America or Bust. Day Five: 30 December 2014

We were up early this morning to board the bus for the Grand Canyon helicopter tour. My attire for this journey was:
• leggings under jeans
• socks and knee high boots
• singlet, tank, hoodie and winter coat
• gloves, scarf and a beanie

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All these clothes and I was still chilly and we hadn’t even arrived at the Canyon yet!

It’s pretty unreal to think that you’re all hot back home and swimming in the pool to keep cool while it’s so so cold here!

We met a nice Canadian couple on the bus. Meeting people on your travels and hearing their life stories is one of the best things about being on holiday. Everyone’s happy to have a chat.

Our helicopter flight was through Maverick Helicopters and was scheduled for 7am. Our pilot was a young chap and actually looked like he should be in Top Gun. Slick back hair and aviator sunglasses he really looked the part.

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We flew over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam (Dad, you would’ve liked that), Grand Canyon then landed in the Canyon for a champagne breakfast. Oh wow! What an experience! Then back to Vegas for a fly over of the Strip. All this in just four hours. Not a bad way to spend the morning.

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(This was our helicopter)

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Here are some fun facts about our helicopter tour:

– This is Lake Las Vegas. It has a multi million dollar golf course and a few stars, like Britney, George Clooney and Celine Dion, have houses there.

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– This is Lake Mead. It’s very popular for swimming and water sports in the summer time.

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– This is where the Colorado River drains into Lake Mead. The change of colour in the water is due to the sediment that comes from the desert.

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– This is the end of the Grand Canyon. We’re about to fly into it.

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– The Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon.

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– This is Meadview. A town that was established in the 60s with the hope of being the up and coming place to live. But with no power, water, shops and, despite the name, no view of Lake Mead, it never took off. It’s quite odd to fly over this town and to see how isolated it is.

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– This area is known as the Valley of Colour. Some films that require “Mars” shots are sometimes filmed here. “Total Recall” used this location for some of their filming.

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– How’s this for a good profit business? Mark and I paid just over $500 each for this tour. There were six people per helicopter, seven helicopters in total. After our flight, they had another one at 10am. That means on average the company took in $42,000 today alone!

We had a little 5-minute gamble and won some money. Score!

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This afternoon we went to Madam Tassauds which is in our hotel. The wax celebrities are so real you expect them to move or something! If they’re made “to scale”, then Sandra Bullock is tiny and Leo DiCaprio is just a big spunk! Wax or not!

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Wayne Newton was there too (I may have squealed a bit). And of course, the magnificent Elvis. Plus many more. It was fun!

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A quiet evening tonight. Tomorrow we’re heading to LA. Thanks Vegas, you’ve been great!

Until tomorrow…

Aimee x

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America or Bust. Day Four: 29 December 2014

Travelling can be so exhausting! Which is why you sometimes need to take a holiday after your holiday. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I know how lucky I am to be here but it is tiring nonetheless.

Today started off late because we slept in till 9:30am. I didn’t want to sleep in while we were away but last night we didn’t go to bed until after 2am so I suppose our bodies needed it.

No plans were made today so we were out of whack a bit with what to do. We jumped on the bus which runs the length of the Strip and headed towards MGM Grand where we got off and headed to Ross’.

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Ross’ is a clothing and accessories store. It looks like a downgraded version of Big W but sells brand name clothes at a fraction of the price, a bit like Harbour Town and DFO. A friend recommended it to us. I bought a nice black coat which my Mum will be pleased to hear about, plus a couple of new handbags. Mark got a jumper and a couple of pairs of shoes.

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Because of the sleep in and setting off late we hadn’t had a chance to eat anything yet. By this time it was 1pm. We left Ross’, jumped on the bus and headed towards Caesar’s Palace with the intention of having a buffet lunch which I’ve heard great things about. The line was so long and there was only an hour till lunch finished so we left, still with empty bellies, and walked to The Bellagio to watch the fountains.

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It was 2:15pm by this stage. We got a prime position and then found out the fountains don’t start until 3pm. Dang it! The time went quite quick though and we met a husband and wife from Melbourne who are travelling down the West Coast for one month with their five kids!! Woah! I asked if there was a reason for their holiday or just because. The wife has been cancer-free for five years so her and her husband decided to surprise the kids with a trip to America. How awesome is that?! What a great reason for a holiday!

The crowd started building ready for the fountains and at 3pm, they exploded. How amazing! There are speakers all along the strip outside the Bellagio that play music for the pedestrians and then when the fountains go off it’s choreographed to music starting with the Star Spangled Banner and then some opera. It’s absolutely jawdropping!

