The Vegas One.

Having sufficiently recovered from our weekend in Las Vegas, I feel I’m able to post.

A few months back we planned to meet Brian and Erin and Derek and Michelle (who we met, but didn’t remember from Brian and Erin’s wedding) in Vegas.

Last Friday morning (that’s Friday the 13th, for you superstitious types) we awoke at 2 in the morning CDT to make a 6:00 flight. We had to be at the airport by around 4:30, and in my typical style, I was awake and worrying about what we forgot to pack.

So that was a good start.

Things went up from there, though. The trip to the airport and the flight to Vegas were uneventful, and we got great shots of Lake Mead on the way in:

Lake Mead from the Air

We landed to a balmy 65 degrees or so and made our way to the shuttle. Observing the others in line for the shuttle, I nudged Greg and said, “You know, I bet that’s Derek and Michelle.” 

“Why do you say that,” Greg asked, “because she’s wearing a sweater and therefore must have come from the cold?”

“Well, yeah, that,” I responded, “but also, I don’t know, they just look like they’d be friends to Brian and Erin. Wouldn’t it be funny if I pegged them?”

Sure enough, I had. And they were marvelous!

Anyway. We got to the hotel, checked in, and found we had a bathroom bigger than any we’d ever had, EVER, at home.  The bathroom had a hall. Seriously.

By 1 p.m. Vegas time, we started on the beer — 5 liters of it, to be exact:

5 liters of beer Group at Monte Carlo Brew Pub 2

receipt for the 5 liters

Rejuvenated, we headed to the Strip. And we walked. And walked. And drank more beer and walked. Honestly, Vegas is one of the most overwhelming cities I’ve seen so far, and the debauchery?  Greg and determined Vegas is more depraved than New Orleans, with the possible exception of Mardi Gras. That’s saying something.  Here are more photos, mouse over if you want a description:

The Strip 1 The Strip at Night 1

Hi We've Been Up Since 2 a.m. CDT New York New York Roller Coaster

Sports betting Caesars Palace

Yes, we rode that roller coaster in that photo up there.  Yes, it was fantastic.

The next day dawned and we headed to the casino where Greg filmed this video and I lost a dollar. Undaunted, we met up with everyone and went to the buffet at the Bellagio where we downed champagne, which was barely drinkable until we made mimosas out of it. The buffet itself was terrific, though, and we had a great time putting ourselves into a food coma. Then we went to walk it off.


Eventually we made our way to the Stratosphere at the north end of the Strip, where everyone but me rode the crazy rides up top. I wasn’t looking or feeling my best after little sleep + lots of beer the night before + champagne for breakfast, so I decided to be the official photographer for our Stratosphere trip.

Stratosphere View from the Stratosphere

big shot big shot 2

The north end of the Strip, incidentally, is sort of entertaining for me because it’s still got some of the signs of old Route 66, including this motel sign, the shape of which those who’ve traveled other areas of 66 will recognize:

Old 66 Motel

I love that.

Anyway, we wore out fairly quickly that evening — so after dinner, Greg and I headed back to the hotel. We stopped and ate noodles at a hotel restaurant, then nearly collapsed into bed.

Sunday morning, after shopping at M&M World and the like, we headed back to the north side of the Strip again, where we shopped at one of those touristy souvenir shops that are in every tourist town. You know, the kind where you’re treated like a criminal just by walking in the door, where if you enter with a bag you have to get a number for it, etc., etc. I suppose they have a lot of theft, but honestly I’m not sure who would be desperate enough to steal an “I [heart] Vegas” mug. Maybe that’s just me.

Greg played blackjack at Circus Circus and doubled his stakes:

Doubled His Money

And then we met my friend James for a tour of the desert.  He took us to Bureau of Land Management land north of Vegas, and it was beautiful. I’ve never seen the desert before, and this was really something.  He took us up into the mountains, too, where it got COLD. It was amazing to be in the city where it was 70 degrees, then travel 30 minutes and be in the mountains at 40 degrees.  At least it FELT like 40 degrees.  Then we stopped on the way back down for a really great dinner, at which I had the fried fish I’d been hankering for (I’ve tried to find some around here lately and it’s all been crap until that). I cannot emphasize enough how much we enjoyed seeing James. He is a true friend, a hell of a storyteller, and a fine example of a tour guide. So James, if you’re reading, thanks again!

desert mountains 1 Joshua tree

Joshua tree closeup higher in the desert


even higher in the desert shadowplay

two sisters james

Monday morning we had to leave bright and early to catch our flight out of Vegas, so there was nothing to report there.  But we both decided that we could, in fact, do with another long weekend in Vegas because there is NO WAY we saw anywhere near everything. So we’ll just have to do that.

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