…gets blogged within a week.
I’d been to Vegas once before but I was 17 and with my parents, so it doesn’t count.
We were only there as a base for the Canyons (Grand, Bryce and Zion), and didn’t know anything about Vegas other than gambling. So not only could I not drink or gamble, but we didn’t know that we should be booking show tickets or anything like that, and spent most of our time playing whack-a-mole and similar arcade games, which my parents unaccountably LOVED (OK, so it was actually pretty fun). Also, we stayed in a really cheap motel – with no pool – in a scary part of town and my Dad refused to pay for taxis, so we had to walk and bus everywhere, which was NOT fun in August let me tell ya. So I was determined to do it properly this time.
- Got to airport way too early to find that our flight (with Philippine Airlines – they fly Manila-Vegas with a stop in Vancouver to let a bunch of obnoxious over-excited Canadians get on and annoy all the jetlagged Filipinos) was a) running late and b) classed as an international flight, meaning that we had to go through US customs and immigration in Vegas rather than in Vancouver as for normal Canada-US flights. Called the boys to let them know we’d be ready for pick-up about an hour later than planned – problematic as we had tickets for a show that night and were already cutting it fine. Passed the time buying duty free booze and sunglasses. Finally got on plane to discover luxurious long-haul amounts of leg room and a nice hot sandwich, but a faded-to-the-point-of-invisible TV screen and a broken seat pocket in front of me. Had smooth flight until just after we started to descend, at which point we started shaking, bouncing, and dropping through air pockets in turbulence bad enough to make people all over the plane gasp and even scream. Someone behind us started to throw up. Friend (who is a very nervous flier and had to take Ativan just to get on the plane) almost crushed my hand in her panicked grip as I tried to pretend everything was normal and that I was perfectly calm and unconcerned. Waffled on calmly (HA!) about which games and drinks we should sample first as she gave monosyllabic answers.
- Extremely happy to land. Even happier to find fast-moving immigration queue. Probably shouldn’t have answered the “what is the purpose of your visit to the United States?” question with “FUN!”, but got away with it.
- Got out of terminal to find furnace-like temperature even at 7:30pm and no boys waiting for us. Called them: the camper van had been too tall to get into the parking area for the international terminal, so they’d gone to domestic instead, apparently ignoring the fact that the more convenient parking situation was negated by us not actually being there. Finally figured out where to meet them and were welcomed into the camper with a nice cold beer from the fridge. Went straight to the show and made it just in time to grab a drink and sit down.
- Saw The Amazing Johnathan – my friend’s husband had seen some clips on YouTube and was most excited to catch the real thing. The show wasn’t quite what he was expecting – more comedy with a little bit of magic thrown in than a magic show per se – but highly entertaining. The LOLs may have been lubricated somewhat by the beer and mojito (or equivalent) we’d all managed to pound by that point.
- Checked into the MGM Grand, where we discovered that we could see each other’s rooms if we flashed the lights on and off, and that the view from our room was rather disconcerting, if not creepy:
Had a very late dinner and drinks in the casino. Decided to crash (relatively) early and save ourselves for our first full day.
- Woken at 3am by hotel room alarm clock going off. Pressed every single button, couldn’t make it stop, yanked cord out of wall, fell back asleep. Alarm went back off half an hour later: it had a back-up battery that could only be removed using a screwdriver. Mr E Man managed to switch it from beeper to radio mode, fell (eventually) back to sleep. Alarm went back off just as we were reaching deep sleep. Mr E Man called front desk and told them to pick the damn alarm clock up from the corridor outside our room. Finally got back to sleep after much tossing and turning.
- Woken by friends asking us if we wanted to play in the 11am Hold’em tournament. Hell yeah! But not until Mr E Man had gone downstairs to complain about the alarm and request an upgrade for the rest of our stay. I would never have thought to ask, but he’s really good at doing such things in a very friendly and winning way. Got an upgrade to a mini-suite.
- Started tournament playing conservatively, but then made a rookie mistake: stayed in with the second-best possible full house when it should have been obvious the guy betting against me had the best one. Hard to lay down a house though. Folded K-4 in the next hand after a pre-flop raise from the guy to my right, only to see K-K-4 turned over on the flop. Cursed. Folded some more hands, won a couple, and saw three people from my table get knocked out ahead of me, thus reaching my primary objective of not being knocked out first without having won a single hand. Finally got knocked out with pocket Kings, 4-J-10-7-4 showing: the other guy had pocket Aces. But had lots of fun trying, chatted to some awesome people (some of whom were openly rooting for me, the only girl at the table, in the final hand), and did slightly better than Mr E Man, who was knocked out on his own table a few minutes before me. My friend was out right after I was; her husband survived for another hour and a half and looked well-placed going into the semi-final table, but crashed and burned soon after.
- Met friend from my old job for a late and long lunch. Much raucous laughter and beer for everyone except her husband, who was a hurting unit after their wild and crazy Saturday night.
- Wandered back down the Strip, getting gradually hotter and more bothered despite drinking lots of water and taking frequent cool-down stops in air-conditioned buildings. Girls ended up sitting in the lobby of the Tropicana for an hour gulping water and gradually approaching a core temperature compatible with life, while the boys played blackjack.
- Went to see Absinthe at Caesars. Some acts were better than others, but the really good ones – the acrobats and roller skaters in particular – were just jaw-droppingly, standing ovationally good. Great show, highly recommended.
- Ended up at Hooters (right by our hotel) until 2:30am playing $3 blackjack, drinking the “free” beer, and having a blast talking to the hilarious dealers and some very drunk and endearing students from Texas, among others. My stack of chips fluctuated wildly for a while but I eventually lost them all, despite taking the dealer’s advice when unsure and being told I was having rotten luck while playing “by the book”. Mr E Man was doing much better than me at the less busy $10 table though!
- Had epic buffet breakfast before grabbing the factor 60 and hitting the awesome pool complex. The lazy river thingy and frozen rum-mango puree drinks were just what the doctor ordered to counter the heat. Managed not to get burned, amazingly enough.
- Rode the roller coaster at New York New York and decided it was the second best one I’ve ever been on (first choice is the kind where the seats hang from the rails and your legs dangle free). It was AMAZING, the best one I’ve been on in years. I even gave it a very enthusiastic round of applause as it started to slow at the end, which no-one else joined in with, but I didn’t care because it was TOTALLY AWESOME. I love roller coasters SO MUCH and wish there were better ones in Vancouver.
- Watched the boys ride the various crazy rides at the Stratosphere. Mr E Man expressed surprise that I would love roller coasters but refuse to go on any of the Stratosphere rides, but I say they’re totally different beasts. Coasters are about speed, twists, loops and g-forces, while the Stratosphere rides are purely about height – they’d be boring if they were at ground level. And I’m not all that fond of extreme heights (read: had to keep one hand on the wall while looking up from the rather windy and shaky observation deck to see the boys on their ride).
- Tragically, did not manage to persuade Mr E Man to buy the hysterically funny photo of him looking like he might pee his pants while being hurled into the sky from the top of the tower.
- Friend’s husband decided to ask the next taxi driver where the best pawn shop in town was, where he could find (and I quote) “the weirdest and quirkiest stuff”. Driver predictably misheard this is porn shop (Brits pronounce the two words almost identically. Americans, as it turns out, do not). I saw exactly what was happening but decided to enjoy the hilarious confusion before pointing out the mistake.
- Arrived at the Four Queens in Old Vegas for a very late steak dinner plus more cheap blackjack and “free” drinks. Enjoyed the evening but continued to have what even the dealer commented on as being spectacularly bad luck: I doubled down on like 15 different 11s, but didn’t hit a 10 even once. Booooooo. Luckily Mr E Man won more overall than I lost overall, so we came out ahead between the two of us. Late and rather merry evening.
- Note to self: for future reference, drinking rum and coke at 3am will NOT wake you up.
- Got very little sleep due to own over-indulgence (the days when I could sleep for more than a couple of hours after drinking are long gone) and Mr E Man’s rabid snoring.
- Got up and said goodbye to the boys, who were meeting up with other friends at Lake Tahoe before heading to Burning Man for Mr E Man’s 40th birthday, then spent our last few hours in/by the pool. No rum or drinks of any other kind except water today though!
- Spent approximately 92% of our 3 hours at the airport wondering how a city with so much money being lavishly splashed around in every direction can have such a shabby, dingy airport, with no decent food options and incredibly crappy duty free. Seriously – pull it together, Las Vegas!
- Had (mostly) smooth flight home in the exact same seats as last time (saggy seat pocket in front of me and all), although friend was rather jumpy after the turbulence we’d encountered on the way in. Arrived at YVR to an ocean and mountain view, high ceilings with lots of skylights, tons (literally) of art work, an aquarium and a waterfall, wondering SERIOUSLY, why is McCarran such a dump?!
- Got home at around 11 and was immediately engulfed by a frantically purring and kneading two-headed pile of fuzz.
Benefits to being home: being able to go outside; being able to drink the tap water; I’m not losing any money right now; no hangover; kittehs.
Drawbacks: no roller coasters; Mr E Man is not winning any money right now; I’ve been sitting at this table for over an hour and no-one’s offered me a “free” drink yet.
I’ll be back…