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(If you would like to watch the video footage of the fountains that I filmed, I will post it to my Facebook page)

I was not, however, prepared for the overspray from the fountains. Let me just say that today was one of the coldest days yet, coupled with the water from the fountains, I’m sure I could’ve snapped my fingers off if I wanted to!

We said goodbye to our fellow Aussies and walked back to our hotel, stopping along the way at Walgreens for some drinks and snacks. We still hadn’t eaten for the day and the time was 4pm. I can confess that there were a few hangry moments from the two of us during the day. You know when you get angry because you’re hungry? Yes, that was us. (More so the hubster but don’t tell him that).

We dumped our stuff in our room and headed back out, finally to have some food. We went to the Grand Lux Restaurant which is in our hotel.

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Caesar salad to share, penne chicken carbonara for me and ribs for Mark with a nice cold drink. Perfect. So yummy and so full!

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Did I mention that the sun sets here in Vegas at 4:30pm? So by the time we got back to our room it was dark already. Freezing weather, a full tummy and darkness means PJ’s and a movie for me with the heater on. Nice!

We have to be up super early tomorrow at 4:30am so it’s an early one tonight. Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Three: 28 December 2014

Happy 10-year Anniversary to us! What a great excuse to renew our vows in Vegas!

A lady called Anastasia came to our hotel room this morning to do my hair and makeup. Our first wedding was low key, a simple beach wedding down at the Busselton Jetty. It was lovely but I didn’t get my hair and makeup done for me which I regret. This time I’ve made up for it. Hope Elvis likes it!

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The only thing that would have made today more perfect would’ve been if our family were here with us.

We got ourselves all tizzied up. Look at us all fancy like!

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We jumped in a cab from our hotel and made it to the chapel just in time for our ceremony at 12.45pm. We chose Graceland Wedding Chapel to renew our vows. (This photo was taken last night).

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It’s located down south on The Strip, about 10 minutes from our hotel. Oh wow!! The chapel was so beautiful! Much more beautiful than I imagined it would be. The lady at the front desk gave us our flowers. Then … Elvis entered the building.

I was so excited I just about wet my pants! He was a very tall 70s style Elvis donning a very fancy black jumpsuit with some kickarse mutton chops. So nice and friendly and well, Elvis-like.

Mark positioned himself down the front. The photographer was at the ready. “Record” had been pressed on the video camera. Elvis, microphone in hand, took my arm in his and proceeded to sing “Love Me Tender” then he walked me down the friggin’ aisle!! OMG! Dream come true! That can be ticked off the list.

The ceremony was lovely. Elvis was our officiant. He did a little speech. Mark and I faced each other and said our vows. I even cried – what a sook! Then we said our “Elvis vows”. So very cool. And it was done. Yippee! Still married. Signed on for another 10 years.

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Elvis then sang “Viva Las Vegas” while the photographer took a heap of pics – some with Elvis; some without. Then … Elvis left the building.

Within the space of about 10 minutes it was all over. “Thank you very much”.

Our DVD of the ceremony was given to us. I may upload this to my Facebook account once we’ve watched it back home with the family. Can’t wait to see it. Our pics are being emailed to us in the next few days.

If you’re planning on getting married in Vegas, I would highly recommend this chapel. It totally blew away my expectations.

We asked our taxi driver to wait for us so she could drive us out to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign which is so tiny by the way. I thought it would be massive! Our taxi driver was going to park and take some photos of us but it was quite busy so we just jumped out and said we’d get someone to take one for us then we noticed that they were all lining up for their turn so we just took a selfie instead. I love it! It turned out great.

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Back in the cab, back to the hotel, out of my frock and back to reality. Sitting in my slouch clothes in the hotel. This is a memory I’m going to have for the rest of my life. I have been thinking about it for so long and it’s all over. So much fun! If you get the opportunity to come to Vegas head to a chapel. You won’t regret it. The only casualty of the day when my stockings. They’re now in the bin.

After a rest in our hotel for an hour or so we made our way to Fashion Show Mall which is an amazing shopping mall that puts ours back home to shame. It has some of those fancy pants stores that no one can afford to shop at but it also has iconic stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

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Of course we had to check out the Lego store. Our kids would be in heaven in this shop! It could easily be used as a kid sitting service while mums and dads do their shopping. The back wall is covered with buckets filled with different types of Lego pieces. You can fill up a bucket for a small fee of any of the pieces you like. It’s pretty cool.

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Off to Denny’s for some dinner before heading to the Mirage Hotel to see Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles – Love”. I’ve not seen a Cirque du Soleil performance before so this should be good.

