Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There is a first for everything!

This post is a start of many more stories I would like to start sharing. I dedicate this to my Grandpa Valentine who is the greatest storyteller of them all. I will never come close to rivaling his God given ability to bring a story to life. However, this is my effort to document my stories and share them with generations to come.

Well this past weekend I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go bowhunting for the elusive Rocky Mountain elk. This was my first year for obtaining a big game tag, and luckily I have some experienced friends that allowed me to hunt with them. After countless hours, of which my wife can attest, spent planning, researching, and dreaming about gear we hit the road last Friday to the mountains. Our destination was just past the town of Buena Vista and heading over the Continental Divide. We arrived with about and hour left of daylight and decided to do a quick hunt on the Divide itself. In all reality we knew we wouldn't see anything that night but we couldn't wait to lace up the boots and start making some bugle calls.

Upon sunset we ventured further into the mountain towards Taylor Park Reservoir meandering our way through the haze of the dirt roads. We landed ourselves in an deserted mining town on a back country road, which we would call home for the evening. It was a bit erie camping out that evening so I decided to sleep in the truck. Big mistake as the combination of a truck seat mixed with the excitement of the morning hunt I didn't sleep more than an hour.

That morning we got up just before 5am to hit the trails. The 4 of us split up into two groups to cover the most ground as possible. Noah and I spent about 2.5 hours making our way up a dirt road climb, along the way stopping to make bugle and cow calls hoping to locate some elk. However, that morning we were not as lucky as our friends. They managed to get within 50 yards of an elk, before it ran off, just merely 20 minutes into their morning. That being said Noah and I's hard work was rewarded with the following view as we reached the ridge of the mountain at 12,800 feet. 

Not a bad view I must say watching the sun rise over the top of the Continental Divide.

We took a much needed break to glass the mountains and look for sign of any elk in the distance. Upon  more meandering through the woods we decided that this would be a great place to camp so that the next morning we would be able to walk into the basin to hunt early in the morning. So we made the 2.5 mile trek back down to the cars only to load the 50 lb packs on our backs and hike back up to the top of the ridge. We did gladly welcome the afternoon rain shower, which cooled us off while hiking the pass. We settled down and made our camp before heading out on the evening hunt. 

The 4 of us split up that evening and this was my view for the night as the sun was setting. Looking into the woods hoping to call that big elk into my sight. I found this tree that and elk had been using to scratch his antlers. I thought for sure I would see something this evening. 

Unfortunately, no luck this evening either I did get to witness another great sunset in the mountain though!

That brings us to Sunday morning. We decided to wake-up very early and drop down a couple thousand feet into the basin in hopes of seeing some more cow elk. It was a beautiful, and surprising easy hike in the morning. I should have figured since we were going downhill the entire time. My legs reminded me of that when we made the return trip back to camp for lunch.

After hours of wandering through the dense forest and thick marshes I was only lucky enough to see a few deer. However, the other group saw two massive bull elk and a herd of cow elk as well. This alone was motivating enough for me to want to keep pressing on to find that elusive creature. During our lunch conversation we decided that there was too much water and food down low that the elk didn't want to hike up to where we were camping. We made the executive decision to load up our packs again and make the 8-10 mile trip down the basin to around 10,300 feet. My lungs were happy about this as I realized I might get a little better sleep tonight. However, the elk had bigger plans compared to my sleep needs. I was fortunate enough that early Monday morning around 4:00 am I was woken up by two bull elk bugling back and forth for about 40 minutes non-stop. I didn't realize how rare of an even this really is until Noah elaborated more on what I had experienced. I must say this was one of the neatest experiences to be out in the middle of God's country without a sound to be heard except for the elk doing what they do best with their small symphony in the woods that evening.

The morning view from our camp that morning once again did not disappoint. 

Noah and I eagerly jumped out of our tents to pursue the elk that we had heard throughout the early parts of the morning. We hiked only about 5 minutes from camp and made our first bugle. To our delight the elk bugled back, the same way he had been calling earlier. He was within 200 yards or less of our location. We walked another 5 minutes closer and called again. We waited a little longer this time and to our delight the elk responded back. This time within 100 yards or so. Too far to see, but right under the tip of our noses. We walked  a bit close and called again, to our surprise he stopped calling back. This made it incredibly hard to locate his position. We spend the next 30 minutes trying to hear back from him again, but he decided to become a ghost, something the elk are all so good at accomplishing.

Once again with a sigh of disappointment we headed back to camp empty handed. However, I felt like I should give it one more effort. I headed out again around 7:30am from camp and within 3 minutes I heard something in the woods. It is amazing how in-tune your ears and eyes become when you are in these situations. When you take out the noise from cell phones, cars, planes, and everything else in the busy city life you can feel your sense truly come alive. As I briskly stopped I began to scan over my right shoulder up the hill and picked out to creatures about 60 yards in the distance. I couldn't quite make out what they were until they started to investigate me a little closer. They made their way around the back of me and headed across the trail to get below me so that they could be downwind to get a good scent from me. I have heard about animals doing this but it was quite remarkable to see how they put their strengths to their advantage. As they walked across the trail I was bummed to see that it was a doe and yearling buck. 

Although disappointed it wasn't the elk I had been chasing for days, it was a great sight to see. I then decided to just enjoy this moment in the woods with the deer. I became motionless and allowed them to do what they do best and determine if I was a threat. It was quite comical because the deer would act like they were going to bend down to eat but the whole time they had their eyes fixed on me to see if they could catch a movement out of me. They inched closer and closer and before I knew it they were about 7 - 8 yards ways from me. From there I could see their noses moving a 1,000 mph trying to figure out what the heck I really. I decided to see if I could get away with a movement. I made the slightest motion with my hand and those deer took off like an F1 race car off the starting grid. 

After that the excitement was over, we headed back to camp packed up our gear and made our hike to the car. However, the fun didn't stop as I suspected it would. About 10 minutes into our hike I got to see a beautiful momma moose and her baby walking through the Aspen trees. Quite a cool sight. We decided to take the long way around them as moose can be quite territorial and become aggressive. 

As we were heading out on Cottonwood pass I was laser focused scanning the terrain out the window as I desperately wanted to see an elk. To the best of my abilities I was foiled again. However, I did get to see a male moose eating some grass out in the open and that was one huge animal. Words can't even explain their massive size until you are that close in person with them.

After a few long days and dozens of miles hiking through the woods it was back to reality. As much as I wanted to get an elk my first trip out it just wasn't in the cards for me. However, I was wonderfully blessed to get to see some amazing wildlife in God's country. At the end of the day that is what it is all about in my opinion. There is nothing more connecting than going out into the wilderness to truly begin to see some of the scope of what God has created. No noise, no cell phones, no work is needed at times in every one's days, weeks, months, and years. To you it may not be an elk hunt in the Rockies but we all need some time away to truly get some peace and quiet.

Big thanks of course to all my great sponsors who have the best gear out there in helping me great through this new endeavor. Thanks to Honey Stinger, Big Agnes, BAP, Osprey Packs,, The Adrenalin Project, LifeProof Cases, etc.

Friday, June 28, 2013

It is about time!

Wow it has been quite awhile since my last blog post. Here is to a better consistency of updates on my race season. Well last weekend I finally felt like I was back in action with my first Xterra since May of 2012 over 13 months ago! Which race you ask? 2013 Xterra Curt Gowdy!

I know what you are thinking were in the world is Curt Gowdy. That my friends is a fabulous question! Curty Gowdy State Park is a hidden gem in midst of the wide open spaces of Wyoming, sitting between Laramie and Cheyenne. To give you a small glimpse of what real wide open spaces look like, here is a shot of the drive to the park race morning.

Race day was absolutely beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and temperature were moderate to warm, much better that they were supposedly last year when the race took place a month later in the year. I was actually nervous for the swim for once as I have only had about 8 swims under my belt since my last triathlon. But luckily working hard the last two to three weeks must have paid off. A couple of Honey Stinger Waffles and chews and I was on my way. I ended up coming out of the water in 1st place with a time of around 16 minutes for a 1200 meter swim. Not a bad start to the morning that is for sure.

Now on to the fun part, the mountain bike! The bike course was rated as a 2009 IMBA Epic Trail system. Basically, that means you better get your butt up here and ride this place because you are missing out on some great singletrack. That also means they have created the trails for mountain bikers by mountain bikers, leading to a fantastic segment of trails to ride on race day. I don't know what I was most excited about riding my mountain bike fast or getting to try out my new GIRO Helmet and Oakley sunglasses!

