When Shane told me that his job was sending him to Las Vegas for a few days for a conference and asked me if I’d like to tag along, I thought…Vegas? I had a fabulous time when I got to tag along during the same conference in San Francisco two years ago, but…Vegas? I was there ten years ago and if memory served me correctly, I really wouldn’t fit in there – I don’t know the first thing about gambling, I don’t own a miniskirt or 6-inch heels, and I don’t think I have the stomach for a prime rib buffet. But far be it from me to turn down the promise of sunshine and poolside cocktails, so I grabbed my highest-SPF sunscreen, unearthed every swimsuit I own from the depths of my dresser, and I was officially on board.
From the moment our taxi dropped us off at the Palazzo, we were both a bit overwhelmed. The scale of everything was so much grander than what we’re used to seeing – hotel lobbies with 50-foot ceilings, huge casino floors packed with slot machines and black jack tables and ladies in tight dresses walking by with trays of cocktails, and hotel corridors that felt like they stretched on forever. Add to that a confusing mix of sensory deprivation and sensory overload – while indoors, you typically don’t have access to daylight or fresh air, but at the same time, your senses are flooded with a myriad of sounds, with flashing lights, conditioned air, and the presence of so many people. It was a lot to take in. But we were bound to make the most of our Nevadan adventure, and so while Shane checked into our room, I ran across the street to the same-day discount ticket booth to see if I could score us seats for a show that evening. I came back with tickets to Le Reve and Shane and I made our way to our beautiful hotel suite – looked like Vegas was going to be A-OK.
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking refuge from the heat inside the gigantic hotel/shopping/restaurant complex that is the Palazzo/Venetian, and then swimming at the luxurious hotel pool.
We grabbed a quick bite before the show and then made our way over to the Wynn for the show. From the moment we walked into the theater, with its brightly patterned tented ceiling and circular rows of seats that surrounded a blue, misty pool, we knew we were in for something special. And Le Reve certainly did not disappoint – stunning costumes, gasp-inducing acrobatics, and surprises around every corner, as people in sea-monster costumes crawled out from the aisles and ladies in sequined costumes were dropped from one hundred feet in the air into the pool below. It was exactly what you would expect from Vegas – flashy, bold, and over-the-top.
We turned in early that night, as I was feeling a little under the weather and wanted to rest up for a day full of sight-seeing and sun-soaking. Unfortunately, I woke up Monday morning feeling achy and feverish, with some kind of flu. I ventured out in the morning in search of a healthy breakfast (which was nowhere to be found) and snapped a few pictures while on the Strip. Somewhere between the canals of the Venetian and the Venus de Milo at Caesars Palace, I really started to wonder at the alternate universe that is Vegas. There’s just so much…faux. Everything is a replica of something else, from the miniature Eiffel Tower to the funky Corinthian columns.
My sore throat and achy bones, along with the rapidly rising temperatures (which topped out at 109 degrees that day – yikes!), soon drove me back to our room, where I contentedly spent most of the afternoon watching TV in our plush and comfy bed, deciding I had just enough energy to head down the pool and stake my claim on one of the lounge chairs in pool for a couple of hours (yes – they put lounge chairs in the really shallow portion of the pool, so you can enjoy the sun while being half-submerged in the water…brilliant!).
We had a nice dinner at Le Cave that night, and once again, I turned in early…In a city known for its nightlife. Did I mention I wasn’t Vegas material?
By Tuesday, I was feeling much better and figured all I needed to get me back to 100% was a fruit smoothie and a couple hours of retail therapy. I spent the morning cruising around Fashion Show Mall with my Jamba Juice in hand, scoring a couple of good deals before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon of poolside lounging. Shane got away from the conference a little early and was able to join me for a swim. I camped out there all afternoon with my book, working on my tan and finally feeling like I was getting on board with the whole Vegas vacation thing. It was a great day – completely relaxing, worry-free, and self-indulgent. Tuesday night was our last night to really live it up, since I had a Wednesday morning flight back to Seattle, and so we headed out in search of lights, luck, and liquor. The Strip is insane at night time – people crowd the sidewalks, spilling out of the casinos and bars, lights and music seem to radiate from every surface.
Determined to take it all in, we walked as far as the Bellagio and caught the famed fountain show. It was indeed impressive – and as a bonus, the spray from the fountains provided some momentary relief from the heat!
From there, we meandered back toward the Palazzo, stopping in a couple of casinos to test our luck. Turns out I am decidedly unlucky. Shane cut me off after a pretty sad streak at the slots, and then I watched him walk away from video blackjack with his shoulders slumped. To his credit, he did make the three dollars I had in my pocket last for nearly half an hour, and he had tripled his money at one point, but apparently he has yet to learn when to quit, and so we both walked away without any of our meager gambling allowance. We found solace at the bar of Table 10, in my glass of wine and Shane’s shot of quality bourbon. And so all was not lost – we’d still enjoyed a fun night out on the town, and I had managed, on my last night in Vegas, to stay up past 10 pm.
The verdict: as much I loved my afternoons by the pool, and as grateful as I am for the chance we had to experience something new, I doubt we’ll head back to Sin City anytime soon. It’s just not our scene. At least, not until I find the courage to replace my Gap sundress with something more like this…