Las Vegas – April of 2011

A little interruption in Spain Blogs (they will follow after this one). As usually in April, we did a two night trip to Vegas. To have some fun before the season kicks in. And to enjoy Vegas while it is not too hot. Well, it was not hot at all, even cold. Too cold to swim in the hotel swimming pool outside…

This time we stayed at Rio. The rate we got spoke about not the best situation in the numbers of visitors to Vegas. Well, to mind they built too many hotels, but I guess they know what they are doing because they are building more. After setting up in Rio and catching the jingle-and-rush atmosphere there we drove out to eat at Mt. Everest indian restaurant on Sahara Ave. It is the matter of taste, but we think their service and food are good, and the prices are reasonable.

Then we rushed to listen to Valeri Glava’s playing his violin at Venetian?? -in St. Marcus square.?? He plays with a trio every evening except Mon-Tue. And he does it with great enthusiasm, very pleasant classic pieces. Some people just come to sit and listen for a couple of hours.

Amazing how late the shops and galleries are open in Vegas – evidently they are also lacking business. After 10 pm, when his concert ended – we still wandered around the Venetian and checked the art galleries we like:

If you are not an employee of a certain casino or at least not a constant visitor to some particular casino, it is not always easy to drive directly to the parking of the casino you are intended. So we parked at Palazo, for that is where the traffic lanes as if directed us. But whatever, they are both connected and so it was rather pleasant to the spring decorations of?? Palazo before heading to Venetian:

I don’t remember Palazo being decorated with taste, so the same story this time…My guess – each casino group has different designers, so while their expenses for the decor may not differ greatly, their taste does…On the other hand – the spaces are so huge, it is really tricky to think of how to fill it up.?? It is much easier to criticize :-).?? For the amount of flowers and sometimes for some of their arrangement ideas my favourite is Bellagio, which we visited the next evening:

So much about flowers. The next day we observed how sting rays and sharks were fed by a diver at Silverton casino in a coral reef aquarium:

That was quite an attraction. As you can see the sting rays have their mouth under their body. Some of them would swim eagerly and grab the squid from the diver?? but some were not so hungry, so the diver literally pushed the squid into their mouths. The same with the sharks, but don’t think they were large ones.?? Just small playful sharks, some of whom are nocturnal and they just stay at the bottom of the aquarium, but the diver felt they needed nutrients and also pushed squid into their sharp mouths.

The next stop-the Flamingo hotel-casino. They have this nice courtyard with flamingos, swans, koi fish, ducks and other creatures all in a beautiful park setting:

Then again Bellagio. it is very comfortable to park in one of those hotels – Flamingo, Harras, Ballys , Paris, Bellagio or Cesar’s palace and walk around them using the bridges to cross the Strip or Flamingo ave. We prefer to park in the Bellagio because the elevator from the parking gets you directly to the flower world. But there are other nice walks in Bellagio besides the flowers, with designer stores and well designed restaurants on the sides and not as crowded as Cesar’s Palace :

This restaurant is called Yellow Tail – and this wall in front imitates the scales of a fish. The thing about Vegas is that each time you wander around its casinos – you will see new interiors, new details you never noticed earlier.?? They have exhibits here and there and once we visit Vegas 2 times a year only, we find them changed. This time I looked around the entrance to Cirque de Soleil entrance in Bellagio – a sculptor Richard McDonald was exposing his very realistic but expressive works:

There was a TV screen showing how he works with the models – circus artists,?? constantly moving and doing poses for him.

Next stop – from the riches to the rags:-)?? -we had dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant that we found on the internet. Once we got there – we wanted to leaved, but stayed to be done with it-?? to feel like we visited Ethiopia and never bother to go there again :-):

It is not about the interior, yes, it was very simple and luxurious, but the atmosphere was too Ethiopian for us – there were only exceptionally Ethiopians there speaking their language rather loudly, the waitress, alas, spoke some English, there were barely 8 or 10?? items on the menu,?? but the food was?? tasty and interesting, just too spicy hot for my stomach. So we felt we visited the country, “check!”.

