Sunday, July 28, 2013

Viva Las Vegas!

I got back the day before 4th of July from VEGAS for a work conference that our entire campus got to attend. I actually found out my second day of work that they were sending us to VEGAS. Not a bad second day of work if you ask me! I had never been to Vegas, so I was SUPER excited to experience it for the first time especially with my awesome co-workers. We were only there for 4 days and 3 nights, but we sure did fit a lot of touristy things into our free time. Although we had conferences and meetings everyday from 8-5, after we were finished for the day, we could spend our time how we wanted. The one thing that I REALLY wanted to do in Vegas was see the Bellagio water show since by now I'm sure you all realize... I LOVE WATER! This is a MUST see while in Vegas! Between the tears and the chills, the show was truly amazing. The show runs every 15 minutes switching between a few songs, and best of all it's FREE! It was truly breathtaking and an experience I will never forget. 

video

We stayed at the Stratosphere hotel which is one of the older hotels in VEGAS. Even though it was an older hotel and farther from the main part of the strip, they took really good care of us! My favorite part of the hotel was the amusement rides and bungee jump at the top of the 1,000ft+ tall building. Of course, I would never do any of these crazy thrill rides, but my conference room was on the 103 floor (800ft+ high), and we could see the bungee jumpers outside our window. It was very hard to concentrate when people were flying by the window. I could even hear the screams from my bedroom all night long! If you are looking for thrill rides while in VEGAS, this is your place! 
Pulling up to the Stratosphere 
Sunset over the Grand Canyon from my hotel room
Bungee jumper #1
Bungee jumper #2
One night after we were all finished with conferences for the day, we all took a taxi ride out to Señor Frogs for dinner, drinks, and fun. Before going into Señor Frogs we made a stop for another free pirate show, Sirens of Treasure Island. There were a ton of kids outside waiting for the show, so I assumed it was kid friendly. I should have known nothing is kid friendly in VEGAS. Basically the show was half naked girls singing and dancing with shirtless pirates. Although the props in the show were really cool, the show was basically a joke. We then made our way over to Señor Frogs and had some real fun! We all danced, had balloon hats made, and even sang karaoke (I will survive by Gloria Gaynor of course)! Señor Frogs is definitely a good time, so if you ever get the chance to experience it... DO! 
Pirate ship 
Some singing... 
...and dancing 
Señor Frogs 

My company was nice enough to get everyone free tickets to the Stratosphere in-house show called Pin Up (tickets are usually $50). Pin Up stars Claire Sinclar, Palyboy's 2011 Playmate of the year. The show was entertaining and had lots of singing, dancing, and sexy girls, but I don't think I would pay $50 to see it normally. There are 12 acts, one for each month of the year, and it lasted almost 2 hours. (No pictures were allowed during the show)



We also explored some other hotels on the strip including my favorite Caesars Palace. Caesars is much newer, cleaner (it didn't even smell like smoke in the casino), and BIGGER! It has a full high end mall, a ton of restaurants, casinos, and a free water show! Of course the aquarium and water show were my favorite parts and both free! Who doesn't like free? 
Gordon Ramsay's restaurant 
Caesars
The mall ceiling
Dining area
Aquarium
Caesar's water/fire show
Lots of fire
Anything with water makes me happy
Even just walking around the strip at night is an awesome sight to see! You can explore Paris, New York, or even Egypt without ever having to leave VEGAS!!! I can't wait to go back again and have more time to explore. There was so much I still didn't get to see. Hopefully next time I go back it won't be 114 degrees everyday.  I had never experienced heat like VEGAS heat. Again, if you or anyone you know are interested in furthering your education, you can email me at VJSmith@national.edu or respond to this blog with a comment and your contact information. I am leaving for St. Maarten in less than 2 weeks, and I can't wait to share all about it!
XoXo
Paris
Flamingo Hotel
Eiffel Tower
The strip 
Gordon Ramsay 
Paris
New York

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's Getting HOT!

Wow, it's been a HOT minute since I've last updated my blog. I started a new job in Texas that has been keeping me pretty busy. While I'm on the topic of work... I am now working for National American University, a national online university, as an Admissions Advisor. If you or anyone you know is interested in furthering your education and changing your future, I am here to help! You can contact me at VJSmith@national.edu or leave me a comment with how I can reach you. It looks like we will be staying in Dallas longer than originally planned. We are really hoping to stay here long term since we enjoy Dallas so much! 

Now back to Dallas! As you can imagine, it has been getting REALLY hot here. Almost everyday is now above 100, and it is miserable to be outside for long periods of time. The only way to beat the heat is to relax by the pool. Luckily our apartment complex has two pools, and I've definitely been utilizing this amenity this summer. 

