Trip Report: Las Vegas, June 8 – 12, Part 3

Friday

I can’t help that I wake up so early in the morning. Back home, I am usually at work by 4AM. Friday morning I woke up at 430 and had to force myself to lie in bed until the gym opened at 6AM. I was impressed with the Luxor gym. I guess that’s why they charge $17 in resort fees. After a good workout with the weights, I decided to get my cardio on by walking to Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. I know a lot of people are not really into walking but at 8AM, the weather is still quite comfortable and walking is a good way to burn off all those empty liquor calories.

I mentioned yesterday how interesting Vegas is in the early morning hours. Nobody is out at that time except service personnel cleaning up evidence of last night’s debauchery. Sometimes you’ll see a few stragglers on the Walk of Shame. There were a couple of hookers coming off duty, or whatever they call it. I even saw a man in a wedding dress. Does Nevada permit same sex marriages? I thought about this as this man passed me in full bridal regalia. He had on a dress to rival Kate Middleton’s, with a veil and a bouquet. Wonder where he was coming from, or where he was going.

Today I had to switch hotels. I was only able to snag a decent rate at the Luxor during the week. The weekend rate was outrageous. So here is the reason I don’t gamble. I went on Priceline to bid for a hotel room within my price range. I used Betterbidding.com to see what other people had won. All these people had gotten Treasure Island for $60, even on the weekend. I took a chance and ended up with the Riviera. I was very disappointed. It’s an older property and so far away from where I wanted to be. Nothing I could do.

I packed up and headed to breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi’s, which was quite sumptuous. There was not a long wait for a table outdoors. At that hour, the weather is very agreeable so don’t be shy about an outdoor table. Man, do they serve up a hearty breakfast, French style. The French are really known for their light continental breakfasts: croissants and jam, but I treated myself to a spinach omelet and what Gabi calls skinny pancakes, or crepes. I had lemon, and it was quite a lot, in addition to a cappuccino. I sat out there quite a long time, and I didn’t feel rushed. You know some restaurants try to turn over prime seats very quickly. They practically throw the food out on the table and hurry up with the check. Not so at Mon Ami Gabi. I was there an hour and was not once harassed. The server didn’t even bring the check until I asked for it.

I crossed the street to take the bus back to Luxor. It was getting warmer by the minute and the sun was beaming down on me. So here’s a tip. If you’re not used to the warm weather and all the walking, make sure you have sunblock, some water and a hat. Use the hotel walkways as much as possible and try to stay out of the heat during the prime part of the day, and for the love of God, lay off the alcohol when it’s hot out. There was an Australian woman passed out at the bus stop. I got my camera ready in case she was dead, but she was only just passed out (I promise I do not have a fixation with dead people, and I would not really take a picture of a dead person.) I know it’s winter in Australia right now, but I was always under the impression that Australian summers are pretty brutal. I thought they’d be used to the heat. Or maybe she was just drunk. Nothing of interest at this scene, so I moved on.

So, I was a little bit confused about the bus system. Last time I was in Vegas, in 2006, I could have sworn it was only $2. Or maybe it wasn’t. Who knows? There are machines at many bus stops where you can buy passes. I didn’t know how to operate the machine so a kind local helped me out. Only she didn’t speak any English. She rattled off some instructions in Spanish. I took six years of Spanish, and I still do not feel comfortable conducting business in the language. When it comes to your bank card, you probably shouldn’t make a transaction in another language you don’t know well. There could be surprises later on. The woman was smiling and nodding and just going off in Español and I was like, “Que? Por favor? Taco?” She was actually saying “toque,” which means touch. She was trying to tell me which buttons to press on the machine. I bought a 24 hour bus pass (I hope). I did go back and look at my bank statements to make sure I hadn’t laundered any money to a foreign bank account in Columbia (not that you can do that at a bus pass machine, but still…).

While waiting for the bus I saw three more Elvises. I saw a black Elvis with plastic hair and twin Elvises going to the Bellagio. So here’s a drinking game. Every time you see an Elvis your friends have to get a shot at the nearest bar. Whoever passes out last wins the game.

I went back to Luxor to gather up my luggage and I got snagged by the timeshare people. Before you start groaning, I have to tell you that I like the timeshare people. I have done two other trips (not to Vegas) on time share presentations. I don’t give a crap what these people are trying to sell me. I wouldn’t buy a space suit if I was on the moon. I am that cheap. You can say anything you want. You can even have Jesus come down. I am not buying. But I will take a free hotel room, free drinks, and some free pretzels and whatever else you got to give. This particular timeshare is for Grand Vacations (or whatever). They gave me 4 nights’ stay at Luxor, $125 show and gift certificate and a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas if I promised to give them some of my friends’ email addresses and listen to their 2 hour blurb. Why not?

A quick cab ride over to Riviera and then I stood in their horrifically long check-in. It was about a 2 hour wait (too bad I couldn’t do my timeshare presentation thing right then and there). I started to just dump the bags at the bell desk but the hop told me the line would get even worse. Great. The room at the Riviera wasn’t terrible exactly, but because I’d been at the Luxor the room just didn’t have that…. oomph to it. The room was bigger but the bathtub was utterly filthy. That thing looked like the tarmac at JFK. The housekeeper was in the hallway and I asked her to clean it up and she said “the black stuff won’t come off. I’ll scrub it for you so you can see, but it’s not going anywhere.” Nice. The casino smells bad. The place is just so outdated. Even I were a gambler, I wouldn’t be prompted to gamble in such a place. It might have worked for Sister Act but it failed for me.