Already for late in the evening we left the best part – The City Center. Again?? -had a hard time finding the parking for Aria hote, so parked where it was easy?? – in Cosmopolitan and were happy about it/ I would strongly advise to park there to make your walks around those new contemporary hotels -casinos, galleries, shops,restaurants?? -once you get from the parking lot to the 2nd floor – you just almost bump into a humongous chandelier?? – it is as if a chandelier with a restaurant inside/ But the strings of beads, the drapes made from them, are worth seeing and enjoying:

There are bridges connecting all those new buildings,so you have no problem, walking around them, just follow the written directions.

We didn’t take many pictures in the ones we have already been last year and I showed them in my previous blogs about Las Vegas, but it was very curious to see the new Hotel -not a casino! – Oriental Mandarin. We are used to cheap Chinese buffets called Mandarin. This time – a completely different story. This hotel though it stands in the same City center – cannot be reached from those nice connecting bridges…you have to get down on the street level, go around some smaller buildings and walk to its entrance – I guess to stop crowds from entering it in vain. But the two men who met us at the entrance were very pleasant though we warned that we are just browsing, not staying there, they directed us to the elevator and said that their reception is on the 23rd floor! Wonderful – the whole Strip was seen from the big windows there, the lobby quite in the dark so that the lights form the Strip would be especially bright – and a couple of restaurants by those big windows, very silent relaxing?? music – a very nice spot to enjoy the peace and quietness in Vegas, which is by rule?? a noisy city. But we didn’t take many pictures there, so you have to come and see for yourself. Just the lobby and the wall once you get from the elevator (it seemed quite impressive):

On the way we found several galleries, again – open way after 10 pm, one of them a new Chihuli glass gallery, with a sreen showing how his crew are blowing and heating?? and creationg those masterpieces:

And back to Cosmopolitan, where this time we noticed some nice ceilings and a wall of a store made from old sewing machines:

And finally – our hotel room, it was big, all the rooms are like suites in Rio:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of 2010

After enjoying the best colors of our November in Utah I visited Lithuania, my home country, had a lot of tasty meals (especially the ones my mom cooked), nice talks with friends and relatives, enjoyed the snow and the whiteness of the surroundings there, which is not so pleasant for drivers. Got used to cold, which never left the country after it gripped on the last days of November. And here I returned back to Utah on the night of 21st of December, luckily with no major delays, right into the clouds reaching the ground in Las Vegas! Never before have I seen such a phenomenon. My husband, while meeting me there, took this picture from the Flamingo hotel towards the City Center (Aria, etc.):

Never before…

The next morning we drove to Bellagio (the best way to go around Las Vegas, even if it is a short distance – is to drive, then you don’t get annoyed by poor Mexicans handing the pictures and phone numbers of naked women “with low social responsibility” as one of our friends calls them; and parking in Vegas is free and it is easy to get from them to casinos).?? The Christmas?? flower and tree exposition in the Atrium was beautiful as usual – one can argue about the beauty of the whole concept, but the abundance of flowers, some cute decors make it really worth seeing (and they change it 7 times a year):

There were Polar bears made from carnations…so many flowers were beheaded and kept being beheaded for they wilt and the workers there fix the wilted parts every day.?? How to get such a job?:

As if it is not enough of the abundance of poinsettias there were amaryllis buds coming out to bloom soon.

By the reception area of Bellagio there are always big flower arrangements like this one (I always try not to miss them):

And then we drove home to Southern Utah with the Virgin River roaring on the side of our road -RT 15:

It had unusual amounts of water and the mountains in the Gorge were “crying” with bridal veil waterfalls. Here is what we saw once we got to Rockville:

Our friends’ Browns’ (Alan is the Mayor of our town) property was so flooded that they had people help them take the chickens out of water , they lost their pasture and a big part of their grape-yard. After this ordeal the river just changed its course and now their property turned into a riverside front?? property…I don’t know whether it is better or worse for the value of the property, but certainly it got very bad for their three lamas:

So they had to stay on their porch for a while and then were taken for vacation in Escalante.

