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    Wednesday, February 17, 2021

    Topsy Turvy

    So, here we are. I hope you have been coping during the pandemic.

    Everything about life has been upset, the rhythm is off kilter, the joy is squelched, and everything is on hold.

    Like the rhythm of fairly regular trips to Las Vegas. I'd plan, blog about any and all of the little and big trip things, meals, travel, hotels, wins, losses. I'd barely finish one trip report and the next one would be in the hopper.

    And now I find myself stranded, with 14 months between me and when I was last in Vegas. All this time, with nothing to say. No will to write. Like you, hunkered down, making the best of it and trying to keep unseen enemies at bay.

    Going by the numbers, I know that some of you have suffered losses, have struggled. And I'm sorry for that. You've been fine companions on this journey that has been pre-empted so rudely.

    Sometimes I feel that what I do here is of no consequence, is trivial, and unimportant. Certainly, comparing to the monumental tsunami of uncertainty that has crashed down on us all, this blog is not important.

    But I also recognize that there are many who enjoy it as an escape, a little respite in the day, so there's its value. Quite a few of you have mentioned that you miss the trip reports, over the past year, and it's nice to be missed in that way.

    In March 2020, I pulled all the ads off the blog, indicating that they would be gone 'for the duration'. They are still gone. The duration hasn't ended yet. At the time, I really did kind of think it would be a year and a half until things went from topsy turvy to just topsy.

    With no Vegas trips to take and write about, and none in the offing, I just didn't have anything I wanted to write about. But now there seems to be some light at the end of the hypodermic, spring is coming, and I guess it's time for an update.

    First, and foremost, me, the Quad Queen, Chippy, and all of my friends and family have weathered the storm very well indeed. We've stayed healthy, and fairly sane. I'm thankful for that, and may it continue to be so.

    The Quad Queen no longer works in the Estimatin' department. She no longer works at Royal Canadian Veeblefetzer. In fact, she no longer works at all.

    Last August, the axe came down and she, along with many others, were laid off. It seems grommets are not as in high demand with everyone working from home.

    This is a huge change, and as shocking as it is, here's another. In a couple of months, I will also bid farewell to Royal Canadian Veeblefetzer and the size 7 grommet line.

    That's right. No more Norbert to play tricks on, no more bolted down lunch table to try to get Kenny Blankenship to throw up on, no more production line crapping out rubber grommets like rebounding rabbit turds.

    For many years Las Vegas had been the escape I needed to get me through working life. Somehow, I'm now in a position to hang it up and retire. And I'm not resting on my laurels, either. The loss of my dear cousin in 2017, who was only a few years older than I, shocked me, and the Quad Queen. A lot of the plans we'd made were thrown out the window, and we decided to retire as soon as we could, and live as much as we could - now.

    The last thing I want to do is work an extra few years to stow away some more money for - what? - and then croak as soon as (or before) I'm done.

    So that's it. My world is going to change in every way.

    What will Vegas mean to me after retirement? I can't say, other than to say "I want it!". I certainly won't need to blow off work steam the way I have for decades.

    That begs the question when will we return to Vegas. Unknown.

    I really don't want to travel right now, and Vegas is risky. And it's not the same with all the protocols and masks and acres of fancy plexiglas barriers. I think I want to hold off until Vegas is a little more Vegas.

    Meanwhile, I hang out on Twitter with my Vegas Tweeps every day, reading about Vegas, thinking about Vegas, looking at photos of Vegas, watching Vegas videos.

    During the day, we generally keep the Fremont Street Webcam up on the TV. It's comforting.

    A few years ago, when we started talking about the post-work era, I came up with the idea for a trip. And I really like the idea.

    I'm calling it The Neverending Vegas Trip.

    We agreed that if I worked a couple of months extra this spring, I'd be allowed a certain bankroll for a Vegas trip. I'd go to Vegas without a planned return date - maybe even without a return plane ticket.

    And I'd stay as long as I wanted to, as long as the bankroll held out, and as long as I could stand it. The Neverending Vegas Trip.

    I don't know when it will be, but... that's what's up next. That's the carrot at the end of all this, besides telling Norbert to take a flying leap.

    Fremont Street Webcam
    Vegas, I'm keepin' an eye on you.

