Las Vegas - August 2002

Kris asked me to write a recap of the family vacation for 2002. (I've never contributed to the website before, except to take some of the pictures, so you'll have to excuse me if this a bad can blame it on Kris; he's being lazy, as usual.) As many already know, the trip was to Las Vegas, and, since I had never been before, was quite an experience. Kris and I flew up from Dallas and met Terri, Wayland, and Adam at the airport. We left the airport after all of the contracts for the rental car were signed. After taking the rental car lot bus, we discovered we had a Saturn for the trip. (I had considered buying a Saturn a couple of months ago. Needless to say, I am very glad I purchased a Corolla instead.)

Terri had gotten us reservations at Circus, Circus, which was a nice, but extremely crowded, hotel. (I had never seen so many children running around in one area before. It reminded me of an expensive Chuck E Cheese.) Circus, Circus has certainly lived up to its name. The big top was huge, the television had a channel devoted to broadcasting Clown TV, and there were tons of circus acts that took place upstairs at the Big Top Carnival. Adam and Wayland spent some time up there playing the carnival games, and I joined them on occasion while Kris and Terri gambled. 

There were a few selective things I had heard about Vegas: the lights are overwhelming, there is a ton of good food to eat, and you can simply never be bored there with all of the activities available. All things I had heard were correct. 

From the first moment we were in Vegas, everything seemed to go at a much busier pace. Terri and Wayland took us to one of the strip's most famous buffets, and we certainly enjoyed every moment of it. Afterwards, Kris and I decided to walk the strip (which we would do a lot). We crossed the street, and, after checking out a couple of the local casinos, we went toward the Stratosphere. 

At the Stratosphere, we took an elevator to the top and rode one of the roller coasters. It was a really hot day, but on top of the Stratosphere there was a nice breeze...and a really nice view. 

Afterward, we left to head back to the hotel to meet up with Adam, Wayland, and Terri. By the time we got to the hotel, Kris looked like he was going to pass out. That experience taught us the valuable lesson of proper hydration in Vegas. The sun can be brutal, as was recognized by the nice pink shade my skin took on after that first walk.

One of my personal favorite things about Vegas is the elaborate decorations of the casinos. Watching the volcano erupt outside of the Mirage, the lights of the Luxor, the intracacies of the Paris, and the street scene of New York, New York really was breathtaking. All of the hotels have something new to offer, and we saw as much of them as possible, either by driving through the strip at night or actually walking to the hotel. There were gondolas outside of the Venetian, you can walk underneath lions in a glass cage at MGM, and find yourself getting hotdogs in New York. The attention to detail was quite amazing as well. The inside of the Paris had walls that looked like Parisian apartments, and they went so far as to place curtains and furniture inside the windows. 

We were certainly entertained during the trip. We had stomachs full of good food and were amused by some entertaining shows as well. One of the shows we saw, probably the personal favorite by all who attended, was Daytripper, a Beatles Tribute. They played a handful of songs spanning the entire career of the Beatles. 

On Kris's birthday we went to Legends in Concert. (Everyone had seen it before but me, but it is one of those shows where they consistently change the performers being impersonated so that people who have enjoyed the show in the past are encouraged to come again.) They had Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, The Temptations, The Blues Brothers, Celine Dion, and Elvis. The Blues Brothers and The Temptations really did a spectacular performance...everyone had conflicting views about the others. 

Another show that Terri, Kris, and I stumbled upon was a free performance in the Excalibur. There was a man and woman dressed in medieval garb playing a bass and a fiddle. It was really a children's show but had quite the entertainment value. Terri did not seem very happy about being subjected to this form of torture (oops...I mean culture).

Another trip highlight was the nature drive to Mt. Charleston. Wayland had plans to hike on the trip, but an unfortunate leg injury altered his plans. We did manage to travel to Mt. Charleston and breathe in some fresh air on the steps to nowhere. We had tried eating at Denny's that morning for breakfast, but all we got was a strong disdain for the restaurant and a secondary trip to McDonalds.

Another diversion from the strip was the Freemont Street Experience. I had never seen anything quite like it. A revitalized downtown Vegas is now home to a large "roof" in which an amazing light and music show is played in the evening. There is quite a lot of displays and crafts available for the tourist. Kris and I actually took home one of the amazing spray-paint pictures that one vendor was creating on the street. Kris and Wayland seemed to enjoy the "ladies" quite a bit as well as Lady Luck, the Cowboy, and the other signs so commonly seen in shows/movies with Las Vegas.

Oddly enough, gambling, which Vegas is really known for, wasn't really a common activity for this vacation. Neither Adam or I are 21 yet, so we were unable to gamble. Kris decided to wait until his birthday to gamble, hoping for freebies, and lost about $100 before calling it quits. Terri either won some money or broke even. I'm not sure what her ending balance was, but I do know that she had a cup full of quarters at one point.