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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Big Game Hunting in Vegas

Four hours of sleep in Vegas is equal to eight hours in the real world. Right?  Right. Plus a shower equals an additional hour of sleep. A doctor friend told me she learned this in residency, which makes it a (notably untrue) medical fact.

Either way, like any die-hard Vegas degen I wasn’t about to let bad sleep decisions get in the way of Vegas-time. I was up at 7 AM,  at second sunset, running the strip while my parents' plane passed over the plains. In Vegas, casino workers and tourists alike donned their teams' jerseys early in the morning.

Las Vegas, downtown Las Vegas, the Big Game, Superbowl, friendzone
Most creative jersey award goes to this guy
Super Bowl Sunday had finally arrived. Kick-off was ten hours away. I had plenty of time to place my bets on my super handy William Hill sports app that had served me so well in December.

(Spoiler alert:  Willy Hill FAILED me. And I still can’t get my money.)

So, first the good news:

Las Vegas, Caesars, fountain
And we're back! Decapitation Fountain flows again.
That’s right. The Caesars fountain is back, people, and the Samsung pop-up store, gone.

There is no bad news.

Second sunset, aka, sunrise, in Vegas is my favorite time of day  for so many reasons. The people-watching rises to more entertaining levels, as there are no crowds to mitigate their behavior. And morning contrail-gazing puts me in a happy mood for the whole day.

Sunrise selfie at Bellagio

Contrails before cocktails. Barely.
Every year, I take my parents to Vegas in February. Which means once a year, I still rent a car. Driving in Vegas is easily the biggest gamble a person can take. I love Lyft. I love Uber. Give me walking, a bike, monorail, even a cab. I picked up my parents at McCarren, and we were off to breakfast at Eat.

Eat is at 7th and Carson downtown, a block off East Fremont, just across from the south side of the Downtown Container Park. Chef Natalie Young holds court at the center table of the restaurant, while beautiful hipsters in black short sleeve shirts, showing off monster biceps and work-of-art-ink, deliver food that will invade your dreams for months. My dad and I had the shrimp and grits on a bed of bacon. It was more of a lattice of bacon. This meal is divine. I still think of it, when I have a moment alone. In fact, excuse me. I’ll be right back. I have to go think about that dish. Alone.

I did take a photo, but trust me. Grits on bacon isn’t exactly photogenic. Ok. Fine. You want a pic? You got it. But I did warn you.

Eat, Carson street, Las Vegas, DTLV, Downtown Las Vegas
Bacon + grits + shrimp = JOY
Expect a little bit of a wait for a table. Consider it anticipation time. Expect a little trouble with the parking meter, if you drive, but remember, it just buys you more time under that deep blue desert sky while you wait for your table.

After breakfast, we strolled through Container Park. Kids played on the enormous playground. Other people's kids. We looked at them and smiled. Yes, we were kids once, too. But today, no kids were with us. Not even one. No kids that any of us are responsible for at least 600 miles in any direction.

If a shower = an hour of sleep, a parental break = 2 shots of tequila worth of giddyness. Per kid. Per day.

 Las Vegas, DTLV, Downtown Las Vegas, self driving bus
Vegas short bus

This cute little bus drives itself. Well, except for the dude manning the computer on board. We didn’t take self-driving bus, because car. Someday, short bus. Someday I will ride you.  If you want to ride the little bus, find some girls under the big blue umbrella who are stationed at its stops to advise potential riders where it goes.

Downtown Las Vegas is full of awesome murals, and in this way, having a car proves fabulous. Driving around semi-sketchy neighborhoods to take in the local art is preferably to walking around to see it. Then again, walking makes for way cooler photos. Album cover quality photos, really, if albums still existed.

Carson street, Las Vegas, DTLV, Downtown Las Vegas
Vegas sunshine in February 
Soon it was time for kickoff. My parents left to meet up with friends, and I left to meet my group at the D.

The D on Fremont hosted a big Big Game party on the 12th floor in their Detroit Ballroom, featuring a patio facing southwest over the Downtown Events Center. Tickets cost $150 for all you can eat (nachos, hot dogs, sliders) and drink (anything). William Hill had a dedicated betting desk, just for this party. Uncle Derek also hosted a big party across the street at his Events Center. Unlike the crickets heard chirping over the crowd of three in December, every seat held a fan.

Las Vegas, downtown Las Vegas, DTLV, The Downtown Events Center, the D
Concert-quality sound and a giant screen for Super Bowl Sunday outside
Since I’d put cash on my William Hill app on my phone, and was running late (shocker), I placed one bet for a friend in Germany at the little pop-up betting desk. I planned on doing the rest from my seat with my friends. Nope. The William Hill app never did load, and I missed out on prop bets.

The room, rowdy and festive, leaned pro-Philly except for a few Pats fans. Big, vivid TVs lined the walls, the speakers filled the room with stadium sounds, and the desert breeze blew in over the patio. Three or four bars were set up, including on the patio, and two buffets of football food lined long tables in the back. With over 900 prop bets, people cheered or booed at every play in the first five minutes. My buddy Jason won for Philly scoring first, and on a field goal. Prop bets make the Super Bowl super fun.

Las Vegas, downtown Las Vegas, DTLV, the D
All fans are friends during the Big Game. Jason and Bender sharing the love with Eddie
Was it worth $150 for the food, drink, dedicated betting desk, lack of crowds, short bathroom lines, and a seat to watch the game? Meh, maybe. I had two beers, and a couple sliders. Was it worth $150 to not hear how much fun your friends had (and you missed)  on Super Bowl for the rest of the year?


The D did a fantastic job decorating. The cute little Nerf-like footballs flew through the air as everyone danced to Justin Timberlake at halftime.

Las Vegas, downtown Las Vegas, DTLV, the D, Super Bowl
Not cleaning up after the game? Priceless
If you're into sports betting, the William Hill app is usually fantastic. It began working again as soon as the opportunity to place any meaningful bet had passed. I went to several kiosks to retrieve the cash I had loaded onto the app, but was unable to bet. None of them had the capacity to return my money. Several calls later, I've been advised to send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope, for those born before 1954) to get a check. Buzzkill, Willy Hill. Boo. Seriously, who has a stamp? Much less an envelope? And I need TWO?

Our gang ended up dancing the night away to band Dollface again. Full disclosure: we have a friend in the band. But when your friend is in the band, you go once. When your friend's band is great, you go all three nights. Even in Vegas, baby, with those precious Vegas minutes.


    1. Yeah! Welcome back, Joan! Always love your stuff - you're a great complement to our boy Flushie!

    2. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it.


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