My Happy Holiday – Part 1

The Detour

I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas. It’s a time of year that usually makes me stressed out and sad. So when my friend Kitty suggested that we get out of town this year, I was all for it.

Our plan was to fly to Los Angeles and enjoy some sunshine and random Hollywood antics.

The adventure began at customs. I’ve always had interesting conversations with the US customs agents. I think it’s because I’m usually flying solo and end up with a man on the other side of the desk. This time the conversation went something like this:

Customs agent: Where are you flying to?
Me: L.A.
Customs agent: What’s the purpose of this trip?
Me: To avoid the holidays.
Customs agent: Oh yeah?
Me: (dramatic, yet comedic sigh) Yeah.
Customs agent: I’ve worked every Christmas for the past 13 years.
* Then both of us said stuff about holiday expectations and how people get fussy during the season.
Me: Yeah, we’re hoping to go to Disneyland and get drunk at the Tiki Bar on Christmas day.
Customs agent: That sounds like a good plan. You have a wonderful time. Don’t let this season get to you.
* He put out his hand for a high five, we connected, and I skipped off into America.

Kitty and I fly stand-by, because her mom used to work for the airlines. When we got to the airport all of the flights to LA were overbooked thanks to the snowstorm in Vancouver the day before.

 After getting bumped from two flights we decided to gamble on a flight to Vegas, thinking that we could pick up our rental car there and drive to LA that evening.

Our gamble paid off, we got the last two available seats on the flight.  Once we were in the air and the pilot had turned off the seat belt sign Kitty came over to where I was and said, “You’ve never been to Vegas have you? Why don’t we just say the night in Vegas and drive tomorrow?”  This, I thought, was a brilliant idea.

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At the airport in Vegas. I look tipsy already.

How did we ever survive traveling without the Internet, smartphones, and free wi-fi in airports? As soon as we got off the plane Kitty was on her laptop looking up hotels on Hotwire. That’s where she found our 5 star hotel on the strip for about $150. She had been to Vegas just a few months prior for a moustache convention she was photographing and knew of a hotel that I would absolutely love, something named after a drink and a lifestyle…

The Cosmopolotian smells like perfume and cigarettes, because there’s still indoor smoking in Vegas. This I find disgusting, mostly because I’m allergic to smoke, but also, hasn’t smoking been baned indoors since 2002? When I tell my kids (or more likely friend’s kids) that I used to have to shower after going out to bars, and throw my clothes in the garage because if I didn’t I’d wake up with my eyes puffed shut, they’re not going to believe me. 

The hotel was quite nice and modern by Vegas standards, apparently inspired by Sex and the City. At least that’s what I assumed, because there were shoe sculptures everywhere. The hotel bar was called the Chandelier and it has drapes of crystals from the ceiling to the floor two stories below. I frickin’ loved it! Our room was on the 59th floor and looked down on the strip and the Bellagio fountains.

Here’s a cinemagram I made from our view:

We went for a decent dinner at Holsteins. We both got veggie burgers. Yes, vegetarians in Vegas! I had heard that Vegas was full of greasy American buffets, but we didn’t see any of that. As we’d arrived too late to take in a show we entertained ourselves by wandering in and out of hotels and their casinos checking out the people and the architecture. The people who are playing the slots in Vegas the weekend before Christmas are an interesting breed of people. Not only did we smell cigarettes, but Axe body spray, B.O. and loneliness. 

Of course, this happened on the evening of December 20; the eve of the Mayan appocolypse. So where was I when the world was supposed to end? Wasting away in Margaritiaville. Actually, I was just passing through on my way to Caesars Palace.

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Curtains of crystals! Vegas really is gawdy.

The next morning we circled the strip looking for the Imperial Palace hotel where a great breakfast joint Kitty had been to  called Hash House a-go-go. We asked three different people in three separate hotels where the Imperial Palace hotel was and NONE of them told us that the hotel had been renamed The Quad. I guess Vegas is constantly changing, either that or people have no clue how to give good customer service, since the hotel changed its name back in September. 

Once we finally found our breakfast joint and I drank all the fresh squeezed OJ I could get my hands on, we got on the road to LA. I had less than 24 hours in Vegas, but that was all I needed. Someone once told me that you should always leave a city with something you haven’t seen yet, that way you can return to experience it. The next time I’m in Vegas again I’ll make sure to see an Elvis impersonator and check out the old strip. 

Ahead of us was a four hour beautiful drive through the desert. We caught a stunning orange and pink sunset as we approached the city of angels. Our adventure already underway. 

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