Friday, March 18, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

Daughter and I embarked on our annual Spring Break trip this week.  Instead of Salt Lake City, though, Daughter decided she'd like to see Las Vegas.  She goes there for band trips, but she wanted to see the sights with dear ol' Mom.  Gotta love that!

We headed out on March 13th.  I didn't plan that 13, but it worked out that way.  Daughter is recently into Asian boy bands, so guess what we listened to almost all the way there?  I don't know that I've ever been so happy for an iPod battery to die.  Not that the music is bad.  It's just repetitive after a few hours....

We finally made it to our hotel in Vegas.  Hand the keys to the valet, drag our luggage into the lobby, and...are greeted with the longest check-in line I've ever seen.  Another hour of stand-and-drag, stand-and-drag, and we finally have our room keys in hand!  As I watched the clerk write the room number on the folio, I had to smile.

She assigned us a room on the 13th floor.  No kidding.

A quick look at the Guest Services book, and we found our dinner.  A nice pizzeria in the hotel.  The place was noisy, but smelled good.  All the noise seemed to be coming from this huge table of people celebrating something.  One woman seemed quite far gone and was loudly asking each man at the table (whether or not he had a wife present) if he was a member of the Mile High Club, and if he'd help her gain membership.

One guy seemed to take her up on the offer.  During the negotiations, I heard one of the most unfortunate quotes ever uttered by a man:

"Okay, but you'll have to loofah my stretch marks."


The thing about vacationing with my daughter is that you'd better not plan on doing anything in the mornings.  She sleeps like the dead until mid-day.  The upside is that you save a lot of breakfasts.

So, we ventured out on Monday, looking for lunch.  Bought our three-day pass for the monorail and off we go.

Daughter is loving her French class this year, so naturally we catch the monorail (bless that thing) to the Paris hotel's La Creperie.  Thanks to her proficiency in this class, I actually said things correctly when ordering.  The French woman behind the counter remained unimpressed, as the French generally do.

Let me just say here: Good God, Vegas is expensive!!

$50 later, we'd each had a savory and a sweet crepe.  Her mood improves drastically with food.  The pouty I'm-so-sleepy teenager is replaced with the bubbly personality I know and love so much that crepes are worth $50. For once.

We spend the afternoon cruising the shops on the Strip, until we figure out that we can afford nothing we seen. Well, not if we want to get home.  So, our grand plans of shopping here, there, and everywhere kinda crashed and burned.

Soon, it's time to head to our first scheduled event: The Lion King show at Mandalay Bay. Second row. My daughter LOVES the story of The Lion King.  And let me tell you, if you haven't seen this show, it's a spectacular sight to behold.  The costuming is an amazing combination of costumes and puppeteering. The music is beyond brilliant.

My daughter has this friend at school who is adorable, and adorable with her.  Tall, gangly boy with a through-the-roof GPA.  They are in marching band together.  She can't leave school every day without hugs to and from this friend.  He came over for dinner at Jacob's one night.

"Daughter says they're friends," I explained.  "But I think he really likes her.

So, Jacob watched them as they did their homework at the dining table.  He returned to the kitchen, chuckling.  "You're right. He likes her."

"She's really clear with everyone on the fact that she's not dating until she's 16," I said.  Her birthday is in July.

"I know," Jacob said.  "But he strikes me as the kind of guy who has that marked off on a calendar somewhere."

Flashback to Vegas.  While we're waiting for the Lion King to start, she's texting this friend about the show.  All of a sudden: "Oh my gosh!  His favorite song is the same as mine!"  Dash to the gift shop.  Come back with a Lion King CD for him.

After the show, we're crossing one of the bridges over the Strip.  We see a homeless man with a cardboard sign: "Hungry Hungry Hobo."  A moment later, another man is panhandling on the sidewalk:  "Spare change for marijuana research!"  At lease the guy is honest about how he'll use it.

We found some dinner at The Sugar Factory, where Daughter ordered a dessert that made the neighboring tables gawk. Soda Pop Cotton Candy Crepe.  Toasted marshmallow-filled crepe, topped with (deep breath) ice cream, whipped cream, gummi cola bottle candies, cola cotton candy, Pop Rocks, and sweet and sour cherry syrup.

She was kinda sick after that.

We cruised the Sugar Factory candy store, too.  I got some technicolored Gummi Bears for Jacob.  See, they love those things, to the tune of 10 pounds a month.  Then, I saw it.

It's a 4.25 pound Gummi Bear.  Not a 4.25 pound package of Gummi Bears.  One BIG Gummi Bear.

But at $45, it stayed at the store, and I sent Jacob this picture of it.

After I got home, we talked about it.  How fun would it have been for him to pull this out of his lunchbox at work, at set at it with a knife and fork?

The next day, we decided to do a little sight-seeing.  Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum was a hit and a half with Daughter.  Except for the many moments when I had to explain who people were.  Like Sean Connery, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Maclaine...and Ben Affleck.  That was a sad commentary on a contemporary actor's career....

But we took some great pictures.  Daughter and Will Smith.  And Lady Gaga.  Me and Elvis.  And Johnny Depp.  And Nicholas Cage. Gotta love that.

With time to kill before that night's entertainment, we headed to The Mirage to see Sigfried and Roy's Secret Garden habitat.  Lions, tigers, and dolphins! Oh My!

Sorry...lame joke, but the dork in me couldn't resist!

We were watching the lion habitat.  Daughter was at one end, with a large crowd watching one male lion sleeping, and I was at the other end, watching another male lion sleeping.  Then, my lion got up and started roaring. And roaring.  Dang, he was agitated.  He strolled over to the other lion, roaring the whole way.

He snuggled his head against the other lion and laid down.  The crowd went "Awwww!"

