My friend Ryan was engaged, and the wedding was to be held in Las Vegas. My 12th-day-of-Christmas “experience” gift to Becky* was to let her tag along, and she was gracious enough to provide Alaska Air buddy passes (which means flying standby, which is always a bit of an adventure). The night before the flight we expected to take, we found out at dinner that there was a flight we could barely catch that would probably have room for us.
We sped off to the airport, ran to the gate… and waited as two full jets took off without us. The third flight to Seattle had room, however, and we arrived around 8pm, just after SEATTLE SNOWMAGEDDON 2011 hit. We hadn’t thought to bring our snow gear.
[* I’ve already posted about my gift; Will’s and Lucy’s will get their own posts.]
Denny’s is always your friend during cold weather. We sprinted the quarter-mile from the Super 8 (the third “hotel” we tried), and they gave us some towels and a huge breakfast sandwich.
This place apparently isn’t supposed to be on the radar. The first cab driver we asked said he didn’t know the place, and the second asked us very intensely how we had heard of it. The place was very friendly, the drinks were cheap, and company was outstanding, and Becky and I nailed our duet.
Also on our Divey Bar Tour was the Stage Door. It’s one block off the strip, behind the Flamingo, and it’s something like a mini-mart with a bar and casino attached. Vegas just isn’t Vegas if you don’t drink a beer on the sidewalk in broad daylight. Of course, we’re snobby and won’t settle for just any beer; this was a 22 of locally-brewed Imperial stout.
The Friday-night “rehearsal dinner” was a cocktail hour (or three) at The Golden Steer, which is a Vegas landmark; Elvis and the Rat Pack had their own tables at this place.
A non-smoking, non-famous rendition of the photo on the wall:
The next morning we made the trek to Fremont Street and old downtown. Unfortunately, Vegas isn’t Mecca for discerning erudite Portland coffee snobs. Starbucks (blech) owns most of the town, and the few independent shops typically sell something called a “chocolate latte.” This place, nestled deep within the Venetian, was one of the least offensive.
After stuffing ourselves with 10-egg omelets and Bloody Marys at the Bachelor Bruncheon (at the Peppermill, which is delicious and classy in much the same way its website is not), we passed Dino’s again. Turns out it’s much more exciting and mysterious in the dark.
We had a groupon for Fremont Street Flightlinez, a zipline ride during which we were sadly unable to take pictures. Here’s a shot of us grinning as we wait for our turn.
Saturday night was the wedding, which was held in the Mandalay Bay chapel. Here’s the adorable couple (congratulations, you two!):
And here’s us at the reception. I’m not sure why they picked such a run-down fleabag to stay in, but I guess there’s no accounting for taste.
Reception Phase II was held upstairs at the Mix Lounge, with a sweeping view of the strip.
Sunday morning, we strolled down the strip following our Winning Strategy: play $2 in penny slots at every casino, and cash out at $4.
Becky turned to me and uttered the three words that kick off most of our adventures: “What if we…”
We embarked on a quest to gamble $2 on penny slots at every casino on the strip. If you haven’t been to Las Vegas, the strip is not a small place.
We made a quick stop to buy tickets to Penn & Teller.
Gambling’s thirsty work. Pictured: a $9, 42-ounce daiquiri.
Along with our Penn & Teller tickets came a discounted buffet at the Rio, which included all-you-can-eat crab legs.
The show ended around 11, and we still had several casinos to hit before we got to Luxor. Can you see the fatigue and strain in our smiles? It is the pain of obstinacy.
The final tally: 8.5 miles walking, 13 hours (with stops for lunch, buffet dinner, and a show). Total gambling losses: $3.
We had left our bags at the bell desk that morning, expecting to pick them up and head straight for the airport. Upon our arrival at 2am, the checkin clerk kindly (wickedly) bumped us up to a slightly nicer room. Not pictured: the bedroom, either bathroom, the foyer, or the kitchen.
The next morning, we tried again to fly home, but no plane would take us, on any route that would end in Portland. After a quick exchange with my boss, I spent much of the day working from the room’s couch and trying not to get lost finding the bathroom.
Becky’s what-if-we for that evening involved renting a dope gangsta pimp ride:
…and hiking through Red Rock Canyon at sunset.
On our way back, we realized that we had nearly 8 hours left until sunrise, so we drove to downtown Vegas for Casino Crawl Part II.
The Fremont/downtown leg of our quest is told thusly: 1.6 miles walked, 4 hours, one hot dog, two donuts, three deep-fried oreos, four sketchy neighborhoods, five minutes of The Fremont Experience, six dollars lost to slot machines (net).
At long last, we caught a flight on Tuesday morning. After a lovely dinner in Salem with Chuck and the kids, we trucked home. Vegas? DONE.