Where did I leave off?
Oh yes, Hubby and I were enjoying a lovely evening with friend Lizzie at "Rock of Ages" and then a quick late supper at "In and Out Burger."
Which brings us to Sunday, the third day of our five day vacation in the dessert and this is when Hubby and I did something very un-Vegas like: We went to church. That's right. We got up early, in that tiny slip of time between when the debauchery of the night before takes a break and the families who want to see the dancing waters at the Bellagio get up and get their kids on the strip before it gets to weird, and we went to church. Most specifically, we went to my cousin's church where my cousin preached a really nice sermon and the computer played the organ.
This is a big deal because back here where we live, most churches have several organists and the idea that there won't be someone on the bench thrashing away at that most evil beast of a musical instrument (yep, I used to play church organ. Great workout, but I could never get it to sound like I knew what I was doing). It was rather refreshing not to have to adjust my singing to a particular organist's sense of rhythm or whatnot.
We spent a really great late morning/early afternoon with Cousin Nate and Kay, his lovely wife and their four kids all of whom are fantastic. (And yes, Nate and Kay, tell the little one that I still have the toy puppy and the note she wrote me.) Many thanks for the hospitality and the great meal! Also, for a significant amount of time spent not hearing slot machines banging away.
After time spent with family, Hubby and I returned to the non stop madcappery that was our Vegas Vaca. We hit the strip again, this time back to Planet Hollywood, to see Paul Zerdin perform. For
those of you who don't recall as far back as last summer or for those of you who don't watch "America's Got Talent" (and why aren't you watching? It's great show! Great family fun! Winner gets a million bucks and show in Vegas!) let me fill you in: Paul Zerdin WON last summer for his ventriloquist act. Yes, I know. Really? Ventriloquism? Yep, it's blow snot through your nose funny.
Especially after a double whiskey sour.
Once again, Sarah ordered a drink that was WAY over her head, this time an old stand by, the whiskey sour. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Something she can handle. Until she's left to order the drinks on her own because she picked up the tickets and got the drinks while Hubby parked the rental car, a task that, in Vegas at 6 Pm is no easy feat. And since she was alone, albeit for less than thirty minutes, she managed to be swayed by a very flirtatious bar tender her convinced her that yes, an extra five dollars for a double whiskey sour WAS a sound investment.
Which is why it's a very good thing we sat pretty far away from the stage. All in all an excellent show, although I have to warn you: If you're a parent looking for good family fun on the Vegas Strip....what are you thinking? No, wait, what I mean is, yes, the guy with the baby puppet was hilarious and wonderful on TV. But that's TV. American TV. Believe it or not, Vegas shows are not TV. They are rarely appropriate for children and even when they sort of are, they aren't. So to the people in the front row with the grad school kids, guys, you paid a really lot of money to have your kids hear that baby puppet say some fairly racy stuff. Don't get all over Paul Zerdin when they take that language back to school in the fall.
One of the things I've wanted to do, all three times I've been to Sin City, is see Fremont Street. It's the downtown area, all lit up, very much like a carnival. The first two times I got there after it closed. Yes, I was much younger then and could stay up past midnight. This time we were determined to see Fremont Street lit up.
My cousins warned us. Lizzie warned us. But really nothing can prepare you for the insanity that is Fremont Street at night. One part carnival, one part strip show, one part noise pollution, one part music festival, The Fremont Street Experience is the answer to those who think the Strip is too corporate. Yikes.
Strip clubs, shops, casinos all open up to this brightly lit noise fest where street performers stand in their premarked circles and perform whatever for tips. And some of the acts are great, like the kid playing the electric violin or the cowboys who painted themselves silver and gold and then stood very still like statues. Others are...less than artistic, but more to the point: Like the girl who was pretty much naked, just standing there. Or the guy holding a cardboard sign that said, "A**h***." Or the little kid dressed as Spider man, just standing there with a cup for tips. Like organized begging. The worst, and this is the one that gets Hubby, was the naked guitar player. Middle aged doughy white guy wearing little else other than his guitar. We had the distinct displeasure walking behind him. Let me just say, some fannies were not meant to be naked.
Fremont Street put me into overload, I'm not going to lie. I was all set to order a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich at this one casino, but you had to go wait in line and the line stretched to the restroom doors. We stood there for about three minutes, or until Captain Jack Sparrow walked out of the men's room bringing with him that overly perfumed smell of urinal cakes and deodorant spray. I can't stand that smell. And I may never be able to watch Pirates of the Caribbean ever again. (And why does every story I tell involve bathrooms? I mean, watch out, we're not done with them in this story!)
