We were in Seattle last month when Daughter K called and asked if we would meet her in Las Vegas on June 20. She and a couple of friends decided on a whim to spend a weekend in Vegas, the first time for each of them. The price was right—only $300 for round trip plane tickets and two nights at Circus Circus. Since we live 5 hours from Vegas, and since from my previous post you all know how much I LOVE Las Vegas, we decided to drive down and meet her there. It had been two years since we had seen her.
The first time I went to Vegas, back when my boss embarrassed me by offering to pay me to go, was a little more pleasant than I had anticipated. The highlights were the Bellagio fountains at night, the Bellagio buffet at dinner, the food at the Hard Rock Hotel restaurant, attending CTIA, and the rockin’ Cellular One training sessions. The downsides were my hair reeking like cigarette smoke, the glassy-eyed elderly women sitting in a state of oblivion at the slot machines, and the bullet holes in my hotel elevator door.
I realized after this new trip, that I have a love/hate relationship with Las Vegas. How could anyone step on to Venetian property and not be mesmerized? The splendid architecture, the gondolas slicing through the pristine blue water, the exquisite sculptures and the ambience of Venice are a sensual feast. Most of the more recent hotels are architectural wonders and are astoundingly beautiful. Walking past them or through them is enough to keep a sightseer busy for days. I found myself wishing that every city had the means to create places where people just enjoyed being. Places where you felt like you had been transported to an art museum or a lush botanical garden.
Las Vegas definitely has it disadvantages too. Most of them though are probably my fault. I don’t smoke, drink, gamble or get enticed by porn. Vegas is a haven for people who enjoy those activities. I’m too old. Or too dull. Or too something.
My husband, having been a Vegasite before I met him, remembers a day when food was good and cheap in Las Vegas. The logic back then was that if people didn’t have to spend so much money on food, they would spend more money on gambling, right? Breakfast and lunch buffets could both be had for under $5. Methinks those days are gone.
Our entourage, consisting of Hubby, Jere, Daughter M and her two boys, and me, met Daughter K and her friends at the Treasure Island lunch buffet. The understanding was that it was $14. The daughters convinced us to splurge since we were on the strip and this was probably the cheapest we could eat. We thought $14 was a lot (remember, I quit work to be a SAHM so we are ultra frugal) but agreed to eat there. The daughters went in ahead of us to save a place, while Hubby, Jere and I sought restrooms. [Vegas psychology: don’t have bathrooms inside the restaurant. That way people have to walk through the tantalizing casino first.]
After the restroom, we got in line to pay our $14. Hubby’s jaw dropped when the total came to $60 for the three of us! Oh, just kidding, the $14 is only for weekdays! On Saturdays, the lunch is $23. Since the daughters were already inside eating, we forked over almost our entire Vegas stash. Gulp.
The food was average, I would say. My pizza was cold and they forgot to put the chicken in my orange chicken (but boy, was that breading good!) We tried to slam down $23 worth of food, and force $12 worth of food down Jere’s throat in the hopes that we would never be hungry again, but we were realists. If we planned on walking the streets of Vegas where each block is really four blocks, we would have to restrain the over-stuffing. [If you have never been to Vegas and someone tells you something is only a block away, don’t you believe them! It’s really half a mile.]
Exiting the TI buffet, I noticed on their wall menu, that the reason the buffet is $23 on Saturday is that it comes with free champagne. Since Hubby, daughter M, and I don’t drink, I jokingly said, “Oh that’s the problem! We forgot to get our free champagne.” We kept walking and laughing, but Daughter K was about to take matters into her own hands. She left our group and marched her little self right back to Treasure Island.
We stood at a distance while she informed the management that since no one at any point offered us any champagne, she either wanted a champagne-to-go for every member of our party, or else she wanted a refund so we would all only have to pay $14. The next thing we knew, K was poking her head out of the restaurant asking, “Who all wants champagne?” Her friends accepted, but the rest of us declined. We would have rather had a refund, but it really wasn’t the restaurant’s fault we didn’t read the wall menu first.
Daughter K [middle] and the Great Las Vegas Champagne Score
My three kids each came away with different reactions to Vegas.
10-year old Jere: “Why do they have all this stuff on the ground? Can’t you just take me home NOW?” [We had to walk in an enclosed boardwalk for six blocks that was carpeted with discarded “advertisements.”]
25-year-old Daughter M: “I just want to go home and not have to drag a 5 year-old and an infant around. I’m tired”
22 year-old Daughter K: “Yahoo! Par-tay!”
My reaction? If someone pays me, or if it’s the only way I can see one of my kids, I will go to Vegas. Otherwise, I’ll just watch Ocean’s Eleven.