Monday, February 20, 2012

Loved LOVE, but not Las Vegas

Repeat after me, "Las Vegas is NOT a family town."  
Say it again, "Las Vegas is NOT a family town."

Honestly, I don't know what we were thinking taking three kids to Sin City.  I planned it for two reasons: One cheap flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas would allow us to drive to see the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon before heading to Phoenix; and My sister HIGHLY recommended we see The Beatles' Love by the Cirque du Soleil.    I'm happy to say that both were worth the trip, but little else pleased this mom.

Let me explain.  I'm not a prude, but upon entering our hotel, New York New York,  we were hit with clouds of cigarette smoke and clinking sounds of slot machines.  Winding our way through the casino to get to registration, we saw mostly older folks: cigarette in mouth, money heading for machine in one hand, drink in the other.  Not the inspirational image you want on a trip with kids around the country, but it was honest.  Life isn't always sunshine and roses.

We chose this hotel because it offered a games area for kids complete with a Coney Island Midway and Roller Coaster which Greg, Wyatt and Anabel gleefully rode while Emma and I went to Ben and Jerry's.  They also have a back street area away from the casino that gives you the feel of walking the streets of Greenwich Village.  The place was massive.

Trying to get from our resort to the Mirage to see the show Love, we discovered the true magic of Vegas.  They don't want you to leave and do a fine job of preventing it.  There are no clocks. None.  There are no signs for exits to the street.  In fact, there are few directional signs in a casino at all.  I felt like Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief trying to get out of the Lotus Hotel.  At one point, I wished I'd bought some of those martial arts weapons we saw in Chinatown so we could fight our way out.   With one misdirection after another, we finally made it outside to The Strip.   I looked at my iphone and saw we had only twenty-five minutes to make it through "The Miracle Mile."  We did what has worked in every other city we have visited this year and asked someone.  They said take the bus.  Cut to twenty minutes later when "the Deuce" finally pulls up across the street from The Mirage Casino.  I felt like we were in our own version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as our family of five sprinted across the Strip and into another casino's maze.  The only miracle I witnessed on the Miracle Mile was our bottoms hitting our seats just as the lights went down for the show.

Love was fantastic!  The weaving of over 120 Beatles' songs into a breathtaking show of acrobatics and choreography pleased our ears, as well as, our eyes.  The children thrilled as the trapeze artists and rollerbladers soared through the air.  They laughed at the clowns and feared for the trampoline hippies being chased by the cops.  In short, we loved it.

Exiting the theatre, we experienced another surreal moment.  We ran into an Israeli couple from Tel-Aviv that we had met on our whirlwind Hop-on, Hop-off tour in Los Angeles.  We exchanged travel stories while on the bus in Beverly Hills.  They were on their honeymoon tour of America having traveled from New York City to LA eventually heading to Las Vegas for Valentine's Day.  We told them of our travels and how we were seeing Love on Valentine's Day.  While Emma and I searched for Greg and the other two in the massive crowd of the show, I felt a tug on my sleeve and there was the young couple, grinning from ear to ear.  They had bought tickets for the second show.  So I had a "small world" moment in the middle of an overwhelming evening.

I wish I could say that all was terrific after this, but I can't.  The walk, yes, WALK, back to our hotel was like walking through Sodom and Gomorrah.  It was worse than our venture to The Mirage because: 1. It was later;  and 2. We couldn't find a bus stop or a cab.   We did get to see the Belagio's dancing fountains, but that hardly outweighed seeing the girly show flyers being forced on all of us or the runaway kids on the sidewalk.

The next day was spent mostly with reading and catching up on school work in the room. Greg and I enjoyed a fabulous meal at Thomas Keller's Bouchon, but we never bet a single dime the whole time we were there.

Sitting in a "New York City" courtyard reading Jane Austen while enjoying a plain egg salad sandwich, I wondered if I'm not as worldly as I thought.  I had no interest in gambling or playing games since we've been gambling for real all year.  Then, I thought, maybe the problem is I'm too worldly for this make believe town.

Every New York City Landmark on one city block

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