June 7, 2004
I survived both Las Vegas and TUS-Con. (The Unofficial Guide advises me to call it Las Vegas, never just Vegas, in order to look like a local. It also says about fine dining that if there are small yellow sculptures on the table that they’re probably butter.) I am now plopped at a gate at the airport, clicking out these words with a view of the brown hills beyond the tarmac in front of me and the musak and slot machine bells behind me providing the soundtrack. The question now is whether I will be able to somehow recap the last three days in anything approaching a coherent fashion. I’m tired. So very tired. We slept in both yesterday and today, but I am still tired. Sleeping in only gets you so far when it follows staying up way too late.
So let’s see, when I last wrote I was on the plane headed here, winding down my freak out. The plane did indeed land, and Heather patiently waited with us at baggage claim for our big suitcase to show up. We then marched out into the heat to catch a taxi and then marched right back in to take the skycap up on his offer to get us a cab when we saw how long the line was. Is that cheating? Is the next step ordering a stretch limo so I’ll have a driver waiting and never have to touch my bag? Nah, this was a special occasion.
We started meeting and greeting Suspects almost as soon as we got to the Luxor– Jen Wade and Mel and Lynda and Michael and Lisa and Frank and probably a few other people I’m forgetting were all there. They had to compete for my attention with some of the other guests’ eye-catching attire, such as the mesh pants and bikini combo on the woman in line in front of us and the high-heeled see-through ho shoes on a lady one line over.
When I was getting out my credit card and license to check in, I noticed my ATM card was not where it should be. It didn’t seem to be where it shouldn’t be, either. I’d used it on the way to the airport, and I had the money and the receipt from that transaction, but the card was nowhere to be seen. After we got up to the room (on the third floor of the pyramid, which meant we had a non-view), I emptied my purse and combed my carryons and still no ATM card. Darn it. Did I drop it at the bank? In the car? At the airport in Detroit? In the cab? It could have been any of those places. If I could have been sure it was in the car somewhere, that would have been okay, but I couldn’t be sure so I called the bank and cancelled it. No one had used it since my last withdrawal, so that was good news. That it will take 7-10 business days to get a new one seems rather inconvenient, though; that means Standard Federal hasn’t improved their process since the last time I had to get a new card seven or eight years ago, despite every other business seeming to get the idea that we’re now well into the internet age of impatience. I was very frustrated with myself for losing the card, but at the same time I realized if I was going to have a card go missing that was the one to pick. I needed my license and credit card but could do without the ATM card for a while.
After the flurry of “crap, crap, crap, I lost my ATM card” stress, we headed up to the TUS suite and met still more Suspects before going back downstairs and being introduced to the camel game by Mo Pie and her cohorts. I was skeptical about the camel game, which pretty much involved betting quarters on which combination of mechanical camels would finish first and second in a race around (well, almost around) a tabletop track, but it turned out to be so much fun we kept going back all weekend. We weren’t the only ones– we ran into other Suspects there on several occasions. Next time maybe we can skip the suite and just set up a TUS-Con couch next to the camel game.
The big official event of the con was Friday dinner next door at the Excalibur. Renee did a great job coordinating it, so all we had to do was hand her the money and sit back and enjoy. In between courses Stacey and Mel and I amused ourselves by passing notes of little import to people at other tables. I was very glad to see Beth and Jeremy there because that meant Mel and I could present them with the quilt we’d collaborated on (which I had in that second carryon I talked about last time). It’ll get its own entry soon, but if you want a preview there are pictures here. We managed to get 119 Suspects represented on the quilt either by their user pictures or by photos I’d hounded them for via e-mail and added a square with the “no picture” .gif to represent those we weren’t able to include. I was tickled that I’d found a Lush bag just the right size to serve as gift wrap, since it was the Suspects who got me started on Lush. After dinner, we returned to the TUS suite for a little while, just long enough for me to meet nickd (and a good thing, too, because I never saw him again the whole weekend) before going back to the pyramid and collapsing into bed with time difference disease (it’s three hours different).
Saturday we had to set an alarm in order to meet up with the people who were going to the aquarium at Mandalay Bay. As it was, we barely made it, grabbing a quick breakfast at the food court on the way to the suite (even a McGriddle didn’t distract me from the lack of Coke at the McDonald’s– that just ain’t right). A big group of us trooped over to see the sharks and such, then a smaller group of us wandered the casino before meeting back up for the buffet. I think there are fines if you don’t do a buffet while you’re in Las Vegas. Mel and I traded voice mails while I was loading up on food and she was viewing the strip from the faux Eiffel Tower, and we hadn’t realized yet that our quilt shop plan wasn’t going to work out, so when my phone rang just as I went into a bathroom stall after lunch, I had to answer it. Yes, I am now one of those people who talks on her cell while in the toilet. I wasn’t using it at the time, I swear.
