I’ve visited Las Vegas dozens of times in my life, almost always for trade shows or professional conferences, and so I think I’ve become immune to the rough edges of the city, observing them, but not being affected by them. And then there’s the non-stop sensory overload that characterizes everything about the Las Vegas Strip with its 24-hour lifestyle and flashing lights.
When I realized I was going to be in town for a couple of weeks because of how various conferences I was attending were scheduled, I thought that it would be a good idea for my youngest to fly out for a few days to see the town for herself. Truth be told, however, the original plan was for her and I to spend the time with my Dad in Southern California, a few days off school for her to celebrate her birthday with me and Papa. His passage from this life a few months ago nixed that possibility, and after deciding I’d just be in Vegas solo, she asked if she could come out to Vegas instead. And then A-, my 18yo asked if she could come along too.
And so it came to pass that the day after CES wrapped up, I was at the McCarran airport picking up my girls for a four day visit to Las Vegas. I also picked up a rental car to give us more autonomy — turns out with free valet parking at every hotel, having a car is quite convenient — and switched over to New York New York, thinking it’d be more fun for them with its urban theme and child-friendly arcade.
The girls were indeed impressed by the glitz and glamour, excitedly pointing out to each other the limousines (and even thinking that there’d be celebrities in them, not just regular folk who were willing to pay more for a ride), and enjoying a walk through the MGM property chain of the Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay.
They were also quite impressed by the roller coaster at NYNY, getting off rather windswept but smiling. “We went upside down for a bunch of it too, not just the loop-the-loop!” they excitedly told me (as I don’t do well on roller coasters so I skipped the ride).
Sunday we checked out the Hershey’s Store and the M&M’s Store, both of which were big hits. Heck, we even stuck around to watch the cute 3D movie at the M&M’s Store, something I’d never done in the many times I’d visited the store. We also bought about $25 worth of candy from their bright dispensers. All for the little one, no surprise.
Later on Sunday I took them to the Cirque du Soleil show Beatles:LOVE, a show I’ve seen a number of times and really enjoy, and they enjoyed it quite a bit too, excitedly talking about it for the next few days basically non-stop. Monday we drove up to visit Hoover Dam and had a good time, though the fatigue was already starting to set in as K- got very cranky after hurting her foot on the escalator.
By Tuesday, their last day in town, I couldn’t get them to leave the room. A- said she wasn’t feeling well, but both of them had basically maxed out on the Vegas experience and wanted to just stay in the room and watch TV.
I left them in the room for a few hours as I could feel my own stress level increasing as I started to think about the car sitting, untouched, the adventures I’d planned — like the Pinball Hall of Fame, lunch at the Venetian canal-side and gelato at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace — and the cost of feeding three instead of just myself. The Starbucks downstairs at NYNY worked great with its quiet back room away from the flashing lights, and when I came back up, we managed to pull together a quiet afternoon, including lunch at the Rainforest Café over at the MGM Grand and a late night ice cream treat from Ben & Jerry’s.
The next morning I drove the girls back to the airport, dropped off our rental car (ultimately a waste of money, but without it we probably wouldn’t have gone to Hoover Dam, so perhaps it was a wash), watched them get through airport security without incident, and grabbed an airport shuttle back to NYNY, kid free.
And I miss them. Turns out I’d rather be hanging out with my children than in Las Vegas solo any day. Go figure.
In the future I don’t know that I’d bring my children back to Las Vegas for more than a few days, and if we did, it might work a whole lot better to stay at an off-Strip non-casino resort where we could enjoy the pool and be away from the non-stop hustle and bustle, the drunks on the elevators and staggering through the casino, the exhausted foreign travelers, and the noise.
It is rather overwhelming.
Heck, I’m ready to go home too, now that I think about it…