With a couple of friends there for the long weekend, I had planned on driving out to Vegas on Friday with the intention of staying through the weekend. My willingness to go hinged on being able to use a free room that I had at the Hard Rock. I’d started the booking process weeks in advance, leaving messages on multiple people’s voicemails at the hotel, but no one seemed able to call me back; I guess they don’t care as much when the room’s on them. I kept monitoring the rooms online and saw that they were still available for booking. I finally decided that if they still had rooms free on Friday morning, I would drive out and just book the room when I got to town.
As I was packing up my things and getting ready to head out the door, I got a phone call from an unrecognized number with a 702 area code. I picked up and on the other end was Kyle from the Hard Rock with some bad news - seems that with the NBA All-Star game in town, they didn’t have any free rooms that they could put me up in for the weekend. At that point, I decided that I’d probably be skipping the trip this time around; that is, unless I just did a 24 hr run to Vegas.
I postponed committing to anything until I’d had a good night’s sleep and to see how I was feeling come Saturday morning. Around noon, I’d reached a decision, here’s how it went down:
12:00 PM – Green-light decision to go to Vegas and start looking up tickets. Throw toothbrush, clean shirt and iPod into a bag. Buy tickets for 2:30 flight out and 11:30 flight back and immediate check-in for both flights online.
12:30 PM – Leave for the airport. Park the car at a $10/day lot (knowing full well that I’ll be in and out in 24 hrs) and shuttle over to the airport.
1:15 PM – Grab a quick bite to eat in the airport and then head over to the gate to wait for my flight. Manage to get into line for the wrong set of gates (Southwest Vegas flights now fly out of a different area of the airport).
2:00 PM – Go through the correct security checkpoint and get settled in at the gate. Wonder why people in the “A” group insist on lining up an hour before the flight is scheduled to board. Do these people have a favorite seat on the plane that they absolutely have to sit in?
2:20 PM – Move over to the “B” group staging area and get in line. A young woman gets in line behind me and, after finishing her very public cell phone conversation, starts talking to me. She introduces herself as “Ashley” and let’s me know that she’s a professional dancer heading out to Vegas for a big weekend in the clubs (she expecting to make $2-3000 over the course of the weekend). We chat for another ten minutes or so before boarding the plane. I get on board and try to find a window seat on the left side of the plane so I can see the city as we come into range (I love replicating that feeling of cresting the hill on I-15 right as all of Vegas comes into view). Fortunately, the plane was not very full and I am able to get a seat to myself and have the middle seat vacant for the flight. As much as I would have liked to continue my educational conversation with Ashley, I was happy to have some quiet time to prepare myself for the weekend.
2:40 PM – Plane takes off and the large group behind me is loud but not too rowdy. If you’ve ever been on a flight out to Vegas, you know this is par for the course, just as the flight back is always a quiet and solemn affair. As soon as drink service is available, however, they start putting away as many beers and vodka tonics as they can during the short flight.
3:30 PM – We’re beginning the final descent into Vegas and one of the guys behind and to the right of me starts singing along loudly with whatever was playing on his iPod (no, he couldn’t follow directions and yes, he was a part of the same group containing the girl directly behind me who answered her cell phone mid-flight). After about five minutes of this guy serenading an unsuspecting audience, a voice about 6 rows up belonging to none other than my new friend, Ashley, starts telling him to “learn to control his *&$%# and to shut the *@$^% up because he is annoying all the other passengers on the plane.” No longer singing, Mr. FAA-Rules-Don’t-Apply-To-Me starts to get confrontational with this dissatisfied audience member and the remainder of the flight was set to the tune of colorful insults being spewed back and forth across the cabin of the plane. Unlike most people on board, I actually found it quite entertaining.
4:00 PM – I’ve touched down in Vegas and rather than wait in the 2 hour cab line, I use a tip that another Vegas cabbie bestowed upon me and wait all of 10 minutes before being taxied out of the airport. Dodge another bullet when the cabbie asks me, “streets or freeway” – always pick “streets,” as “freeway” is a trap that will cost you about $5-10 more. Goli is one of the people who is supposed to be in town over the weekend and I’ve planned on meeting up with her (she was also gracious enough to allow me to throw my bag in her room) and her friends. When we’d talked earlier in the week, she had told me that she was staying at the Flamingo Hilton, so that’s where I have the driver drop me off. Now inside the lobby, I call Goli to see if they’ve gotten in yet and, if so, what room they are in. Once on the phone, I learn that A) they are still about an hour out, and B) I am at the wrong Hilton.
4:45 PM – I have to get from one Hilton property to another. While standing in the lobby, I notice that there is a stop for the new monorail in the hotel. Figuring this is as good an opportunity as any to check it out and kill some time, I head off to the monorail station entrance. I buy a $5 one-way ticket and head over to the platform. As everyone knows, no one actually rides the monorail, so I stand alone waiting for the train to arrive. Same story when I board an empty car and begin the journey over to the Las Vegas Hilton.
5:15 PM – Arrive at the Hilton and decide to kill some time gambling. Play about an hour’s worth of poker until the annoying people on my immediate right become too much for me to bear, so I rack up and cash out. As I leave the poker room, I notice that Goli is calling to let me know that they are in town and at the hotel. During our conversation, I mention that I’ve been doing a bit of gambling while waiting for them to show up. She asks me how this is possible, given that the hotel they are staying in does not have a casino in it. “Huh?” is all I can muster.
“We are staying at the Hilton Vacation Resort, there’s no casino in the hotel,” she responds.
“Alright, I’ll be there in a minute.”
6:30 PM – Ask nearest hotel personnel where the Hilton Vacation Resort is and he tells me that it’s on the property, right next to the building that I’m currently standing in; finally, a shred of good news. I walk out of the casino, cross a parking lot and miraculously find the Hilton Vacation Resort. Once in the lobby, I call Goli to get the room number – 12617 – and let her know that I’m on my way up.
7:00 PM – Get up to the 12th floor of the hotel and notice that all of the room numbers are only four digits. Bewildered, I get back into the elevator and head down to the lobby to find out what’s going on. Approach the front desk and explain my predicament. Am informed that the only Hilton Vacation Resort property with 5 digit rooms is the new HVR located on the strip. Get directions to said hotel.
7:15 PM – Start trek to fourth and hopefully final Hilton property in Vegas. Realize that woman at the front desk assumed I was driving to my destination (fortunately I pack light).
7:45 PM – Arrive at correct hotel, tired, sweaty and thoroughly sick of walking. Get into the elevator and, once again, head up to the 12th floor. Upon disembarking from the elevator, notice that the room numbers are of the format: 112XX. Get back into the elevator questioning whether or not I’m ever supposed to make it up to the room. Head up to the 26th floor and halfway down the hallway, amazingly, I find the correct room. Am welcomed with an ice cold beverage and open arms and suddenly the night is starting to look up. Things continue to improve with a couple more drinks and dinner courtesy of my gracious hosts.
8:50 PM – Start to get antsy and realize that the girls are at least an hour from being ready to hit the town, so I set out on my own for the Wynn to play some cards and check out the line at Tryst (the club in the Wynn). Note the immense amount of traffic on the strip and decide that I’m better off walking than cabbing. This theory is further confirmed as I continue down the strip noting that the traffic has not moved in the slightest.
9:15 PM – Get to the Wynn and walk by the club to check the line status. Not a single person in line, so I decide to do a little gambling while waiting for everyone else to show up. Can’t seem to get on a table, so I decide to head back to the club and check out the situation there.
9:45 PM - Notice that a line has started to form, so I get into the queue (about 15 people from the front) and hope that everyone else will show up before they let me into the club when it opens at 10:00. Unfortunately, this proved to be very wishful thinking…
…To Be Continued…