Saturday afternoon is something of a blur. I do know I went outside for the first time in 24 hours in order to check out a few more casinos (New York, New York and the MGM Grand and the Tropicana, I think, but in what order I don’t know). It was hot and bright and loud. I think we might have eaten something at some point. Or maybe that was later. It’s a very disorienting place.
I’m sure that in the early evening we met up with Slam and Mr. Slam and Stacey to go to Zumanity, which is billed as “Another Side of Cirque du Soliel”. It was the less magical side, I think. I’m glad we went, but I didn’t feel as amazed by it as I have by the other Cirque shows we’ve seen. I definitely saw some things I hadn’t seen before, though. After the show, Mr. Karen led us through several levels of the casino with such directional authority that it wasn’t until we were on one of the pedestrian bridges that I realized he didn’t get the “we’re going to get a cab to go to Treasure Island and try to find Suspects at the pirate show” memo. There didn’t seem to be any cabs near where we were, so we decided to set out on foot until we found some. Once we’d walked a while and it seemed like we were moving faster than traffic and we could see Treasure Island just down the Strip, we decided to keep walking. I thought this was a perfectly reasonable plan even though it was 92 degrees out and I was wearing slides with a three-inch heels and narrow straps. Las Vegas messes with your head for sure. By the time we got to TI, they were turning people away from the pirate show due to overcrowding so we went inside and sat in the first bar we saw, which was far hipper than any place I’d normally contemplate going but it was there and cool and had couches to sit down on and drinks and food and worked out just fine. We had learned our lesson and took a cab back up (down? I have no idea) the Strip to meet Harmony and other Suspects for a drink at MGM. We watched one of the spelling bee contestants faint on the big screen at the sports book before Mr. Karen and AmyD and I took our tired bodies back to the Luxor.
I don’t think we had a Sunday morning; I’m pretty sure we slept through that. Then there was some wandering and getting turned away from a Japanese restaurant (well, maybe they really wanted us to eat there, but telling us there was a 30 to 40 minute wait even though we could see empty tables didn’t exactly encourage us to stay) before meeting up with Philip, Teena, Harmony, Toph, Jared, Trish, Slam and Mr. Slam at the Hilton for the Star Trek Experience. I’m really glad we went. The motion simulator and 3D effects weren’t as good as the ones at Disney, but the little thrills I got from walking down the hall of a starship just like on the show and seeing some really good walk around Borg more than made up for that. I liked that the people working there seemed to like what they were doing and took it just the right amount of serious. I did lose my sunglasses at some point– I think the Klingons got them.
Sunday night’s entertainment was Blue Man Group. We ran into Weetabix at the camel game on our way to the show and found she was going, too. Then we saw LyndaB and MichaelH in theater lobby. As it turned out, we were all sitting just a couple rows apart, Weet just a row behind the poncho section the rest of us in. The poncho section is calle that because they provide plastic ponchos for you to wear in case of, well, splatters, I guess. Should a Blue Man explode, we were prepared. The show was great. Very similar to the one Mr. Karen and I saw in Chicago a few years ago, but that didn’t diminish the effect (except in the case of one audience participation segment where not knowing what’s going to happen is most of the joke). We laughed until we cried at some points.
After the show, we bid goodbye to Weetabix as well as Maya and Heather who were leaving at the same time. Then we had a late dinner, and, because it was Vegas, went out again. At home, going out at 11 at night would seem a little nutty, but in Vegas it seemed normal. We walked to Bellagio and gaped at the fountains and the Chihuly ceiling in the lobby and the classy casino floor and the fountains again before heading over to Paris, where we found that the half-size Eiffel Tower was still open, so up we went. Sure, we’d been to the real thing in the real Paris, but that one didn’t have a view of the Strip. Unlike at the Star Trek Experience, we even remembered to use our coupons. When we finally wandered back to the hotel by way of the Aladdin and 7-11 and I don’t know what all, my Pikachu pedometer informed me that we’d walked 4979 steps since midnight. There are whole days at home where I don’t walk that much.
We’d arranged for a late checkout time today, so we were able to sleep in and still have breakfast and inspect the pool (which we’d never managed to find time to swim in or lounge by) and visit the camels one more time before heading to the airport. The cab driver had evidently taken a “how to reduce the size of your tips” seminar, as his follow up to inquiring where were from was to insult Detroit and then Michigan politicians and then Democrats. Dude was many clues short.
And now it is just about time to pack this up and get on the plane. I’ll have to be careful not to crush my new sunglasses, one of the very same $10 pairs I mocked when we first got here. Hey, I looked closer and they have UV protection and if I’m going to keep losing things I don’t want to invest a lot of money in them.
Addendum: I put pictures from the trip up here.
This is the first June 7th entry I’ve written the whole time I’ve kept this journal.
V is for Vegas