Monday was a good day to detox from the nonsense that was Fremont Street. We got up early, had a nice breakfast in the hotel lobby (who had figured out how to heat their scrambled eggs. Sunday morning not so much....cold scrambled instant eggs....no bueno.) and then got in the car with Lizzie as our guide to go hike in the Valley of Fire State Park.
|Lizzie and me before the hike. Don't we look optimistic?|
The first 600 feet or so was sand. Hot sand, red sand, sand that sucked your feet in and filled your shoes and melted your pedicure.
Also, it was no less than 100 degrees out there.
I had my doubts that I was going to make it but I was not about to give up. Lizzie had hiked this trail and Hubby is a machine when it comes to hiking especially since there was a slot canyon on this loop and he LOVES the movie "127 Hours." There was no way he was going to miss making this hike.
The next 600 feet involved walking on rock, which is better than sand, but also the rock was very uneven and set up sort of like steep, uneven stairs.
Also, still 100 degrees out there.
|hubby and me before the hike. Don't we also look optimistic....and|
don't I look especially fluffy? Wear light clothes, he said. So my lightest
weight clothes happen to be my darkest clothes.
It was a choice and I think I made the wrong one.
After my knee started screaming on about the third hard step landing, I knew there was no way I was
going to make it the whole loop and I didn't want to wait any longer because then we'd be at the halfway point and then...well why wouldn't you just do the whole loop?
Lizzie was gracious and walked back with me. Hubby pressed on. We'd made about a quarter of a mile, and it had taken us 20 minutes of hard walking. I know this because I wear a Fitbit and the fitbit doesn't lie. It misses details and forgets to add things from time to time, but it doesn't lie.
It took us longer than that to get back to the car, because now the trail was all up hill. In sand. In hot, red sand. I understand now, why the ancient Israelites railed against God. If I had to walk in that sand for 40 years, I'd be whiny and full of complaints, too.
We saw a couple other groups starting the trail as we reached the car. One group, young guys in T-Mobile shirts, asked us if the trail was hard. US! We laughed and told them it was hard for middle aged fat women. The oldest of the guys, probably all of 30, said he was fat (he was maybe 1 pound overweight, and that's being harsh) and he said, "I'm fat, is it hard for me?"
They finished the route in just under and hour, and that was after leading Hubby down the wrong trail for ten minutes. So, no. Not hard.
Another group was a family with a little girl who was maybe all of 5.
I was not feeling good about myself.
The third group, seriously I'm not making this up, was a BUT GROUP from FRANCE half of whom had CANES!
Lizzie and I sat in the car drinking water and dumping sand out of our shoes and socks. Now, I grew up around the Great Lakes. I know sand. I've never met sand like this. I dumped sand out of my shoes and socks twice before hubby got back. I dumped again at the hotel. Then I put my shoes in a plastic bag when I packed for our return trip. When we got off the plane there was a quarter cup of red sand IN THE BAG. upon washing our socks and clothes from that day, our wash sink in the basement was red and gritty with sand. And when I wore my shoes for a walk the other day I LEFT RED SAND FOOTPRINTS.
What kind of sand are they growing out there? How are you people living with it?
Hubby finished the loop in about an hour twenty. He came in just behind the family with the little girl and minutes behind the T-Mobile guys (Because they'd all taken the wrong turn at some point) but he finished ahead of the bus group from France with the canes.
We attempted another trail that day, but those of you who know the desert know it doesn't get COOLER the closer you get to noon and by the time I'd walked 400 feet of that I was starting to get a little lightheaded. So again, Lizzie was kind and walked me back to the car where we sipped Gatorade and waited for Hubby to figure out that we were not with him. (Cell phone reception is not exactly...existent up there.))
Back at the hotel, we bid a fond farewell to Lizzie. Thank you so much Lizzie, for being such a great hostess!
We hit the pool, mostly because I did NOT repink my hair right before the trip because I was going to be in a pool at some point and didn't want chlorine washing out my hair. So we hit the pool on the last full day in town. It was heavenly. So worth it! Worth the heat and the possible heat stroke and the sand that may never leave my shoes. Floating in that hot sun with the impossibly blue sky over me....worth it!