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We headed over to the Mirage at 8:30pm for a 9:30pm show. We managed to get seats four rows from the front. From the very beginning I was mesmerised. What an amazing performance and the Beatles? Who doesn’t love the Beatles and their music? The way this show is produced is out of this world. If you ever get the chance to come to Vegas, or if the show comes to your town, go and see it. Amazeballs.

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Today has been another awesome day in Vegas. I even saw snow on the mountain tops in the distance. Sadly none here on the Strip though.

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New Year’s Eve is forecast to be super cold so you never know. Fingers crossed. Until tomorrow …

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day Two: 27 December 2014

We slept with the blinds open last night so each time I got up in the night I’d go over to the window to see all the lights below. And this is what I woke up to. I am obsessed with those mountains, especially when the sun is on them.

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Today was a day of exploring down The Strip. We’re all rugged up ready to head out for breakfast. I knew I’d be cold and I was right. A maximum of just 9 degrees today.

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Walking down The Strip at 8am was so quiet and oh so cold. There was no one around except for some crazy cats out running. That would’ve been me 18 months ago but today, hell no!!

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Our concierge booked us a table for breakfast at Serendipity, a restaurant on The Strip outside Caesar’s Palace opposite the Flamingo Hotel. The coffee was good and the service friendly. I ordered “Bigger Than Your Head Pancakes”. Yes, that’s really what they’re called!

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“Bigger Than Your Head Pancakes” proved to be “Too Big for My Belly Pancakes”. So yummy but oh so full!

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We headed down The Strip toward the other iconic hotels and landmarks. This is in front of the Bellagio fountains, although it was too early for them to be turned on. We’ll head back there another time to check them out.

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Some more pics of The Strip.

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M&M World is a little cray cray. Four floors of chocolate and every type of merchandise you could think of. It’s a bit full on, we could barely move it was so packed! We bought a couple of things for the kids and departed.

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This photo of me and Hello Kitty is purely for my friend, Rachael 🙂

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I watched a shown on 7mate a few weeks ago that Mum told me about which was showcasing some hidden food gems in Vegas and this was one of them. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint up on the third floor of the Continental Hotel. The chef is from New York and has bought the NY pizza to Vegas. I don’t even think this place has a name but I tell you the pizza is amazing! $14 for two slices of pepperoni pizza and a drink. It was all I imagined and more. The best pizza I’ve ever had, hands down.

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Oh look, a sneaky peak of the Bellagio Fountains!

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Back to our room for a recharge. I booked a lady to come to my room tomorrow to get my hair and makeup done for our marriage vow renewal which is all a bit exciting. Hopefully she does a good job. We then caught a taxi out to Graceland Wedding Chapel and made our booking for tomorrow! Be sure to think of Mark and I are 12.45pm tomorrow (the 28th Dec – Vegas time). I’ll be the one being walked down the aisle by Elvis! A whole 6 minutes later, it’ll be over! Haha!!

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Nextdoor to the chapel was a little shop called Lost Vegas Antiques. An absolute treasure trove of vintage and long-lost collectibles. Of course, I sniffed out the vinyl and I bought these. When I got back to the hotel and opened Bruce, I realised they weren’t vinyl but cassette tapes. Oh well, just means I now have to buy a cassette player.

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Vegas at night.

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Our dinner at Buddy Vs was so yummy and just what we wanted. I now know that he is this famous Foxtel guy who owns famous restaurants and other stuff and here we were totes oblivious to the fact. Our bad.

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My other purchases for the day from the Adidas store. All these for under $50. Bargain.

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Until tomorrow ….

Aimee x

America or Bust. Day One: 26 December 2014

Today is the first day of our adventure. The hubster and I have set off for America, first stop: Vegas. But, to get to Vegas, that requires over 17 hours of flying on three separate planes and over 10 hours of waiting and sleeping in three different airports. To say we’re relieved to finally be here is an understatement.

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After a fantastic Christmas Day with the family, our trip started with an 11.35pm flight from Perth to Sydney. I decided to get a head cold before we left which is lovely. I’m one of those people that never gets sick. Why now? Why?! But I’m not dwelling on it. Heaps of drugs will have me sorted before too long. After four hours in transit at Sydney airport we boarded our big plane to LA. This is the biggest flight for me – 13 hours! My legs and ankles were so swollen and kinda still are (I have cankles). Other than that, it was a good flight. I watched a few movies, read a bit, had a bite to eat, and managed to sleep heaps. The air stewards get you to pull down the blinds and turn off all the lights while it’s still daylight to get you into LA’s timezone which I thought was really good. Hopefully we won’t suffer too much jet lag.

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With my sinusy head, too much travel and broken sleep pattern, I looked like a horror for most of the day. I don’t know how the glamorous people do it. They always seem to arrive at their destinations looking so fresh! If you know the answer, please tell me!