Hello, welcome to paradise 
All my pool necessities
All I need is a good book and the water
One of the things I've really been wanting to do since getting to Dallas was to go to the Dallas Zoo. I've always loved zoos and aquariums, so before it got too hot we made a day trip to the Dallas Zoo. Tickets were $12 each and parking was $7 so it wasn't really an expensive day. My favorite parts were the elephants and the giraffe feeding. The zoo was over crowded with screaming children and really hot, so we only spent a few hours here. If you decide to go, I recommend going early in the morning when the park opens since parking was difficult to find. Also, by mid-afternoon it gets too hot for the animals and the humans :)
An albino alligator 
"There's a tiger in the bathroom"
Elephant fountain just like the one at the Philadelphia Zoo!
Real elephants
Hello giraffes 


The giraffes eating lunch 
Sleeping lion
Welcome to the Dallas Zoo
We've also been going to a few FC Dallas Soccer games. I am not a real big soccer fan, but a friend of ours always gets free tickets. The stadium is only about 20 minutes from our apartment, so we enjoy going to get dinner and watching the game. Parking is free and tickets are usually pretty cheap. During the week, the stadium is pretty empty, but it gets busier for weekend games. It's a really fun way to spend a night out of the house with friends. The energy inside the stadium is awesome! I think this video pretty much sums up what goes on at the FC Dallas games.
video
Pretty empty during the week
Weekend games have a lot more fans!

I've been so blessed with the most amazing and supportive family. In May, my Mom made her first trip to Dallas to spend Memorial Day Weekend with me and my boyfriend. I had a great time showing my Mom the Dallas area, but more than anything I enjoyed just spending quality time together. She is my best friend, so being away from her is really hard. Although we only had one weekend together, we did a TON! We went to Reunion Tower, Fountain Park, the Asian Art Museum (free and free AC), JFK Memorial, and Villa-O for Sunday brunch. I've blogged about most of these places in the past. One new place we went was to the JFK Memorial in downtown Dallas. It is a high traffic tourist attraction with a couple different fun things to do. You can go into a museum and see where the shots came from that killed President Kennedy. More than anything I loved all the conspiracy theorist around the memorial who have some pretty solid evidence that things did not go down the way the government said they did. I am a sucker for a good conspiracy theory!  I'm so happy my Mom got to see where I live and I can't wait for her to come visit again soon!

Reunion Tower with my Mom
This view never gets old
It's a long way up
With my baby
Dallas on the ground
Back at Fountain Place
I wish the fountains were actually on :(
Momma <3
The 3 of us
I love you
Walking around Downtown Dallas 
I <3 water. It is a serious addiction 
Pretty flowers
When walking around DT Dallas, you'll need the free air conditioning... GO HERE! 
With the Buddha 
My Momma 
In the origami hall
Getting a quick drink :)
Where JFK was shot
X marks the spot
Stopping traffic 

The window where the shots came from... depending on who you ask
Sunday brunch
Mom
My favorite people


After my Mom came to visit the fun didn't stop! Next my step-mom, Nana Joy, and two sisters made a stop in Dallas! I hadn't seen my sisters in almost 6 months so I was dying to see them. They grew up so much in the short period of time that I've been away. I hate missing watch them grow up everyday, but it makes the time we have together even more special. I got to show my family the Dallas area and even had a sleepover at our apartment with my sisters. We went to Fountain Park (free), Perot Museum, and Klyde Warren Park (free). If you are coming to Dallas with kids you have to make all these fun stops! They all are kid friendly attractions and even really entertaining for adults too. I miss them so much already and can't wait to see them next month for our vacation in St. Maarten!
Lake by my apartment
Reece looking for fish
Logan and Nana Joy
Ducks
My boo
Feeding the ducks
"I like turtles"
My heart melts
Looking for more fish
SLEEPOVER!
We survived the night!
Fountain Park!
Finally the fountains were on! All 200 of them!
Enjoying the day in Dallas

Klyde Warren Park
Having too much fun
Take your kids here!
Nice way to cool down from the Texas heat
Such an amazing and free park
Park right in the middle of DT Dallas
At the Perot Museum 
Checking out the dinosaurs 
Handprints
Yes, that is a dire wolf for my Game of Throne fans 
They are real!!!! Game of Thrones! 
Tornado machine 
Girls giving the weather report
Reece stuck in a log
A mini Dallas skyline
Reece with the frogs
Playing leap frog




I just got back from Las Vegas for an awesome work conference and I can't wait to share all about it! Check back soon :) 
XoXo