We went back to the Strip, this time to the Flamingo, for our final show of the trip, Piff the Magic Dragon. I liked the Flamingo. It was far more "Old Vegas" than anything else I'd seen. And, since we were there at 4:30 on a Monday after almost everyone else had left town (okay, after the overwhelming crush of people had left, there were still plenty of people all over the place) it felt far less hectic and crowded. Refreshed from my day in nature, we hit a cantina called Carlos and Charlie's for a "Snack." Out on the deck, it was shady and over looked a little walking garden. A quiet bit of heaven in the midst of the Las Vegas Strip. We shared an order...a mountain...of chicken nachos and a very nice looking waiter named Josex convinced me to have a second blue beverage. (Again with the second adult beverage. What's my deal?) We wandered the shops of the Flamingo and then got in line for our show.
Seating in the cabaret was first come first serve, but we had something called Golden Circle VIP Tickets. What that meant was that we were among the very first to be allowed into the cabaret to pick our seats. Sweet. We knew we didn't want to be front row for this one. If you've see Piff (Second place finisher in America's Got Talent" last summer) you know the front row isn't where you want to be. We sat behind a very nice couple from England who now live in Las Vegas and are driving through all 50 states to see what America is really like. We sat next to a guy from Bangor Maine who knew a lot about Stephen King and Las Vegas. Note, the chairs were super uncomfortable.
Piff was great, very funny, but again, things on TV are not the same in Vegas. In Piff's case, the tickets tell you the show is PG-13, and the Las Vegas brochure doesn't recommend it for anyone under 18. But that didn't stop a pair of grandparents from bringing a 5 year old in there. And Piff adjusted his patter somewhat, but the show is the show. And as for the woman in the second row, JAN, yeah, you totally deserved to get read out by Piff because you're not in your living room, he's not on TV and he AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU could hear your snippy little comments through out the show. So yes, we were laughing AT YOU when Piff called you out.
Thankfully, the lovely lady from England who sat in front of me got called on stage a couple times, and not me. It was a hilarious show, not meant for children, and we had a blast.
The plan after Piff was to head on out to the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign and actually see it. Three times we've been in that town and now make it three times we've just been too tired to find it and take a picture. Guess we'll have to see it next time.
We got up at dawn for the 9 AM flight back. While I got patted down at the Milwaukee airport (well, the very soft spoken lady said, "I'm going to touch you on your leg where that snap is, is that okay?") my pat down at the Vegas airport was quite annoying. I went through the Fat Scan....that thing that scans you and the people looking at it can see all the fat on your body...and the woman on the other side said, "Is there anything in your left pocket?"
I said, "No."
She said, "are you sure?"
Now, I could have said something clever like, "You just saw my scan, you know the only thing in my pockets is my fatty fat fat." But I didn't feel like creating an international incident and I hadn't had my coffee. So I said, "Yes."
"Well, I'm going to pat you down on your left side."
And that she did. I think she owes me dinner now.
We got bagels at Einstein Brothers and iced coffee and then I hit the restroom and realized why the TSA agent thought there might be something in my pockets. It seems my ZIPPER WAS DOWN since probably leaving the hotel and my capris still looked pretty full, even with the open fly. At least I was wearing my new, jaunty underthings.
Once again, we'd neglected to check in 23.5 hours earlier and we were again in seating group C. This time I got "lucky." There was a seat, a middle seat, in the second between an older lady who was already almost asleep and a teen girl who was doing watching a movie on her little dvd player. SCORE!
Nope. Turns out, again, they knew each other, just didn't want to sit next to each other. The older lady wanted to talk...a lot...and the girl, well let's say she was a special needs lass who did not understand airplane take off. She had a MAJOR freak out as we sped up to take off and kept tapping her mother's seat. Which would have been fine except for two things: 1) Mom was wearing Beats Headphones and couldn't hear her daughter's cry for help and 2) Mom was sitting in front of older lady on my right and daughter was next to me on my left. That meant for the entire flight every time daughter needed something from mom, I got an elbow in the shoulder, face, ribs while she tried to rouse mom from Headphone heaven.
Exhausted by the time we landed, Hubby and I got our baggage and headed outside, into the cool and the green and the rainy Milwaukee day, to catch the shuttle to our car. just our luck another exhausted family, parents an a very energetic child, were on that shuttle. For five miles to the car parking place, that kid would NOT SHUT UP. Dad kept yelling at him to sit-down-shut-up-no-one-wants-to-hear-it. Not sure which was more annoying the kid or the dad.
Back home, finally, lulled to sleep by the pitter patter of the rain, we took a four hour nap, watched some TV and then went to bed. I didn't unpack until Friday of this week, and that's when I found the pile of sand in the suitcase.
We're back in our routine now, but now I have dreams of our next trip out to Sin City. And this time, we won't wait 11 years...but we will check in with the airline 23.5 hours ahead of time so we can sit together.