Mark met a young guy sitting next to him on the plane that’s travelling to Mexico for three weeks with his brother. He’s been to Vegas, LA and New York before and gave us heaps of tips and advice about America.

Once we were in LA, we collected our bags and cleared customs then headed for some breakfast. It was a limited menu so I didn’t have much but I did try Grape Jelly for the first time. What Grape Jelly you may ask? It’s pretty much just jam and is quite yummy!

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I had a great sleep at LAX, possibly the best one in a long time.

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A quick 35-minute flight saw us reach Las Vegas. It was pretty cool flying over the desert, it looks really pretty from up high. We caught a taxi to The Venetian Hotel which is on The Strip. How surreal to be seeing all these landmarks in real life?! A total out-of-body experience for me so far! Mind blown!

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Our hotel is amazing! It’s totally luxe and totes OTT but amazing none the less. It really does look like Italy threw up in here!

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The staff are amazing. We upgraded our suite to get a view of The Strip and we were not disappointed. Holy heck! What a room! These were the rooms advertised but I never thought we’d actually get it!

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All unpacked (my fave part).

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Then I had the best. shower. ever! Topped off with the hotel’s white robe and my slouch slippers I was as happy as a pig in shit! Sitting here on the couch watching the sunset over Vegas, which is at 4.45pm?!?!

We went downstairs for dinner (I had the best cheeseburger!) and checked out all the shops at The Palazzo plus the serenading gondola riders which are oh-so-cheesy but a must-do while staying here.

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We’re now back in our room and I’m in my pjs. Bliss. Until tomorrow …

By the way, if you want to follow me on Instagram where I’ll be sharing some pics of the holiday my name is “aimeesealy” and the hashtag is “sealysdothestates”.

Aimee x

Today’s the Day

It’s Christmas morning. The kids had us awake at 5am, opening their stockings and checking out the goodies that Santa left for them. Then it was Christmas presents from under the tree to open. The next hour consisted of pancake making, Lego building and tea drinking while watching A Flintstones Christmas. I love the old classic Christmas cartoons. They bring back so many memories from when I was young.

Today’s festivities will be at mum and dads house. Yesterday we set up the table. I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and it turned out perfect. There’s 10 of us for lunch today with some more family popping in later in the day.

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What are you up to today?

It’s hard to believe that tonight the hubster and I will be on a plane beginning our journey to America, first stop Vegas. I still can’t quite believe that this day has arrived. I’m excitedly nervous about what lies ahead, about what my eyes will see, about the food that I will try, about the memories I will make. It’s going to go so quick I hope to make the most of it. I will blog each day to write about our goings on and share pics, lots of pics.

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope today is everything that you wanted and more.

Aimee x

Trying to Make Sense of It All

The siege in Sydney yesterday which resulted in the deaths of two innocent Australians – one who was the store manager who allegedly tried to remove the gun from the madman and subsequently lost his life for his heroic act; the other was a 38-year old mother of three – the age I am now and I too have children so this hit hard. These two people were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Simple as that. They did nothing to deserve what they got. It was a complete waste of innocent young lives. For what? It makes no sense.

Watching the hostages flee the cafe was heartbreaking. The terror on their faces will be forever etched in our minds and hearts. Ten days out from Christmas and instead of celebrating with loved ones they have now been left traumatised by this event and no doubt will take a long time to heal from, if ever.

My husband and I chose not to share any information about what happened yesterday with our kids who are in Year 3 and Year 5. My kids usually take over the tv during the day but when we sit down for dinner I like to switch it over to the news and see what’s been happening. These last few weeks I just haven’t been able to do that. It’s just too upsetting. There’s so much sadness and bad things happening lately that the kids are being affected by it. So to keep them out of the loop of yesterday’s siege was a no-brainer. While the husband and I were watching the updates on the tv in our bedroom, our kids were in their bathers out the front, filling up water balloons and have water balloon fights with their friends down the street. That’s what being a kid’s all about. Fun, laughter, happiness, innocence. We are grown ups for a very long time and kids for such a short time. There’s plenty of time to hear about the bad things in this world. Because sadly, this won’t be the last bad news story we hear.

If our kids do happen to hear things about the siege, I will remember to tell them about the helpers. I like this quote.

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[Picture source can be found here]
The police and everyone else who helped to free the hostages yesterday were amazing. They risked their own lives to save others and that’s the message I’ll give out. Looking at the positives instead of the negatives. Giving praise to the helpers instead of power to the madman. That I will not do.

Hugs your kids and loved ones tight. This just proves how easily things can happen and you can lose someone close to you; or they can lose you.

Aimee x