What Happens in Vegas, Stays.

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Weekend getaway to the desert.

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Day 1

After finishing my first class and skipping my second, we rushed to Long Beach thinking we were barely going to make it. Bless the Lord for our short delay but after some rocky tuberlance, a long struggle out of the maze that is the airport, and trying to figure out how to get to my aunt’s newly built house, which didn’t exist on the map yet, we managed to Lyft to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

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Obscure, the Lyft driver called our destination as we bounced, er, more like crashed into the dips on the road. He wasn’t the smoothest driver, but he was a nice man.

Our Lyft-er wasn’t wrong. I like to believe that the attraction’s demographic illustrated the type of joint that it was, which consisted of punk kids or people dressed as pirates (I can’t decipher what category they belong in), middle aged couples (of which the machines symbolized their nostalgia), curious families and misfits of all ages.

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The machines were old, many out of commission, but it was a perfectly, imperfectly impromptu shoot and date location.

We finally ubered to my aunt’s in Henderson, whose exact location was still ambiguous. (Sorry for the cross brand referencing. Had to. *Kanye shrug*). We got dropped off two blocks from her place and the old woman she is got lost trying to find us due to forgetting her glasses.

She is the cutest thing on Earth.

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After a MTV Cribs tour and receiving pink fluffy slippers from her extensive collection of chanclas (she has sizes for everyone), we took her car out on the town and met with @jnelv, who was our tour guide for the weekend.

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Our first stop was Sweets Raku. 10/10, would definitely recommend. I got to relive my study abroad days in Japan at this somewhat ‘teppan-style’ desserterie. I’m making up words at this point.

Although we were waiting in line already, (excuse my minority-self, or don’t) a white couple cut us and sat at the seats we were waiting for. Jnel, who I immediately thought she was a bad-ass woman for putting her foot down, called the waitress and reported the situation.

The white woman insisted that the waitress called them over, when really she asked how many was in her party. Refusing to move, the white woman continued to lie and her boyfriend, who knew they were wrong, stayed shut. Writing about this gets my blood boiling. Talk. About. Rude.

Even more so, I felt bad for the waitress who got caught in the crossfire.

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To make up for it, the waitress served us blue bubbly as they cleaned up more seats at the bar.

Our experience was turned on its head when they poured hot Henney over Jnel’s dessert enclosed in a white chocolate shell, my ball of fluffy cream with thin, white chocolate wings and halo resting on a bed of coffee crunch, and Justin’s lavender mousse delectably, engulfing tart lemon ice cream and a crumbly bedskirt of chocolate.

We were in love.

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We skipped to the Cosmo where Jnel showed us the most beautiful James Turrell exhibits, which I initially missed at our attempted visit at the Kanye Cocoran in LA.

We eventually got loopy from the lack of sleep and took detours on detours trying to escape the closing shoppe center and crashed as soon as we returned to our beds.

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Day 2

What was meant to be a day dedicated to shooting, ended up being a rainy day that rained hard. We were able to catch up on sleep, which I had been dying for all week and instead, we dedicated the day to spending it with my aunt instead.

Her schedule was as follows:
Wake up at 7AM, pray for an hour, do crunches for an hour, go for a walk (aka doing laps around the living room, HAHA.), and finally, eat.

She took us to her favorite Korean bbq place where we had long talks about independence and family. My aunt insisted that we shop around to kill time until we met with Jnel.

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It was late when we met with Jnel and after catching up on our weekly binge of The Grand Tour (previously known as Top Gear), we were off to the Forum Shops at Ceasar’s Palace to shoot with whatever energy we had left.

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While we witnessed some nosy strangers trying to sneak a peek of Jnel changing, people knocking over caution signs and trying to walk away from the damage despite getting caught and kids who ‘don’t know any better’ sticking their entire arms into dirty fountain water to collect coins, our night wasn’t over.

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On our way to Downtown, we decided to call it quits for the night and give into temptation via round two of Korean bbq at Hobak, which was the authentic experience we had been looking for for a while. With their own selection of thick cuts and marbled meats, they hooked us up with cheese, extra soybean paste soup (ddeuongjang(?) jjigae, my favorite) The waiter was incredibly chatty, almost too much at one point, but he was happy to cook the entire time.

Although our day seemed short, it was exhausting but I appreciated the intimate moments, advice and insight the most.

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Day 3

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This was it. The reason we came out: Brunch with Moet and The Refined Agency at Andiron in Downtown Summerlin. Although our morning prior to the event was hectic, the experience made up for it.

We were immediately introduced to Jnel’s mutual blogger friends, who were just as amazing as she described. Always trust in your friends’ choice of squad.

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We were gifted the goodie bags of our dreams as generously bagged by Jnel. There were makeup majesties from Sephora, racks of clothing from BCBG, and a dessert bar of sweet finger treats.

God, the food was so great. Freshly made morning fare topped with all the syrups and fresh fruit. Don’t get me started on the eggs Benedict.

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After concluding with some quick photo ops, we headed straight to Red Rock National Park. It took a minute to meet up with everyone as our service was all shot. Nevertheless, after a few U-turns we were at our destination.

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We shot with @griztriz, @jnelv and @arvinolano, which was the most unforgettable bonding experience. We demonstrated true teamwork and care for another as we bore the toughest winds, trucked through trails of bagged dog poop and climbed through rocks in the most unhikeable outfits ever.

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Being amidst such cheerful and motivating spirits and sharing energies in the epicenter of these red rock formations was energizing and liberating. I felt unstoppable and alive as we vibed off each other.

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The sun was setting and the winds were getting harsher as we reached the base of the mountains. The trip concluded with us pulling over our caravan at a resting point before wrapping around the park to the exit.

Where we stood was in the heart of the seasons. To our left was the desert we entered in. To the right was billows of snowy hills and in the center, the sun was peeking just above the horizon with trails of purple skies chasing after it.

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Romper via Zaful (Spring 2017 Promotion)

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We were running an hour late to my aunt’s, whom we promised we would get dinner with before our flight. Justin rushed home upon hearing she was already dressed. It broke our hearts having to tell her we couldn’t make it.

She was understanding and even helped us finish packing. We couldn’t leave without promising her another visit (in which we’re surprising for her 71st birthday during our layover to New York). Don’t tell her.

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Vegas left me inspired, motivated and excited to work even harder to come back better than I was before. Thank you to everyone we met during our stay and Jnel for taking care of us.

We’ll be back.

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Photography by Justin Quebral

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