Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vegas...closing in on 30

The event that compelled me to recount previous Vegas trips is now in the books. We were there, we’re back, it was great, that’s all I got…yeah right.

It was a fine Sunday afternoon the day before we were to leave. The flight was out at 5:30 in the morning, so after cleaning like hell, we were going to take it easy, watch Casino, and eat pizza which is the only acceptable answer to the question “what do you do the day before you go on a Vegas trip?” Apparently, you also get gas in your car. Why? We’ll come back to that. But against my better judgment, I wasn’t going to bed even though it was getting later and later. Oh well…tomorrow’s gonna hurt.

Wow, 3 a.m. already? It was time to rally the troops, at least enough to get them to the car. Just needed a little help. So I’m prancing around the house thinking “Vegas, Vegas, Vegas, Vegas, Vegas” for about 15 minutes before I realized I wasn’t actually thinking it but saying it. Hoping I didn’t wake anyone, I reconsidered. Hell with them. Time to get up. Trina was rousing, Josh was dead to the world, and Sarah, our Vegas Virgin, was actually getting herself together. I was a little worried about Sarah. Don’t get me wrong; she’s good people, way easy going, and a lot of fun. But she’s a hair stylist, and stylists have a habit of taking roughly six months to get ready for anything.

We’re up, we’re going, it’s 3:37, and we’re blazing a trail up 75 to the scenic Dayton airport. If you’ve never been there, here’s the summary; it’s small, cheap, and there really isn’t anything around it. We’re running a little behind, when my gas light comes on. Bloody hell, we’re almost there. We can make it. Press on! Easy to say now. In 4 days when we come home, I hope this thing starts. (Fill your tank stupid)

Hmm…5:30, bad weather, and we’re not boarding yet. 5:35, nothing. 5:45, nada. And now I’m getting anxious. I’m a bit of a planner, and we have a connection to make in Charlotte to get to Vegas (Yes, Charlotte. We drove north to fly southeast to end up going west. I’m aware of the irony). At nearly 6, we were finally on board, and getting out of dodge. By the way, flying just above and parallel to a nasty thunderstorm in a dark sky is a different experience. How close was that lightning bolt to the wing again?

We land in Charlotte after flying through the thunderstorm still alive, and run like hell through four terminals to make our next flight which is boarding. No time for breakfast. Oh well. Made the flight, made the connection, lived through the storm. This trip is a win already, with one tiny snag. US Airways does not offer in-flight movies. On a four-hour flight, that sucks.

Upon landing, we had already been up and going for about seven hours, but it was only just about 9 a.m. in Vegas. Perfect. And why do we carry everything on? Because you can skip the quagmire that is baggage claim at McCarren airport and go straight to the cabs. We load up and tell the nice man “Harrah’s please”. To this he responds, “Yes, please to want the quick way or slow way?” For real? Oh, okay. “Yes, I would like to take the longest route possible. Matter of fact if you could run us by scenic downtown Vegas, that would be great too. And I’d like to pay you about, say, $150? Sure. Thanks for not screwing me big time.” The quick way you idiot! Who the hell asks for the long way? Rookies, that’s who.

Finally, we arrive at Harrah’s. And we’re starving. Like, about to decide which person to kill for food, starving. So we get changed and start walking. For some reason, Trina and I got it in our heads to go to the Burger Bar. That’s in Mandalay Bay. That’s about a 20-minute walk if you’re hustling. In the meantime, we’re all getting hungrier, not thinking straight, and it was just a really bad use of time. Oh well. The food was outstanding.

While we were there, we ran across Sarah’s sister who was on her way out as we were coming in. This girl and her friend could be a blog entry unto themselves. I just can’t even open that can of worms. I’ll go on for days. No, seriously…days.

Now that we were fed, it was time to head back, and do whatever grabbed us. To gamble, or not to gamble. Actually, not to gamble won out, and we found ourselves at the pool. Only one problem; they won’t let you bring in your own drinks, and the drinks at the pool start at $12 a pop. Bottle service? Sure. That’ll be $150 for a bottle of Malibu Rum. Yeah, the same stuff that you can get in any liquor store and most grocery stores for $21.95. Son, you’re outta your tree. That was, until we discovered the bucket-o-beer, Corona style. It was some reasonable about of money for a significant amount of beer. That’s about all I remember of that process.

Time to gamble. Ah crap, it’s the last day of a holiday weekend. Oh well, let’s see what there is to see? We ate simply that night, just having Subway, and started making our way from casino to casino looking for a cheap table. Buffalo Bill’s Gambling Hall was happy to oblige. $5 a hand, single deck Blackjack makes Jack a happy boy, at least for a little bit. But the more I play, the more I realize that a single deck game isn’t quite as great as people think, and here’s why. First, people think that one deck means it is easier to count cards. That’s a fair statement, but in order to count cards, you have to be able to see the denomination, duh. In a single deck game when the player can handle the cards, you don’t see the denomination until the very end, and then, only for a split second. Better count fast. Second, because the cards are face down, it really makes a double down a questionable move. Personally, I want to see what the person to my right just hit for, and single deck takes the term double down very literally. Finally, if the table has a lot of people at it, counting is totally worthless even if you can see every card because they shuffle after every single hand.

Josh and I were both up a little for the night, when it became apparent that the drink girl wasn’t coming back around our table anymore. Come on man! I’m trying to capitalize on what this town has to offer. Time to go somewhere else. That place happened to be O’Shea’s where Josh was introduced to the game of Blackjack in all it’s form and splendor four years prior. The problem here seemed to be rookie dealers. Hey, you deal slow, that’s cool. You don’t count fast? Fine. But when you keep accidentally pulling more then one card out of the shoe, you’re not sure who should get which card, the cards get move arbitrarily, and all of a sudden the dealer can’t lose a hand, that’s just no good. They were everywhere that night, and kept taking our money. Retreat today, fight tomorrow.

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