Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"Welcome to 24 hours of sensory overload" is what my taxi driver so accurately pointed out upon my arrival to the city of Las Vegas. That really is the best way to describe it. So many things to look at in a small cramped in place its hard not to run into people as you're shuffling down the strip, so many Ed Hardy t-shirt-ed tools to make fun of, so many stumbling plastic surgery disasters in stilettos, and even the occasional tranny who makes you do a prolonged double take to figure out: boy or girl?! (Usually it was boy, the muscular shoulders always give them away...)

I went to visit my sister, Katrina, who was attending the WPPI Photography conference at the MGM Grand. I was only there a total of 42 hours because of layovers and times of available flights, and I just happened to get sick the day I arrived, so I really only got a snapshot of Vegas, and I must say, I didn't DO Vegas as most do. We stayed at Excalibur, which was affordable, clean and cute. The customer service might have been the worst I have ever experienced. Ever. I guess when you're a destination place, you don't have to worry about making sure your customers are loyal... We got to check out the other casinos and took a drive down the strip to see how all these massive hotels/casinos all fit! The Aria is such an impressive and beautiful complex. The fountains there were probably my favorite. I of course loved the Bellagio. The floral arrangements were amazing as well as the Chihuly glass. Paris was beautiful as well as the Venetian. It really is impressive how the designers really hit the nail on the head of these places while putting a whimsical vegas-y touch to them. I couldn't help but think it'd be a dream to work on one of those casinos!

Major highlights:
-Taking a road trip through the desert to the ghost town of Rhiolyte, NV. We drove through a fluffy snow storm to get there, and despite the 100 mph winds, it was quite beautiful and fun to walk around/take pictures. (My camera is broken, so go to to see the pics Kat took, they should be up in a couple days.)
-The dinner we had last night at Japonais in the Mirage was wonderful. 2 apps, 1 entree and 1 dessert for $45. Pretty great for Vegas... The food was really great!
-The lion habitat in the MGM was great! I never got to stand below a sleeping lion before! Plus the habitat was large and beautiful, which is always a good thing to see for these beautiful creatures in captivity.
-I won $15 on the slots. High Roller.
-And of course watching Lost. This is always a highlight, no matter where I am.

Major bummers:
-Not being able to see Love. Because of the times/dates of my flights, there were no performances I could actually get to. Major bummer.
-Being sick and not really being able to explore nearly as much as I wanted to!

My overall experience was fun. I enjoyed spending time with my sister and had fun exploring. That being said, Las Vegas really isn't my scene. I'm not a big gambler or drinker and naked girls and trashy marriage don't really get me that excited. And as hilarious as the Hangover was, I don't feel the need to recreate it as so many of the Ed Hardy wearing frat boys walking around did.... BUT, I had a great time and wouldn't mind going back when I have more time/money to go to shows!

Merlin's Rest

Located on 36th Ave S and Lake Street in Minneapolis is Merlin's Rest. While from the outside, it's easy to miss, and if you do notice it, the judgement may be made that its a hole in the wall. Then you are pulled by curiosity or thirst to go inside, and you find an authentic British pub, most likely with a few fiddlers in the corner or possibly an episode of Dr Who projected. It is quite possibly the best British pub in the cities (minus the fact that they won't make my favorite chips and cheese, guess Brit's is good for something). The atmosphere is what makes them. The service is wonderful, friendly, and laid back. If you're looking for a place to get "trashed, man" and rowdy, please go elsewhere. Merlin's Rest is for the groups of friends coming for conversation, the low maintenance date, those looking to be entertained by a talented band and enjoy a delicious Shepherd's Pie and a Guinness.

We have become quite the regulars there, as Jesse lives a few blocks away, so when we read the advertisement for their Valentine's Day special, we made the plans. Not being much of a romantic couple, not really into the pretension of expensive small portions, dozens of roses and other expensive temporary trinkets, this was perfect for us. The special included 3 courses for 2 for $35.00. For the price, you might have been skeptical, but the food was GREAT. The salad was good, the salmon I had was great with the most amazing green beens prepared in almond oil. Jesse had the chicken stuffed with mushrooms, and that was wonderful as well. *for you Veggies, they also offer a completely vegetarian menu option all the time* The tiramisu was homemade, served in a martini glass, and really quite good. The food was wonderful, the service quick and friendly and the price was perfect. I hope more people learn of the charm of Merlin's Rest! *Just not too many, I don't want to have to wait outside for a table....*