Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GAWA2011, Day Four: Viva Las Vegas

DAY FOUR: June 5, 2011 SUNDAY

Race Day had arrived! Our plan had been to be up and out of the hotel by 5:15, hopefully beating some of the race traffic. Our plan was half successful in that we did manage to leave by 5:15—a bit earlier, in fact. What we had not foreseen was the sheer volume of traffic that 32,000 marathoners would produce. Even by exhibiting all of my keen motocross skills, I was still barely able to get Alissa within a few blocks of the start line before the last corral entered the race. The poor girl had qualified in the tenth corral, but late-comers can’t be choosers. She went in somewhere in the 30+ corrals, happy to have made it.

While Alissa began her 13.1-mile odyssey, I began a journey of my own: an attempt to find all of the public viewing stations afforded me by public transit and beat her to the finish line. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Persistence and fortitude, however, were the watchwords of the day, and when AKB crossed the finish line, I was there to cheer her along.

Nearing the finish line

Actually, I was a block or two away from the finish line—which was mobbed. But you know what I mean.

Winner!

As soon as the Half Pint finished her race, we had to book it down to the free shuttle, which we rode back to the trolly, which re rode back to the stadium where I’d parked the car, which we then in turn rode back to the hotel, where we checked out. It was about time, too: the toilet flusher had stopped working, the shower drain had clogged, the room keys were still glitchy, and we had both begun to take a real dislike to the place. To say nothing of the birth-defect-causing chemicals.

And so began the second phase of our trip: The Road Trip phase! I can’t tell you how much I had been looking forward to this part. Although, due to Alissa’s waning energy levels, it began as a bit of an anticlimax. She slept a bit while I tooled us north and east through the stunning mountains toward Las Vegas.

In the desert, Alissa woke from her nap seeming refreshed. After accustoming herself to the orange barrenness of our surroundings, she snapped out the Kindle and read aloud a few chapters from Louis L’Amour’s The Lonesome Gods, which is a fantastic book even when not read while driving through the desert. ButI won’t lie: being in the desert added immeasurably to the reading.

Around 5:00pm, we arrived at our resort hotel in Henderson, just a short freeway drive from Vegas Proper. Since Alissa was in need of another high-carb meal (and I love carbs), we splurged on cheap, fatty foods at Denny’s to fortify us for the night ahead. The plan: do everything we could to prepare ourselves for sensory overload and head down to check out The Strip.

The Streets of Vegas

We arrived at The Bellagio around dusk, pulling all the way to the roof of the parking garage for a bird’s eye view of several glittery city blocks. We waited in the pleasant evening heat to see the famous fountain show outside The Bellagio, and saw a thirty-something rich kid do his best Backstreet Boys interpretive dance on the sidewalk. In my opinion, those two experiences alone would have made the trip to Vegas worthwhile.

Fountain Show

After that, we meandered a few blocks up and down the strip, being jostled on every side. Street performers, evangelists, tipsy tourists, flat-out drunks, the unfortunately-dressed of both genders, and advertisement-flicking shysters vied for our attention as we tried to walk, look, and not have light-induced seizures at the same time.

It was also at this point that a drunk on the sidewalk saw us taking jumping pictures and hopped in with some photographic advice, demanding that I adjust my ISO. (To hear the fully story, you must apply in person... it's long and may qualify as one of those "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" clauses...)

Las Vegas Street Jump


After hitting the interiors of Ceasar’s Palace and The Bellagio, plus walking up and down a few blocks without actually entering anything, our enthusiasm for Las Vegas began to wane.

In Caesar's Palace

In the Bellagio

Night Stroll

We hadn’t seen nearly a fraction of the “must-see” attractions in the downtown area, but Alissa’s long run and my drive through the desert both had sapped us of considerable vim. We shuffled through the even-more-tipsy-and-excitable crowds back to The Bellagio and pointed the little red bug for Henderson, attempting to navigate the strip without hitting any stray tourists.

Mission accomplished.

"Do you want to come in here??"

For the full Vegas photo set, see here.

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