North America, northamerica, Travel

Happy Birthday Ash! What it was like Visiting Vegas During a Pandemic

My first trip in three months! I officially stopped traveling on March 9th and put all my trips on hold for the rest of the year. But as time went on and things started to open up, I became more open with my travel plans. So you can imagine Myles and I’s excitement when Ashton (Myles’s brother) said he wanted to go on a trip for his birthday. A trip of just the four of us quickly turned into a group trip of 13 people with Vegas as the destination. For a month, this is all we looked forward to, and it didn’t disappoint!

Preparation

Group trips definitely require a lot of cohesiveness, and I’m glad to say everything worked out smoothly from the start! Here is the final list of attendees.

  1. Crystina
  2. Myles
  3. Ashton (Myles brother and birthday boy)
  4. Sally (Ashton’s girlfriend)
  5. Mr. T (Myles and Ashton’s dad)
  6. Ms. Chrissy (Myles and Ashton’s mom)
  7. Goof (Ashton’s childhood friend)
  8. Erika (Goof’s wife)
  9. Paul (Ashton’s LB)
  10. Cody (Myles and Ashton’s childhood friend)
  11. Kevin (Myles and Ashton’s friend from NJ Olive Garden days)
  12. Elroy and his girlfriend (Olive Garden friends who live in Vegas)

Once we had everyone locked in, we started looking at Airbnb’s that would sleep everyone, with features like a pool, grill, etc. We found a few, and decided on this one because it had seven bedrooms, a great kitchen and an amazing backyard! It ended up being $173 total per person for all three nights!

After deciding on the Airbnb, Ashton created a dinner menu for all three nights and sent it out to make sure everyone was good with it. He then created a very thorough grocery list for when we arrive so everyone could look at it.

We also came up with a rough liquor list as well, just to have an idea of what everyone was feeling.

Sally also created a visual itinerary for the trip using Canva, and it was so cute!

We tried to go by this schedule for the most part, but had a couple hiccups along the way. I’ll explain that below.

Getting There

Now that we live in Minneapolis, flights are so much easier for us. Most places are only one stop away and there are several airlines to take advantage of. We were between taking Delta or buying a ZED on Sun Country Airlines. Since Delta is capping flights, things were looking tight as the days went on, but Sun Country is not capping, so we knew they would fly at capacity. We checked flights the night before and Sun Country left first and was basically a guarantee, so we purchased a $30 ZED and it was a smooth time at the airport. Masks were required on our flight but other than that, there was a huge lack of social distancing throughout the airport. In the security line, people were packing on top of each other. It was crazy to see. However, we kept our masks on from start to finish.

Like Myles, Ashton also works for an airline, JetBlue to be exact, along with Goof and Mr. T works for United. So almost the entire trip had flight benefits except for Cody, Paul and Kevin, but Ashton hooked them up with buddy passes. Cody and Ms. Chrissy caught the direct FLL LAS flight while the rest of the crew was hoping to catch the JFK LAS flight. The flight ended up filling up, so they instead flew to LAX, where five of them even got Mint (JetBlue’s version of Delta One) and they arrived in LA at 930am. They then rented a car and drove, but it took awhile and they didn’t end up getting in until later than expected.

Day 1

Myles and I arrived in Vegas at 9:30 a.m. We picked up our rental and were off. Myles is very last minute, so even though he got his hair braided before we left, he still wanted a shape up. I booked him an appointment with a barber near the airport and we arrived at the perfect time. After an hour, he was done and we went to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas, Aloha Specialties inside the California Hotel. I ordered Saiman and Myles ordered Chicken Stirfry and we ate and enjoyed the authentic Hawaiian food.

After grabbing lunch, we were already in downtown Vegas, so we decided to check out Fremont Street, and wow, what a different experience. I’ve been to Vegas over half a dozen times in my life, and have seen Fremont Street a few times. Every single time, it’s been packed and lively, but it was almost the complete opposite this time. Walking through Fremont Street was surreal. There were still people, but the streets were substantially emptier than they normally would be. Casinos and bars were still open, so we stopped and bought a drink and just walked around until Cody and Ms. Chrissy landed.

We went to pick them up and still had time to kill due to the check-in time for our Airbnb being so late (5 p.m.!!) They were hungry, so we went to In-N-Out to get them burgers and then Ms. Chrissy wanted to go to Target. Finally, after Target, it was 5 p.m. and we went to the Airbnb to check in. The Airbnb was even prettier in person and made us more excited for everyone else to get in. They still had an hour or two left to arrive, so we went and handled the MASSIVE grocery list, which took us about two hours total! By then, everyone was at the Airbnb so it was time to enjoy the festivities.