I know that words don't do the course too much just, so here is a snippet of what the course map and ride profile entailed.

After only riding for 67 minutes the bike course was over, quite a shame too as I was just starting to have some fun. However, it was time to wipe the little kid grin off my face and get to the run. Luckily, I had a solid bike with the 2nd fastest time overall and came into T2 in second place only a little over a minute down from 1st.

Now for the not so fun part, the RUN! I was a bit worried about the run because I haven't spend that much time doing actual running. Mainly just riding my mountain bike and having a good old time. That being said I buckled down and hit the first mile hard hoping to wake my legs up from the 13 month hibernation.

The rolling terrain, lack of shade, and the sun beating down on me started to take its toll. On the uphills I tried to just keep one foot in front of the other. However, having a vast array of slick rock incorporated into the singletrack truly made this one of the more exciting runs I have ever done. I just tried to take off and let loose on the downhills and keep my pace up as high as possible. I was pleased to hold off everyone on the run. This my friends is a milestone and step in the right direciton. Because usually I try to just minimize the damage and count the people that are flying by me like I am sitting still. Not today though folks came in at 2nd place overall! This was definitely a great start to the race season and has really recharged my batteries to get some good training during Emma's nap times.

Big thanks to some of the great folks that are supporting me this season, and helped me through my first race of the year. Honey Stinger, Osprey Packs, Big Agnes, BAP, Oakley, Giro Sports Design, LifeProof, The Adrenalin Project!

Next up.............Xterra Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek, CO

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Breck Epic 3-Day Numero Tres

Today wraps up the 3rd and final day of racing for me here at the Breck Epic 3-Day. However, the 6 day folks are still in for some more tough rides over the next two days. So today's stage was called the Keystone/Aqueduct Loop, because we went up by the Keystone skiing area. The totals for the day included 43 miles of riding with more than 8000 feet of climbing.

The stage was a much different than yesterday. Overall a much faster paced race and you had to do a lot more pedaling over the length of the stage. It started out similar to two days ago where we went up Heinous Hill, which is a super steep, granny gear pushing climb. A really good way to warm your legs up when they are pretty tired and would rather not move to begin with. Then we got to descend down Galena Gulch, which was a rocky, steep, fast, and super fun downhill descent.

From there we hit the Colorado trail andstartedthe next climb which was mild and fairly rolling terrain. But our luck would soon run out when we encountered Vomit Hill. The name implies just that, you want to vomit. It was a super steep climb that was mostly hike a bike, but nonetheless it was so steep that it was over as quick as it started.

From there we descended down to meet up with the Aqueduct Trail. Which was a big chain ring grind all the way around the ridge of the mountain before we got to the second aid station on Keystone Gulch Road. It was a lot of fun and a good way to finally get the legs up to speed again. I was lucky enough to have a guy to help set the tempo for us and I just sat on his wheel. I was familiar with the loop so I basically tour guided him through the trails and he just pedaled like an animal. So needless to say it was a win-win situation for the two of us.

Just before the aid station we had a crazy stream crossing on a bridge that was shaking and moving while riding it. Crazy fun.

Once we hit Keystone Gulch Road it began a 7 mile fire road climb to the top of West Ridge where we would once again meet up with the Colorado Trail. This climb was a much needed relief to the racing. You could settle into a good pace and actually pick your gears versus being stuck in granny gear like some of the previous climbs. At the top we peaked out at about 11,100 feet and we were rewarded with a 5 miles of screaming fast downhill. I have said it before and will say it again, the Colorado Trail is amazing!

After all of that fun I had to buckle down and put my game face on. As we still had one more nasty climb left after we hit aid station three. The first mile was a teaser as it was only about 2% grade. Then it kicked up to a leg crushing steepness. It was a good 15+ minutes of granny gear, quad busting goodness. But after that we were basically home free. Only one more shorter 400 foot climb and then it was all downhillto the finish. Coming down the Minnie Mine Trail was awesome as I hit 38 mph coming down the singletrack!

