Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Vegas Vacation, Part One

Eugene and I are in Las Vegas this week. He's doing continuing education; I'm on vacation. I have to pay for Internet access at the hotel, so I won't be on much until Saturday. But here's the trip so far:

Day One:

Eugene and I left the apartment at 8:30 a.m. to go to the airport. He’d checked us in over the Internet the day before, so check-in and security were a breeze. The flight itself was pretty uneventful too. I did manage to finish one book and nearly finish another by the time we landed.

I could tell the difference immediately. Even before getting off the plane, it was much warmer. And the bank of slot machines in front of our gate was a bit of a clue too that we were in Las Vegas. When we went outside to catch a cab to the hotel, there were palm trees and other unfamiliar plants.

All of the hotels here on the strip are huge. The whole first floor is dominated by row upon row of slot machines, ranging from penny slots to high-roller ones. Other areas are set aside for blackjack and poker, but I don’t know those games well enough to attempt them. Each hotel also has lots of shops and restaurants, the latter ranging from fast food to gourmet. The smoke wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be, but it’s still noticeable. By the end of my first night, I already had a sore throat.

After we managed to check into our room, Eugene left to sign in for his conference and attend lecture. I took off my long underwear, called my parents, explored the hotel, and relaxed until Eugene returned. We had dinner at one of the buffets in our hotel, then we explored two other hotels connected to ours by walkways. They were pretty similar to ours regarding the gambling, but the theme of each hotel was different. They also had different attractions. We ended up going through a shark reef exhibit in one of the hotels, The gift shop had a big stuffed orca, so we bought him as a friend for Oscar. After having tea at one of the Starbucks, we headed back.

Day Two

We both got up early; Eugene had lectures starting at 8:00, and I couldn’t stay asleep. We had breakfast together at the buffet before splitting up for the morning. I gambled five bucks while waiting for the hair salon to open, but my money was gone in less than five minutes. Video games give me more fun for the buck. When the salon opened, I made an appointment for a manicure in the afternoon. Then I set off to explore some of the other hotels. While the weather was much better than it had been in Chicago, it was still a bit cool for me. It was also overcast with some slight rain.

I stopped briefly in the New York hotel, but I was primarily interested in the Belliago and their fine art exhibit. That hotel had some of the pricier shops I’ve seen so far—not that there’s much point in me buying any clothes or shoes while I’m pregnant. The gallery had a special exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs. I was a little disappointed in not being able to see some of the old masters, but it was still interesting to see the photographs and learn more about Adams. Of course I had to tell Eugene about the exhibit so he can see it for himself. I had some sorbet before walking back to the hotel to meet Eugene for lunch, stopping along the way to pick up bottled water at a drugstore and check out another hotel. By the time I finally found Eugene, I was exhausted from all the walking. We had lunch with two of his godparents and our wedding sponsors; they were also there for the convention.

After my manicure, I relaxed the rest of the afternoon, too tired to explore. Eugene and I took a cab over to the Mirage to see the Beatles show “Love.” We had dinner at that hotel’s buffet. It was good; they had din sum, sushi (which I couldn’t have), and other seafood. My stomach was so tight I couldn’t even finish my salad, though. After dinner, we went straight to the theater and got seated.

“Love” was quite a show. I’d never seen a Cirque du Soleli show before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The theater was divided into quadrants with gauzy translucent curtains. Some of the cast members wandered around before the show started, offering entertainment. The show itself was showcased around the Beatle’s songs. It was vaguely biographical in the beginning, showing Liverpool in the aftermath of WWII and early Beatlemania. The Beatles’ voices could be heard occasionally, and clippings and movies were shown on two sceens. But most of the show was devoted to interpreting the Beatles’ songs. There were some recurring characters, such as a young girl trapped in a window and other woman in a long red dress. My favorite character was a guy who reminded me of Kramer from Seinfeld (which is more unusual because I didn’t watch the show very much). He appeared from time to time with a bouquet of yellow flowers, attempting to offer them to female characters but getting rejected each time. I felt sorry for him.

Some of my favorite parts of the show included “Something,” which featured women on trapezes swinging through the air while a man tried to woo all of them at once, and “Octopus’s Garden.” The costumes for that part of the show made the performers look like jellyfish. “Blackbird” was comical, as a man kept urging a group of four birds to fly. Every time they tried, they crashed. At other times, the show passed over the audience or even came into the audience. During one song, a bed rose into the air, and the sheets from it spread out over the audience. Unfortunately, they stopped a couple of rows shy from our seats; Eugene whispered to me he wanted a partial refund. It’s not a show that can be captured on DVD; there’s just too much going on all at once. Some of the interpretations were a bit abstract; I think it’s the kind of show you’d need to see a couple of times to get all of it. Still, it was great, the kind of thing I know John in particular would have loved.

We had talked about going around a bit more after the show, but while I was waiting in line to purchase a couple of souvenirs, I started to feel sick. We took another cab back to our hotel. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we did, as shortly afterwards I had to make use of a wastebasket. It must have been something I ate; I suspect perhaps it was the shrimp cocktail. The good thing is that it seemed to pass pretty quickly. Still, I crashed very early that night.

Day Three

The morning was similar to the day before, except that I decided to stay in and rest to make sure the baby and I were both OK. It’s always reassuring to feel the baby kicking, though the kicks are still on the “soft” side. I met Eugene for lunch. Afterwards, I walked to the Tropicana to see two of their exhibits. Unfortunately, both of them were closed until further notice. So I went next door to the MGM Grand to see the lions on display. (They’re in a zoo-like exhibit behind glass.) They have two males less than a year old. I watched them for a little while, took a picture, and then walked to the Bellagio. The weather was sunnier today, but it was still a bit cool (for my taste) in the shade. Of course, it still beats Chicago this time of year! I checked out the conservatory, which was decorated for the Chinese New Year, and took some pictures. Then I sat in the lobby and rested for a while, closing my eyes and bobbing my head every few minutes. When I returned to our hotel, I treated myself (and the baby) to ice cream. Then I relaxed in the room until Eugene returned. We plan to go around some more tonight. I think if I go anywhere tomorrow, however, it will be by monorail. This is more walking than I do on the treadmill at home.

That’s all for now. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog again before we get back. I do have pictures, but I’ll upload them later.


Russ said...

I was wondering how your trip was going. Don't you love the slot machines in the airport? I thought that was just hilarious. BTW, the Tropicana is the hotel I stayed in when I was there.

Sheila said...

Wow, you got to see "Love"! I loved your review of it. I'll be seeing it in July, and can't wait!

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