What Happens in Vegas

For those of you that have been to Las Vegas, NV you know as well as I do that “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”.  But why do we find ourselves saying it to our friends and others while on the way to Vegas, while in Vegas, and on the way home from Vegas?
In 1955, the Nevada State Legislature agreed to finance the Clark County Fair and Recreation Board since Las Vegas’ economy has been largely funded by tourism. Since its debut in January 2003, “What happens here, stays here” has been the centerpiece of the authority’s nationwide advertising campaign touting Las Vegas as an adult-oriented vacation getaway.
The seed to fly to Vegas was planted in my head several months back when a buddy of mine mentioned a conference I have been missing out on every year.  As we strolled through Captiva Island, FL (at a Marketing Summit I help plan each year), he proceeded to tell stories as if he were rattling off “One time at band camp…” only with “This one time at Pubcon…”. The stories included the usual fair in Las Vegas such as drinking, gambling, drinking, shows, drinking, and lot’s and lot’s of fun.
I proceeded to mention to my fiancee that we should go to Las Vegas for a conference and while he isn’t a big gambler he does like to drink and enjoys a good topless show as much as the rest of us.  While Rob had never been to Las Vegas, I proceeded to sell it to him more and more by describing the grand scale of the casinos, the various array of entertainment, the freedom to walk around outside with tall jugs of alcoholic drinks in our hands (or even hanging around our necks if we are too intoxicated to hold them) and the diverse attractions.  So naturally he was sold on the idea of going to Las Vegas.
As the trip to Las Vegas for a conference morphed into a trip as an engaged couple, I was contacted by an old high school friend of mine that I have stayed in touch with over the years.  He has lived in Las Vegas for over 10 years and works for a wine distribution company based there. He got me all excited about the contacts he has there and I decided to plan a gathering of all the friends that were attending the conference around the same time. Thus the trip morphed from networking at a conference to a couple’s weekend away to a full fledged combination of catching up with an old friend, networking with industry friends, and enjoying a weekend with my man – which is what Vegas is all about.
As the long weekend approached and the conference details became solidified I planned my trip for the whole week with Rob flying out closer to the weekend leaving me with a couple of days to myself to attend the conference and catch up with Mark (my high school friend).

What Happens in Vegas…

Mark Weidemann, being the large beer loving German and existential wine enthusiast that he is, offered to pick me up from the airport and insisted we go out to drink that very night. Despite my love of having a good time, I tend to not drink much and definitely not as often as I had in my youth. Consequently when I do drink my body isn’t able to handle it as well as it had in my past. When Mark picked me up we immediately drove to one of his local watering holes and I proceeded to enjoy good food and lot’s of beer. Our first stop was Firefly  for Tapas and Sangria.  The Tapas included Spicy Shrimp, Albondigas (spanish meatballs), Croquetas (ham and cheese potato croquettes, like fried mashed or tots), Tetilla cheese fundido, melted w/ toasts, and Pork Empanada! Then it was off to Wasted Space in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for Heiniken and Jaeger and lot’s of dancing, followed by Body English and… (my memory fades me at this point)
The next day I managed to wake up in my own hotel room (thank goodness I wasn’t that far gone) with a bad case of the “stomach flu”.  In other words I was praying to the porcelain gods the remainder of the day as the toilet became my bestest friend.
Mark saved me later that day with tums and Excedrin and off to LAVO for some hair of the dog. LAVO is located in the Venetian Hotel and Casino and has a great Chilled Lobster, Calamari, and tomato and mozzarella flat bread.  The hair of the dog consisted of a Sparkling wine from Colli Eugenei in Italy and a bottle of Morelino di Scansano, and finished off with I Perrezo from Maremma in Tuscany made by Iron Chef Mario Batali’s Biz Partner.
Later that evening we headed to Bouchon (Thomas Keller’s Restaurant, famous for his “The French Laundry” Fine Dining Cult Restaurant in Yountville/Napa Valley, CA). Penn Cove and Snow Cree Oysters in the half shell, fries cooked in duck fat (perfectly crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside) and all paired with Sancerre while Mark enjoyed Spaten Oktoberfest from Munich and Rob had Delirium Tremmens “strong pink elephant beer” from Belgium. As we made our way back to Wasted Space in the Hard Rock Hotel we stopped at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico’s for Scotch along with espresso shots (1part each, espresso, vanilla vodka, and Kaluha) and of course Arturo Fuente Short Story Cigars with the Fuents Family sitting right behind us!

Low Key Vegas

The remainder of the trip left Rob and myself enjoying the cooler weather that is November in Nevada.  We were able to walk around the Las Vegas strip and

test out the slot machines in each elaborate casino along the way while attempting to avoid the Las Vegas card flippers which seemed to be everywhere. On every corner there was a card flipper and on every sidewalk there was a card flipper.  There were even card flippers that were branching off and offering people exclusive access to clubs. The streets were littered with cards from the card flippers handing them to people and those people dropping them as soon as they realized what they were.

