Sunday, September 18, 2005

Las Vegas, Baby!!

I had good intentions of writing again before leaving on vacation, but things got pretty crazy at work. Instead of writing my last night before leaving, I was in the office until 8pm.

Joe's mom Evelyn & I left early Fri morning for the airport, where we met up with Kelly, George, and Zelinda for our fabulous trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Kelly's 40th birthday. Joe had an important meeting, so he left Fri evening and joined us later that night.

We stayed at the Luxor, the giant black Pyramid. Joe & I stayed there the last time we were in Vegas (for my 40th birthday) and loved it. They've interwoven the Egyptian theme everywhere you can imagine, from the hotel/casino decor to the pyramid shaped box that hold the shower cap. The slanted wall of one-way glass in our 14th floor guest room offered us fantastic views of the desert mountains and the sparkling pools.

Friday after checking in, we ate and talked about the shows we wanted to see. Then some of us went to the pool, others to the spa, and others to the casino. Joe joined us as we were eating our late dinner.

Sat we picked up our mini-van from the car rental desk inside the Luxor (how convenient is that?) and headed out to Red Rocks Canyon. It is a beautiful state park about 40 minutes outside Las Vegas, with a driving trail and many places to stop and get out. You are also permitted to climb the beautiful rusty-red colored rock formations if you want, but none in our group was that adventurous. On our way back into town we stopped for lunch. Once back at the Luxor it was time for more pool-side relaxing, mango body scrubs at the spa, and of course, slot machine action.

Sat night Evelyn, Joe & I went to see Gladys Knight at the Flamingo. What a fantastic performance! She really exceeded our expectations. For being over 60 years old and being in show business for over 40 years, she looked and sounded great! She sang all of her hits, and the audience responded appreciatively. Then the three of us decided to have a late dinner at the Venetian. We walked along the Grand Canal, ducked into a few shops, and watched the gondaliers as they guided their boats up and down the indoor canal while serenading their passengers. We ate a late, light supper at a little Italian trattoria.

Sun found some of us at the pool again, others at the spa, and others at the slot machines. Sun night Kelly, George, and Zelinda went to see the Cirque du Soleil production called 'O' at the Bellagio. All 6 of us left together, and after dropping the show folks off Evelyn, Joe & I went outside to watch the spectacular Bellagio Fountains show. (Its about 4-5 minutes long and happens every 1/2 hour, with different fountain shows.) Afterward we took a tour through the beautiful Bellagio, taking note of where the group of us would dine after the Cirque show ended. Then we took the skybridge over to Caesar's Palace and toured it. On our way back to the Bellagio it was time for the fountain show again, so we stopped to see another beautiful selection.

When we rejoined the others we found that everyone was still full from our buffet lunch several hours prior, so we scrapped the idea of a late dinner at the Bellagio. Some retreated to their rooms for rest, others went back to the slot machines, and Kelly & I went to the lounge to have a few birthday drinks and listen to the band. (Kelly's birthday was Sun Sept 11.)

The first part of Mon was much like the first part of Sun. Mon evening we all rode over to the New York, New York hotel/casino to see the Cirque du Soleil show called 'Zumanity'. Billed as "the other side of Cirque du Soleil", it has a 18 year old age limit due to some nudity and graphic sexual language. We all enjoyed the show, but I didn't find it much different than most Cirque shows. It seemed like pretty much the same kind of trapeze/acrobatic stuff, only with far less costumes. But it was still enjoyable. Mon was Zelinda's birthday.

The weather couldn't have been better: around 84 degrees during the day, with no discernible humidity, and about 76 degrees at night. The locals said it was unseasonably cool for that time of year, but we certainly weren't complaining!

Although we often split up so everyone could 'do our own thing' (ie: slot machines, spa treatments, sunning/swimming, etc) we always checked in with each other and made arrangements to share almost every meal as a group. It really worked out well, allowing everyone time together and time apart.

Tues morning the shuttle picked us up at 10:30 to get us to the airport. But before that, my longtime friend Cliff and his partner Steve (whom I'd not met before) joined Joe & me for breakfast at the Luxor at 9. Cliff and I had been friends back in the 80s when we were both still JWs. Cliff had moved away, then left the JWs so we lost touch. Then I left the JWs and the years began to fly by. About a year ago, out of the blue I got an email from Cliff, saying he'd found me on the internet. So, of course we had to see each other after all these years. I was glad Steve was able to come so I could meet him. It was the perfect way to end our trip in Vegas.

Tues night we got back home at about 10pm (local time), but since there were no meals on the flight, we were hungry. Evelyn, Joe & I went to the Silver Diner and then went directly to bed. Flying seems to make everyone tired.

Wed Joe took his mom home and I started on the laundry. EVERYTHING had to be washed, whether we had worn it or not, due to the cigarette smoke. I ran a few errands, and then when Joe returned, we began packing for our next adventure...

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