Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

Friday, February 23, 2007

2 a.m. – I just went to bed after being finished packing. Since Jack and I decided to pack together in one big suitcase instead of separate ones (to have less to carry – welcome to “couple-land”), he left the suitcase with me all day while he was at work, but not before emphasizing how important it was that I pack today so he could do it after work. When he got home at about

10:30 and picked up the empty suitcase, he gave me an “I knew you’d do that” look and told my parents he was telling people he expected that all day. Thanks a lot.

4:30 a.m. – My alarm goes off. It’s time to get up and get ready to go to the airport. Thank you, Jack’s bosses for not letting him go last night even though he has to compete this afternoon.

4:32 a.m. – Jack calls? “Are you up?” Yes. And I’m not happy about it.

5 a.m. – We’re in the car on the way to the airport. I’m still not happy about it.

5:45 a.m. – I’m walking through the metal detector and get a “why do you still have your shoes on?” speech from the security guy. Well, maybe it’s because I had 2 hours of sleep. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to make Jack give me “that look” again, or maybe I just want to piss you off.

5:48 a.m. – The liquid Nazi takes my germ-x and gives me a stern talking-to. We want to keep our germs alive at this airport, thank you.

6 a.m. – Grab an Egg McMuffin for breakfast. Little do I know I should have grabbed more.

8:18 a.m. – Our flight is taking off. Jack and I try to sleep as some kids yells “Look at the car! What’s that! Where are we going? What’s that brown thing on the ground? Where are we going?” right behind us for the entire trip. That, my friends, is great birth control.

8:45 a.m. – The flight attendant gives me the whole can of cranapple juice; not just the cup. Life is good.

9:20 a.m. – After a 3 hour flight, we’re finally here. Thanks to the time difference, however, it’s only an hour later. It’s like we get a morning do-over. We catch a shuttle to our amazing pyramid shaped hotel and check out our ginormous amazing room. Never mind that it’s $250 a night and we ended up spending a total of 5 hours in it over the weekend…there’s a 42” plasma screen TV on the wall!

12:30 p.m. – We walk (and get lost several times) to the monorail and take it to the convention center for Jack’s spring national taekwondo tournament.

2 p.m. – Jack competes in forms and sparring. He doesn’t place in either one, but hit the guy with 2 absolutely beautiful twist kicks, one of which was to the face. The judge yells at Jack rudely after a scorekeeping misunderstanding and pisses everyone in the ring off.

3 p.m. – Time for Jack’s weapons competition. He was in the top three for most of the ring, but got bumped at the very end. His form looked great though.

7 p.m. – We’re finally leaving the convention center after Jack’s judging assignment is over. After 13 hours without eating, we’re both feeling pretty light-headed.

8:45 p.m. – After a long walk/trip on the monorail back to our hotel, we decide to eat at the buffet downstairs, figuring it would be mediocre food for a high price, but it was all you can eat, so whatever. Turns out, it had pretty much anything you can imagine and it was all REALLY good - prime rib, shrimp, salmon, chicken, sushi, cheesecake, and the best egg rolls I’ve ever eaten.

9:50 p.m. – Jack, Scott, Christina and I are standing next to a slot machine in the casino when one of the ID Nazis comes over to ID us (they do that when you loiter). Everyone digs for their ID while I, honestly, say “I don’t have mine.” (Why would I bring it when I’m going to be 21 in 2 weeks?) I tell Jack I’ll just go back to the room for a while.

9:54 p.m. – Text message to Jack: “I got lost and found a mall. The pool is closed.”

9:55 p.m. – Text message to Jack: “I think I’m in another hotel now.”

10 p.m. – Text message to Jack: “Found a bookstore. Bought a magazine. Definitely not in our hotel anymore.”

10:08 p.m. – Text message to Jack: “Found a big pyramid. I’m pretty sure it’s our hotel.”

Saturday February 24, 2007

12:30 a.m. – Finally going to bed. It feels like 2:30 a.m. because it is 2:30 a.m. where we came from this morning. We’ve been up for 21 hours.

7:30 a.m. – Alarm goes off. I think, “why is the alarm going off?” and turn the alarm off. I hear Jack get out of his bed and go take a shower. Oh yeah, Jack has to judge today. Sucks to be him. I’m going back to sleep.

10:13 a.m. – I wake up, get dressed and take the “do not disturb” sign off the door that Jack so sweetly hung on the outside this morning for me because he knew that I’d want to sleep in. As I’m taking my time getting ready and watching Fox news, the cleaning lady, Stephanie, comes in to clean. She and I chat for a while.

10:41 a.m. – I’m walking down the strip to see what there is and get prices for all the things Jack and I are thinking about doing and some guy comes up to me and says “They tried to make me stop loving him, but I can’t just turn it off you know? What am I supposed to do?” I punch him in the face and went about my business.

3:15 p.m. – Jack just got back and is very hungry. We go over the options for the night, and decide to look into a half-priced tickets agency about some Blue Man group tickets.

3:45 p.m. – We’re in the food court of the hotel eating a $9 hot dog. Vegas is a lot like Six Flags.

4:45 p.m. – We found the discount tickets place and Blue Man group was on sale for $90 per seat, for the main floor, but they were only vouchers. We still had to go to the Venetian Hotel (where the Blue Man group performs) to get our seats assigned. We ask the guy how far it is down the strip. “Oh, it’s pretty far,” he says. “About 3/4 of a mile.” “That’s not far,” we say. “We can walk that. Besides, we want to see the strip.”

5:30 p.m. – We’re still walking. People are slow and stupid, and like to stop in the middle of the path. Other people are trying to hand us baseball-card-like cards with pictures of naked women on them. We stop at a Starbucks (which is literally on every corner – I think there were about 9 in our hotel alone) and a lady tells Jack that she just (literally) ran into Nicolas Cage outside.

5:45 p.m. – We get to the Venetian hotel and immediately decide that it’s where we want to stay next year. There’s a part of the shopping center that has the sky very realistically painted on the ceiling and a gondola runs through the middle of and around the outside of the building, complete with boat rides and everything.

6 p.m. – We get our tickets, and are assigned the 8th row, center for the 10:30 p.m. performance. SWEET!

6:12 p.m. – We start walking back to the monorail to get back to the MGM Grand, where ESPN Zone is.

6:43 p.m. – We’re on the list for dinner at ESPN zone, and just saw that the Aggies beat Baylor (by not enough) as we head upstairs to play the arcade games. I kick Jack’s butt very badly in air hockey, and he kicks mine very badly in a basketball shooting game (As my sister-in-law once said, “Shane, why didn’t you ever teach her to shoot?” [Mandy shoots the ball again] “Awww look at her!!”)

7:15 p.m. – We get to our table and Jack is in heaven. He wants to live here. With sports tickers running around the entire room, plasma screen TVs with every sporting event that is happening at that moment in every corner of the room, including one wall of a huge screen that is playing the Mavs game right now, plus mini TVs at each booth, he can’t think of anywhere else he’d rather be. The food is even great. “Why don’t we have one of these in Dallas?” Jack wonders, knowing that his patronage alone would be able to keep them in business.

8:45 p.m. – We are practically running back to our hotel to grab our coats before the performance 3 miles down the strip at 10:30. Running after eating that much food was not a good idea. Mandy has a tummy ache.

10:04 p.m. – We made it back to the Venetian in time for the performance. Now we’re admiring the amazing view of the stage from only 3 rows behind the “pancho zone” (the Blue Man group uses water-based paint and other crazy stuff like Jello, twinkies, and capt’n crunch in their performance, it gets a little messy).

10:14 p.m. – The guy behind us describes the show to a woman sitting next to him as “really great if you’re on acid. Want a hit?”

10:18 p.m. – A couple arrives, the woman really pissed off about something. She’s not happy to be here. She sits next to me with her arms folded, scowl on her face from this point forward.

10:43 p.m. – As the three blue men come out into the audience to look for an audience member to bring up on stage during the performance, two go up the aisles while the third hops off the stage right in the middle and climbs over people and chairs. Jack and I lean away from each other and he steps on our arm rest, stopping right between us for a good 30 seconds to a minute, staring at the audience. Yes, I had a blue man butt in my face.

