Travels

Birthday Trip to Las Vegas

I didn’t think I’d document my Vegas trip, hence it’s so late in publishing. But then I figured, why not? We had a great time and as a newbie to the area with no expectations, there are some noteworthy things I’d like to comment on.

I booked the room several months before on a random phone survey from Hilton. As I travel a bit for my job, I signed up for all those free perk points with every hotel, car rental place, and airline that made sense. Apparently, I lucked out with the Hiltons Honors program. After a quick survey, I got a promotional offer. Go figure, and I thought it was a scam. Hilton was opening 3 new hotels and once the man on the phone read me the list of locations, I jumped on Vegas. “I’ve never been there, so let’s do that!” Still thought it was a scam, but we talked a bit more about it, and I consented to the promotion. $250 later, I had a $600 a night villa on the middle of the strip booked for February.

I decided to turn it into a girls’ trip. I’m single and lonely and the one thing I didn’t want to be for my birthday was alone. Immediately, I told my best girl friends, E and Julie, about the trip. Unfortunately, Julie had to back out last minute due to a work need, but E and I had a damn good time.

There was only one rule to this trip: fanny packs. It wasn’t an option, that was made clear to me before I boarded the plane. It also turned out to be the single best birthday present I can remember. I’m a massive Avatar the Last Air Bender fan, and E gifted me this beautiful pack with Appas and Momos and it’s just adorable. I followed the rule every day, scout’s honor, probably only because it was such a rad pack.

The first night, I flew in late and would be alone in the room for the night as E was going to fly in early the next morning. I couldn’t convince my body to walk around and catch Pokemon off the strip like my heart wanted. I’d just gotten off a 4.5 hour flight, the longest I’ve ever endured, and lost 2 hours in the meantime due to time zones (thanks, science). Instead, I filled up the Jacuzzi bathtub, fired up the Netflix account, and slowly cooked myself into a dreamy, relaxed, although slightly-red state.

The following days and I caught and hatched plenty as we walked a total of 18 miles the first day alone! Neither of us are the clubbing type, and it was mid-February, so the city was fairly tame. We had a few drinks and did a little gambling because you have to, right? I’m pretty sure those are two of the Unwritten Laws of Vegas. Pretty sure. I lost ten whole dollars and discovered penny slots are not what the name lead me to believe. While I was preparing my speech on false advertisement, E won $10, so I figured it all evened out.

One big thing we wanted to do but weren’t able was dune buggies. I’ve put it on the next-time-we’re-here list, because I’m definitely going back! However, we did get a lot of great experiences packed into just 48 hour. The noteworthy happenings:

Brunch at “The Henry,” in the Cosmopolitan
A little pricey for some French toast, but when in Rome, y’know? The toast was bigger than my hand and I couldn’t finish it all, but good lord it was amazing! The setting is semi-formal, with all these very well to-do posh suit types around juxtaposed to folks like us, wearing t-shirts and fanny packs. That’s the semi-formal, if you get my drift. Surprisingly, for such a rambunctious place, The Henry was low key and allowed for happy conversation. Also, the waiter was adorable and I embarrassed him and my wife by acknowledging the fact aloud. Sue me.

“Vegas! The Show” at The Miracle Mile Theater
Absolute trash. However, if you’re looking for a goofy, $20 show to kill an hour and a half, go for it. The cringe in this show is, well, cringey and prevalent. The performers will only sing B-side material, and they will belt out the notes in order to cover the fact that you’re still wondering if this really is a Frank Sinatra song. No worries, though, you will miss the first three acts if you’re unfortunate enough to sit in the upper ring, as the ushers will continue to allow patrons into the show well after it’s started. That’ll set you up right. E was so mad at me for not clapping during the lulls of the show. “Wow, you’re really salty about this.” I couldn’t find it within me to engage the Southern Politeness Bone, that’s how… unprepared I was for this show. No, I didn’t clap – who claps for poor productions? All this being said: the performers themselves, along with all the background studio folks are not at fault, here. They all tapped and sang and light-qued their hearts out!

