Thursday, December 19, 2013

las vegas :: part 1

Sometime last year Pats mom asked if we would like to go to Las Vegas to celebrate Hayden's 21st birthday in April, we of course said yes immediately. Its not like "Sin City" has ever been at the top of my travel wish list, but I certainly wanted to see what all the hype was about since at the time, I was the only person I knew who had never been there. So, on April 26th we left for a three day weekend. I will split our adventures in to two posts. 

friday (4/26) :: day 1
Me and Pat had to fly from Redmond to Portland, had a short layover, and then from Portland to Vegas where we would meet the rest of his family. In the afternoon we made our way to the tiny Redmond airport, had a snack, boarded our plane, and were in Portland before we knew it spending our layover at Rogue with some lunch. Pats step brother Chris and his wife were on the same flight out of PDX, so we met up with them and then got on our way. Seeing as we were flying to Las Vegas, Pat insisted that we ordered drinks on the plane. I would have been happy with a nap.

[[ flying out of portland. drinks on the plane. ]]

It was dark when we got in to town, which made for a pretty sweet incoming view. Everything was black and then all of the sudden there was an explosion of lights, and as we got closer to the strip we could make out some of the hotels for their famous neon features. Hayden was flying straight from Eugene, and he landed about the same time as us, so we met up with him, grabbed his bag (that he checked for some reason), found Pats parents who had driven from Palm Springs, and headed to our hotel. Graciously Pats family got us all really nice rooms at Planet Hollywood, and to our surprise, when we arrived our room was fully loaded with drinks, snacks, and even a little cash to gamble with! It was pretty amazing. The room itself was really spacious, had a nice giant bathroom, and an awesome view of The Paris's "Eiffel Tower" and Bellagio's fountains. At this particular hotel, each room is themed by a specific movie and contains some framed items from the sets. Ironically enough, we ended up in the "Cleopatra Room" giving us images of young Elizabeth Taylor, a shield from the set, and some elaborate costume jewelry. This was perfect considering Pat is obsessed with Egyptian mythology. Hayden's room was Titanic themed... so he got a giant picture of Leo over his bed, which was highly entertaining for me.

[[ lights of the strip from our plane. the birthday boy. welcome to vegas. mirror shot from our elevator. brothers and their mom. ]]

Once we got settled and changed our clothes, we headed down to the casino floor which was a flurry of bright lights, loud noises, cigarette smoke, and scantily clad tourists and employees. I think the theme for this particular casino was the sin portion of Vegas, so above all of the tables there were go-go dancers in thongs. It was definitely a bit of a culture shock. We wandered around for a bit, grabbed a drink, played a few slot machines, and then watched Hayden loose a ton of money attempting to play Black Jack with his friend Grant. Me and Pat aren't really much for gambling, so we were quiet observers. I did however learn right away not to buy drinks from the casino floor unless you want to pay $15 for watered down juice, thus sitting at a slot machine was helpful for a free version of said watered down juice... 

Since I had never been to Vegas before and it was just the first night, we stuck to our hotel for the most part, but what I didn't realize was that everything is connected by malls. At one point I was just wandering around, turned a corner and all the sudden the ceiling was all painted to look like a scene from Aladdin or something. I think The Aladdin was actually what PH used to be before being remodeled. Sensory overload around every corner.

Eventually Pats parents and Chris's wife went to bed, so it was just the boys and me left. Hayden and his friend Grant insisted on sharing a yard stick (sugary nonsense in a giant plastic tube, yuck) but the rest of us were hungry so we went to some thing called PBR Bar and watched drunk people fall off of a mechanical bull while we ate nachos. Chris left, and eventually me and Pat were done for the night so we started making our way back to our hotel room. But, before we got to the elevator Pat ran in to his work friend Courtney and her boyfriend who live in California and were, ironically enough, also in Vegas for her little brothers 21st birthday. We talked to them for a little while on the casino floor, and then decided to meet back up and go out together the next night since we were heading up to bed. I think this was around 5am.

[[ pictures around the ph casino on night one. i guess you aren't supposed to take pictures of the tables, oops. ]]

saturday (4/27) :: day 2 
Pats family tried to get us to join them for breakfast but we decided to sleep in instead and do our own thing, so we met up with them in the mall at some breakfast place just as they were finishing up. Apparently when we made our way to bed, Hayden and his friend went back to the casino floor and ended up staying up all night. Not going to lie, they looked like crap, but I guess maybe that is part of the experience?

[[ waking up in vegas, the morning view from our hotel room window. ]]

I wanted to have a "nice(r)" breakfast and then spend the day exploring with Pat, so we headed for the Paris to eat in the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. The food was yummy (especially Pat's giant french toast, which was practically cake), the bloody marys were very unique, and the view of the strip and Bellagio's water show was great. This definitely revived us and we were ready to walk around the casinos. We looked around The Paris, and then made our way down to the street and hit The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Mirage, Treasure Island, The Venetian and The Palazzo next door (I believe in that order). I think that is about as far as we got... we didn't quite make it to New York New York or even to the MGM Grand or The Luxor. Of all of the hotels we had toured at this point, The Bellagio and Caesar's Palace had a lot of beautiful elements, and Mirage had a really cool ode to The Beatles set up since they host their namesake Cirque du Soleil show.

[[ breakfast at the eiffel tower restaurant in the paris: view from our table. the kitchen. bloody marys. epic french toast. eggs bennie. exploring the strip: inside the paris. walking across the strip. inside the bellagio. caesar's palace: statues. epic shopping mall. murals. the mirage: the beatles circe du soleil section, my favorite! inside the venetian. gondola rides outside of the venetian & the palazzo. pirate ships outside treasure island. ]]   

By the end of our self guided tour my face was literally turning green from all the cigarette smoke and I just wanted to get off of the hot street, away from all the ridiculous people, and go to our room to take a nap. It was fun wandering through some of the casinos though, the bright lights and splendor of everything was a definite sensory overload. On the other hand it is amazing to me how many people sit in the casinos all day mindlessly playing the slot machines and smoking. Yuck. 

((( I will post the events of night 2 and day 3 tomorrow )))