Las Vegas 2007 — 9/2/2007 (Jer’s Birthday!)

We slept in a bit, getting up just before 9 am. Our first order of business was having our treats from Lenotre Patisserie. Jer had an intense raspberry mousse topped with raspberries, while Jess had a key lime tartlette studded with raspberries, with a heart of raspberry mousse. Once we had a sufficient sugar rush, we got ready and headed out. We headed over to the Victorian Room at Bill's. Jess had another John Wayne, but since it was after 11 am Jer ordered a taco salad. Both were good diner fare and filled us up.

We wandered next door to the Flamingo, where we checked out the garden's inhabitants — a flock of Chilean flamingos, the black-headed swans and various ducks. We were surprised to see a sign that their penguins had moved to the Dallas zoo, as it was hard to believe they'd kept penguins outdoors in the desert heat! We peeked into the Flamingo's wedding chapel, which was a bit boring except for its octagonal shape. Inside the hotel, we sampled the wares at Ethel's Chocolate Lounge and were a bit underwhelmed. They're locally made and fresh, but they weren't as creamy as we'd hoped.

Since we only had 1.5 hours until we needed to be back at the hotel, we decided to use our monorail passes to see the rest of the Strip. So we rode it to the north end and back again. Other than the Wynn, there weren't really any casino-hotels we wanted to visit and didn't. We headed back to Bally’s, slathered ourselves in sunscreen and headed down to locate the north valet entrance. After a tense few minutes' wait, our limo arrived and the driver apologized for the delay (our scheduled driver had had some problem and she was filling in last minute). We settled ourselves in and were whisked to the Sundance Helicopters building at Las Vegas airport. There we were checked in, weighed and assigned a flight number. After a short wait, our pilot (Rich) introduced himself and took us to our aircraft.

There were two other couples on our helicopter trip, but we got to sit in the front on the trip out. (Jess had told them it was Jer's birthday.) The flight was very smooth and the views were spectacular. We saw Lake Las Vegas, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and various towns in the greater Las Vegas area. We passed dramatic mountains, flew over Grapevine Mesa and suddenly found ourselves swooping down into the Grand Canyon itself.

The walls were striated and colorful, and it was hard to believe the canyon had been carved by the brown, seemingly calm waters of the Colorado River below. We landed on a rocky plateau where we were allowed to walk around and get a sense for the scale of the canyon, before having a picnic (turkey wraps, pasta salad, fruit salad and an oatmeal cookie, plus California 'champagne') under a covered Indian ramada. We then got back into the helicopter for the return flight. Even in the back, we had great views, especially when we flew along the Strip. It was neat to see the themed hotels like Luxor, Excalibur and New York New York from above. Back at the airport, we waited a bit for our ride, and ended up shanghai'ing a party limo that had arrived to pick up someone else!

Back at Bally’swe took quick showers and changed, then headed up to the Venetian. We arrived early and wandered around the Grand Canal Shoppes for a bit. There was a long line for the gondolas, making us glad we'd done that earlier. We then headed for B&B Ristorante and were seated promptly. There were so many excellent choices that we ended up ordering the tasting menu (seven courses: fabulous Funghi Misti (a mixture of mushrooms, served with escarole), rich Mascarpone Agnolotti (homemade pasta filled with creamy cheese), surprisingly light Lasagnetti (pasta ribbons) with chickpeas and tomatoes, hearty Lamb Saddle with spinach, flavorful Lemon Poppyseed Torta with blackberry sauce and basil sorbet, and sweet Peach Tartletta with balsamic gelato. We also added the Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives, Sweet Garlic and One­Pound Lobster (which was fabulous!) to our meal, and it was totally worth stuffing ourselves to have it. We were totally stuffed – and very happy – when we finished our meal.. Amazingly, they didn’t have to roll us back to Bally’s, and we went straight to bed when we got there.

Las Vegas 2007 — 9/3/2007

We got up, packed, had a quick breakfast at Bally’s and went to the airport for our flight back to JFK. Our trip to Vegas was just the right length!