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November 11-13, 2017

I personally think it is a sin not to go to a show in Sin City.  Over the years I’ve seen several including Garth Brooks, Absinthe, Cirque du Soleil – O, Le Reve, Celine Dion, Terry Fator, Penn & Teller, Carrot Top and more.

This time I talked my friends into seeing Cirque du Soleil – Michael Jackson ONE!  I was very excited about this as I LOVED his music as a kid.  Once he turned a little weird in my book, I stopped following him, but still I was looking forward to finally seeing him in concert before he passed.  Thriller was my favorite song and I literally dressed up as him in the 6th grade for Halloween – a red jacket, one glove, wig and more.

Outside of the venue at Mandalay Bay, two of his outfits were on display.  I had no idea we were really going to get to see some of his things.  This was a pleasant surprise.  My friend Virginia ordered the tickets and the next surprise was that we were in the 4th row!!  It’s always nice to see the acrobats and dancers close up.

The performance was spectacular.  Everything from the special effects, lighting, costumes, dancing, slack lining, acrobatics, and music was extremely well done.  The only person a little creepy was the double jointed fellow.  Overall, I was in sensory overload.  My head was on a swivel trying to watch actors swinging in on wires, the twists and flips of the acrobats bouncing from place to place, and the precise dancing moves.

The cast was extremely well represented too.  By looks, it seemed like virtually all races and sexual preferences were represented.  In addition, a one-legged performer on forearm crutches that was far from disabled was included in the cast.  He swung around, flipped, and then landed on one leg…completely incredible!!  I was feeling like a real slacker as I can hardly balance on one leg for 30 seconds.

This show was really great, and it was interesting to see how Michael Jackson’s music changed over the years.  Like I said, I had stopped following him, but appears he wrote music to support different causes…hunger, race and more.  I’m thankful to my friends for indulging me.

We entertained ourselves in non-traditional ways in Vegas too.  We were staying at the north end of the strip, so one day we walked up to Circus Circus to find out a little bit about its history.  If it weren’t for Virginia, I would have never done this simply because I didn’t know anything about it.

Circus Circus was originally built as just a casino in 1968, but without a hotel it suffered financial difficulty.  Hotel towers were finally added in 1972 and later.  What is different and fun about Circus Circus is the circus act, arcade and midway games.  The games didn’t open until 10am and I’m not sure when the circus act preforms, but families with kids, Virginia, and I were all ready to wander through the midway, when the rope blocking the entrance was removed.

The arcade include skee ball, basketball, Galaga, Ms. Pacman, and many other games I didn’t know.  The midway included dart throwing, camel races, balloon popping, water gun squirting and more.  We decided on two Midway games…the camel races and balloon popping.  We figured the camel races was the longest game for our /$2.  Some kids sat down right when we were about to start, and the employee asked if we wanted them to join.  Of course not!  They would beat us, and we wanted a chance to win.  Virginia was better at rolling the ball into the slot than I was, so she won a whale which she gave to one of the kids who could trade up for a bigger prize the more times they played and won.

I wanted to win something to, so I threw a bean bag at a balloon that pushed it back into a tack and popped.  Sadly it took me two tries, but I got a goofy stuffed animal that I gave to a little bitty girl.  The parents were far more excited than she!  Regardless, it was fun, cheap entertainment, and totally different from the normal casino visits!

Moving on, another unique and different adventure in Vegas is a visit to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  The is a lovely, 13 mile scenic drive which takes cars past some of the best sights in the Mojave Desert. While most people are going to Vegas for the lights and gambling, if a little break is needed from the crazy life style, the park is only 45 minutes away.

The entry fee is only $7 and lasts for the day.  While driving by while admiring the multi-colored rock formations is nice, I prefer a hike in nature.  As such, Virginia and I opted for the White Rock/La Madre Spring Loop Trail, a 6 mile hike noted as strenuous.  I figured at a much lower elevation, it couldn’t be that hard, though I found a few sections were noticably steep.

The loop may be accessed from several parking lots.  We drove seven miles into the park to start at the Willow Spring Picnic Area.  From the picnic area, we headed west on Rocky Gap Road which had turned to gravel at the parking lot to White Rock Loop where we turned right at the split.

The rocky path ascended to another split.  Here we veered to the left to follow the out and back trail to La Madre Spring, a year round spring that is home to bighorn sheep.  Unfortunately for us, we likely started too late in the morning to spot the animals as the day was heating up quickly, but we did stumble across a tarantula crossing the path!

After checking out the unexciting spring, we returned to the trail junction where we took the other direction.  The now single track trail which thankfully was also less rocky led us through pinyon-juniper woodlands to its highest point at 5,446 feet.

Soon we dropped down toward White Rock Springs Trailhead as we meandered through scrub and abundant cacti before crossing a wash.  We entered the parking lot at the trailhead, turned toward the right and followed the trail signs to the Willow Springs parking lot.

Three times along the trail we stopped at signs that marked agave roasting pits that looked like “donut shaped mounds”.  Sadly, we couldn’t make them out.  We also had a difficult time making out the pictograph panel at the picnic area, but for those who study Native American history, remnants of their lifestyle were there.

So for a little different taste of Vegas…try these things.  ETB

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