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|
|Derek Stevens is awesome|
|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.|
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 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|