Beer and Loafing in Las Vegas

Oh, Vegas. You’re such a sh** show.
As seen on the streets of Vegas: I cannot imagine how hard that must have been to peel off those pants in 109-degree heat AT NIGHT.

Murphy’s Law: An adage or epigram that is typically stated as “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Murphy’s Law…also known as MY LIFE and it’s always especially on point when it pertains to a trip with my family.

Our “vacation” was off to a rocky start before it even started, actually. Fleeing for the summer was much easier when you could drag the lil’ kiddos any distance ye old Honda Odyssey could handle during that self-imposed break when daycare shut down and then cram ’em into a Pack n’ Play at the hotel and convince them that playing with the mini fridge counted as high entertainment.

Once they get to be in college and high school, however, scheduling gets trickier. Much trickier. My husband had to work really hard to zero in on early July to trek up to cooler California to visit our oldest only to discover — as he was booking the Airbnb — that club basketball muscled into our hang time in a big way: No. 3’s coach booked a tournament for that very same week.

Now, a sports tournament, for the uninitiated works like this: You don’t know any details until the last minute and then have to be immediately ready to drop your life and go to whatever town for three-four days and you never quite get enough time to do anything fun because you’ve always got to be ready and waiting for the next game at an unknown location. It’s never that much fun for the parental chaperones. If you’re lucky, you latch onto a few parents you like and can laugh with over the absurd attempts at mandatory team dinners to seat 57 people and then split the check that many ways.

If you’re not lucky — and I believe we have already established I am not — you end up in Vegas, during its hottest period in history for five whole days, which is roughly 4.5 days more than anyone should ever be in that city.

But, honestly, it’s not all Vegas’ fault. