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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Weekend in Vegas

Between August 18th and the 22nd, I was in none other than the fabulous Las Vegas for my brother's 21st birthday party. Originally I thought I wouldn't be able to make it because I planned to leave for Japan before this took place. After the flights to Vegas were booked I discovered that I wasn't going to leave until a week after they would arrive home. I was a bit bummed that I wouldn't be able to go and celebrate with him but was quickly relieved when I learned that one of my brother's best friends would be driving out to Vegas, meeting him there. Figuring that we could put two and two together, I asked if I could just ride with him. It worked out perfectly because not only would he not have to ride alone for the 4 (at the best) hours it would take, but I'd actually get to go as well. In the end two more friends were also able to come and before I knew it, we had a road trip on our hands.

Though I have been to Vegas once before, this pretty much qualifies as my "first time" for a number of reasons. Chief among which is the fact that I'm now well over 21 and not 6 years old anymore. I was busy with school when I became old enough but I really hadn't anyone to go with so it didn't matter much to me. Back then I was far too young to do or experience anything that one would associate as being part of the Vegas experience. Now, with that roadblock out of the way, I managed to do quite a bit with the four days I had at my disposal. In truth, there's probably far more that happened than I can now remember to type but I'll do my best to recount the events in as timely and interesting a fashion as I can.


My brother, mother, father, and grandparents all flew to Vegas. My brother's three friends Vinny (driving), Jake, Lauren and I all made our way starting from the OC area. Their flight was booked at night, so we had a head start taking off. Here's a picture of the pre-departure:

From left to right: Jake, Jonathan, Vinny, Myself, and Lauren

And for the record, here's a screen cap of my phone as we set off:

We took off a bit later in the day

 Alright, now it's time to throw some pictures on screen and I'll comment when necessary.

Our faces while they were still smiling, or reading nutritional information

Making our way out of Orange County

There's a whole lot of nothing most of the ride, but we had pretty clouds and sunshine

We made a pit stop to stretch a bit and get some food at the Barstow In N Out. It was pretty hot already by that point, if memory serves me correctly. We were in the high 90s maybe even at 100 degrees already. I was hungry and ordered two double doubles protein style (lettuce wrapped) along with a couple packets of peppers.  While we were eating, someone -I believe it was Jake- mentioned something about liking the Peppers. On top of that comment I uttered the word, "Pepperjack," to which Lauren added, "Pepperjack Cheese," to which Vinny concluded, "Cheesecake". Normally I don't like to recount "you had to be there" type stories but it was a memorably oddball and hilarious moment that gave us a good laugh and enough energy to get back on the road.

I don't know about you guys, but Pahrump sounds like a place I want to be

 There were thunderclouds brewing off in the distance as we drew closer to state line, and of course by the time I thought to take out my phone they stopped altogether. Check out the video!

Lightning No Show At State Line

Shortly thereafter we stopped at Buffalo Bills and did a bit of preemptive gambling. I put in 10 dollars at a video poker machine, and cashed out with a single penny. Vinny, on the other hand, did much better and hit a thirty dollar hand netting about a 25 dollar profit.
The sign of things to come

A little later on we finally made it to the strip. It was around 9pm by then and we were driving through the streets to get to our hotel. Most of the pictures I took were fuzzy at best because of this so I don't think anyone will want to see those. I'll have better ones from when we walked on foot in a later post. We sat around for a bit, walking through the mall that leads up to the casino of Planet Hollywood, while we waited for my brother and the rest of my family to arrive. I decided to give video poker another try during the downtime, 10 more dollars, with better results too. I walked out of there up, just over twelve dollars.
This trip's just about paid for itself by now

Eventually we met up in the room with my brother, and they did birthday shots as the clocks on our phones ticked over to 12am. Though I'm a non-drinker, I think it's worth noting that I totally downed that glass of water. In the rooms there's some article from a Hollywood movie (hence Planet Hollywood) and in ours we had the jacket that Keanu Reeves wore in Speed. On the opposite side of this wall was another poster of the movie, as well as one more in the bathroom in case you got lonely.

Keanu watched over us the whole weekend

After they had their shots, we met with my parents and grandparents on the casino level at the Heart Bar where they bought him his first "I'm 21, yay!" drink.

There were no hearts there despite it's namesake

The only picture I can legally show you from the first night

 Afterwards, we split up and had a night of it. More tomorrow!


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