July 3, 2013
Rather than taking a long weekend for this upcoming 4th of July holiday, I took one last week to fly to Las Vegas and hang out with some ladies I met online who like nail polish as much as I do. The trip got off to a good start last Thursday afternoon, when I actually managed to leave the office when I’d planned to instead of rushing out late worried about making my flight. When I got close to the airport, though, things started to take a turn for the worse. I was listening to the radio and an emergency weather alert broke into the broadcast, reporting severe thunderstorms heading my way. And yep, those storms came through, delaying my plane by two and a half hours when all was said and done, since our plane had to come from Baltimore and that’s where the storms were heading. That messed up my plans to meet up with one of the other ladies and go to the hotel together, but fortunately I was able to reach her via text so she knew what was going on.
The flight went fine once we got going; there was even an empty seat next to me. Instead of sleeping as I’d thought I might, I ended up talking with the other lady in my row, who’d moved to Las Vegas fifty-two years earlier as a 19-year-old. She’d worked at one of the casinos downtown for decades and had a lot of local knowledge and history to share. I was so tired and anxious to get moving when we got there that it wasn’t until I was down in baggage claim that I realized I’d left my Kindle in the seat back pocket. (This was extra dumb of me, since on my flight to Dallas a couple weekends before, I’d left a magazine, so I should have been more aware of the possibility.) Fortunately, the ladies in the baggage office were able to call up to the gate before the plane turned around and left again; I got a special pass to go back up through security and reunite with my Kindle (my two unread magazines and half empty bottle of Vitamin Water were just plain gone). By the time I made it back down to baggage claim, it was somewhere around 12:30 a.m. local time (so 3:30 a.m. per my body clock). The ladies coming in from Oregon had just arrived, so we met up and went to get the rental car together. There was a surprisingly long line considering it was the middle of the night; the same was true when we got to the hotel to check in. I think I finally made it to my room and to bed somewhere around 2:30 in the morning. (Temperate outside per my phone at 2:11 a.m. — 98 degrees F.)
I was serving as hostess/coordinator for this trip, so I booked a suite where we could hang out between events. The suites I am most familiar with are the ones at places like Comfort Suites—basically a big hotel room with a half wall screening the bed from a sitting area. The one I got at Treasure Island was not that; it was ridiculously big, with two full baths (one with a walk in closet and a Jacuzzi tub), a sitting area, a desk, and a table and chairs in addition to the bed. It wasn’t even crazy expensive, which is another thing that threw me off from knowing what to expect.
Friday morning we piled into the rental car (the first time I’ve had one in Las Vegas) and hit up a few beauty supply stores before having lunch at Vietnamese restaurant. I don’t recall ever having Vietnamese before—it’s not a common cuisine around Detroit, not like Middle Eastern or Thai or even Indian. I liked it. I was a bit taken aback that one of the colors in the “three color drink” I got was red bean, as in actual whole beans at the bottom of the glass, but it was tasty. Refreshed, we did a bit more shopping, then got hung out back at the hotel before heading to dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian. There, I had a tasty alcoholic drink with rhubarb vodka and rosemary (or maybe it was basil; I’m not a foodie so I neither remember nor have a photo of the menu) before tucking into the delicious food. After dinner, the group split up to do different things. I went with my friend T.I. to see Ka at MGM, one of the Cirque du Soleil shows I hadn’t yet seen. The theatre and stage were impressive on their own, and the show had many visually stunning moments. Making our way to the monorail after the show, we were confronted with waves of people heading the other way, much more than just the usual weekend night casino milling about crowds and skewed far younger. Turned out a Justin Bieber concert had just let out. Swimming upstream through that was probably the most intense experience I’ve had in Las Vegas. (Temperature at 12:09 a.m.—102 F)
Saturday we spent most of our time on the Strip. We did some shopping, then a brunch buffet, then some more shopping, then a cab down to New York New York to ride the roller coaster, then another cab (this one barely air conditioned at all, which was most unfortunate) to the Fashion Show Mall for still more shopping (we did way more looking than buying, thank goodness). Our evening entertainment was going to see the Chippendales show at the Rio (off the Strip). Ian Ziering of 90210 fame was the guest host; we spotted him in the gift shop before the show and tried not to be too uncool about it. The show was cheesy good fun, with not as much nudity as one might expect. I’m glad we went, but I don’t think I need to go back anytime soon (and if I do, I might bring earplugs, as there’s quite a lot screaming in the audience even when nothing’s going on). After the show, we had a late night dinner at Tacos El Gordo, which was basically street food but in a building (with mostly outside dining, which was quite something in the near record heat). Because it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do in Las Vegas, after we got back to the hotel, T.I. and I changed clothes and headed out again to explore more of the Strip. We took in the volcano show at the Mirage because the last one for the day just happened to be scheduled for five minutes from when we walked past the sign. (It would have been better if not for the creepy dude that stood way too close to me; that sort of thing is bad enough as it is, but in the heat it was really uncalled for.) We popped into the Forum Shops building to soak up some A/C even though the stores were all closed. We wandered a few casinos, doing our only gambling of the trip; I cashed out with 25 cents left of my dollar. We saw some go go dancers. We saw some construction dudes who did not take their clothes off like the ones in Chippendales had. When we got back to the hotel, I soaked my feet in an ice bath. (Temperature at 1:50 a.m.—100 F)
Sunday the ladies from Oregon had to fly back home, but T.I. and I had another day before we were leaving. We did a tiny bit more shopping, then went to Mandalay Bay to see the fishes and have lunch. We rode the shuttle to the Luxor to look around, then took a drive out to Red Rock Canyon, which was such a change in visual stimulation. No more neon or slot machines or crowds of people, just rocks and dirt and nature. If it hadn’t been so crazy hot, we might have done some of the hiking trails along the scenic drive, but as it was, we didn’t even get out of the car at some of the outlook spots for fear of getting heatstroke. We returned to the hotel to cool off and relax before our last night out. (Temperature at 7:02 p.m.—114 F)
Our big splurge for the trip was tickets to O; it wasn’t my favorite Cirque du Soleil show when I saw it the first time but intrigued me enough that I wanted to see it again. We shared a cab over to the Bellagio with two other ladies, which is how we found out that an acrobat in Ka, the show we’d seen Friday, had died after a fall during one of the Saturday performances. One of the ladies’ sister had been there. I was shocked. I hadn’t been reading any news during the weekend, but I did look this up on my phone. My heart just broke when I read the performer was the mother to two young children. I can’t imagine how her fellow performers in the Cirque family must feel.
We had some time to wander the hotel before the show, looking at the fountains and the conservatory and the art glass. Getting into the show was rather a cattle call, and the theater seats were as narrow as I remembered, but once the show started I was fascinated. There were a lot of parts I didn’t remember, and this time I was sitting closer so had a different perspective. I’d like to see it again, but there are other shows I want to see for the first time before that happens.
Monday morning T.I. and I had to get up and moving way earlier than any other day of the trip in order to make our flights back but we accomplished that no problem and things went very smoothly with our flights (a nice change from my trip in).
I just realized that I’ve been to Las Vegas three times, and each time it’s been because I was meeting people from the internet. Not the same parts of the internet, though. I wonder if I’d ever have gotten around to going if not for my online activities. I’d definitely like to go back. I want to see the pirate show at Treasure Island, for one thing. Our first trip, we were headed there but got there later than planned and were turned away due to the viewing area being full. The second time, we stayed at TI for a night but went to see Mystere instead. This time, I could see the stage from my room but it was so very hot I had no desire to stand outside and wait for it. I don’t drink much and I barely gamble, but there’s so much else to do and see that it doesn’t matter I’m not indulging in those stereotypical tourist pastimes.
I did make a set with more photos from the trip. It’s here on Flickr (though I still don’t like the new interface, even with the small tweaks they’ve made).