Here is how the river changed its course. it used to be behind?? the sandy beach and that line of bushes, no one could see it from this bank:

And this is how it looked a day before when all the residents form the river side properties were told to evacuate:

The pink color is not some exotic flowers, it is the failing of our old camera to do its job well, maybe it also got tired of the 5 day lasting rains. Here is how the flood looked just before one enters Rockville at our neighbors’ property:

And this is what it did to their road:

So the New Year’s Party at their house was canceled.

Then we had a very nice Christmas Eve with all 12 dishes in Lithuanian tradition and Christmas Carols in American tradition:

I expect our friends form here would be glad to see Ruth smiling and with her naked shoulder 🙂

Alison introduced a new tradition – to lit candles for everyone we would like to be here with us:

and we liked it a lot, but we didn’t prepare a tripod for taking the picture with this little light:

then some normal days passed and again a rainy one which ended in big frosts and snow. So the morning of the 29th of December was marvelous, we never get this much white in our area:

Mount Kinesava. Lower: a view from the Rockville cemetery hill towards our Main street:

From our garden towards Lyon’s pasture:

Our friends came to see Zion and I felt bad?? – one day they had rain, the others – terrible frost with all the trails in Zion NP closed. So at least we very carefully drove to Grafton (the first time during our stay here the roads were covered with ice ), where “Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid” (classical western) was filmed long ago:

And I’ll finish this Blog with the funniest Christmas Picture I got this year:

This is our Lithuanian friend Stephen Burzgulis who used to live in Springdale and now lives in San Diego, has done a lot of research about Afghanistan, has created a very good song about it and even learned how to make a Pashtun head cover (my guess – from his curtain :-)) and sent his best regards from “high mountains”.

Our June in Rockville

I decided to post the main events of each month once. At the end of the month.?? Unless we go onto some exciting trip…

So here we go – we went for an overnight stay in Vegas, the beginning of June. It was so hot…like in an oven. But we wanted to have a little break between guests, gardening, irrigation and sitting by computer (the last one is obviously not applied to me). Besides swimming in the pool at ours now liked Tuscany Suites we visited Bellagio with its excess of flowers, as always:

Had a curious glimpse at the chocolate bar there (we don’t indulge – it is unhealthy…) – the eagle is made of chocolates:

And the rest of the evening we spent walking and admiring or just wondering under this super modern architecture in the newly built City Center:

We almost bumped into this construction once we entered The Crystals – the shopping area over there… At first it was hard to understand what it was. Then we saw a restaurant in the middle wider part of it and a reception desk in the bottom part:

Because it looked so bizarre, we took one more picture from another angle-?? maybe that will reveal its beauty better..:

And here are shapes of their ceilings – wherever you look at – it is intriguing:

And the floors:

And the decors on the floors:

there was an island of glass tubes with colorful hurricanes in them:

You could walk around them, touch them and get the feeling of the humid air they were emanating.

On a different note – when the weather cooled off for several days we went on a Coal Pits trail which has a positive feature to be not popular among tourists. There some rather exotic plants were blooming:

Also we had a lot of blooming around our house:

Which leads us to another adventure – the King snake:

Here she is trying to climb a tree and find birds’ nest…She didn’t find on this tree but found on a bush by our door and that was really sad…I noticed finches flying desperately around the bush, we both came out to see what is going on and until we noticed her in the bush – it was too late… So all Andrei did was heroically catch the snake with a stick and place it into a bucket, cover it,?? we then relocated it to its natural habitat called desert. For God’s sake, why are they coming to peoples’ gardens, is it safe enough for them? I don’t think so. There are worse ways of getting rid of those pretty but not very friendly creatures.

