Yes, food played a major part in our girly Vegas week. I’ve already mentioned my passionate discovery of sushi, but that was only the first course in our comestible Bacchanalia. We satisfied our Southern fried appetites and listened to live music at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, indulged in exotic chocolates at Vosges Haut-Chocolat in The Forum, and ate one unbelievable meal at the famous Bellagio Dinner Buffet.
How can I describe the buffet? In the management’s own words: “The Buffet at Bellagio offers you the finest cuisine, hand-picked from a myriad of exotic places. Revel in a variety of sumptuous selections from Italy, China and Japan, as well as fresh seafood and traditional American delights. Satisfy your discerning taste with custom cuisine. Live-action cooking stations assure that your meal is made-to-order.” One review I read before the trip advised taking small portions so that you could sample as many new tastes as possible. Indeed. Lined up end-to-end, the many buffet stations would stretch out longer than a football field, and every inch is packed with delicate, savory delights, from Alaskan King Crab to Kobi Beef, with a selection of desserts that could put a carbaholic like me into a coma. Tracy and Regina nearly had to roll me out of there. It’s a good thing the Strip is four miles long; I had an opportunity to walk off at least some of the damage.
Eating isn’t the only thing we did in Las Vegas, of course. We also saw the critically acclaimed musical Mamma Mia!, a dramatic masterpiece written entirely as a vehicle for the chart-topping music of Abba. It was, perhaps, the most fun I have ever had with live theater. Tracy and Regina and I were singing and seat-dancing throughout the performance, standing at the end to join the cast in a rocked out reprise of “Dancing Queen”. We laughed so hard I was afraid I might experience my own reprise of the 1994 Piper Suit Incident*, a thought that sobered me right up. I realize that audience participation isn’t always considered polite in theater-going circles, but it takes a stronger woman than I to resist the urge to sing along with the likes of “Waterloo”, “Money, Money, Money”, and “Take a Chance on Me”. It only added to our delight when we recognized ourselves in the characters of the three friends onstage. I’ll leave it to those of you who have seen it to decide which of us is which.
We packed a lot into five days. I’m starting to realize that this post could easily reach masters thesis length, so I’ll just hit the high points:
*walked through the gate at the airport to find a huge bank of slot machines staring at me. I took a picture, not realizing that they were only the first of 800,000 I would see as we wound our way through the city’s various hotel casinos.
*ran into Alan Thicke, live and in person, filming a game show called Second Honeymoon in the mall.
*shopped in the same stores as Paris Hilton (although I’m betting she never made it over to the sales racks…)
*experienced 120 degree heat. People were clustered in the patches of shade on the sidewalks, and many sidewalk vendors attempted to draw business over with swamp coolers, large water tanks spraying cool mist into the air with industrial size fans. I stopped to cool my feet in one fountain, but when I put my bare foot down on the sidewalk to take off my second sandal, I burned my sole and it hurt for two days.
*saw the Fountain Show in front of the Bellagio, the moving statues at Caesar’s Palace, the live lions at the MGM Grand, the M&M World Museum, the gondoliers of the Venetian, the Aquarium at the Mirage, and the Sirens of Treasure Island. I was a little put out to find that the Treasure Island gift shop did not, in fact, sell pirate boots.
*rode the Deuce, a bus that runs up and down the strip, where Tracy managed to start up a conversation with the Weird Guy Who Knows Everything About Las Vegas. He told us where to find a cheap steak dinner and gave us VIP passes to one of the hottest nightclubs in town. Unfortunately, the passes were for the previous night.
*the Imax at the Luxor
*Jesse James’ tattoo parlor at the Palms, where the show “Inked” is filmed (*correction* The tattoo parlor, called Hart and Huntington, is actually owned by Carey Hart, not Jesse James. Thanks, Natalie!)
*an hour long massage at the hotel spa
*Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (Does anyone else see the questionable wisdom of creating a wax museum in a town that regularly sees the thermometer hit 120 degrees?)
*Cirque du Soleil
*The Liberace Museum (and no, I’m not kidding.)
So, there you have it. Our real Las Vegas vacation. We must be quite a disappointment to the Las Vegas advertising council. No drunken partying, no wild gambling, no lying to strangers and waking up in strange hotel rooms. We didn’t even make it into an episode of CSI.
But we talked. We talked while eating, while walking, while laying around in the hotel room in front of the air conditioner. We talked about real things, deep things, the things that never seem to get said in emails and phone conversations because they require eye contact and body language to be said in full. We celebrated fifteen years of being in each others’ lives, and looked ahead to the next fifteen with anticipation. We’re even discussing our next trip already. Maybe Seattle. Or Canada.
Or maybe we’ll just come back to Vegas. We’ve built some good memories in that golden city baking under the desert sun. And the Liberace Museum won’t be there forever, you know.
*In college I was part of an improvisational children’s theater group called The Pied Pipers. During a break between two performances, we were all sitting around talking and telling jokes. Let’s just say that a full bladder, a can of Grape Faygo, and a classic spit-take were a catastrophic combination. In the ensuing laughter, my bladder surrendered and I had to perform the entire next show with my backside carefully turned away from the audience.