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Travel: Celebrating our first anniversary in Vegas

A skyline view of The Strip taken from the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV.

A road trip to Las Vegas with your boyfriend isn’t so bad. Especially if you have to make an unexpected stop in Victorville because you borrowed his sister’s 2007 Jeep Cherokee that has a coolant leak you did not know about.

Our original four-and-a-half-hour trip from Anaheim to Las Vegas turned into a six-hour trip because of the constant stops we made to refill the gray Jeep with coolant. At least my boyfriend and I could enjoy the view of the vast desert landscape and beautiful skyline while we waited for the car to recover each time.

Cesar Alvidrez is 21, and making his first visit to Las Vegas. Both of us have been dealing with health issues within our families.

However, October marks the first anniversary of our relationship. Las Vegas would be the place for a romantic getaway.

But the romance would be budget thrifty. We only had enough money for gas, food, and souvenirs. We could not afford a casino show. We also did not want to risk gambling away our limited funds.

We soon drove into the Las Vegas Strip by 8 p.m. as visitors roamed the streets drenched in neon lighting.

We made our first stop at the Bellagio Hotel. But not for accommodations but for the free entertainment.

The main display of the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden autumn theme of “Indian Summer” at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

The main display of the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden autumn theme of “Indian summer” at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

The Bellagio team of designers and horticulturalists transform their 14,000-square-foot conservatory and botanical garden each season. The theme for the fall display was “Indian Summer”, which started Sept. 14, 2019 and will run until Nov. 30, 2019.

Cesar and I walked through the garden, in awe of the giant, colorful displays of foxes, tigers, monkeys and 14-foot elephants.

We spent about 10 minutes walking around the garden and taking pictures.

After strolling through the garden we exited the hotel and headed straight for the exquisite Bellagio Water Show at the Fountains of Bellagio. It is a spectacular show of thoughtfully interwoven water, music and light designed to mesmerize its admirers..

The Fountains of Bellagio during the water show at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

The Fountains of Bellagio during the water show at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

Cesar wrapped his arms around me as we watched the fountains of water glide back and forth as somber music played. Soft lights followed the movement.

The show was beautiful. We shed tears as we watched. This was exactly what we needed.

Now we needed sleep.

We are college students who cannot afford a $200 to $300 room at a hotel on The Strip. But my Uncle David has a spare bedroom in his home in North Las Vegas.

His house is 15 miles from The Strip and it took us about 30 minutes to get there. When we arrived, my uncle and his husband greeted us and showed us to the guest room.

The next morning, Cesar and I drove to an IHOP restaurant for breakfast.

After breakfast we drove to the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets near my uncle’s house.

It is an airy, outdoor village-styled center featuring over 175 designer and name-brand retailers offering huge savings every day.

We strolled around the outdoor mall, looking for deals. The store I wanted to visit was the Tory Burch outlet, because I work part-time for the Tory Burch store at the South Coast Plaza mall.

With our budget in mind, we were picky with our purchases. Among the stores we visited were Coach, Kate Spade, Shoe Palace, Guess, and Champion.

We noticed many tourists lugging around huge shopping bags and going from one store to another.

I talked to Olivia Garcia, a sales associate at Shoe Palace, about her job. I asked her if she enjoyed working in an outlet mall.

“I like working here because we are always busy and my shifts seem to go by faster. It’s also really funny to see people go crazy trying to find the latest shoe that released,” Garcia said.

Cesar purchased a pair of Adidas shoes, a few t-shirts from Guess, and performance activewear shirts from Champion. He bought me a pair of gold earrings and a matching necklace from Guess.

After the mall, we returned to my uncle’s house and dined on pasta ordered from Olive Garden supper with him and his husband.

We walked down memory lane as my uncle shared some embarrassing stories about my mom when she was young. We also talked about how technology is rapidly changing and the differences between our generations.

I do not get the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my uncle and his husband so I enjoyed these moments.

They encouraged us to visit the Fremont Street Experience before we left Vegas.

A spooky monster displayed in front of the Golden Nugget casino during Halloween time at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, NV.

Located in Downtown Las Vegas, the Freemont Street experience is filled with things to do. It is a seven-block entertainment district and home to the world’s largest video screen, “Viva Vision.” The street also has a 12-story, slot-machine inspired zip line named, “SlotZilla.”

Bright lights and neon signs illuminated the street as we walked, holding each other closely for warmth on the chilly Vegas night.

We passed by a stage with the Tony Marques Band playing and took pictures of the frightening Halloween decorations displayed throughout the street.

Many performers throughout the block had open boxes with signs that read, “Please restart the show.” We placed a few dollars in some of them to watch their performance.

After walking to both ends of the street, we returned to our car to begin the four-and-a-half-hour ride back home.

A selfie of Cesar and I at the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

Although Vegas is a hotspot for clubbing, drinking, and gambling, the relaxing and worry-free trip with my boyfriend was a million times better.

The best way to celebrate our anniversary.

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