The other lion got up, sniffed his companion, and started humping him.

The crowd silently and awkwardly dispersed....

The Sigfried and Roy habitat.  Go figure.

So, we boarded a tram and went to see Cirque du Soleil.  Again, a brilliant show.  Those performers are unbelievable.  I loved watching Daughter laugh so hard and be so amazed.  Pure magic.  Moments I treasure, watching my little girl.  Who is growing much too fast.

When I booked the show, I didn't get to select our exact seats.  It was "Best Available," so I was kind of holding my breath on what that would mean.  I had to laugh when we picked up the tickets.

Row D. Seat 13.


After the show, we made our way down the Strip, reliving the amazing moments we'd just witnessed and looking for dinner.  We stopped at Serendipity 3, intent on using our coupon for a free frozen hot chocolate.  They seated us outdoors, along the wall that overlooks the sidewalk along the Strip.  Perched above the hedges there, we had a perfect vantage point for people watching.  The breeze was cool and gentle - a perfect evening.

"I'm hungry," Daughter said.  "I think I'll get the steak sandwich."

"That's a 10-ounce steak. Aee you sure?  It also has bacon and three fried eggs on it."

She was sure.

The waiter, Justin, came by with drinks.  When Daughter gave her order, he said, "I hope you're hungry! That thing is huge."

"I am," she said, but he still looked skeptical. But off he went.

We watched the people and the cars.  We enjoyed the evening.  Soon, our food came.  From where I was sitting, I could see it coming.  It was unbelievable.  I mean, my foot-long chili dog was something to behold, but Daughter's sandwich was....gargantuan.  The plate was almost as long as the table.  Justin handed her a steak knife and wished her luck.

In short, I watched her devour the whole stinkin' thing.

When she was halfway done, Justin came to check on us.  "Wow!" he said.  "I didn't think you'd get even that far!  You were hungry!"

Daughter nodded, still chewing.  Off he went again.

A little while later, I saw Justin heading our way again.  Daughter's plate contained a little bit of bread, but she was about to finish that.  She'd cleaned the plate.  I sat back and waited for him to round the corner.

"So, how are my girls doing?" he was saying. Then his eyes lit on Daughter's plate, and he literally took a startled jump back.

He gaped at her.  She smiled coyly, through long curls and big brown eyes.  "I was hungry."  Blink, blink.

"Bull. Shit," he exclaimed, and ran to the wall beside our table.  He looked over and down into the hedges, just sure she'd dumped it over the side.  Nope.

"I've seen grown, manly-men get their asses kicked by that sandwich," he said.  Then, he started applauding.  "Bravo!"

Others in the restaurant clapped, too, but had no idea what they were clapping for.

Then, she shared a frozen hot chocolate with me.

The walk back to the hotel was a little painful.  It's what I call "stupid full."

The following day, we took in the exhibits at the Luxor.  We went to "Bodies" first.  I know, the idea of displays of real human bodies, dried and posed without skin seems macabre.  And it is, if you stop among the exhibits to think that all of these were once people like you and me, with lives, loves, joys, and tears.  But it's also completely astounding to see how your own body really looks inside.  It's jaw-dropping amazing.

Daughter looked at most of it with an artist's eye.  "So, when I sketch a man's arm, I should remember that this is what the muscles do under the skin."  Things like that.

Then, we visited the Titanic Exhibition next door.  This was a somber experience. At the beginning, you're given a card with the name and story of a passenger.  At the end, you find out if your person survived.  Daughter's did.  Mine did not, along with all of her children.

The exhibit itself is unbelievable in their recreations.  They've reconstructed steerage, the promenade deck (with chilly night air, stars, and water), the grand staircase, and a first-class cabin.  The artifacts are amazing, too.  The things that survived a disaster and decades under water....  Completely amazing.

In one room, you can touch a large piece of ice that would have been almost as cold as the iceberg that Titanic struck.  They also have a huge section of the side of the ship that was salvaged.  To stand there and know this is Titanic.... Not a recreation.  Not a movie.  This is the great ship herself.  Gives you goosebumps.

Jacob loves the story of Titanic.  We picked up a replica Third-class cup, with the White Star logo.  He was thrilled with it, when we got home.

The drive home was long, but good.  Weather cooperated, and Daughter was in charge of the music.  I've heard a lot of Korean boy band music lately....  But having time with her like this is so precious to me.  She's getting more independent every day, but still calls me "Mommy."  At the moment, we're happy and building such good memories.


e jerry said...

She could have belched at the waiter. That would have been cute!

All the shows in Vegas are so effing expensive now. Given how ridiculously much CdS is now, I guess Lion King was a good choice.

Somehow I doubt that the lions were doing much sexually with each other, but same-sex dominance behavior looks weird, too. It could have been worse, though; it could have been Siegfried and Roy themselves, and nobody wants to see that.

Ben Affleck isn't an actor, though... [snerk]

I may still know some drag queens who are doing cabaret acts in Vegas, but your kid would have had an even more difficult time with the impersonations there than she would had at Tussaud's...

Walker said...

Man vs Food move over, hungry girl has arrived.
Sounds like you had lots of fun.

We have been thinking over going to Vegas for a weekend to take in the sights.
Not mch into gambling.
A little slots maybe but I am a Mafia buff so I have to see the place Bugsy Siegel started on a dream

Blogget Jones said...

Jerry - a belch would have sent this guy into orbit! He was bowled over by her as it was! The tickets weren't too bad, as I've learned how to find deals and such. It all worked out nicely :o)

Walker - We're not gamblers at all, but there's still a lot of fun stuff to do! And being a mafia buff, I bet you'd find some good historical places, too.

:o) BJ