If I’m waking before 6:00 am it’s because I’m either riding bikes with Caleb (so he can get to work on time) or I’m anxious about getting to Las Vegas to reconnect with a friend from second grade to high school graduation. I took a pre-trip selfie – not a morning person, but it let me know to fix the time on my camera from DST before heading out the door at 5:40 am. I went to 7-11 for a coffee and left my house covered in the light of the moon shining through the neighbor’s tree as I headed towards the highway.
I’m admiring the bright moon on my left and the growing color of the sunrise on my right and enjoying the moment… when I look bewilderedly in front of me at the approaching headlights. Just north of Escondido on the 15N, traveling at 75 mph or more, I have only time to honk and abruptly change lanes as all the other cars have done. My heart is still racing when I pass a man with jumper cables before realizing I could’ve helped him. The possibilities of instant death are out there – good morning to them and thank you for letting me continue on to Las Vegas.
I wouldn’t stop until Victorville at 8:00 am to donate used coffee and then again in Baker to buy gas. It’s there that I noticed a guy with a cardboard sign with VEGAS written on it sitting on the corner next to the on-ramp. I picked up Boomer and he had no problem tossing his bag in the backseat with the dogs. I laid it down so Piggy could cuddle with it and not have it fall on her. The car kindly beeped to remind him to wear his seatbelt and we were on our way. We parked in the Hooters Casino Hotel parking lot at 11:00 am and he gave me one of his homemade tacos, including the tortilla, that a lady had gifted him.
Deanna wasn’t due at the McCarran Airport until 2:00 pm so I decided to walk about a mile up the strip with Boomer. What looks like a 15-minute walk on Google Maps quickly turned into an hour-long adventure. We approached the crosswalk and just as the counter got down to four seconds a bunch of us ran across. We laughed as we wondered what the cars might be thinking. I took pictures of the tall reflective buildings, flashy advertising, mini-version landmarks, shopping tourists, happy employees, and street performers – one who had a poker chip and told a guy in the audience to check his wallet, then quickly changed his mind when the guy pulled out a fistful of folded bills.
It’s easy to get lost in the awe of Vegas – the Statue of Liberty from New York City, the Luxor from Egypt, the Eiffel Tower from Paris, and the Walk of Fame stars from Hollywood to name a few. Then there’s other details – shiny, pointy, rocks, trees, lights, bricks, screens, a roller coaster, and giant minions. It’s hard to tell who is waking up and who is heading to bed. This is truly the city that never sleeps – it just stops selling shoes between 3:00 – 8:00 am (don’t quote that for accuracy).
Luckily for pedestrians and drivers there are large sidewalks, most fenced or walled in, and large crosswalks over the busier roads to keep traffic moving. This allows cars to get where they’re going, drunks to stumble around, photographers to stop constantly, and other tourists to stare at billboards and maps and turn in circles as they realize they are lost – again. The escalators aren’t just for the lazy, but a great excuse to slow down and get a changing view of the strip. A guy put his lizard on me and then asked for $4.00. I quickly remembered that costumes and creatures need tips for pictures.
On my return to the car I pass restaurants, shopping plazas, and construction as I make my way through the maze of hallways and escalators; everything else has to be accessed by passing a slot machine or casino. The car is hotter than I remember, so I walk the dogs and head to the airport early at 12:30 pm to get them out of the sun. I parked on level 2M, Aisle B and as I’m taking pictures to help from getting lost an employee hands me a ‘you are here’ card. Then I ride the elevator up and down deciding whether to go to Checked Baggage or All Gates. Deanna is due to arrive in Terminal One at Gate A-11.
There is no denying you’re in a Vegas airport with all the advertising for shows and booze, and the clinking sounds of the slot machines. I get as close as security will allow and then find the nearest bar. I hadn’t planned on drinking, but with an hour to pass and a two-minute drive ahead of me… the red-bearded man named Seth suggested I get a Stella in a Sam Adams glass as that’s what him and his younger cousin Jeremiah were doing. When I finally met up with Deanna at 2:45 pm we took the guys, down here on business, to their office party at a hotel in Henderson.
I hadn’t planned on staying, but Deanna didn’t deny their invite, so we went with them to check in, put their bags away, and let me get a picture of the view. We got lost trying to find the hosts room, so I have pictures of that, but the guys didn’t want tourists in the party, so no pictures of the second pool outside or the three ounces of wine I consumed. After they won a door prize – tickets to a game in Portland – we, girls only, left. We approached the registration desk of Planet Hollywood at 5:45 pm after waiting in the check-in line.
Parking is free for seven days at a time and we found a spot on the third floor within view of the elevators, but then there is the walk past the bus depot and valet/taxi area for those that can afford to pay to get out of one car and into the next – definitely an option without dogs to walk. We were handed keys to room 3622 and told to take the second set of south elevators to get there. We wouldn’t be the only ones getting lost throughout Vegas, but our room is also within view of the elevators which will make our stay easier.
From our room window we can see the High Roller Ferris wheel to the far left and in the east are the Frenchman Mountains (also known as Sunrise Mtn. for their location). In our room is memorabilia, like the boots Whoopi Goldberg wore, from the film Fatal Beauty. I drop my bag of clothes and purse in the big purple chair and we both head down to the car to shove the dogs into one bag and haul them back up to the room. We thought we would take a shortcut through the casino/shops door from the parking garage but that turned into an hour-long detour.
Then I remembered I had to walk them. There is a patch of grass with poop baggies outside in the sun past four lanes of speeding taxis. I took them back up by leash with no issue. Piggy laid scared on the elevator floor and I held Sparky’s leash tight to keep him from jumping on his new friends. We left them to sleep in the room as we made our way downstairs at 7:15 pm. I was taking in everything. It’s not that I haven’t been to Vegas before (five years ago), or that I hadn’t traveled without Caleb before (three weeks ago), or that I hadn’t seen my friend in at least six years… oh wait, I hadn’t.
And into the evening…