“Opium,” at The Cosmopolitan
I’ve never laughed so hard during a live performance in my life. I cried, I screamed, I should’ve drank more but hey. Opium is a variety show set in a spaceship, which the entire audience is a part of. I’m not going to ruin the plot of the show (it exists), but audience participation is key. I didn’t expect such a creative atmosphere – from the kooky cocktails to the rock-hard, sex-driven comedy. Every second was my favorite, and if we’d’ve had time, I would’ve booked a second showing. I am so happy we ended our trip with such an amazing performance.

24-Hour Starbucks-es
Santa got my letter! But… he delivered the goods to the wrong city. Oh, well. It’s the thought that counts, right? Wrong. None of them damn Starbucks-es would honor my birthday freebie from the dang app because they were all “connected to a casino,” “affiliated with a hotel,” or because “please stop screaming, I’m just doing my job.” It’s not that big of a deal, honestly, but a 24-hour Starbucks (let alone ALL OF THEM on the strip) was a magical happening.

Sushi Roku, in Caesar’s Palace
Holy Shit. Now, I’m a big fan of sushi but I’ve never willingly paid for so much sushi in my life. I just… kept eating. The way I figured it, it was my birthday meal, happy new year to me, so go crazy. I gotdanged #TreatYoself moment-ed all up in there. For dessert, I ordered the cheesecake (because cake and icecream). It came to the table inside a ball of cotton candy that they lit on fire. It was a neat presentation that was absolutely delicious. I was breathing real heavy on the way to the Cirque performance afterwards.

Cirque Du Soleil “Mystere,” at Treasure Island
CHOICE performance. Somehow without realizing it, I booked us first row, deadass center seats and the show was breathtaking. Obviously, the costumes, makeup, and feats were amazing, it’s what Cirque is known for. What I wasn’t expecting was the light work, the stage magically moving as it did, and the performers running through and round the audience. Being so close to the stage brought a whole new level to the performance, as E will attest. She’s seen several Cirque performances, but she commented several times about how “that’s the only way to see that show!” During the trapeze and aereal feats, we only had to lay back and take it all in. Absolutely amazing, and I’m so very glad I can now say I’ve seen Cirque Du Soleil live. Sidenote: it took us all day to figure out how to pronounce Miss-steer.

Bubba Gump Shrimp
Because why the heck not. It was a hilarious and adorable opportunity for my gallbladder to show me just how much it hates me. Mid-meal, our server served us up some Forest Gump trivia, and we were pretty good! 5/7 isn’t bad, but we were told there’s no prize, so it was pretty lackluster after that. All the fried seafood you can think of, though I have to say their shrimp selection was not as extensive as Bubba made me believe.

Burlesque Hall of Fame
It’s a super small community-type museum, but that just made the tour that much more intimate. We were able to joke with our guide, met the curator personally, and were able to ask all sorts of questions. The back half of the space is used for dance classes! Even today, they’re upholding some of those risqué traditions, and I find it fabulous. Burlesque, as it turns out, isn’t all strip teases and booby honking. There’s a strong feminist tribe that I’m very glad to’ve learned about: specifically a one Carrie Finnell, a larger woman who was surprisingly successful during the height of Burlesque who upheld that Feminist Manifesto of sorts. It was a side-attraction off the strip, but well worth the $9 Lyft to get over there. I can’t wait to dig into Finnell a little more (I smell a future post brewing).

One thing I’ve learned traveling these last two years is that you can cram so much into a short time. I was supposed to get engaged on this trip, buuuuut sometimes fiancees don’t buy you a ring because they “couldn’t find one good enough,” so you buy your own ring as a commemorative piece from the trip but that’s NOT the engagement ring you’re owed because your partner things it’s too gaudy and dumb-looking to substitute for the engagement ring, but that’s NOT the engagement ring because who tf buys their OWN engagement ring!? So I’m still waiting on my ring. It’s fine; I just bought my own promise ring, y’all.

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