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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Vegas Left the Lights on for me

Bounce back to Vegas

Almost ten days had passed since I last visited our fine city. This trip was planned before the prior October one. A chill in the air, and cold, white stuff on the ground at my house can only mean one thing: Time to go to Vegas, baby.

Last month, a kindly, heavily-accented (not that there’s anything wrong with that) representative from Frontier Airlines informed me that I was four segments away from Elite Status on Frontier.

I know, I know.

For most people, being elite on Frontier is like being king of the turd pile, the lead fly buzzing around on the top of the turd world. For me, it has value. Free carry-on bag, zone 1 loading, free upgrade to stretch seating if it’s available, free confirmed standby free, and almost everything I get from Southwest for free, but with a much better beer selection on board. Well, usually.

I changed my upcoming flights on this trip from Southwest to Frontier based on his information. Yes, the fare IS cheaper on Frontier. Kind of. But it’s free on Southwest, because of points. (See the end of this post for a detailed discussion about flying for free.)

Copper Mountain. It's not really made of copper, though.
Wednesday night, I left work about 10:30 PM, slept a couple hours, then boom. Time to go. It was just me, the mountains, and a hundred smooth miles under a million stars in a black velvet sky driving over the passes. I’m a morning person, big time. But yeah, 3 am was pushing it.

I dropped my Momda off at Planet Honda on the western outskirts of Denver to have my snow tires put on, and fresh oil put in for all 180 horses. The Honda dealership offers something called Friends for Life where they do all your oil changes for free, and swap out your tires for the life of you, and/or the Honda you bought.

Dropped off the keys, the car, the snow tires, and my regular, well-regulated roles. See you on Monday! HELLO FREEDOM!!!
On Frontier, I shared row 28 with the most nervous mother/daughter duo I’ve encountered. The daughter looked barely old enough to drive, much less properly do Vegas. They held hands and prayed as we took off.

I slept.

As the flight attendant came by, the daughter ordered a Pinner IPA from Colorado’s own Oskar Blues brewery. Their Dale’s Pale Ale is my go-to beer, at least in the morning. I thought, oh, I like it! IPA, aka, Instant Pals Ale, is my fav beer flav.

But alas. This 7 am flight was fresh out of Pinner IPA.

I declined a different beer. Because, dang.

A flight attendant who clearly had status and seniority, based on her (or someone’s) name, Margaret, stitched in fancy script on her flight attendant apron. She had funky glasses and timeless short, spiky hair. Maybe she’s also a cool grandma, or a camgirl for those into enjoy the mature, errr, arts. Maybe she’s both.

She sold me on a Bailey’s and coffee. I don’t mind paying for drinks on planes. I like getting them free better. But heads up, if Frontier is fresh outta your favorite beer at 7 am: Bailey’s is one charge, coffee is an additional charge. With a beer, it’s one low, low price for an excellent local brew.

Another thing I love about Frontier, besides their support for local Colorado breweries and free airline animal trading cards, is that they fly right over my house. Really. I grabbed a gorgeous morning shot of Copper Mountain, about 30 miles from my town.

When I’m on my deck at home, and see a fresh contrail forming, I ask Siri: what flight is above me? (Go ahead, try this if you have an iPhone. It is SO COOL.)

Often, it’s Frontier. I look up the flight number to see if it’s going to Vegas. (OK. I usually know the flight numbers to Vegas. On Frontier, I often take flight 777. Well-played, Frontier.) I feel happy inside, wave at the lucky passengers, and think warm thoughts about their destination. Then I get right back to shoveling, because that deck is not gonna clear itself.

We landed in Vegas. I hopped into an Uber. Maybe it was the Bailey’s talking, but for a second I thought I’d landed in Laguardia. (Although, to be fair, the last time I did land in Laguardia, the driver didn’t speak English and his passenger had to translate for him to find me. He was a kick ass driver, though.)

But this time, Holy freakin’ surly driver! She angrily scolded me for barely making the time limit. Note: I wasn’t late, just almost late. (Maybe she almost scolded you - R.F.) Big difference when it comes to whether a lady deserves a verbal assault first thing in the morning. Just sayin’. I explained that the rideshare signs indicated that the pickup is on the valet level, but did not say where it was in the line-up. All the other floors were numbers. I dashed up and down the stairs looking for it. (Turns out that Valet, or level V, is between level 0 and level 1.

The driver did NOT care. Not one bit. You can take a driver out of New Yawk, but not New Yawk out of a driver. Full disclosure: I love New York, LOVE it, and I’d go there more if it was as easy, close, cheap, and warm as Vegas.

I sat back, and let her let me have it. It was part ride, part performance art. She’d left New York (really New Jersey) after 22 years in some soul-sucking industry where her commute of 22 miles took an hour and a half every day. She had earned her rage, people. I still gave her five stars and a tip, because, well, this is Vegas and that’s what you do.

I figured the Hawaiian Senior Center, aka The California, would have a least one empty room available at 9 am. I figured wrong. I checked my bag with the friendly guy in the Hawaiian shirt who said he worked there. I think he was a bellman? He did give me a wink and a numbered ticket.

This left me with a dill pickle of a dilemma to which any Vegas veteran can relate. It was 9 am on a four night Vegas trip. While I was in Vegas solo, as usual, planned shenanigans were in my immediate future.

And in my pocket, my entire bankroll for the long trip nestled in and whispered, don’t leave me.

Should I stash some cash in my bag? Take it with me?

I had arrived in time for a little morning run, and was hoping to hop out of my jeans and into my shorts. However, there was no way I could run with my pocket wad slapping my thighs with every step, obviously to the entire Vegas world. I would have looked happy to see everyone.

While (I'm sure) I seem well-adjusted in this blog, I have considerable social anxiety in groups. I had planned meet up with a trusted friend, great, but also the above group of bloggers and podcasters later. I wanted to meet up to support their myriad endeavors, including Tipping the Odds Las Vegas, with Mitch and Dr. Kev.

And, I also wanted to be alone, because massive introvert.

I opted for no running. I took my whole bankroll, and what did I do? What else! Went directly to see Oleg at Boar’s Head Bar at Main Street.

Dill pickle solved!!!

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