The Incorrigible Night Owl

August 4, 2004

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, part 1

Day One -- Arrival Day

We left the house on time, o wonder of wonders. The trip to the airport was uneventful, as was the parking of the car, the riding of the shuttle bus and the airport check-in. We had a minor moment of concern when John (Robert's brother) and Randy (friend) hadn't shown up when the plane began boarding. But, as we were walking down the jetway, I looked back over my shoulder and the two of them were just behind us. So our entire group got on with no troubles. Due to United's new operating philosophy ("Hey, we're bankrupt so let's reduce the quality of our customer service even more and see if that helps") we had checked in at a computer check-in terminal (our only option) rather than with a real human being. Since computers do not understand the concept of "The Three-Year-Old Cannot Sit by Herself, Ten Rows Ahead of All the Adults" our seats were scattered around the plane. But we did a bit of maneuvering with some surprisingly compliant fellow passengers (whose primary motivations were probably to get as far away from the infant as possible) and were able to sit together.

John Zachary fell asleep on Robert's lap before we even got airborne, leaving me to actually read the magazines I bought, rather than merely using them as arm extensions to assist in retrieving small items from where they'd been flung under neighboring seats. The layover in Denver went smoothly, as did the second flight, our baggage retrieval and subsequent departure from the Las Vegas airport.

We nabbed a limo to carry us over to the LV Hilton. Now, on the chance that sounds way too hoity-toity, let me point out that we had 6 people in our group. By law, LV cab drivers can only carry five in their vehicles. Plus all our luggage wouldn't have fit in one cab, anyway. So by the time you get two cabs and pay the fare plus tips, it really isn't more than a few dollars extra to just get a limo, put everyone in the one vehicle and have done with it.

We got to our room in the LV Hilton and noted that it seemed pretty darned warm in there even though the a/c was on. Make a note of this fact; it will come up again later. Before we left for dinner Robert called and asked for someone to come take a look at it.

We headed over to Morton's of Chicago for dinner. Yes, you read that right. Morton's. Of. Chicago. With a preschooler. And an infant. Oh yeah, we've become the kind of people other people hate to see coming. But we called first and they said yes, it was okay to bring babies. They even had high chairs. So there.

And, anyway, dinner went fine. I couldn't have been more proud of both kids. Despite a very long day, a very long meal and having little or no naps, they both behaved beautifully. And that's not just a mama overlooking things. John Zachary didn't cry once. Madalyn stayed in her seat and used good manners. It was lovely. Toward the end of the meal Madalyn just couldn't make it any further and provided me with this keepsake shot.

We headed back to the hotel and, subsequently, into Air Conditioner Hell. Our room was still a steamy 80-something degrees upon our return. It was late. I got Madalyn to sleep but John Zachary would not cooperate. He wouldn't stay in the crib. He was trying to sleep on the bed with me but was very restless. Robert returned from downstairs, talking to the manager. They had wanted us to change rooms but he'd declined, thinking the kids would both be asleep. I said I didn't care if they were asleep, call them back and tell them we want the other room. So he did. They promised a bellman would be up in 15 minutes. Over 45 minutes later he finally arrived and we transferred to a different room in another tower. It was 12:30 a.m. by the time we settled in and past 1 before they brought us the crib I'd called for (it had taken three requests to get them to bring the crib we'd left in our first room). So that was the topper on our tiring but otherwise smooth arrival in Vegas.

Day Two -- Star Sightings Day

Morning in Vegas. The day dawns, the temperature soars, the prostitutes stagger home to bed. The J&B family rolled out of bed and headed downstairs to breakfast at the Paradise Cafe, LV Hilton's 24-hour all-purpose eatery. Robert only stayed long enough for a bagel with a schmear before leaving to play in his slot tournament. As he left I glanced across the cafe and saw, a few tables away, Walter Koenig, a.k.a. "Chekov" from Star Trek (the original series). Being slightly less geeky than 75% of the people at the hotel that weekend, I wasn't even remotely tempted to go make contact. I did sit there, chuckling, over the fact that at least half the people there for the convention would probably wet themselves if they were sitting that close to one of THE STARS.

Robert was going to be at the convention all day and John Zachary wanted an early nap, to which I obliged by taking him back up to the room immediately following breakfast. I got the brilliant idea that I would take the kids over after his nap to see Luxor, and that we would take the brand-spankin'-new monorail and save some money doing it. The monorail only has stops on the east side of the Strip, which means the nearest stop to Luxor is at MGM Grand. I figured we'd get off there and walk the rest of the way. After all, Luxor is just across the street from MGM.

I think the heat had already fried my brain because I know, I KNOW there is no such thing as "just across the street" in Vegas. I mean, really. It's more like, "half a mile from the monorail station at the back of the casino to the front of the casino, just across the street, half a mile from the sidewalk to the casino entrance and then another ten minutes to wherever it is inside you want to go." Which I could actually swing if it had been, oh, say, December. But it was 108.Onehundredandfreakingeight. So I wussed out and we caught a cab from MGM to Luxor.

We shopped a little and took some pictures: Madalyn with Anubis, Madalyn with a really huge pharoah, John Zachary trying to climb out of his stroller, which is what he does when you don't fasten the seatbelt. I also bought myself a treat: a pewter sarcophagus featuring Anubis (one of my faves) with a mummy inside.

After another cab ride back to the Hilton (so much for my $5 monorail ticket) we caught up with Robert and decided to have dinner at Andiamo, a fancy-schmancy Italian joint. I got slightly nervous when we got there and they ended up having to run and borrow a high chair from the cafe. But the children ended up being beautifully behaved once again.

As we were walking in I happened to look at a table just behind ours and got quite the shock. I glided over to Robert, leaned down and whispered (and I quote), "Am I smoking crack, or is 'Eegah' eating dinner next to us?" And, by God, I was right. It was Richard Kiel, minus the fur loincloth and club. I fought off the urge to ask him what it was like working with Arch Hall, Jr., and proceeded with the meal.

This was also helicopter ride day. After dinner Madalyn and I got tidied up and left JZ and Robert in the hotel room as we headed back to the Strip (via cab). I was slightly nervous about the flight -- not because I had any qualms about riding in the 'copter -- but because I wasn't positive how Madalyn would react. You can never quite be sure what is going to freak her out. Sometimes she thinks she wants to do something and then she ends up being frightened by it. I was worried we'd get airborne and she would fall apart on me. I needn't have worried. We both enjoyed it very much. All the times I've been to Vegas I've never come close to seeing it from that angle. And I like helicoptering (is that word??) It actually feels like flying, to me. I don't feel like I'm flying in a jet. Hurtling along at unnaturally high speeds packed into a metal tube like sardines? Yes. Flying? Not so much. I guess Madalyn felt somewhat the same way, because, as we landed, she spoke the immortal words that have been uttered by so many children before her: "Can we go again?" I'd sure as heck have loved to, sugar, but at eighty bucks a pop (per person) I think we're going to have to wait till next trip. We paused for a picture with the helicopter before we left.

No cabs will come to the helicopter place so we walked across the street and up to Bally's to catch the monorail back to the hotel. Once back, we stopped in the cafe for a little dessert before turning in for the night.

Continued in the next entry....