And finally – while on the way to St. George for once a week shopping we picked cherries in M&I Farm in Hurricane. This is the main fun of June! Their cherry orchard is huge:

This year the crop was big?? -when I saw how many cherries were hanging on the branches – I thought they could feed all Utah citizens and still have more left.?? They have ladders, buckets prepared for picking. It was a pleasure to see such abundance and to pick them:

To tell the truth lots of them went to waste…left for the birds to feast on. Not enough demand for them…

Here is the Quail Creek lake at the end of Hurricane – it is a reservoir, but of very beautiful green color amidst the red mountains and a very good place to swim and cool off before diving into the shopping frenzy in St. George:

the end.

Our Trip to Valley of Fire and Las Vegas

Last Tuesday before the big storm (04/20) we headed to the Valley of Fire – Nevada’s oldest state park, dedicated in 1935. But the sandstone formations from sea dunes over there formed during the age of dinosaurs, some 150 million years ago… There is a complex uplifting, faulting of the region with extensive erosions that made the place special and worth of not one visit:

Several kinds of sand stone – maybe I should say several colors of sand stone there competed well with the spring flowers:

The first canyon we went in was called Mouse’s Tank?? – it was very red, too red for my eyes :-). Thanks God there were some yellow flowers here and there and some prehistoric petroglyphs:

In fact, there was a lot of them along the canyon walls, which witnesses the times when the Basket Maker People and later the Anasazi Pueblo farmers visited the Valley from 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D. There is little probability they could live there because of the scarcity of water. The Mouse’s Tank was the only little basin of naturally collecting water there:

It was nice to see water after going in that very sandy very windy trail.

Evidently lots of airplanes fly over the valley of Fire – it is only 40 mi from Las Vegas.

The peculiar thing is that this rock looks like letter “F” from the other side…

Then we drove to another stop of interest?? – it was through Rainbow Vista to White Domes:

There is a pink layer seen on the sides of the Domes. Beautiful colors…can’t get them right in pictures…

I am a fan of roads winding in landscape. It was my “thing” !

Driving back towards the visitor’s center we admired this balancing rock – keeping sturdy at thins angle…

Bye bye Valley of Fire, hello Las Vegas! it is a convenient place for us to sleep in order to do some shopping at Trader Joes next morning.?? This time we found a really good hotel – i wonder where my eyes were earlier, why didn’t I notice it… Tuscany Suites – on Flamingo Blvd., less than a?? mile from the Strip. The hotel is only 3 story high, no crowds or stops while you get in your elevator to the third floor, very quiet, no slot machine sin sight – they were in a separate wing. the buildings surrounded with trees and blooming bushes, lots of pink bougainvilleas by the swimming pool which is enclosed from harsh L.V. winds in between?? buildings.?? Also – live jazz in the main bar where people were dancing happily. A very intimate atmosphere.?? For $30/ night?? – we couldn’t wish for more:

The room was huge – well, it was the suite:

And where did we go in Vegas after taking a dip into the hot tub by the pool (BTW- the pool is open from 7 am to 10 pm – find a hotel with such long pool hours, and i promise – you won’t) and eating? To Bellagio, of course… The fountains were not showing – due to high winds. But the flowers were, as usual. It was a spring theme, and this time i got a little anoyed:

Too many flowers, who needs so many? Too big mixture – is a a good taste to mix spring, summer and autumn flowers all together that you get a chaotic chaos, a “noise in the field of beauty…

I liked the big ants here and there and luscious succulents planted on their mounds,

But the total composition was a disaster (excluding my dress from Thailand :-)). This big shovel – does it have any aesthetic value? the enormity of gerbera?? daisy plants pouring from a dull pot – where was their sense of “enough” or was there a goal to use as many plants as possible to get a better commission. See – there are chrysanthemums, together with tulips, hyacinths, poppies, lilies, etc…When seasons are so ignored – it is going against nature…

The snail’s “house” is made of roses, and the bees’ and frog’s bodies are decorated with chrysantemums:

And, of course, there are artificial decors, as usual.?? But this was the first time I was disappointed in their design. The economy is still not strong. but they are demonstrating this strange excess…What is the point?

Some words about the Thai restaurant we ate at. My guest Daniel Pyne advised to go to the Lotus of Siam – close to Sachara ave. We found it in a Business plaza – lots of Korean and Japaneese restaurants around there and there was “it” , looking very unappealing from outside. The inside didn’t look modern, either. But there was a crowd and we were amazed how do they find it there – only by word-of-mouth. I looked into their menu – it seemed good, had some fancy fishes, a good selection of wines insa special wine cupboard by the wall. But so crowdy. we had to wait in line and waiting is not our thing 🙂 So we left and found another Thai restaurant very close by in the same plaza called Komol – it even had “…and vegetarian” in their name. And it was good, it had organic engredients if to believe their menu, they had good coconut soup, non-dairy ice cream and they also had meat choices. It was good enough for us. Was it better than food in Thailand – some was, some wasn’t. So thanks Daniel for directing us there. Next time maybe we will try the Lotus of Siam.

Christmas in Las Vegas

Yes, I know, it was long overdue…But I was busy with garden work lately, then some house work , while in November-December I visited my country Lithuania, so there were no blogs. the weather is too Grey there at that time, can’t get good pictures.

But here are some pics from Vegas – we visited it during Christmas time and the highlights of the visit was contemporary architecture and interiors. I never get tired of seeing what is constantly created and built in that sin city, which doesn’t bother us for its sins or crowds. We almost never gamble, we pass the casinos as if regular streets with some nice stores on both sides, and we head towards where new things have emerged. What makes it amazing is that they don’t save on materials, on ideas, they let their architects go wild.?? Also – the speed in which they demolish the old hotels and build new ones in their place.?? You come in several years-?? and won’t recognize the Strip, it is like a new city. So here it is?? – the City Center?? -which is a complex of casinos and hotels with all their satellites – fancy restaurants, hotels, passages, entrance spaces, fountains, flowers and decorations:

There are real cacti?? planted in between those pyramids, poor guys…

The entrance: they made two spitting?? fountains with their spitted portions of water colliding in the air – and at that very moment a colorful light flashes on them making it look very spectacular,?? different colors each time.

It seems the yellow stone on the floor is Jasper…I have a pendant made of it , no so dirty cheap. So how much could those floors be worth, not even speaking about the design.?? And yes, the walls on the sides are leaning, it is not some optical effect.

I know that my brother architect would say those are crazy decors, but they were decorating the desert bar, what else can one want. They look very happy to me, especially now, when I am no longer eating deserts.

Andrei in the same pyramid hall we liked so much. But his pic shows more of the ceiling design.

Here we went for dinner at a Spanish restaurant:

These are the tapas we got there. Beautiful, very tasty, but for people like us – not much food :-).

Still I felt pretty happy there:

And Andrei was, too:

And here are the fountains dripping in waves from a special wall by the entrance to this building:

We stayed in MGM hotel and to my biggest astonishment – they gave us a very contemporary style room, that I never suspected they had in MGM, though a very tiny one:

It is a pity I didn’t take a picture of the bathroom mirror – it had two rectangular windows without the shiny substance in the back of it – one was a light installed directly in the mirror, the other – a TV. You brush your teeth – and watch Larry King with some Zoo man discussing and petting exotic animals…

Then we saw some usual Christmas decorations in Bellagio – more for a tradition than for a big amusement. But still?? – it looks festive:

Have in mind that the whole body of this bear is covered from carnations…

Here is a pool full of cranberries in Palazzo:

So much for the Christmas decorations…

This is Las Vegas hospital -it?? has a pyramid almost as Louvre does :-).

