Monday, September 14, 2009

Leaving Las Vegas….

We drove into Las Vegas yesterday around 2 pm local time. My kids were anxious to get out of the car; 6 hours is a long time for them. But they are great travelers, even if they don’t get a lot of practice (remember, we are vacation-cautious around these parts!).
I got totally excited as we crossed the knoll that drops you down into the valley; Vegas is the city of my childhood. My family vacationed there a few summers. We stayed at the now long-gone Landmark Hotel, where my sisters and I would swim all day while the parents played in the casinos. We spent mornings at the Stardust Hotel (long gone; I saw its ghostly barrenness as we drove down the Strip; not even a hint of it remained), eating at the buffet. When we weren’t at the pool, we were shopping at Fashion Show Mall, or trying to convince our parents to let us play at Circus Circus. All these places were within walking distance of the Landmark; I can remember walking barefoot down the strip one night, the sidewalk still hot from the desert sun, the shock of an occasional live cigarette ash searing my toes.

This trip, we stayed at the same house Shane and I stayed at on our honeymoon. My friend Rebecca’s mom lives in Vegas and was willing to let our little family of four stay in her cabana house. Thomas and Ben had a great time playing in the pool while we chatted with Janice and Bill, our gracious hosts. It was strange to think the last time we had stayed there, we were two day-old-marrieds, in our 20s, no kids or mortgages or pets to speak of.

Janice, Bill, and my kids. They are such nice people!
Some things about Las Vegas never change. You still get that blast of heat to your face as you exit the cooled casinos. The same smokey smell takes me back to my dear grandparent’s apartment, making my heart ache for missing them. The same casino noises fill your ears, and your eyes can’t stop looking at all the posh and not-so-posh people from all walks of life. The stores are fabulous, the food is both expensive and incredibly cheap, and you can’t mistake yourself for being anywhere else in the world.
I wanted to share all that with my kids. We went to Rainforest CafĂ© in the MGM for dinner. It’s been a long time since I’ve dropped that much cash on dinner, but the kids loved the animals that roared, trumpeted and cackled their way through our dinner. After eating, we walked the Strip for a while, going from New York New York to Caesars Palace (my kids weren’t amused at how close Caesars looked, yet how far it was to walk!). We went through the Forum shops for a while, which were, in the end, of absolutely no interest to my non-shopping loving sons. What do you do? To coax them to walk back to NYNY, they each got a stuffed animal at the FAO Schwartz.

Outside New York New York. They didn't know they were going to have to walk a mile when I took this.
After they had walked a mile. They are in Caesars Palace in front of the fountain.

The giant drink Shane is holding cost me $6.75 on the strip. It originally held lemonade. They didn't even have a lid that would fit the cup. Seriously? We figured at those prices, we needed to keep the cup and fill it with water before walking back to NYNY.

We were all tired by 8:30 local time and headed back to our home for the night. After a fierce game of pool between Shane and Thomas, we all went to sleep. We are now in the desert past the Nevada State line, heading into California (a place that neither Shane nor I have ever, ever driven in!). That song from Cheryl Crow is going through my head (Leaving Las Vegas!!). The sun is glinting off the sand, and I’m watching the terrain slowly turn from mostly scrub brush to big cactus fields spreading as far as the eye can see.

California, here we come. Vegas, thanks for never changing.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a great time. My mom loved having you. You and the fam are always welcome. Love you, Rebecca