10:55 p.m. – After a really cool performance on some pipes, one of the blue men shoots long, thin rolled up paper out into the audience from a gun thing. It rolls out and lands on all of us in the first half of the auditorium, and we’re covered. The lady next to me erupts in a mad attempt to get the paper off of her. It looks like she’s having a seizure. She’s now less happy about this experience.

11:45 p.m. – They start rolling out white streamer paper from the back of the auditorium and have people pass it forward while still attached to huge rolls all the way across the auditorium. They put the strobe lights on (causing more than a few seizures, I’m sure), and it looks like a huge white wave moving up, down and forward. It was pretty amazing. The paper is passed all the way to the front of the auditorium, and the lady is not happy about the insane amount of tissue paper that’s messing up her hair above her. Very cool ending though.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

12:30 a.m. – After an absolutely incredible show, we’re heading back to the hotel, exhausted. As we pass through the Excalibur’s (the hotel that is connected to ours) casino, however, Jack sees a Texas Hold ‘Em game he wants to try “just for a minute.”

2:30 a.m. – Though it’s fun watching him play and he’s winning, I’m getting tired of standing there. I tell Jack I’m going to the hotel room. He says he’ll stop playing at 3.

3:45 a.m. – I finally decide to just go to bed after having taken a shower and gotten ready for bed.

4:15 a.m. – Jack gets to the hotel room and wakes me up. We set the alarm for 15 minutes later so we could get to the airport in time.

4:30 a.m. – Alarm goes off. I’m not happy about it. We pack everything up and head to the airport.

5:30 a.m. – We’re standing in a mass of people waiting to go through security. Instead of creating 4 lines of people with rope dividers, the Vegas airport hired 5 people to stand there and yell “Make four single file lines!” over and over, interspersed with a few rude things to say to confused people.

6:30 a.m. – Despite having been told that security was a nightmare in Vegas (which it was), we got through fairly quickly (I remembered the shoe thing this time and the DFW lady eliminated the liquids problem) and had a long time to wait around until our flight left at 8:40 a.m. We find a piece of floor and go to sleep. Apparently during this time one of the Masters from Missouri sees Jack on the floor, sleeping, which he later tells Jack while they’re chatting. Jack is a little embarrassed.

7 a.m. – We keep hearing them announce that since 700 flights to and from DFW were cancelled yesterday, they need people to give up their seats for $300 travel vouchers. Jack and I are tempted, but decide it’s probably best to get home since I have to get back to College Station that day on one hour’s sleep.

8:15 a.m. – We board the plane and get settled in. The flight attendant is now asking that 2 people give up their seats for the $300 travel vouchers. Now we’re on the plane, and it’s probably best to just stay on it. Nobody moves.

8:27 a.m. – The flight attendant, desperate to find somebody to give up their seats, now offers a $400 travel voucher. I look at Jack. “We’re doing this,” I tell him. Jack is a little upset by the extra 4 hours of waiting for the next flight, but something clicks in his mind that it’s $100 per hour and all he has to do is sleep on the floor. As we exit the plane, the other passengers clap and cheer for us. I tell them I’m a college student, Jack tells them he has to do what I tell him to.

8:28 a.m. - We get back into the airport and hand the guy our boarding passes, and after a few minutes, he says, “Five people didn’t show up for the flight, so we don’t need your seats after all. You can just get back on the plane.”

8:30 a.m. – After a walk of shame back down the aisle of the plane and some confused looks and questions (I told them we got fired), we’re back in our seats. There goes $800 in travel.

1:20 p.m. – Finally back in Dallas. Jack and I take a “creative” route back to 75 and meet my parents at Spring Creek BBQ, where I trade Jack for the dog. I head back to College Station on 1 hour of sleep (Red Bull really does work, by the way).

My advice –

1) Don’t bother getting a hotel in Vegas. You’re not going to sleep anyway.

2) Be 21 when you go to Vegas, so you can play too. Or get a fake ID.

3) Go to the half-priced ticket places, and make sure you go to the Blue Man group

4) Buffets are God’s gift to hungry people in Vegas.

5) Don’t try to drive back to College Station from Dallas on 11 hours net sleep for a weekend. You won’t like it. If you have to, buy a Red Bull. Your hands will shake when you’re trying to unpack everything later, but you’ll be alive.