heard a big splash!

Seriously, people!

And a nice guy and his girlfriend helped that woman come down... She had fallen into the upper pool of the waterfall... And in the next 30 min, we saw a few (asian) tourists try to go up and get in very tricky situations... 

With a name like that, especially on a warm day, that canyon sounded very appealing! We came to Red Rock last year and did some scrambling in the Calico area and some awesome rock climbing too. Red Rock is a climbing paradise and our plan this year was to come spend 4-5 days to climb at the beginning of JF's vacation since there is no cell signal at the campground. However, since JF broke his finger mountain biking in Virgin, that plan went out the window.

We instead stayed at one of our favorite campgrounds (Las Vegas Bay, next post!) and came hiking to Red Rock. We wanted to hike Turtlehead Peak, but while doing some research on it, I found out that a woman had fallen to her death down the trail 10 days ago (lots of loose rocks on this exposed trail). However, given what we witnessed today at the waterfall, I understand that people die on hiking trails... Red Rock is only a 20 minute drive from the Vegas Strip and most people that go to Vegas, come to Red Rock... so lots of inexperience hikers doing things too hard for them or being unprepared = lots of accidents.

Ice Box Canyon was a nice hike that meanders through the desert for about a mile before dropping down into a canyon that ends at a waterfall. There is some scrambling required and a fair bit of rock hopping, which makes it a moderate 3 mile hike. 

A surprise night in Vegas

                                                                                      In front of the MGM

Delicious dinner at the Wolfgang puck (in the MGM): truffled potato chips with Maytag blue cheese sauce, Big-eye tuna tartare with spicy mayo and crispy sesame wonton, Fried calamari with gremolata aioli and mesquite grilled steak skewers. Desert was a baked Alaska with homemade pistachio ice cream. Delicious.

Oh, Vegas! You are everything I hate: loud, obnoxious, fake, overwhelming and pricey. Last year, we drove the strip and I figured I could check the Vegas box. I swore I would never again set foot here, but we had to have parcel shipped somewhere and the Las Vegas Thousand Trails RV park is a great place to do so, plus there are showers and laundry facilities right there... and well, JF's parents are flying in this week. So, Vegas it was. 

But what I didn't know is that JF and Martin and Isa had a plan. When we left the Virgin BLM on Sunday morning, we were all parting ways for a few weeks (Jen's family to Moab, Isa and Martin for a tour of Colorado + Grand Canyon and Ching and Jerud were staying put a little longer). When I saw Isa and Martin pull in at the same Vegas campground, I knew something was up! JF had made reservations to see the awesome show Absinthe for that night and we were going out together while the girls had a sleep over in Isa and Martin's rig! I was so excited!

Driving to the MGM with the Westy wasn't our best move... Clearly, we are not used to cities anymore. The Westy (with its roof top box) could not fit into any covered parking lot, so we had to find a spot to park a mile away from the restaurant (you can park for free in any casino's parking lot). We had no reservation and were already a bit squished with time... and I was hungry. We were not off to a good start... But we finally found the restaurant and relaxed. The restaurant is open onto the casino and you can see and hear all the hustle and bustle around. Girls walked by in bikinis, the slot machine sirens kept going off, a bunch of soccer fans walked by, scanting slogans. It was the full Vegas experience!

Once we left the restaurant, we had 45 minutes to walk 5 blocks to the Ceasar's Palace where the show was. Believe it or not, it took us almost all that time to get there! I honestly have no idea how people found their way around the strip and casinos before Google Maps. This place is a MAZE! 

On our way, we passed by not 1 but 3 Chewbaccas, too many sexy police girls, a few bad bunnies (it was Easter, remember), a guitar performer asleep on his guitar, lots of homeless looking persons with orange shirts (on which you could read: Hot ass escorts) distributing cards with naked women on them (the ground was littered with these cards... and there was still lots of kids on the streets), a Muslim man and his veiled wife filming himself with a selfie stick as he walked down the Strip, and so. much. more. 

The show was like nothing I ever saw before. A mix of circus and comedy. Totally NOT politically correct, very sexy and offensive. In the first 5 minutes of the show, I am sure many people wonder WTF this is. The host - the Gazillionaire - looked at a guy in the first row and treated him of Republican and said: Nothing says Trump supporter like a button down polo shirt and a trophy wife!! The two hosts did a great job at ad-libing and interacting with the crowd. Two hours of obscenity, sarcasm and amazing performances (and hot bodies!) What's not to love? 

It's a night I am not about to forget!

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Las Vegas Bay Campground

I think I can say without a doubt that this has been the best campsite we have ever had in our life! You see this overlook in the last two pictures? It was on our campsite. Our own private overlook. Every morning, we watched the sunrise in bed, snuggled together.

There was a beautiful trail to walk along the cliffs and amazing rocks to collect and crack open (inspired by the beautiful geodes our friends' parents found near Rockhound State Park, NM, and showed the kids while they camped here with us for a few days. It was so lovely to have such sweet grandparents around!).

We also went mountain biking in Boulder City (Bootleg Canyon is a moutain biking mecca!), but the camera did not come with us...