Jim & Heather's Las Vegas Birthday
"Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest" - Unknown (10,358.28)
Some people stray away from their birthdays or insist it’s something they don’t want to acknowledge, however that is not the case with Jim & Heather!
The fact that they’ve been running around this planet for a collective 109 years, while managing to keep all their fingers and toes is definitely something to celebrate... Vegas style!
Taking advantage of the beautiful weather Jim, Penny, Heather & Elliot set off for the Mirage in Sin City, on Friday morning. Of course Chad & I were much too smart for that, and we booked our tickets on the “fast” lane, via Allegiant Air. Unfortunately, we quickly realized it should probably be called "We Might Get You There Air".
Instead of sunning ourselves by the pool, we spent the first four hours of our vacation sitting in the airport. It was much like a dingy Vegas show, except in Mesa, with a concoction of misfit stars that had hit rock bottom. Most notably, an entire wedding party & guests, some high school looking chicks sporting hangovers, a pack of twenty something’s that looked like they were aching to make danger their middle name, and a redneck that kept telling everyone his funds were nearly gone before getting to Vegas. At first we were a little irritated that the airline didn’t offer drink vouchers or something for our inconvenience, but after an hour of the free show we were thankful there wasn't more fuel for the fire. The show had become a full on party. The crescendo was when they announced our plane was finally ready and someone shouted out "Hookers & Blow!", while the skinny redneck and another much larger guy were threatening to "Throw Down!". If we weren't so concerned they were going to cancel our flight over the whole mess, we would've been laughing out loud. I don't think I've ever witnessed someone literally thrown down a suitcase, to free up his arms, for a fight he was sure to be pummeled in. Most likely it was a cry for help because he was now broke, and should he actually have to go to Vegas he would be sleeping in hallways and be forced to donate plasma to pay for drinks. It wasn't long though before police started nonchalantly filtering in from several different doors. I'm pretty sure they didn't want the paperwork detail on a Friday night, and were just trying to keep a lid on it 'till they could send us up, up and away from their jurisdiction.
On a side note – during our time served in the airport we were receiving love notes from the outside. Nothing worse than being in hell and having your family text pictures of them sunning themselves by the pool, while you wished you were there!
On a higher note – when we finally arrived at the Mirage we were not disappointed. The rooms were beautiful and it seemed everyone had nestled into their corner of the casino. Jim & Elliot were playing poker in a large room of expressionless and serious contenders. And while we're still unclear on how many hands it took him to get there, Elliot won his first hand of poker! After such a long trip it was time to refuel, and we wandered into a greasy spoon type kitchen where we gorged ourselves on the world’s largest hotdogs with a side of regret, before calling it a day.
The next morning Heather & Penny set out to tackle the best of the Las Vegas malls, while Chad, Jim and I spent the day at the pool and Elliot went on a walk-about. I think we all got what we needed that day… two new additions to the family named Luis Vuitton, a ton of sun and good exercise. I’m not sure how much giggling there was shopping or walking, but there was plenty by the pool. With enough sun, even the giggles seemed to have a Minnesota accent as Chad & Jim told stories of the good old days. If someone pulled a belly muscle I wouldn’t have been surprised!
Once the rest of the family rejoined us, we grabbed some food and then went to get ready for the Terry Fader show. I’ve been to Vegas just short of 20 times, but have never been to a show. Well, unless you count Fat Elvis, which was free in some dark little casino bar I went to with my parents and brother. It doesn’t sound all that attractive, but it actually was fantastic. We drank every time we thought we heard the stage groan under his weight. But Terry Fader was a real show, complete with professional photographers eager to snap your picture, and then gouge you for the prints on your way out. Though, I have to admit that the pictures were awesome. A professional photo op, and I chose to bite the side of Chad's face, cause if nothing else Vegas is classy. And the show was amazing! While most people are too shy to sing Happy Birthday in public, he manages to do all the classics with his lips closed! He must be cheating.
Next up on the agenda was craps, the most exciting game in the house! It’s also one of the fastest ways to donate cash. The game was not in my favor that night - but the rest of the table was on fire! Heather was rolling and the table loved it! They always love you when you're winning! We were also joined by another of the Minnesota clan – Ryan & Gary (Gary is Jim's cousin and Ryan is his son). We had dinner and some laughs before we bid our final farewell for the evening and snuck off to the room.
(I would like to take a moment to commend The Mirage for having the Best Pillows Ever! I actually considered smuggling one out in a suitcase and dealing with the repercussions when the bill came. However, after noticing a bottle of water from the mini bar was $8, I was too chicken to see what a bag of feathers could possibly cost.)
The next day Jim, Penny, Heather & Elliot got up early and with our bags made the long drive back to the Valley. With hours to kill before our flight, we sunk into a blackjack table full of Wisconsin & Canada boys out for a solo weekend. For a Sunday morning, or any day for that matter, it was the best game ever! The dealer played most of my hands for me, and Chad & I both walked away even for the weekend. Not losing in Vegas is the equivalent of winning! And it's way more fun when you're winning! But, even better than winning was listening to this group of older guys tell their stories of rocking the town all weekend, and now their ongoing Battle Of The Hangover armed with only water and handfuls of aspirin.
Leaving the table and the city we could feel the lack of sleep piling up on us, and were eager to get home. Of course our good friends at Allegiant Air had other plans us and delayed our flight again. Only an hour this time, but enough time to survey the crowd, realizing it was the same group we flew out with. Well, almost the same group - less perhaps some brain cells and a little dignity.
They are right when they say there’s something for everyone in Las Vegas. Though we found it all in different ways – the common theme was downtime away from the office and responsibilities, and to celebrate life. Time to spend with family, and laugh and create memories that won’t fade. I’ve seen documentaries on the discovery channel where they talk about how the casinos elevate the oxygen levels to keep you awake, and to hopefully keep you spending your money (which isn’t hard!). It makes me think that The Mirage has picked the perfect name for their resort, meaning “An optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions” and I think that’s right on. A weekend where everything felt surreal, where no one wanted it to end... but no one could've survived it if it didn't!
We did leave with one question unanswered: Where will next years’ party be?!