And finally – the biggest impression – when we drove into Vegas, still from the highway I noticed a pile of metal that reminded of the sad remnants of New York’s Twin tower after it burned… a little further from the road, behind the World Market building.?? It looked so strange that we drove there on the way home – and it was too unusual…evidently it is not a pile of metal. But a modern building, still not completely finished but already has a function applied to it – so please sit down – it is a Cleveland branch of?? Brain Institute!..

I bet that people with brain problems will not get disturbed by this “creation”, and I bet doctors will find it easier to concentrate on brain problems there more that on the curly walls of their offices… To think of it… 🙂

Floral Expo in Bellagio, Las Vegas

We don’t go to Las Vegas very often (it is 2.5h from us). Maybe twice a year. And only once to see some shows and wander around. But either that or on the way to the airport we always visit the Bellagio Floral exposition. I agree, Bellagio has the most beautiful singing fountain show every 15 minutes. But for me – nothing beats the Flower show. I read in their flyer that they change the flowers and themes 7 times a year but never had a chance to check it for myself. We somehow happen to see the fall decorations almost every year and I have to say that they are very different each time. They may have some big pumpkins and mums and watermill, but there are always different creatures covered with natural things like moss or flower petals, and they also have some featured trees, which are usually exotic in one sense or another. This time they were singing and raining trees:

And some trees-faces, as if they were taken from fairy tales. One of them even moved his eyes and opened his mouth to say something. If only have I had an opportunity to see such a live tree when I was a child – that would have been a huge impression…

The other tree-face was not moving but still very cute:

And as usual some humongous pumpkins:

And here are some “creatures” as I call them -maybe some grasshopper or other kind of bugs:

To get to that expo you just follow through the big entrance hall to the very end. The hall has the outstanding Chihulli glass flower ceilings:

It is a matter of taste, I prefer live flowers…

And then there is Las Vegas, with its Blue Man Group and other decorations:

This time we visited Dr. Scott’s hypnosis show in Riviera – it was really fun I didn’t expect. Those several people (not all of all the volunteers) were so well hypnotized that they talked and behaved rather funny, we laughed out bellies off! The other show was a show I never heard before: Raw Talent Live -Fuego. I liked the word Fuego, but the first part of the name is not enticing therefore not good in my opinion. If it wasn’t for pre-shows on the TV screens by ticket offices – I wouldn’t have chosen it. It was kind of a musical with some contents about a laptop how it gets into the hands of Evil then Good forces and how they learn about the world cultures and problems from the laptop and realize what happiness truly is. The singers were good, the dancers were especially good, and the clothes were fantastic. Lots of Latino rhythms. The decorations were mainly projected with lights onto transparent screens, very creatively, and on the whole it was quite a show in big speed. I liked it a lot with the exception of the last dance. The last dance was about becoming regular again and dancing the dance of happiness, which didn’t feel. The clothes were too simple, the music too loud and noisy… But everything else was really worth seeing and I highly recommend to everyone. They don’t let you take pictures on the show, so no illustrations, sorry :-).

Bellagio in Las Vegas

Well, there is a Bellagio in Italy, so I had to specify. I like it. Not the hotel for I haven’t stayed there, but the greenhouse or orangerie – where they always have the most beautiful flower displays themed by the time of the year. Here is last year’s (2007) Christmas display:

dscf5726.jpg

dscf5727.jpg

The only positive outcome of my late arrival from Lithuania this year (the flight was stopped in Denver for 4 hours because of crazy reasons) was that at 5 am Utah time there is noone in Bellagio “decorated hall”. So we could fully enjoy the Chinese New year theme. Usually the crowds are very dense, it is hard to take a proper picture.

dscf5788.jpg

And it is Rat’s year!

dscf5793.jpg

This rat is grown as a topiary of some special moss. They try to make most of the decorations of natural resourses.

dscf5795.jpg

Those are real rocks, I have no idea where they brought them from, but they look like a small replica of those famous mountains in China. A variety of orchids are blooming from crevices.

dscf5796.jpg