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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sunday Summit Sum Up

Leaving Uncle Derek looking so snazzy in his custom jacket was a challenge.  But then I saw this guy on Fremont, and I knew Saturday night could go on without me. I went to bed.

He must've been a Boy Scout, because this dude was prepared
Sunday morning, the Vegas Nerd Society Summit started with me finding my way to Boar’s Head for a wee bit of pre-run poker, video style. Drank my LapItUp coffee, ate half a free donut, and acquiesced to just a smidge of Rumchata in my coffee. Cashed out up $150, and zipped out the north doors to meet up with a good friend. Time for a sunrise run with a Sunrise ER nurse.

Derek Stevens is awesome
We zoomed out to the Wetlands, which sounds a little like a Springsteen album in his much, MUCH later years. If you want to find it, take the Boulder Highway until it meets up with Tropicana, and go east. The course was a winding, paved path through actual green wetlands, with a bridge or two. It was a little short for me, just under 3 miles. But then again, sometimes who you run with is way more important than how far, or how hard. I neglected to get a single photo of the Wetlands, the convertible, or the beautiful pink hues in the underbelly of wispy clouds that morning. I blame the Rumchata. That’s what Rumchata is for.

Here’s a photo of our run last month, running at the Whitney preserve, another lovely open space area not too far east of the strip. I also highly recommend it. With the exception of the rattlesnakes.
Back to the Cal, I showered, ate a protein bar and, well, found myself at Boar’s Head watching Sunday morning football and enjoying a (sort of) well-earned Carlsbad IPA. If you ask nicely and it’s not too busy, they’ll give it to you in a frosty, ice cold pint glass instead of the plastic Fremont Safety Traveler. Robert will hook you up with it without even asking, but you gotta get there really late, or really early, to find Robert.

I looked at my watch. It couldn’t be. 11:55 am. Check out is at noon at the Cal/Hawaiian Senior Center. I called the front desk.

“Hey, any way I could check out a little bit later?”

“No. Sold out tonight.”

“Like, even 15 or 20 minutes late?”

“No. Sold out.”

“So even though I’m down here putting all kinds of money into your casino, you want me to stop and check out. Right?”

She sighed. “Just do the best you can.”

Then she added, "Sold OUT!"

Ha!  OK, then. I cashed out, still ahead for the day, and for the trip. The VP had been kind, the breakfast beer kinetic.

I had one last stop before entrusting my travel to Spirit airlines once again. I knew, for sure, there would be NO bumps for me. No voluntary bumps. Even though I had the next day off, well, the next 4 days off, and could actually stay just a little longer. And watch football. And gamble. Well. OK. Maybe. Maybe one bump. But that’s it, Spirit.

As a little consolation prize, I kept my Spirit boarding pass from Friday. When you take it to the D within 24 hours of landing, you get two $25 matchplay chips. I still had mine. Next time, the D. Next time I’m coming for you with your matchplay chips, and I’m gonna win back that Spirit rip-off fake-out vouchers.

I’ll let you know how that turns out on my next trip. I’ll even take photos.

Unless, you know. Rumchata.

I packed my bag in 4.7 minutes, and was out of my room by 12:20. I left a little thank you note for housekeeping, and more than my usual tip, because #VegasStrong. Next stop, the Mob Museum down the street.

Dr. David Schwartz lends some real street cred to the Summit Nerd Herd. He’s written some fascinating books about Vegas, including Grandissimo, which spun the tale of Jay Sarno’s rise and fall as Caesars’ baby daddy. He teaches at UNLV, writes books, and schools Vegas Nerds on private tours of the Mob Museum. He knows the place, the history, the connections. He knows how to tell it.

Dr. Dave is one buff history buff

Wild Nerds in their native environment
The Mob Museum features some graphic and brutal photos. The St. Valentine’s Day massacre wall is on display here. I guess if Main Street Station had gotten ahold of it first, some dude would be peeing on it, next to the slab of Berlin Wall in its public men’s bathroom. Seeing a bunch of firearms, even if they were relics, and slain people, even if they were malicious criminals, seemed a little close to the bone, given the recent terrible event.

The Nerd Herd thinned by the end of the guided tour. I had to hail a Lyft, myself, and get thee to the airport. I was up a couple hundred dollars, and a couple dozen friends and memories. Sometimes I remember names, faces, dates. Mostly, though, I remember the feelings. The freedom. Reality is waiting on the other side of the gate. Schedules, work, fifth grade math homework, shuttling the kids to adventure club and sports. Emails about parent-teacher conference times and fund-raisers filled my neglected in-box.

I sighed. The routine. My routine. My normal was waiting for me. Again, Vegas had shown the importance of fun and freedom. I looked south toward the airport. A familiar switch flipped.

I couldn’t wait to be home again.

The only thing better than going to Las Vegas is leaving Las Vegas. I’d been tumbled, again, in a dryer full of rocks that pummeled the fun into me and the worries right out. I’d emerged with my edges smooth, my surfaces polished. I zipped through TSA Pre-screen, which has gone a long, long way in making travel enjoyable again.

I ran into my new Denver airport bar buddies from two days ago, this time at the Vegas airport bar. We exchanged stories, and laughs. From my cozy seat in 5F on my Spirit flight home, I slept. And dreamed of mechanical horses, and Jose, and pain-killers at Frankie’s. Of shy, smiling Vegas Nerds, and still, white crosses, and my dreamless, sleepless Sunrise nurse friends. Of shooting craps with the legends, and of Dogfish IPA at Mandalay Bay, of the endless Fremont Freak parade.

Vegas was born of fresh starts and second chances. If you’ve got a dollar and a dream, find your way here, again. Because it’s Vegas, and even now, especially now, anything can happen.

Take me home


    1. Get this fine lady on the regular rotation...... haven't seen this fine a writing tandem since Affleck and Damon in Rounders..... this blog is wicked awesome son!!!

      1. Rounders (1998)

        Writing Credits (WGA)
        David Levien ... (written by) &
        Brian Koppelman ... (written by)

    2. Wonderful writing!

    3. I know that's got to be you with pockets full of beer, but I don't know how you took a picture of yourself from behind.
      I will get to the bottom of this.


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