Night one kicked off with a huge bottle of Casamigos, grilling and just vibing together as whole. Everyone met, talked outside and got to know one another. Lots of shots were taken and we ate hot dogs, hamburgers and more. Although it was a good time, everyone was exhausted from the day’s travels, so the night ended early so we could prepare for the next day of activities!

Day 2

The next day would be our biggest activity of the trip: the Valley of Fire! The Valley of Fire is a state park about an hour outside of Vegas. We woke up around 8 a.m. to have breakfast and get ready for the day. We rented a 12 seater van so everyone could ride together and we were off.

The ride over was really pretty, especially the last half when you’re on the road that leads straight to the park. You literally get to watch the rocks turn from tan to a firey red, a beautiful site!

It was $10/car to enter the park. We then used the bathrooms at the entrance, had some snacks and water, and went on. The hike we decided on was about 1.5 miles roundtrip. We got started and I’m not kidding you, every single place had a picture perfect backdrop. It was beautiful to see the carvings in the Earth. Everyone took in the scenery as we hiked together, stopping for pictures everywhere.

Overall, the hike was not bad at all. It’s the heat that gets you. It was over 100 degrees when we went and it comes down on you viciously. Thankfully, there are little spots of shade under rocks along the way so you can take a break from the heat, but make sure you pack enough water! Right when we got back to the car, I chugged an entire bottle of water as did everyone else. We then took a nice drive through the rest of the park and found one of the Instagram-worthy spots we’ve seen other people take pictures in.

After the Valley of Fire, we drove home and Sally and I snuck away to get Ashton a cake while the boys all made a liquor store run. When we all finally made it back home, Ms. Chrissy was making Italian for everyone! She made lasagna with homemade sauce and shrimp alfredo with homemade sauce.

The birthday boy with his mommas pasta.

Everyone then started drinking and hanging out outside, where we played Taboo and drank Clase Azul, white claws and beer. After Sally brought out the cake to Ashton, everyone jumped in the pool, taking shots, swimming and vibing. Definitely a great night.

After the girls went to sleep, some of the boys went to the casino. All casinos in Vegas are open. They check your temperature when you walk in, you are required to wear a mask, there are dividers between players at the tables and people can only play slots with an empy machine between them. So if you like to gamble, you can count on Vegas to have that open for you all!

Day 3

Our last day! Our orginial plan was to drive 2.5 hours away to check out Zion National Park in Utah. However, due to COVID-19, they are letting way less people in, so it gets full basically immediately after opening. We saw some people say they arrived at 4am and still had to wait hours to be let in or weren’t let in at all! We decided to just save Zion for another time as we did not want to risk driving 2.5 hours away just to waste a whole day.

Instead, this was going to be a more chill day. Everyone was able to sleep in, hang out by the pool, do whatever they wanted. There was really only one activity planned for the day, which was Seven Magic Mountains. Myles and I decided to go before everyone else because we wanted to spend the remainder of the day relaxing by the pool.

Seven Magic Mountains is about a 30 minute drive outside of Vegas, although it feels much shorter than that. The “mountains” are actually gigantic, brightly colored rocks stacked on top of one another. I had seen pictures of what it looked like before going, but they were much bigger than I expected. The pictures here were so cute and we ended up even seeing a man propose to his girlfriend while we were there!

After that, we went home and immediately put our bathing suits on. It was over 100 degrees so we desperately needed some swim time.

Everyone was at the Airbnb relaxing at this point and doing their own thing. Eventually, the rest of the group left to check out the outlets and do Seven Magic Mountains at sunset.

For dinner, it was West Indian night! Mr. T is Trinidadian, and they have some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. They made us curry, rice and brought roti skins from Miami. So delicious. When everyone finished eating, everyone was scattered throughout the house playing pool, watching music videos, hanging out outside. It was a great last night of everyone just bonding with one another.

Getting Home

All good things must come to an end. Myles and I opted to take another ZED on Sun Country even though Delta was open. We wanted to arrive home early to pick up cheesecake and relax before work. Mr. T, Ms. Chrissy and Cody left at 2:30pm to take the FLL flight and everyone else left at 11:45pm to take the JFK flight, once again scoring mint!

Final Notes About Vegas Being Open

Vegas is very much open, besides nightclubs and indoor dining (for now). If you’re wanting to get away for a couple days, I would definitely suggest it. Hotels are open along with the pools so you can tan all day, eat good, gamble and see hidden Vegas gems you might not have known about. I would definitely suggest a mask for really public places like grocery stores and casinos, but besides that I can say I really felt safe and that we were taking precautions!

Overall, this was a great group trip. It’s fun to see different people come together and just have a good time. It went so well that we are already planning a second group trip at the beginning of August! So I will definitely do a post about that when the time comes 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s