Ended up finishing in around 4 hours and 10minutes which was very solid as I was hoping to ride under 4:15. I was super pleased with my performance as I felt like I was on the gas all day today and really pushed myself. My effort today helped to place me up in GC to a 5th overall in the mens open category. At the finish the super awesome aid station guru fixed me a nutella, peanut butter, banana, and marshmallow puff sandwich. It was delicious. I have to say that the backdrop to the finish was quite impressive in itself as well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Breck Epic 3-Day Numero Dos

Well today was the start of the 2nd day of racing for me. I could tell I went a little too hard yesterday because my legs were a bit sore. Which is not always the best day to start out a stage that they label as a "big one." Either way though I felt pretty good once we got moving and Adam and I agreed that we would ride the stage together so that we were not lost out there in no mans land like yesterday.
We started out quite similar to yesterday with a neutral rollout heading up French Gulch Road. We then made our way up the first climb to 11,100 feet on Humbug Hill. From there we had an awesome but very crazy descent down French Gulch. With all of the rain they have been having the gulch had many places of erosion where you were either pinballing off rocks or walking your bike through huge washouts. Still a blast though.

From there we began our first super tough climb. The Little French Pass climb which hits just over 12,000 feet in elevation. We climb up and go over the saddle between Mt. Baldy and Mt. Guyout. Hence why today's stage is called the Guyout Loop. This was super tough as we were riding up streams, tons of bumps, oh and it felt like you were breathing through a straw. The toughest part was the last .25 miles or so where we had to hike a bike. Felt very similar to the Columbine climb in Leadville.

Once we crested the top we had an awesome descent over and ice glacier. Conveniently I got a good picture of Adam falling on the snow about 10 feet before it ended. If you look closely you can see him about to hit the deck.

From there we had an awesome descent down to the next aid station which was a blast. Up until the make shift bridge we went across which was made out of pine trees. As I was crossing it some crazy guy tried to pass me and the logs moved so I fell right into the freezing water.

At the bottom of the descent we immediately started to head back uphill again. This time it was to the top of Georgia Pass which tops out at about 11,800 feet. Luckily though it was about a 4 mile road climb. So Adam and I just hunkered down and clipped it out.

The best part is yet to come. After crossing the Georgia Pass we had 4 miles of Colorado Trail descending. This was by far some of the best riding I have done in Colorado. There were tons of rocks and roots and it was awesome. But my hands were pretty beat up so by the end I was ready to be down to the road.

After that we had one last big climb of about 1500 feet up American Gulch. It was steep, hot, and we were tired. Enough said! At the top though we were treated to some great rolling terrain, fast descents, and awesome singletrack to bring us home to the finish.

Today we ended up doing 39 miles or so of riding with over 8500 feet of climbing...BOOM! Definitely a great race and by far epic! Looking forward to tomorrow as it will be a lot of riding the Colorado Trail the opposite direction from what we did yesterday. Luckily I have ridden most of the loop so I will know what is in store.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breck Epic 3-day - Day Numero Uno

Well today kicked off the first day of the Breck Epic 3-Day stage race. While it also served as Day two for the full 6 day Stage Race. Last night there were multiple rain showers that passed through Breckenridge leaving the trails today in immaculate condition. Meaning you could go a lot faster without risk of sliding out and crashing, so thumbs up for that! The view in the morning here in Breck is second to none.

We started at around 8:10 am from downtown Breckenridge and the had a neutral rollout down Washington Street, then once we hit the dirt it was game one.

I felt really good starting out the day and was super excited to be riding my bike. We climbed up Gold Run Gulch Road and then descended down to Tiger Road. All was going well until about mile 13 when myself and two other guys missed the turn to hit the Colorado Trail. So we ended up doing about 2 miles and 10 minutes extra of riding. Which if that is the worst that happens I will take that.

After that we got on the Colorado Trail and started to climb up toward the West Ridge. The views up there are amazing. After we climbed for about 5 miles we then got to the fun part 7 miles of awesome descending. It had everything dirt, rocks, trees, prairies, and awesome scenery. Check out the videos below for some of the great terrain we had during the downhill portion.

