Part 2: Getting to Know Vegas

Due to depart on Thursday at 8:30 am with Dan, I left for work on Wednesday (at 5:30pm) knowing I probably wouldn't be sleeping again anytime soon. That knowledge did not make the endless stream of customers complaining about their computers not being secure because they have only one firewall, or wondering why they can't connect to the Internet when their modem is unplugged any easier. I got the heck out of Dodge at 2am and made my way home to finish packing and get a big grab of chips.

We picked up Dan and headed to the airport. The flight to Vegas was uneventful, but a quick word about Southwest. The seats are made for midgets and I am pretty certain that the flight crew are mentally ill. When your flight attendant starts doing stand-up comedy right before takeoff, confidence is not something likely to be instilled. During landing, the same flight attendant was apparently under the impression that we were actually flying on a horse, as she urged the plane to slow down with "Whoa, jet, whoa....whoa, jet....whoa" in a increasingly quiet whisper of clinical insanity. Ah, the changing face of commercial air travel... One highlight of the flight was the flyover of the Grand Canyon which I, of course, got no pictures of. Maybe next time.

Our "friendly" flight attendant










Picture I didn't take of the Grand Canyon

Paris + Queen = Liberace?

Finally arriving, we deplaned and were quickly overwhelmed by that singular aura only found in Vegas. Already assaulting us were the rows of slot machines manned by the sullen faces of those unfortunate to be about to leave town. Jumbotrons are situated all across the airport, and serve mainly to highlight stripp--I mean showgirls and their assets. Unfortunately for everyone, some of these video screens also featured the "Thunder from Down Under." You will not get any further description of that from me. Ask the ladies. Dan picked up his one checked bag and we made our way to the taxi stand and debated between a 3-mile limo ride for $40 or a trip on the shuttle bus for $4.25.

The shuttle got us to Mandalay Bay in record time and by record time, I mean it took us nearly 40 minutes to go those 3 miles. This mainly because we had to drop off 16 other people first despite Mandalay being literally across the street from the airport, though the entire Strip is across the street from the airport. We basically made our way down the entire strip (Mandalay is at the South? end of it), and managed to get a good look at most of the casinos en route. The effort clearly put into the architecture and overall logistics of these casinos is staggering. Elaborately hewn formations made to look like rock and stone dominated the Aladdin casino, adjacent to Paris, which featured a giant hot air balloon. If there's one thing I associate with Paris, it's French bread. And then arrogance. And THEN hot air balloons. So it's only natural that the Paris casino has a giant hot air balloon in front of their place.

One generous tip ($2) later, we made our way into the hotel for check-in. Dan was immediately taken with the signs pointing to Manadalay's world-famous (maybe?) Shark Reef, featuring OVER 2000 ANIMALS!! My guess was that it would cost 20 bucks per animal, but Dan insisted that we go at some point. I was more concerned with getting to the room and getting some refreshments, so we headed up to the 24th floor to find our room.

Our room could be described as having nothing short of high-roller luxury, and I define luxury as having a phone next to the can. That's right, a phone next to the can. We ditched our bags and went next door to the other room we'd reserved and found Schultz looking like a hobo in his t-shirt and jeans and Jenna and Courtney nearly passed out in bed, clearly trying to recover from a night of heavy drinking. I took this as a good sign. Also a good sign were the three bottles of Jim Beam on the table. I think we finished those right around the time the Bossman arrived, greeted by slightly drunken pointing and shouting. The posse was growing by the hour...

I challenge you to find a finer bathroom in Vegas