The only way this post could start off any more cliche is if I somehow worked the phrase “Vegas, baby… Vegas” into it. I’m not going to do that. Instead, we’re just going to go back and start at the beginning, the beginning of a trip that would forever change the lives of 16 people, forced to live in a house and have their lives taped… this is what happens when people stop being polite and things start getting real. Wait… that doesn’t sound right? Oh well, hakuna matata.
The whole idea of this trip came about on kind of a down note, I’m not going to go into it too much, but a good friend of ours (RV) was diagnosed with cancer back in the early summer of 2012. He started an aggressive round of chemotherapy and the outlook was good. We knew that by the time New Years Eve rolled around he would be done with treatment and hopefully feeling much better. So knowing that we decided that would be a great time to celebrate, and what better place to celebrate than the place the terrorists hate the most, Las Vegas. Combine that with the fact that his sister (LV), our other really close friend, also lives out there, and her birthday is in December, and it was a no brainer. NB (all real names redacted) booked our tickets a couple weeks later as we sat in Buffalo Wild Wings after 8 hours of eating and drinking. We hadn’t even really finalized everything yet, but after drinking for that long we decided if we didn’t just do it, it would never happen. Those who prefer a more subtle or relaxing vacation may visit the website that offers tours of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.
Day 1 – December 28th 2012
It was finally time to leave. My wife, CR, had finally finished packing her 7 pairs of shoes into her full-size suit case, while I put the last few pairs of socks and underwear into my tiny duffle bag. Did I mention we were only going to be out there for 4 nights… 7 pairs of shoes seemed a bit excessive, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. NB was nice enough to pay for assigned seats ahead of time as well as 2 checked bags, Spirit Airlines is cheap, but they nickel and dime you for everything else. LV was actually on our flight out to Vegas as she was in town for the whole week of Christmas. Unfortunately for her, NB couldn’t get her a seat near us since she wasn’t on our itinerary, so she had to sit by herself. And I will say, we had absolutely no problems with Spirit Airlines flying out of Chicago. The plane was on time, the plane was brand new, and they even offered adult Capri Sun on the plane! I mean, how could you not love Sangriiias and Mojitos in a package that’s impossible to not jam the straw all the way through…
The flight was uneventful and we passed the time by watching the last few episodes of Homeland season 2 on the iPad. Unfortunately I did not get one of the adult Capri Sun’s as they were ridiculously expensive, and probably not worth it. The only thing to note about the flight is the flight attendant and her terrible attempt at being funny by telling us the time in Vegas was “Party Time”… She was the only one who laughed… it was awkward.
LV’s mom picked us up at the airport, she was out there celebrating as well, and we went straight to Firefly Tapas to grab some food. Mango Mojitos and Sangria were flowing as small plate after small plate made their way to the table. Our first meal in Vegas was a success, but now we had some time to kill before picking up sister in-law (CB) and her husband (BB). Seeing as how it was already almost 11PM Chicago time, we crashed until it was time to get them. Once we picked them up we decided to grab a drink Downtown near Freemont street at a bar called The Griffin… we had no clue what we were walking in to.
The place itself was totally fine, just a little loud and crowded, it was the smoke that took us by surprise. We had totally forgotten that you can smoke in bars in Las Vegas, where as in Chicago it’s been banned for years now. I might have taken more consideration with the amount of clothes I packed had I known that my jeans were going to smell like smoke after the first night. We called it a night fairly early, although we were still on Chicago time, which meant it was probably around 2AM. And much to the dismay of LV, we did not get burgers from the Fukuburger food truck that was parked down the street… maybe next time.
Day 2 – December 29th 2012
Never in my life have I seen so many Winnie The Pooh stuffed animals in one place… especially when the girl who owns them is 30 years old. I had nightmares that I was being brutally attacked by a ravenous gang of honey-hungry bears, only to awake and find that I had slept in a bed with NB instead…. I’m still not sure whether the nightmare was because of him or the stuffed animals.