After that it was back to more climbing of course we worked are way back up a couple of more climbs before making our way back down to Tiger Road. After that we then climbed back up Gold Run Gulch Road and the Upper Flume Trail. That was a butt kicker because it was one root after another and my back was sore by that point. At the top though we were treated to rolling terrain and a little bit of pavement to stretch the legs. From that point it was a downhill, adrenaline pumping ride all the way down Minnie Mine Trail to the finish.

In a nutshell today was awesome. If you have never been on the Colorado Trail it is absolutely amazing whether you bike, run, hike, etc. Today the total was about 42 miles and about 7000 feet of climbing give or take. Can't wait to start tomorrow. The map at the top shows the route we did today. You can also click the link to check it out on google maps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Xterra South Central Championships - Waco, TX

Round 2 in the Xterra Championship series landed us literally in the middle of Texas. The event was held in Cameron Park which is a beautiful 410 acre park right the middle of downtown Waco. Liz and I drove down from Colorado Springsin the trustyElement and covered just over 800 miles in 12 hours to make the trip to the race. Usually that drive is pretty boring but on the way down we were greeted with 60+ mph winds and driving right through the middle of wild fires that were taking place all over the state. Either way we were excited to get to take a road trip and meet up with my brother Sean, his wife Jenny, and there beautiful baby girl Eve.

We kicked off our fun in Texas in the right style and visited the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum. Although we did see some Chuck Norris memorabilia I was bummed not to see a life size wax statute of him. Either way it was great to learn about some history and see some priceless artifacts from the past.
Next we went to the local Mammoth site. Basically 30 some odd years ago some locals found bones from mammoths that lived tens of thousands of years ago. Back in 2009 the city of Waco and Baylor University had a building built around some of the bones to help preserve them. They have over 24 found mammoths at this site,which iscrazy. The most insane thing is how long their tusks are, they can grow to be 16 feet!

Alright enough with the chit chat. Race day started off beautifully with a nice 55 degree race start. I also must say that I feel spoiled because Xterra saves spots on the bike racks for all pros. Which means I can sleep in longer and show up later and still have a spot for my bike!
Got everything all set up and ready to go and things were feeling good. It is always fun to have family and friends around to help cheer and route you on. Just about ready to head down to the water with my trusty Aqua Sphere goggles ready to help me sight those buoys better than everyone else.

But wait there is more just as we were getting ready to head to the swim start Dave the race director announced that the water temperature was 68 degrees making it wetsuit legal. Luckily I keep my wetsuit in the bottom of my transition bag, but some of the other pros were scrambling to go back to hotels, or borrow some from other people. So I got my awesome Aqua Sphere Phantom wetsuit on, okay, now I was ready to do this race.

Headed down to the water and snapped a quick shot before jumping in with fellow Colorado Spring racers, CTS athlete Tracy Thelen and bike fit guru Branden Rakita.

Now time to tread some water before the start.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention. They start the race by shooting off a canon! How cool is that?

Alright so once we were up and going I settled into a good rhythym and just tried to stay relaxed during the entirety of the swim. Worked out well as Christine Jeffrey, Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita, Craig Evans, and myself all came out of the water together as a group.
Off to the bike course, which was awesome! The course was 15 miles long and twisted, turned, and threw you around all over the place. If you didn't stay 100% sharp the entire time you would miss a turn and hit a tree for sure. Overall I had a great bike. Was riding together with the lead group for the first couple of miles before I crashed,the first of may...haha! All of my crashes were basically from washing my tire out through a turn so silly mistakes but definitely added up over the race. Either way had a great split and came out into T2 in 7th place right behind Nico Lebrun. Below is a good little video of Josiah Middaugh (CTS Athlete) and myself flying down the trail know as the vortex.

The run course started out with Jacob's Ladder, a 140 stepping stone to get the legs nice and warmed up.
Below is my niece cheering me on hard for the race. Actually looks like she if pretty bored at this point. Heck I would be to if I was watching people ride their mountain bikes without me!

After the ladder I settled into a good run form and reminded myself that I needed to run much faster than last week in Vegas. So I was on a mission to hold my form together and have a great race. All in all the course was a blast as you winded around twisty trails and up and down constantly. I was looking and feeling good with a couple of miles to go. Unfortunately the last couple of miles was on the River Trail which was a moderately straight section where a couple of my opponents could see me in the distance. They were able to bride up to me and caught me around a quarter mile to go. We all surged as hard as we could and I had nothing left in the tank. So just like that I went form top 7 in the prize money to ninth place. That was a bummer but I left it all out on the course and I can't complain about that. Not to mention a top 10 finish in my second pro race is a huge accomplishment and step in the right direction. Afterwards caught up with Josiah Middaugh a little bit and he filled me in on his similar situation only he got out sprinted for the win.