I met up with my friends later that afternoon and we passed the hours drinking and gambling. Correction, they were drinking and gambling. I was watching. I have a hard time having a drink while the sun is still up. I know I’m a loser. Around 500PM we headed down to the Bellagio buffet.

I am very disappointed. It was nowhere near as good as when we came back in 2006. Most of the food was bland and flavourless. The selection did not seem as grandiose as that last time when we stuffed ourselves so terribly we had a vomit fest in the parking lot at Caesar’s. Seriously. Back in 2006, we were young privates on a four day pass from Fort Huachuca, AZ. We went to the Bellagio and ate about 10 pounds worth of food then tried to run (RUN!) over to Caesar’s before some gift shop closed. We made it, only after we vomited profusely in the valet parking at Caesar’s.

Becky (my military friend) and I decided that Bellagio had slipped. We were disappointed but we had not starved to death so really it’s no harm, no foul. After the buffet, we went over to the theatre because we had tickets to “O,” a Cirque du Soleil show. I am in love with the Cirque shows. I’ve seen Ka, Mystere, Zumanity, and Wintuk (in NYC). I hadn’t seen “O” because it is the pricier one that never really offers any discounts. Even though my money was tight, I decided to just go for it. You only live once, right?

It was a great decision because O is now my favourite Cirque show. It is really awesome. The stunts these people perform are simply amazing. I now want to run away and join the circus. That’s how inspired I was.

But before I could enjoy the show, I got into a tussle with the woman beside me. Becky and I didn’t have seats together. Her company had some discounted tickets for seats in the front row. I was in the front row of the balcony. I sat next to a group of women who were sharing a tub of popcorn. I absolutely ABHOR the smell of popcorn. Right before the show started, the woman had to go to the bathroom. She stood up and said, “Excuse me,” but when she said it, she also grabbed my arm and pretty much moved me out of her way. I was in the process of moving so I don’t know what her impatience was. I told her that she didn’t have to put her hands on me. She went to the bathroom and came back and proceeded to make some really nasty comments to her friends. And then we got into an argument. There was quite a bit of “rude b****” and “f*** you,” and “No, f*** YOU” and “greasy popcorn hands” and “don’t get b****-slapped” before the usher came over, looking concerned but luckily the house lights went dark and the show started. After the show as over, I quickly got up and walked away.

I don’t usually have problems like these when I travel and I am disappointed that I allowed myself to be sucked into that mess. It’s very unlikely me. I’m passive aggressive and prefer to give them the death stare. Most people who travel are well-behaved, because they’ve been around and seen things and done things. But there’s always that one.

After the show, all four of us met back up to hang out at one of the outdoor bars at Caesar’s. Tam and Rey had been drinking and Becky wanted to join in on the fun. I relayed to them the story about a drunk college kid I met in the elevator earlier that day. He told me that the light from the Luxor could be seen on the moon. When I asked him how he knew this he told me he had been there before. Randomly, we googled it on our iPhones and turns out you can read a newspaper 10 miles in space by the light, which is claimed to be the brightest in the world. Who knew?

We were seated next to what we thought was a charming couple and their toddler. Now, it’s about 11PM. I know there is a HUGE debate about children in Vegas, which I don’t really want to get into. I don’t have children, neither do Tam and Rey but Becky does. We all agreed that a 3 year old should be home in bed, not wheeling around in a wagon in a bar at Caesar’s Palace.

The little boy with a mohawk was absolutely adorable and way too friendly for my tastes. When we sat down, he came up to us and said, “See the moon!” He was just too cute, so we played with him for a little while. Where are the parents? The mother was at the table next to us, but the father (who was wearing a kilt, and there’s nothing wrong with a kilt, except he looked like he was from Oklahoma and not Scotland) was walking around in a circle with a beer in his hand. The mother did not mind that her son was running up to people, “See the moon?” It just wasn’t safe and after awhile I got nervous for the kid. He was not within arm’s distance of his parents. He was not within shouting distance. He was just too far away. If some weirdo snatched him, the parents wouldn’t be able to react in time.

So what happens? No, the kid didn’t get snatched, thank God, but the mother comes running over and snatches up her son and then runs over the police. At first I thought she was reporting us. We had beers on the table and we were cussing up a storm. Maybe she got offended? Nope. Turns out she claimed to have seen a ChiMo staring too hard at her son. She came back to explain what she had seen. Apparently some unsavoury individual was lurking in the shadows, giving her son <I>that look</i>.

That is when I realised that she was some kind of drug addict, probably a meth head. I see them all the time up in Baltimore and I can usually spot them rather easily. There was indeed a nasty looking man in the area but that is why 3 year olds should be in the safety and comfort of their own homes, not at the bar. The police did detain this man and it turns out he did have a sex offender record, according to the meth head woman. She said the police told her but now looking back, I wonder about that. She said he had been staring at her kid for “three and one hour.” Her words not mine, but I thought it would have been easier if she had just said four hours. He was chased away from the property by the police, but then the mother started making threats about how she was going to stab him with her .32. I was always under the impression that a .32 was a type of gun, not a knife, but what do I know? I am only a part-time gun enthusiast.

The mother was extremely agitated and she had that scratchy thing going on that meth heads do. The father was still walking around in a circle. It all became very bizarre. I see why people prefer to be drunk in Vegas. You kinda have to be in order to cope with all this nonsense. Around 2AM, I took my leave of the whole scene. Becky and Co. went to gamble and I went to bed.

Tomorrow: OMG cookie, Fleet Week Vegas Style, and the naughty man in the elevator.

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