    I've missed you all, and I'll keep you posted. Consider this the first pre-pre-pre-planning pre-trip post.

    Saturday, March 21, 2020

    What do you mean Vegas is Closed?

    Like so many of you - hell, all of you - plans have been torn asunder with the arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus this spring.

    The Quad Queen and I had a trip booked back in December and oh, what a great trip it was going to be!

    We had 8 nights in a row booked at Wynn from the Wynn Slots app, with options on 3 more. We had 6 nights at the Cal, with 3 nights overlapping, as a backup.

    We had concert tickets and ultimate Flusher Room Camping plans out the ying yang.

    All of it, of course, for naught - we, like you, had to put it all aside until this situation is resolved.

    Instead of rocking out to ZZ Top live, I watched them on Netflix while I trying to get refunds on all the shit I booked. Actually, it's gone pretty well - the concert tickets are the lone holdout.

    Big deal, now. Who cares?!
    In between trips, I've slowly been going through all the posts on the blog, fixing spelling, adding the odd phrase, improving the photos, and creating artwork for entries on the Trip Report Index page.

    And in so doing, I've come across a couple of trip reports that have never appeared in the index. They've basically been buried for the last how ever many years.

    Damn ZZ Top, cancel already so I can get my money back!

    I decided that since I can't go to Vegas and give you a trip report, I'd republish one of the old ones, just as if I was there. Kind of like a rerun.

    We all need to pull together, after all.

    I've told Jimmy Poon to turn off all the site advertising for the duration, just to do our little part in feeding your Vegas Jones with the minimal annoyance. It may take a while to kick in, so don't panic if you still see a few.

    Yep, we're going ad-free and pretending we're in Vegas. Hope you enjoy the coming posts.

    Royal Flusher

    Monday, February 10, 2020

    No Wynn Without an Encore

    By popular demand, especially by Anna T., an Encore post - because a few more interesting things did happen...

    Day 12

    As I've written about, we've change how we go about our flights and stuff, because I am so over red-eyes home, and I'm not keen on the 2:30AM arrivals in Vegas on the way out.

    Instead of tight timelines with single points of travel failure, we're now favoring this type of schedule.

    Trip Out: Take Chippy to the Left-B-Hind Kennel, train to Toronto in the afternoon, stay over in Toronto.

    Next day, leisurely daytime flight to Vegas, arrive fresh, ready to enjoy a decent first day. This means a stopover, but on the other hand, we can fly Delta - and I'm really liking Delta these days.

    Trip Home: Fly out mid-day, arrive in Toronto in the evening, stay over.

    Next day. leisurely train ride mid-day back to Flusherville. Go and pick up Chippy and get some milk, and start blogging the trip.

    It takes more travel time, and it's a couple of paid hotel room nights in Toronto, but we save parking costs, and we don't have to deal with the stress of wondering if we will even be able to get out of Flusherville on Air Canada. If you've read the blog for any length of time, you know how many times I've had to run through Pearson to try to make the 9:00PM Air Canada Rouge flight out to Vegas. The stress is incredible, and on more than one occasion, we've had to turn around and go home.

    The return trip was planned exactly as laid out above, but on United, with a stopover in Denver, which could be iffy this time of year. And by this time of year I mean from September through June.

    What is this??... An airplane - for ANTS?

    We had a 1:30PM flight out of McCarran - how stress free is that? There was time for leisurely tea and filters-with-ears coffee, and time to pack and even shower and shave.

    It was all great.  There was time to play a bit in the morning but I didn't. I really didn't. That great feeling from the last wins was still with me, and I wanted to just enjoy it. So for probably the first time ever, neither of us did any panic last minute play at the hotel or at the airport.

    The United lounge at McCarran was nice enough, I suppose. Good coffee, but they charge for premium liquor. The usual troughs of nibbly food that looks good but is never enough to make a meal out of, unless you want to fill up on a pint of oily hummus and 16 packs of Melba toast.

    (Who the fuck was Melba, anyway, and why was she in charge of the toast?)

    It was so long Las Vegas... we were airrrr borne.

    Now, there was weather in Denver - snow to be exact, and our departure was delayed a bit as a result. We managed to get in and get out, and they even put us at the front of the wing freshener line.

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