Well next stop is Pelham, AL for round 3 of the Xterra Championship tour. Until then....

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Team Honey Stinger / Trek Training Camp

The 2011 race season is finally here and what a better way than to kick it off with a team training camp, on my birthday, in Fruita, Colorado! Needless to say I was super excited to get to meet some new teammates and ride the mountain bike all weekend on some fun trails. Myself and another coach from CTS drove out Friday to the west side of Colorado which is about a 5 hour drive to get there from Colorado Springs. We got to Highline Lake State Park and we were kindly greeted by the team director Len Zanni as well as all of the other Honey Stinger crew. We then got camp site all set up with all of the fine Big Agnes tents, sleeping bags, etc. before hitting the first ride.

Probably one of the greatest things to see though was the fact that their was a corn field next to the camp site which reminded my of back home in Indiana.

After the campsite was ready to rock we headed off to Loma for a little riding through some great local mountain bike loops and got introduced to some of the other teammates. We had a great couple hours of riding before dark and then went to Fruita for some excellent pizza at the Hot Tomato Cafe.

That night I got my day early birthday present with some excellent goodies from all of the awesome sponsors including: Bontrager, SmartWool, Boa, Smith Optics, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Chamois Buttr, and Voler. Good way to end the night and get ready for another great day of riding.

Saturday brought a new day and I could not complain getting to ride the MTB all day long on my birthday celebration. We headed off after breakfast to Rabbit Valley to pre-ride the Mountain States Cup TT and XC Course as well as hit the Western Ridge Trail. All of us are getting setup and ready to rock.

We headed out in a couple of groups to ride some of the best trails I have seen in Colorado to date. Of course it was not always the easiest to enjoy the views when I was getting hammered keeping up with this fast team of guys and gals. Although nonetheless still had a smile on my face after stopping to eat a good Honey Stinger Waffle to fuel me for the next portion of the ride. After all I was better off than Kelley who was back there changing the flat tire in the background!

Overall we did about 38 miles, 4000 feet of climbing, and 4 hours of total ride time and it was awesome the entire time. The best was being on top of one of the plateaus overlooking the valley and seeing the Colorado River flowing throughout the state.
The only downside about the ride was that we got a bit muddy so we had to do some bike cleaning upon returning to the camp. I must say the fleet of bikes looks pretty cool in this picture.

That night at camp the team had Qdoba catered in which was delicious! Must say best burrito I have ever had while on a camping trip! Of course the night would not be complete without a little camp fire and s'more making. To tell you how awesome my teammates were they even surprised me with a birthday cake with candles and all. If that does not say something about the camaraderie I do not know what does.

Thanks bunch to Zach and Caitlyn Vestal, who are pictured below, who drove into town to surprise with a cake and the s'mores. You guys rock!

The next day we had another fun filled day as always. Started off the camp with some team photos to get a shot of all of us looking sharp in our new team kits. Watch out off-road racers out there this team looks fierce.

After the Zoolander posing and giving everyone the Blue Steel we hit the road to the Colorado National Monument in Fruita, CO to hit the Lunch Loop Trail System. While there we did a couple more team photos and some warming up on the pump track before hitting another great day of 3 hours of MTB riding on some awesome trails! It is amazing that we never hit the same trail twice and we barely scratched the surface on how many trails there are in that park. I do believe Adam and I will have to go back and do some more exploring that is for sure.

Even though the day of riding was a blast, all great things must come to and end. So we packed up the car and hit the road back to Colorado Springs, CO.

All I have to say is that I had an awesome weekend riding in Fruita, CO and meeting some great new teammates and friends. Thanks to Len Zanni, Colin Osborn, Honey Stinger, and all of the other great sponsors that not only did all the work to make this camp and team happen but for also setting us set up for a great year of racing. Should be one heck of year racing in 2011 and I can not wait now until the first race coming up April 10 in Las Vegas, NV!