Saturday, January 26, 2013

Viva Las Vegas

I'm back in New Jersey as I'm writing this.

I was in Las Vegas for two nights, and the visit brings back a lot of memories.

Las Vegas, aka sin city.  I see it as a city of excess where people let loose.  People usually associate it with gluttony, greed, and lust, and rightly so.  The all you can eat buffets, drinking, gambling, and atmosphere all ooze letting your hair down and honoring the saying "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

My first trip to Vegas was with my parents when I was 14 years old.  We stayed at the Excalibur, and our flight was delayed to the point that we got in at about 4 in the morning instead of 10 at night.  I was amazed to see all of the hotels and luxury there.

I also went a few times after finishing college.  One time I decided to go when my spring break at my school lined up with a Linkin Park concert in Vegas.  A few friends flew out to meet up with me there, and I ended up winning a Meet and Greet pass to meet the band before the concert.  It was at the Hard Rock Cafe there, and it was standing room only, so I was able to get up close and snap some pretty awesome pictures.

Another time I went after getting laid off from my teaching job for the third year in a row.  That trip was more of an escape than anything else and not wanting to face the reality of not knowing what my next step was, but I think that we all need something like that every once in a while to take our mind off of things.

My trip was all around pretty enjoyable.  I got in from Los Angeles in the mid afternoon, and after what seemed like an eternity on the shuttle I finally arrived at The Quad.  (I had drunk a bottle of water since getting off the plane.)  It used to be the Imperial Palace, and luckily I found out from a local that they were doing a lot of construction and that I should request a quiet room.

I stayed at The Quad due to its location and a few nice perks: 2 free breakfast buffets per guest, a $20 resort credit for use on food, alcohol (in moderation of course), or gift shops, and no resort fees.  My time was spent enjoying the food, gambling, alcohol, and exploring the hotels.

People usually go to Vegas with the hope of hitting it big, and I was no exception.  I'm not too adventurous when it comes to table games, so I stick with the slot machines.  I spent $30 on video poker without any luck, but then I decided to try out a Monopoly slot machine.

I like a game like that for a few reasons (I know a few of these are very superficial):

1. It's more colorful and exciting.
2. There's sound.
3. There are bonus games that help you win more money.

After putting in $20 I went up and down a bit, and the money lasted about half an hour.  I decided to press my luck with 10 more bucks.  I had been chatting with a guy sitting next to me that didn't know how to operate the touch screen to spin the wheel, and so we kept each other company while we played.

I hit a three bonus games, and my largest winnings at that point was $6.  I saw my money slowly depleting and was ready to admit defeat when the unthinkable happened.

Mr. Moneybags popped up as a wild on my last spin, and he said "Well, what do you know?  Let's change some of these!"  He then started throwing cards up in on the screen, and those cards transformed the items into OTHER WILDS.  He not only did this once, but 7 TIMES.

This was the result:

I was down to 40 cents, and now I had 134 bucks.  The guy next to me congratulated me on my luck, and I cashed it out and got a celebratory drink.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm completely grateful for having won a nice sum of money.  I just wish it had come before 11 PM the night before I was leaving.  (Earlier in the night I had waited in line for half an hour for the Ceasars buffet only to find out it was 48 bucks instead of the 35 I thought it was, and I passed it up due to the price.)

In any case, I had only spent $60 gambling, so my winnings will help cover the cost of the Vegas buffets and eating out in LA.

I thought that the adventure was over, but I had a pleasant surprise at the airport.  A friend of mine was moving from Vegas back to Alaska.  We had talked about meeting up, but with the chaos of moving it wasn't going to be possible.  Long story short, she was supposed to fly out the night before me but had her flight rebooked to the following day.

When I got through security I decided to send her a Facebook message on the off chance that she'd be flying out around the same time as me.  She responded that she was going through security at the time and we'd most likely miss each other.  My flight then ended up being delayed and moved to the gate next to hers, and so half and hour later we were catching up over some Auntie Anne's.

We were exchange students in Germany about 12 years ago.  We had only met up in person once since then about 3 years ago, and it was great getting to see her again.  We talked about memories of our travels and adventures and vowed to keep in touch to meet up once again.

Thanks for bearing with me with posts that are lacking pictures.  My next post will be a tour through the food I've enjoyed during my time home.

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