With a long weekend approaching, I felt the need to escape. I always say that I have this small animal that lives inside of me that I can quiet for periods of time. But once every quarter the animal breaks out of it’s cage and I must get out of this town before I go crazy. One available favorite babysitter, US Airways miles and a couple American Express points later and we were off to Vegas. We knew another couple that was going out with some of their friends so we figured, why not? Let’s bust out of this chicken coop!
My husband and I love Las Vegas. We got engaged out there and if it were up to me, I would have gotten married out there. I love the fast paced nights and quiet mornings with excitement at every turn. The people watching is INCREDIBLE and I love to play that mental game with myself called, “Is that woman a prostitute?” It can entertain you for hours. The hotels are ridiculous and the food is off the charts. Let’s not even talk about spas, shopping, nightlife… it was exactly what my little animal inside needed. Not to mention time with the hubs that isn’t spent talking about the bills, the kids or our crazy lives.
First of all… packing. Girls, leave the Lilly at home. You know that outfit that your husband says you look amazing in but you aren’t sure it’s appropriate for Charlotte? Pack it. You remember that outfit that you saw in the store window that you think you can’t get away with anymore? Pack it. You’re not going to run into your elementary school principal or that old lady that lives down the street out here. So load up those black leggings, animal print dresses and high heels because you are going to Vegas Baby!
We decided right off the bat that the hotel was a no brainer. The Wynn is a 5 star hotel that is relatively new in Vegas terms. We have stayed all over the place from The Venetian to Mandalay Bay and everywhere in between, but felt like we were due for a little splurge. The moment you walked into the hotel, you felt the smile appear from ear to ear and you knew this was a good decision. The atrium featured a horse carousel (that actually moved) and a hot air balloon made entirely from fresh flowers. Our room was pristine with a control panel to open blinds, set the mood, you name it. It was heaven. This is Day 1 remember? You still have money in your pockets.
We met our friends and 5 new couples at a sushi dinner at Yellowtail in the Bellagio that overlooked the fountains. Sushi was divine! Two must have’s off their menu include a Big Eye Tuna Pizza and the Popping Spicy Crab Roll that oddly had Pop Rocks candy pieces on it. Trust me.
I start to notice lots of yawning and checking watches during dinner that signals me to slow down on the drinks at the table because we were going to be on our own tonight. (East coast time will do that to a group on the first night. ) Everyone hung out for a little gambling but the group’s time was coming to a close quickly. Our posse went from 12, down to 4 in a matter of one hour.
While some of them nestled into their beds, I was having a blast! I find that sometimes gambling with my husband is too stressful. When the whole table loses, we lost double. It’s too mental for me. So instead, I find a great table at Planet Hollywood with a guy named Mike, who hits on me the entire time but has convinced the table that we are brother and sister. The table also includes a 90 year old man named Mr. Richardson, a young woman with sleeves of tattoos and her date that I’m assuming paid for her because he is Hispanic and speaks no English but keep giving her money. (I love the prostitute game!) The dealer is great; we are all laughing, high-fiving, drinking and best of all… winning. At one point my “brother” Mike won two blackjacks in a row and proceeded to do the worm up and down the aisle of our blackjack table until security almost had him ushered off the premises.
After “Mike’s” worm, word on the street was that we had a nightclub hook up at 1 Oak at the Mirage and we were “on the list”. Whoa, why not hit them up then? Pay close attention.. here is where your money starts to light on fire. “On a list” really means that you get to have a seat at a club. You are then offered a buy 2 bottles get 1 free promotion because you are “on the list”. With four of us at this table, (and one being a non-drinker) we were introduced to the price of fun in Vegas. $495 bottles of Absolute kids. Yep. You heard that right. Not to mention the mixers and tip. If I would have known this prior to ordering – we would of left immediately. But my husband is smart and he knows I would of gone ape sh*t on paying this for a bottle I can get at Southern Spirits for $39.95. Not happy here but luckily didn’t know until the next morning that we spent $650 to be “on a list”. Vomit. (And thank you for one of our new friends for splitting the bill. We’ll invite him back)
Things are a little fuzzy…time passes and it’s 3:00am/ 6:00am Charlotte time. In 15 minutes I would be getting my son up for school if I were home. We try to crash out but our bodies fight us and we are wide eyed just four hours later.
The best part about staying at a 5 star hotel is that everything in the hotel is 5 star. The worst part about it is that a cup of coffee is $7. We know our body needs re-energizing so we hit the buffet. When you say the word buffet – this creeps me out. I think of Denny’s on a Saturday with everyone breathing all over the powdered eggs. Buffet in Vegas is the shizzle. The Buffet at the Wynn was voted “Best Buffet in Las Vegas” by USA Today, and they were not lying. Once we picked our mouths up off the ground we dove into this food pool and never looked back. It makes those Disney World buffets look like a joke. I knew from this point that a dress I was thinking of wearing later that night would never work because of the food baby I was growing with each and every bite. Who has tiramisu for breakfast? Um… I do. We ate until we wanted to throw up… but damn it was worth it.
By now it’s about 9am Vegas time and the all nighters are just rolling in. Not us east coast time peeps – WIDE AWAKE OVER HERE! Hmm… what to do. The hub suggests hitting the spa for a couples massage. I determine that after we paid half a mortgage payment for vodka that night before that I refuse to pay $600 for a massage that we can get at Massage Heights for $99. Lots of words are exchanged here about me being cheap or no fun or that I just need to let these things roll off my back. I forget. I wasn’t listening. The Spa at the Wynn is no surprise, voted a Forbes Travel 5 star award but I just can’t stomach it today. We decide to hit the strip and work off these baby pregnancies that we just acquired as well as the remainder of the alcohol that is pulsating through my veins.
This is where my husband and I are in sync. Exercise. Place a bet on the playoff game on the way out and take a brisk walk of the strip. Check out the hotels, feel the sun on our face and keep our wallets closed for a bit. You may find this necessary when you and your husband both gamble. All those amazing hotels in Vegas aren’t because of all the winners, they are because of the losers. I find that I am a little up at the tables, then a little down but I don’t chase the dragon. Other than the Broncos winning that weekend.. if it weren’t for bad luck, my husband would have no luck at all. Once I see this pattern of his and I find myself a little down on my wagers – I am smart and STOP GAMBLING. My husband however decides to chase the dragon the rest of the weekend. (It never turned for him. In his defense, horrible cards. L)
We try to catch a nap but the energy of Vegas is like a heartbeat ringing in your head. So we head into dinner with 4 hours under our belt and rally for night two.
The whole gang is back together again and we hit up SW Steakhouse at the Wynn (Voted best Steakhouse in Las Vegas by New York Magazine). Of course 5 stars, of course I can’t look at the bill. You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu. The Chile Rubbed Double Rib Eye was featured on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” if that gives you a hint. We sit and eat the best steaks in the country and watch performances on the “Lake of Dreams” that the restaurant is built around. I actually forget that I even have children for a while. This is followed up by a 90-minute show of Le Reve by Cirque de Soliel that is “bananas. The theater shown below is so breathtaking when you walk-in, you know you are in for something spectacular. (Voted best show in Las Vegas, three years in a row.) However, with the four hours of sleep and beautiful soft music, I find myself nodding off a little even during the flying acrobatics. I’m actually drinking a large $7 coffee in the theater. (Things are catching up to me here.) If it were up to me, I would have preferred to see Brittney Spears “Pieces of Me” show at Planet Hollywood, but I think I would have been vetoed by this group. I hear it is ridiculous! Check it out.
We try to gamble but we know that we need sleep so we try our hardest to crawl into our soft beds after about an hour chasing dragons. But for some reason the lameness that you feel being in PJs at midnight in Vegas prevent your mind from relaxing and you find yourself watching Duck Dynasty on A&E until 2am. WTH?
My body and my pants can no longer handle the mack daddy buffet so we opt for something lighter this morning and decide to back down the gambling. We find some $5 blackjack table at the Excalibur just to pass the time and have a little more fun knowing our mortgages are not at stake. Take a pass on this hotel though. The only plus was that I found a Starbucks here. There is creepy clientele and overall shadiness in this joint. Bathing is apparently optional here, as are a full set of teeth. After guarding my purse for an hour, I have had enough of this nonsense and determine that it’s time to go. TIME TO SHOP!
I could window shop for hours in Vegas. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace feature everything from Louis Vuitton, Oscar De La Renta, Van Cleef and Arples, and Gucci all the way down to H&M.. They all make me feel like I’m poverty level but I can’t stop myself from going in and out of these stores. It also makes Charlotte look like we are shopping at a Super Wal-Mart. I make a pact with myself that there will be no more gambling on my part; I’m coming home with something. I instead by this cute little ring that I had my eye on and a dress for an upcoming formal event I have next month. Vegas is now a success for me.
Another dinner that I’m about to fall asleep at because I’m running on fumes. We make a reservation at Aureole at Mandalay Bay. It’s a beautiful place that has a four-story wine tower that features “Wine Angels” that graciously fly through the tower to retrieve your selected bottle of wine. By this point I’m also soooo over spending $50 for a piece of salmon at a $25 glass of wine, although they are both delish. I just want to go to Newks and order Lobster and Crab soup for $5 and drink a sweet tea. But, I’ve got my Vegas game face on so I’m still present. My husband is able to reminisce with his childhood best friends and I can sit quietly and smile while I dream of PJs. This is also where I determine that my age is catching up with me. 10 years ago I would have bailed on this dinner and would be getting ready for a night of clubbing. Instead I have my shoes off under the table and I may actually be asleep with my eyes open.
The boys insist on doing more gambling but at this point I’m spent. I can no longer handle the cigarette smoke (who smokes anymore?), or how badly my feet hurt. All I want to do is see the Bellagio Fountains and take a sleeping pill. I bolt on them all and walk in pain back to my hotel after the fountains and crash out. Phone on silent crash out. Hoping my husband doesn’t make me his one call from the clink because I won’t answer it crash out. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz…
Finally a night with a couple of hours sleep. A ridiculous $40 breakfast of bagels and coffee and I find that I have steam coming out of the bottom of my shoes and wallet. My smile has faded because I smell Charlotte in my future and I begin the mind racing of all that waits for me at home. Taxes, school, ISF, my kids, is my dog still alive (he’s hanging on by a thread)… the list goes on and on.
And now that I’m home I find myself savoring those frosted mini-wheat’s that I ate for breakfast and the workout gear that I have moved myself into. Once I wash all that yucky cig smoke out of my tight dresses, Sin City will be all but forgotten. We left a little pride and a little money but took big full bellies with us. It is always worth it in the end. I’ve had my fill of Las Vegas, until probably next year when I hear it calling my name, or if I can sneak in a girls only trip. In fact, that animal inside me is so quiet that I barely know she’s in there. She must be sleeping. Vegas will do that to you.