I got out of bed and attempted to shower in LV’s shower, but I’m pretty sure the shower head has never been cleaned… ever. I could literally stand there looking straight into the shower head as the water would just flow around my face. NB would later replace the shower head, along with 9 light bulbs that LV just let burn out over the course of the last 7 years, as well as fix the toilet in the “cosinita” (or whatever it’s called). The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful… oh wait, no it wasn’t. I decided it was a good idea to eat 4 Fiber One bars for breakfast, and seeing as how I’m not the type of person who eats a normal amount of fiber on a regular basis, this screwed me up for the entire trip. I have nobody to blame but myself for that one, but I still blame everyone else for not telling me they were Fiber bars before I started eating them. I was just told they were breakfast bars that tasted like chocolate chip brownies… which they were, but they were also loaded with an assload of fiber… literally.
After everyone got ready for the day, we had two new visitors join us. RV and BV finally made it into town, just in time to head out to The Boiling Crab for a nice seafood lunch. Upon walking into this place you could tell that it was the best kept Filipino secret in all of vegas… NB and I were the only white people in joint aside from a couple waiters. I’m not a big seafood guy so the food didn’t really appeal to me, but I was able to find chicken tenders on the menu which are more up my alley. It appeared as though everyone enjoyed the food except for CB. She has a phobia when it comes to eating food with her hands, so the fact that whatever you ordered, whether it was crab legs or lobster, was brought to the table in a bucket, which was subsequently poured out into the middle of the table, freaked her out quite a bit. She managed to find some friend shrimp that came in a basket, but still proceeded to use a fork to eat them.
After filling up on Boiling Crab it was off to the strip for a night that most of us probably don’t remember much of. LV’s mom was nice enough to get us a room at the Aria since we all made the trip out for LV’s birthday, but rather than just get us a normal room, we ended up getting a 2000 sq ft suite, complete with conference room. It was pretty amazing. And not sound cliche, or make another reference to a movie that is over referenced when people talk about Vegas, but the suite reminded me of The Hangover. The room wasn’t quite as big as the room in the movie was, but just the fact that the blinds opened when we walked in the room for the first time to reveal a view of the strip was pretty amazing. We could have done without the conference room and replaced it with another bedroom, but had we had another night or two there, it would have made for a sweet beer pong/flip cup table. We only stayed in the room for one night while we went out on the strip, so we didn’t have a lot of time in the actual room itself, but with what little time we did have we managed to break the toilet in the master bathroom twice. So you can imagine how terrible sharing the other bathroom between 4 people was, especially since I had eaten 4 Fiber One Bars that morning…
Bathroom issues aside, the suite was amazing. Everyone came over before we went out to Chateau, at Paris, where we had a private table with 4 bottles of liquor for the 15 of us. We managed to get an amazing deal through a friend of a friend, which ended up working out great. It’s always good to have a backup plan though, so thankfully I was able to reach out to another friend with connections out there who would have been able to help us out if our original deal fell through (which we thought might happen at one point). Plus then we got to hang out with him the next day for lunch. DJ Skribble was spinning at the club, whom I’ve heard of, but it wasn’t the reason we went. I’m not normally a “club” guy, but the private table helped quite a bit, and as much as I hate to admit it, I had a great time. There was table dancing, shots, hitting on waitresses and almost a fight with a busboy… so in other words, an amazing night. We topped it off with a drunken walk to “Secret Pizza” (which you can read about here) in the Cosmopolitan and then crashed back at the suite. Apparently RV and BV ended up crashing in the conference room at some point in the night, but none of us remember them coming in, and they were gone before we left. The whole night turned out to be one big, amazing blur, but a good blur that I think we’ll all remember for years to come.
We jammed so much into day 1 and 2, that days 3, 4 and 5 were spent relaxing with family and friends off the strip and just enjoying our time away from things.
Keep an eye out for the Part 2 recap in the coming days. Check out Part 2 here. A big thank you to everyone that opened their homes to us, everyone that drove us around, went out of their way to accomodate us, paid for our stay at the Aria, just a big thank you to everyone that was there. It was a great New Years Eve and I can’t wait to do it again next year.