Back over the summer, I attended a Health Communications conference in Atlanta. Not only did I learn so much from my fellow communicators, but I also entered into a chance to win a prize. I was told to write my passion on a white board and I could win a (non specified) prize. Of course I did it!
My #PictureChange Insta Post
Forgetting about the post a couple days later, I go to one of the final sessions where they say they are going to announce the winner who will win… drum roll please… round trip airfare and accommodations to either San Diego or Las Vegas. There’s no way this is real, I think. Either which way I wait patiently to hear who won. “The winner is.. Anna B. or ‘abenbreezy?'” they say confused. I slowly stand up and wave among the crowd of 500+ people, face bright red from my not-so-professional sounding Instagram name. I won.
Flash forward months later. After several e-mail correspondences I have a plane ticket and confirmation for two nights on the strip at the Monte Carlo over my birthday weekend. My Great Aunt and Uncle also live in Vegas so I have another room booked for 3 nights at Hotel Davisson.
My flight from Tallahassee to Vegas was a couple hours delayed so by the time I got to the hotel and check in it was almost 11pm. My friend, Annelise, also joined me and had a delayed flight too. She showed up an hour and a half afterward. Starving from a day worth of traveling, we somehow managed a second wind and started to venture the strip. So. Many. Lights. So. Many. People. After eating a delicious hot dog at Pinky’s, we called it a night.
Day two: Exploring the Strip. We had brunch at Hard Rock then walked almost 11 miles throughout the day – popping into every single casino and trying to figure out exactly how to gamble. Clearly, Annelise and myself aren’t the best. I bet a total of $2 and won $5. Called it a success. Penny slots paid off. FYI the Bellagio fountains are one of the most beautiful things. I was pretty sure I was one of the cast members of Ocean’s 11 while standing there.
Day three: Wake up extra early and get to the airport by 7am to secure our rental car. Today we decided to explore the Grand Canyon. The drive is about 4 hours so there and back in one day is something I wouldn’t recommend if you have extra time to spare and grab a hotel but our time was limited. Although the same distance from Tally to Orlando, the drive was 100% better – the landscape was ever changing. Seeing the Grand Canyon is something I’ll never forget. Walking up to the edge for the first time, no words can describe it. It was breathtaking and all I could think of was how awesome science is. We explored as much of the 277 miles we could (so, basically only 10 or so), saw some elk just hanging around, and couldn’t take our eyes off of every rock surrounding us.
Day four: My Birthday! Had to say goodbye to Annelise – she left early to spend Thanksgiving with her family back home in NC. After she left, my Aunt, Uncle, and I went to Red Rock Canyon for some celebratory hiking. I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be for my birthday. We hiked about 3 miles round trip on a trail called Calico Tanks. After scrambling up boulders and rocks, you finally make it to an out look of all of Vegas. Again, breathtaking.
Day five: The last full day in Vegas. We hopped into the Prius and made our way to Valley of Fire State Park which was about an hour away. This park, much like Red Rock, had several trails and one could get intentionally lost for days exploring. Most of the hikes here are shorter so we did a total of 4 hikes/6 miles. Each hike was different. Some has more of a white rock, another you were treading through desert sand, a third had you face to face with petroglyphs, and finally was one that looked like you were standing on fire (hence the name). Each one had it’s own beauty.
For me, vacations are not about laying around and relaxing, they are about exploring all that there is around you. I want to get in the bed at the end of the day mentally and physically exhausted and ready to do it all over again. With this trip, I did exactly that. Worth. Every. Penny. (even though the major portion was free) I cannot wait to go back and explore with my Great Aunt and Uncle – in fact we are talking about doing a trip next year to Zion and Bryce Canyon – here’s to making it happen!