Madame Tussauds

During our excursions in and out of the casinos Rob and I managed to visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Las Vegas. In the tradition of Las Vegas this Madame Tussauds was like no other allowing you to stand next to and take pictures of the wax figures.  There are more celebrities at Madame Tussauds than you can shake a fist at and some so real it makes you do a double take (I swear Johnny Depp was staring at me with longing eyes). I even saw Gord Hotchkiss while there (Or was it Indiana Jones?).  Madame Tussauds is a definite must when visiting Las Vegas.

Last Night at the Mariott

Our flight was booked for Sunday morning at 7:00 am, so despite the inviting crowds there for the Pacquiao-Cotto fight Saturday night we managed to keep it low key with a late dinner and an early evening in our gorgeous room at the Grand Chateau. Located just off of the strip, the Grand Chateau Marriott offers not only easy access to the Las Vegas strip but the accommodations are unmatched with full kitchens and a mini market so you can prepare your own food saving you money in the long run. The rates are extremely reasonable and if you don’t mind listening to their spiel about ownership opportunities (which we managed to avoid) you can earn Marriott rewards points (one of the many reasons why I stick with Marriott when traveling).

Making Our Way Home

Our flight was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning at 7:00am (dropping us in Seattle, WA at 10:00am) so that we could get home in plenty of time to get the kids at 7:00pm that evening.  When we arrived, the lady at the desk asked if we were willing to give up our seats as the flight was overbooked.  She had mentioned that usually a flight that early leaves people missing their flights or being asked to stay as they recover from the Saturday night’s excursions, but this time that didn’t seem to be the case.  As we waited for the plane to load the gal at the counter offered us a flight out at 2:00pm that afternoon and a connecting flight that evening out of Bellingham.  With both of us having to get to work the next day and my scrambling to find a babysitter to stay with the kids overnight we were hesitant to take it. As the plane loaded we were offered a connecting flight in Bellingham at 6:20pm and with the babysitter able to watch the kids until 8:30 pm it would get us home just in time.
We grabbed our $300 vouchers and our new tickets and watched our flight leave without us.  We managed to find a restaurant in the airport that served breakfast and grabbed coffee from Starbucks. While wandering the airport looking for said breakfast I spotted a spa in which people were getting massages and manicures.  I stopped in there on the way back to our gate and inquired about their services. XpresSpa offers everything from a basic foot massage (much needed after all that walking in heels in Vegas) to a 60 minute full body massage and even waxing and facials.  I chose to get a manicure and pedicure with the foot massage included. It lasted just one hour and all the while I got to enjoy the Massage Lounger. I not only got a refresh on my nails but even got a little catnap in as we waited for our flight.

Alaska Airlines Flight Delayed

Our flight for 2:00pm arrived but there seemed to be some issues as they posted that it was delayed slightly.  As 2:30 pm rolled on by the announcement came on the intercom “There is some damage to the flight and they are working to repair it.  We will know more by 3:00pm.  Thank you for your patience.” It was fine by me since I purchased a movie rental on iTunes for the flight and it was still downloading. As 3:00 pm rolled around the gal got on the intercom again,”The plane is still being worked on and it looks like we will have to get a replacement plane so this flight will be leaving at 6:00pm.” I promptly tweeted how much Alaska Airlines Sucked – “looks like I’m not getting home until tomorrow #stuckinvegas @alaskaair sucks”
With our connecting flight (2 hours away) was supposed to leave at 6:20pm it looked like we were staying overnight in Bellingham.  Rob had started gwtting vouchers for a hotel in Bellingham from the gal at the counter and I proceeded to make arrangements for the kids since I was stuck. Luckily the flight leaving the next day was at 5:00am which would get us home in time to get to work. The babysitter was able to stay the night with the kids, but was unable to watch them from 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm.  I proceeded to scramble and find someone to fill in during those times.  Luckily, my children are older so leaving them wouldn’t be a problem, but it is always nice to have someone there to watch them in case they try to kill each other.
I managed to kill some time playing on my computer on the floor of the terminal while my iTunes movie rentals downloaded (taking way too long) and taking pics of Rob and myself for DailyBooth.  As 4:00pm rolled around the announcement came over the intercom, “Ladies and Gentlemen it looks like we have fixed the plane and are cleared for takeoff.  We will begin boarding momentarily.” The Gal at the counter said to Rob that they would hold our connecting flight for us and asked for the hotel vouchers back.  As he gave them back she gave him new tickets again.
So on the plane we went…
While on the plane we proceeded to wait as people that had gone to the bar, the spa, or just grabbing food rolled in closer and closer to the 6:00pm leaving time. I then added to my Vegas Drama feed on Twitlingo with “@twitlingo #vegasdrama passengers of @alaskaair fl 627-2pm told delayed until 6pm then fixed and boarding at 4pm. Still waiting – it’s 4:39″ The response on Twitter from other people was overwhelming as we continued to wait.  (You can see all my tweets at twitter.com/favorites)

Yeah We’ll Hold Your Connecting Flight For You

As we approached 6:00 pm we were able to finally take off when all the passengers were finally on board.  We were still counting on our connecting flight in Bellingham, WA to wait for us and the worry of the trip was gone from our minds as I read and slept and Rob played backgammon on his Google phone.
When we arrived what looked like our connecting flight was sitting on the tarmac waiting for us. We cut through to the gate and waited in line.  I saw our flight number on the board but didn’t see anyone boarding. Eventually I saw one person and then a family, and then another person storm off in anger and disgust. The lady at the counter was getting clearly frustrated as she worked through each person in line.  Finally she announced that there were more people at the main entrance that could help us since the line was so long. So we went up to the main entrance to stand in line. Finally as we approached the gal at the counter said to a group of us that the flight was canceled and that the Bellingham International Airport would be closing for the night.  Our options were to get our connecting flight at 3:45pm the next day or we could get on a shuttle at 2:00 am to Seattle but there was no guarantee that there would be room for us and we would have to walk to the shuttle. No more vouchers for a hotel for us since we gave them back and they weren’t offering them to us.

Driving To Seattle, WA from Bellingham, WA

A couple women in line with us had to get back to Seattle that evening so that they could get to work the next day.  I mentioned renting a car and splitting it (since the miles and one way charges can be expensive) and 3 women said “I” on that plan.  I went to the counter for car rentals expecting it to be highly expensive (I drove from Fort Meyers, FL to Orlando for $500.00). The guy at the counter immediately said “I can get you a full size car for $95.00.” I questioned,”Miles and gas included?  One way?” He said since it is an emergency and it was for only 2 hours he would give us a special flat rate for the trip.  I told Rob and the women we were with immediately pulled out their cash to help pay for the car.

We all piled into the car and began our 2 hour drive to Seattle.
After we got into the car, Rob drove us out of the Bellingham International Airport and I turned around to the 3 ladies in the back and said “Since we have 2 hours to kill let’s all share our craziest Las Vegas stories.”

Tattoo in Armpit

The girls all laughed and while my phone rang with a call from my daughter one of them started to tell her story of how she met up with an old boyfriend on her trip.  As I spoke to my daughter I only caught something about “tattoo in armpit” and immediately said,”OK start over.” When I got off the phone. So she started telling me that she had met up with an old boyfriend while in Vegas and he decided to get a tattoo in his armpit.  We all shrieked with pain while she proceeded to tell us how he was a social outcast that had trouble in crowds. He drank profusely that day and while very intoxicated walked into the tattoo place asking for a tattoo in his armpit.  The gal described it as a “star with a circle around it”.  She was a very soft spoken, very nice lady in her mid 30’s so I’m not sure she quite understood what she was describing. Nor could I see her being with someone that had what she was describing tattooed in their armpit. She proceeded to show us a picture of his arm held up with the tattoo smack dab in the middle of his pit.  Ya sure enough it was a pentagram. I guess you have to be pretty wasted to get through the pain of that one.

That’s Nice But He Can See My Koochie

The gal that sat behind me was ironically just flying from Bellingham to Seattle and hadn’t been to Vegas that weekend. She however had been many times and began to tell of a time she had spent a weekend there with her husband.  They had heard many people talk about how great the pool at the Mandalay Bay Casino was and decided one drunken evening that they would go check it out. Since it was late in the evening (or was it early morning?) as they approached the pool area, they realized that it was closed for the evening. Determined to see the grand pool that everyone was talking about they “figured out” a way in. The area was very dark and quiet as there wasn’t a single soul around.  They found a tall rock “formation” like wall that seemed to surround the area so her husband decided to start climbing.  As he reached the top he yelled back at her “Oh… My… God…” She started to climb up the rock wall in her heels and mini skirt and as she got closer to the top he kept screaming,”Oh… My… God…” While looking for footing for her heels and inching up slowly as her tight skirt wouldn’t allow for her legs to move very far apart she yelled back,”What is it?” he replied again with “Oh… My… God…”.  “What is it?” she screamed back as she saw in the corner of her eye a light flickering coming closer and closer towards her. “Oh… My… God… Honey you have go to see this. They were right” He yelled one last time. As she was about to yell back to him she saw a man standing below her with a flashlight ordering her to come down “That’s nice honey but there’s someone here and he can see my koochie.”

Watch Out for the Flippers

The third gal had a pretty average trip when it comes to Las Vegas.  The typical drinking, gambling and hitting the clubs in the casinos as most people.  While they asked Rob and myself what we did I mentioned my friend Mark that got us into the clubs and the third girl immediately mentioned how she attempted to go to a few of the clubs and then backtracked to how she managed to actually get into those clubs.
As she walked down the Vegas strip the card flippers tapping their cards and passing them to her guy friends behind her back one of them stopped her friends and started to mention that he could get them all into some of the hottest clubs on the strip.  The guy had a name for them and said that all they had to do was go up to the front of the line and mention this person’s name.  So that evening they got all dressed up to go out and started towards the first club.  They mentioned the guys name and as the bouncer looked at a list he didn’t see them on it.  After some arguing they decided to move on to the next club. The next club left them with the same response and so on until finally one of the bouncers called the person they were mentioning and he finally let them in.

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