Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's RIGHT THERE!

It’s right there! We knew better. We’ve been to Vegas before. We know nothing is ever right there. It looks like it’s right there, but it’s actually in a galaxy far, far away. Okay, so that’s not true either. But saying that it’s right there became the tagline for this trip.

Trina was fortunate enough to go to a conference in the City of Sin for work, so we figured if flights were reasonable, why not fly out and spend a long weekend? Well, that was the first problem; flights were not at all reasonable. Thankfully, my dad had some SkyMiles to spare, so for a $20 processing fee, I was all set for a flight direct from Cincy to Vegas and back.

Poor Trina had to be up around 4 a.m. to get to the Dayton airport, while I got an extra two hours of sleep to fly out of Cincinnati at 9. Of course, I would just so happen to leave my phone, and subsequently my alarm clock, in the living room, and just happened to wake up a half-hour later then I planned to. So in a whirlwind of activity, I got myself together and bolted to the airport. Turns out one person carrying everything on can blaze through security and get to a gate in no time flat. But I was concerned that this was fate suggesting that I tread lightly and not press my luck too hard gambling.

A few hours later, we were on final approach to land at McCarren, and I just didn’t have quite the same rush that I tend to have when landing in Vegas. Maybe it’s because this was going to be a different kind of Vegas experience? It was just the two of us, with no one else to entertain or anyone else’s needs to satisfy. Maybe it was because we were going to be coming back again in about five weeks for my birthday? Or maybe it was the fates telling me again to be very, very careful about where I lay my money down.

I found Trina at the baggage carousel and we made our way to the taxi stand where we were immediately greeted by people packed into lines for cabs like cattle, immediately reminding me why we avoid doing Vegas on the weekends whenever possible. But this weekend was particularly tough as it was the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, hence the exorbitant prices. But with a remarkable level of efficiency, the staff moved people through the line and we found ourselves in a cab on the way to Planet Hollywood. Oh, by the way, not only was it the first weekend of the tournament, it was also Spring Break. No wonder the place was so mobbed.

After getting checked in and freshening up, we made our way down the strip to Mandalay Bay for lunch at the Burger Bar, a staple for all of our Vegas excursions. We were greeted by two prissy little hostesses who thought they were miles more attractive then they actually were, who told us we were looking at a 30-minute wait to be seated. Did I mention that it was 11:30 a.m.? Anyway, we waited, and waited, and waited, and just when we were about to tap out, the called for us. Now, two things to mention about this place; first, I’ve never waited more then about two minutes to be seated. Second, while the food is good, the service is usually pretty slow. Thankfully our waitress hustled her tail off and not only was the food excellent, it was very quick.

We milled around a bit, eventually finding out way back to our hotel, which was impressively equipped to handle the massive influx of both conventioneers, and the may lay of drunken basketball enthusiasts who’s goal in life was to watch as many games as they possibly could, all at one time. But time, travel, and lack of sleep caught up to Trina, and she was ready to cash it in by about 8. Not a problem. I was feeling antsy anyways, so why not capitalize on the opportunity to hit the tables?

After getting the lay of the land, I had a seat at a $10 table with a bunch of guys that were apparently irritated about the day’s upsets in the bracket. They were surly, irritable, didn’t want to talk to anyone, including each other, and just generally bad for table karma. And as soon as the first hand was dealt, the pit boss flips a switch to make the table $15 a hand to all new players. (Get up! Get out of there! Nothing good can come from this!) Six hands, $80 gone, didn’t so much as push a single hand. Screw it. You can’t force these things. Time to call it a night.

There are not many things that are so cool and so cheap to do in Vegas as watch the sunrise. And if you’re from the Eastern Time zone, it’s very easy. Just wake up and crack your blinds. And Saturday morning looking clear and sunny, why not break out the shorts and a polo shirt? Because walking down the strip with massive monolith hotels putting mass between you and sun while casting massive shadows will make you cold! That’s why not. Oh well. Pressing on…

We stopped in Paris to grab some breakfast to go, and kept heading north. The plan was to have a Big Hot Dog (Slots of Fun) and drinks at Parasol Down (Wynn), both Vegas vacation staples. We arrived at the Wynn a bit early and had some time to kill, so we toured the small shops that were opening and stopped in Belts, Bags, and Baubles in the Wynn lobby. What better way to kill time then to try on hats that cost $1200? But where else can you do things like that without people looking at you like you have no business being in the store? Nowhere! That’s where.

his was the first time the “it’s right there” joke started kicking in. We decided to walk through the connecting halls from Wynn to Encore. Now, to look at them from the outside, you’d say they were adjacent. 15 minutes of walking the internal structure of that place would beg to differ. It turned out to be totally worth it though, when we made it to Encore’s casino floor, and for the first time ever, I made my way to a craps table.

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