desert Posts

Wanderlust: Las Vegas

By: Shelby Adamson

Recently an incredibly dear friend of mine invited me to her fabulous wedding in Las Vegas. To be honest, if it were not for this event I really would have no reason to take a trip to Sin City. For me, whatever happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas. I don’t gamble, I prefer a dive bar to a club filled with house music, and I would rather go to the real Paris or Venice than see the American versions in the middle of a desert. All that being said, here is my “skeptic’s highlight” of the city.

Image courtesy of Spoiled Splendid.

Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed with the canyons surrounding the city. I’m a Florida girl, and the expanse of desert was a beautiful sight to behold. My first stop along the strip was the Bellagio, a large hotel with a casino and shops on the main expanse of the first floor. High end shopping, Michelin star restaurants, and intricate interior details showed that no expense was spared here. After grabbing a cocktail and walking around, I have to say my favorite part was watching the fountain show that occurs every 15 minutes in front of the hotel. The fountains are paired with music (my favorite was the Pink Panther theme) and it is quite magical to watch.

Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

Yet another stop along the strip was the modern Cosmo Hotel, home to the Chandelier Bar. Pro tip: order the Verbena cocktail — it isn’t on the menu, but you will be so happy you did. This lemon verbena and ginger infused margarita is garnished with a Sichuan flower. Eat the flower before drinking the cocktail; your mouth will tingle and then go numb, but your taste buds will be heightened due to the alkaloid ingredient in the flower spilanthol. It’s a very unique and Alice in Wonderland type of experience!

Image courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler.

The details that go into each hotel really are impressive. If you know me,  you know I love to look up, and the Venetian had me marveling at its incredible ceiling. After popping into an oxygen bar and watching the gondola’s float along the indoor canal I made sure to get my fill of this ceiling before leaving.

Image courtesy of Shelby Adamson.

The dizzying lights, the sounds of the casinos, and the smell of cigarette smoke can be a bit overwhelming. So when I had a chance to hike Red Rock Canyon with a friend, I was eager to get some fresh air (this type of outing is much more my vibe). We were lucky to have a guide take us into the canyon and hike up the cliff, and learned about the common misconceptions that the desert is barren. On the way up, we were able to see all of the beautiful flora native to Nevada. The patterns in the sandstone truly were a work of art, and the peace and calm of the desert was exactly what we needed after the overstimulation of the Vegas strip. Ultimately we hiked to an elevation of 600 feet and looked over the beautiful splendor that is the desert.

My honest opinion about Las Vegas is that it is somewhat of a Walt Disney World for adults. I personally would prefer to visit other continents, hike Glacier National Park, see foreign sights. But overall I had a really great time in Las Vegas, and I was incredibly honored to be able to witness my friends beautiful nuptials.

Wanderlust: Phoenix, AZ

By: Danielle Clockel

Although my heart lies in the icy north, I do have a strange love for the desert. I love the plants, hearty and fierce looking. I love the landscape, with its sudden rocky peaks jutting into the sky. And while I despise the hotter end of the spectrum, I deeply relate to the extreme range of temperatures from day to night.

As you can imagine, this sparse landscape was strikingly different from the “city in a forest” I call home. But my heart swelled with excitement upon seeing short, shrubby vegetation and jagged mountains.

The first expedition was to the Desert Botanical Garden, and it was basically a wonderland. Paved and unpaved pathways wound through giant cacti, breezy grasslands, and crawling succulent sanctuaries.

I’m not exaggerating about the giant cacti. They’re as tall as trees!

I wish I could tell you I trekked all the way to the top of Camelback Mountain later in the week, but I absolutely did not bring the right shoes for that hike, so I stopped about halfway up and took in some seriously beautiful views.

To be honest, I was much more enthralled wandering around in the valley, gazing up at the incredible rock formations jutting out from the otherwise flat desert.

There was plenty to explore in the actual city as well. Delicious vegetarian/vegan eateries, vintage record stores, an arthouse/indie movie theater, and this incredible David Bowie mural that spanned almost a full block near the historic bungalow that I stayed at for the week.

It was an incredible visit, but I left just in time — the forecast called for a high of 90 degrees the day I flew back to Atlanta, and this cold weather loving gal had had enough of that nonsense during the summer already. That said, would I go back? I’ll answer that with a photo: