So last week was interesting for me. Monday I spent my time battling the remnants of the stomach flu. Tuesday I prepped for my Wife’s birthday. On Wednesday, I celebrated the wife’s birthday and got food poisoning at dinner. Thursday I left work early, battling food poisoning. Worked from home on Friday because of the same issue. Then drove to Kingman for four hours. Why Kingman? March Madness skyrocketed the prices of Vegas hotels and I was supposed to be in Vegas to spend time with my daughter on Saturday.
Luckily, I was over the food poisoning (mostly) by Saturday morning. We had a nice breakfast at the Best Western King’s Inn (wonderful little hotel), then drove the 1.5 hours to Vegas. Mind you, this is the first time I have ever been to Las Vegas, NV. I’ve driven nearby, picked up the daughter and left the state, but never even drove through Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, NV is an interesting place and I think I understand why they say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I’ll not be abiding by that, I have a story to tell. So let me say this first. This is my first time in Las Vegas, but not my first time in a large city. However, Phoenix is much smaller/spread out than LV is and Los Angeles is different, very different. Second, my daughter is 13, so the trip was planned to be family friendly. Remember when I said first time to LV?
Now don’t worry this doesn’t get bad, it is really just kind of funny. So I have decided to write it up, like a story, since I like stories.
My initial fascination with the city grew with each hotel/casino I passed on the freeway. My lovely wife, C, sat next to me, giving me step by step directions from the GPS on her phone. K, my daughter, sat in the backseat telling us about school and her CSI elective. I was great to hear how excited she was for school, it was not so many years ago that she loathed learning. We exited the freeway and drove beneath the monorail. I wouldn’t notice the monorail until we were leaving for the day, though. I turned left and had the choice to head towards the roof of the Venetian (where their parking garage was located) or down to the garage beneath the Palazzo. I have a natural inclination towards going underground, call me odd.
We wound around the first level of the garage before deciding to park at the intersection of sections 1L and 1K. Seemed like it would be a fairly easy place to locate again. As we exited the vehicle I remembered a sign indicating elevators were nearby. After walking a few hundred feet in what seemed like the right direction we realized we were nowhere near where we wanted to be, so we walked back to the car.
This, my friends, is where everything begins. Our destination was Carlo’s Bake Shop on the second floor of the Venetian. This is where we would meet up with my parents, T and J. Both had been to the city before and I am glad they had come. Now, if you don’t know me, you wouldn’t know that I love experiences. However, I like to make plans to do things. In my mind, 3355 and 3377 are right next door to each other. That’s still partially true, except when you think of the size of the addresses in LV, that’s nearly half a city block or more apart. So, after walking back to the car, I see a sign that says stairs. Not feeling particularly happy about it, but not wanting to stay underground for another second, we took the stairs. Have you ever taken a flight of stairs that just drops you off in the middle of nowhere? I have. It was this particular flight of stairs!
So we open the door and cars are zooming by, there are some plants, some grass, some dog shit (at least I hope it was, it is Vegas after all), and a few feet ahead there is a sidewalk. Eureka! A sidewalk. That was the most promising part of our exit. We traveled around the corner and I pulled K to my side, normally I feel for the homeless, but when they eye my daughter with a look that is less than savory I get an altogether different kind of feeling. We made our way around the building and there was a double turn. I leaped for joy, it was the double turn that led to the roof or underground garage! NO, it wasn’t. So we crossed the street and kept walking. Eventually, we came to the Venetian’s side entrance.
We took the escalator to the second floor and rejoiced at the sight of a map. I love directory assistance maps, I can always find my way with one. Until this day, that is. The map did not include the customary YOU ARE HERE marker I had expected. I managed to figure it out, though. Then proceeded to track down my destination. Only to realize I was turned around and walked away from the bake shop. Turning back in disgust I stomped towards Buddy’s Ristorante. A man was watering the plants.
“Excuse me sir!” I happily chirped even though I wasn’t feeling any joy at the moment. “Can you direct me to Carlo’s Bake shop?”
With a wry grin the man turned half a degree to his left and pointed at the double doors. “It’s right there, across from the restorante.”
I blushed and nodded sheepishly, “Thanks!” I said, again with cheer I did not feel.
We met my parents, they’d already eaten having waited over thirty minutes for our arrival, while I meandered through my first experience of the vastness of LV. We had some of the best cheesecake known to mankind and I was beginning to feel some of that cheer I’d feigned earlier. See, I don’t get much time with my daughter. Divorces and custody have that effect. When I do, I want to make it count, so I tend to put on a brave face and try to ignore my more ogreish habits. After Carlo’s, we went to the Grand Canal shops within the Venetian.
This was much less of an ordeal with my father leading us. T, ever the navigational expert, led us to the square and confirmed its validity. Meaning I followed him around like a lost puppy and then sat down at my earliest convenience to rest from my earlier explorative excursion. I was delighted to find that I had not made us so late as to miss the Gondolier march or the living statues. The march was alright, but it missed the pizzazz I was looking for. Perhaps I was tired. The living statues did not appear and we figured it was a bust. So we decided then to walk the strip.
Let me tell you, dear reader, that the Las Vegas Strip is a magical, strange, wonderland Alice would never dream of. Also, it is really freaking long. I am, by no means, a small man. I’ve steadily gained and lost and gained weight since I was 18. I’m 33 now and not as spry as I was once. After the first 15 minutes of walking, my sciatic began acting up. My wife had some Tylenol which dulled the pain enough for me to continue. At which point I heard my mother’s story of LV at night.
“They will reach across you to give him a card for sex,” I heard my mother say ominously to my wife.
“No!” my wife said incredulously, “That would not go over well.”
“No, it wouldn’t,” my mother said. “I slapped plenty of hands away. The cards are bad too, naked women right on the card.”
“Nuh-uh,” C said. “Really?” Her disbelief was understandable. I didn’t believe it myself.
I was beginning to worry about the place I’d brought my 13-year-old. I began to question my parenting ability, but we continued to walk. Have I mentioned how smokey to the strip is? I grew up in California in a time where smoking in public places was beginning to be prohibited, then I moved to Phoenix where it is much the same. Casinos are really smokey and acrid, but the street seems to have just as many smokers. However, I digress. As we are walking down the strip my senses are assaulted over and over again, sight, smell, taste. Perfumes, Cigars, Scantily clad women. This is a culture I wasn’t quite prepared for.
I should have been prepared. I knew what to expect. I’ve seen the movies, Hangover, Indecent Proposal, Casino, Leaving Las Vegas, Vegas Vacation, but still I wasn’t. My goal was lunch now. We were heading towards the Cosmopolitan for a slice of heaven from Secret Pizza. Along the way, there was a display within Ceasars Palace called the Fall of Atlantis. I heard it was a fun show for family and it was only a few minutes long. Plus there was a small aquarium nearby. After discovering that anything worth seeing in Vegas takes you through the Casino first, we managed to find Atlantis, the display anyway. Although my feet told me we had just searched for the city itself after having traveled the world.
So far I felt like my plans had been a bust. I was enjoying time with family, but there were no living statues at St. Marks, the Gondolier’s were lacking the desired enthusiasm and I’d seen all kinds of things about the sexualization of the human body I hadn’t wanted my daughter to learn just yet. All in all, I was feeling like a failure. Not to mention it was at this point my body decided we weren’t done with the food poisoning. I made it back from the men’s room in time for the start of the Atlantis show. SPECTACULAR. It was pure good clean fun with animatronics, fire, and water. K loved it and all of our faces beamed with delight.
Feeling extra hungry from the extra calories we’d all burned we started towards the Cosmopolitan. We had a wonderful discussion about the types of fish, there are catfish, dogfish, clownfish, swordfish, seahorses, but there are no bear-fish. I know this because I googled it and searched far and wide for a bear fish. What I found were a few cleverly photoshopped fish heads on bear bodies and this:
However, I again digress. We stopped in front of the Bellagio to watch the water show which my wife absolutely loved. My mother caught video of me dancing with my eyebrows to the bass beat. We all had a good laugh. Remember my mother’s stories about the cards? Well, this is when my wife realized the stories were true. littered at our feet were cards with women and their breasts in full view. Normally, you watch your step, but how can one do that when assaulted by nudity at every turn. So, we kept our heads up. Eventually, we made it to the Cosmopolitan, but by this point, I was beaten. I’d already walked at least 5 city blocks more than I am used to, which is to say 5 city blocks. We took the elevator to the third floor and after some searching we found Secret Pizza, there are no signs or advertisements, just a hall of old album art. We got our pizza and went back to sit down. The food was amazing.
Secret Pizza had been my back up plan, which became the plan when I realized BurGR (Gordon Ramsey’s Burger Joint), had a dress code of Business Casual. I wasn’t about to run around LV in khaki’s and a polo. However, Secret Pizza was great. Still, I wanted to see BurGR so we decided to cross the sky bridge to Planet Hollywood and check it out. While crossing the bridge Spiderman was outdone by a girl in yoga pants who leaped to the top of the window screen? and posed in her best spidey pose. To which spidey said, GET MY CAMERA! Peter Parker to the core I guess. Amidst hoots of “That bitch is cray-cray” and “OMG! The girl is crazy!” we continued on our way.
At this point, I was done. I was tired, my back ached, my feet hurt and I just wanted to sit down for a bit. So we decided we’d take the monorail back to the Venetian. After asking around, we realized it would be more walking to find the monorail than it would be simply just walk back to the hotel. Before long my feet gave out and I opted to take the trolley back. My parents and my daughter decided to walk back. So the wife and I took the trolley. While getting ready to board I heard this:
“You said this bus stops at 8pm!” Came the outraged cry of a large african american woman. Her lips pursed in that I know you didn’t sort of manner.
“No, you asked if it runs every 15 minutes,” the bus driver said in the baritone only a seasoned bus driver can get. “I never said it stopped at 8.”
“Mmmmmhmmm, I know what you said. So does it stop at 8 then?”
“No, it runs every 15 minutes, it never stops.”
“Then how does anyone get off? Does it stop at 8?”
“No, it runs every 15 minutes all the time,” the bus driver said.
“Mmmmmhmmm, I see how it gonna be, I see how it is,” the woman says. Then turns around to see myself and my wife waiting to board, “Oh my! I am so sorry, go right on ahead.” Before exiting the bus, she turned to the driver again, “I see how it is.” The tone was ominous and threatening.
The doors closed behind us and the driver turns to the passengers, “Where did I go wrong in that conversation!?”
A few minutes later we were at the Venetian again. I hobbled my way back to the hotel and we made our way back to St. Mark’s Square. Where I saw Living statues, well I didn’t at first. I walked right past thinking. That is an interesting statue. Very period piece. When my wife calls out to me, “D! That’s one of the living statues!”
I turned and glared at the statue suspiciously when I saw a slight movement of a beckoning hand. My phone was out of my pocket and switched to the camera faster than you could say cheese and I snapped a photo. We made our way back to my family and we all sat down, exhausted. Moments later we were serenated with live italian opera and circus performers. All the things I hoped for when the day began.
The daughter and I had a great conversation about school and iritiating types of people and what we’d like to do to said people when they irritate us. K and I finished with some fresh italian gelato (AMAZEBALLS!) and went back to the garage to find the car. We got lost again. Eventually, we found the direction, but not before I fell down some stairs (like 5 steps worth). Aside from my pride I was intact. Piling into the car we left Las Vegas.
There you have it folks. My first time in Las Vegas, my daughter had a blast and kept laughing about how funny it was that we kept getting lost. I didn’t do everything I planned, but we made the most of what we did get to do. The wife and I are planning our anniversary this year to go and stay in the city, just the two of us and maybe catch one of the shows. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,