Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The End is in Sight

With only a day and a half left, the end of our trip is clearly in sight yet we have one last adventure ahead of us. We'll talk about that later. Right now I want to bask in the absolute silence provided by this very quiet corner of the unopened pool. Here I sit with a coffee and cigar and NO ONE. The little kids think they are so smart (and they are), but sometimes us old timers are one step ahead. They are stopped by "Pool opens at 10:00" signs. I am not.

Monday - February 26, 2007

Adam redeemed himself by somehow negotiating rooms in the MGM Signature tower for the same price as a room in the hotel. This is a high rise of upscale vacation condominiums that the owners rent when they are not using them. Had the owners anticipated that the 8 of us would be sharing these two rooms my guess is they would have preferred them vacant. They are top shelf accommodations with all the amenities you would expect in a luxury hotel. We even ordered the pastry breakfast with a wonderful assortment of fruit tarts and baked goods for each room.

There were only a couple of things left to do and see on our list, and none of them involved rocks, so the kids were happy. They were hungry, we were hungry and we had reservations for a special breakfast very high up in the sky.

We drove up to the Stratosphere, valet parked, and made our way through the casino to the elevator for the top. Since we were having brunch ($17) at the restaurant, you don't pay the usual $10 charge for the ride to the top. (So using a blonde kind of logic this great brunch was only $7 ... sorry Alicia).

Brunch was great, and the kids marveled that we were rotating and being presented with ever changing views. Of course they had to go to the bathrooms (located in the non-rotating center), and were so concerned that they wouldn't be able to find us when they got out (like we were going vertically as well as horizontally?).

Pauline Watt was our waitress. She is excellent, and friendly and has a good memory. I asked her to be in some of our pictures and told her I would send her one when we got back. I had told her the same thing last time we were here with Ed & Alicia, and she acknowledged that she remembered that and was still waiting. Unfortunately, she is still waiting but I'm going to do it soon.

Every now and then we would feel a little rumble, and looking at the top of the huge windows could just get a glimpse of some sort of rocket sled loaded with screaming people project itself over the edge of the building. Abruptly it would retract and calm would ensue. Until the next rumble. Whatever it was the kids wanted a piece of that action.

Following a delicious eggs benedict breakfast, we headed one floor up to the observation tower. You can't help but giggle nervously while watching grown people strap themselves into a large toboggan shaped conveyance and ride a rail out over the side of the platform, bounce a few times, and then repeat the process another two times. You have got to be kidding me. I would rather eat a large, live, brown spider than do that. The kids quickly changed their minds about participating in this insanity.

The second "amusement" ride was something that was probably named "Death Wish 4", which is an inverted claw with seats. This thing starts off benignly enough with 10 people strapped into their seats, then a portion of the protective railing drops and the claw pivots over the side of the deck. Then the thing begins to rotate and centrifugal force takes over and the petals of this upside down flower begin to bloom. At one point in the cycle, the Jim Jones followers are rotating horizontally in free space. The kids (and some adults) were alternately laughing and crying and I'm talking about the spectators not the riders. (Just a thought: I note that there are 8 seats on one and 10 on the other ride. My guess is that some insurance guru set that as the "acceptable risk" liability limit.)

As we walked to the Sahara we looked back up at the top of the Stratosphere and thanked whichever god is responsible that we are back at sea level and only have to fear the slot machines. Cheap money in comparison.

We like the Sahara. The little kids and Kristin like the Sahara. There is a NASCAR theme. There are loose slots. It's still a dump to Adam. We met Garrett (Kristin's brother and a genuinely nice guy) there and felt a small twinge when the kids promptly lost interest in grandparents and latched onto Uncle Garrett. This twinge lasted about three quarters of a second as we quickly realized there was only upside to this new situation. He was kid fresh, and had energy, and actually welcomed 16 octopus arms and legs tentacles inexorably squeezing the life blood out of him. Five adults and four kids now and the tide may be turning. If we can get three more adults to join us, the odds will be even.

Sitting back here in Studley, the remainder of the day remains a kind of blur, and it's difficult to remember some of the details. I know we went to the big casinos, and FAO Schwartz, and saw the fountain shows at Caesars. I know we ate in Paris and watched the gondolas navigate the canals in Venice. I know the kids went to the airport the next day and flew away, and a couple of days later we went to the airport and flew away in a different direction. I know these things because I have the pictures for proof.

What I remember is the pure joy of connecting with family and being part of a really great trip.

No comments: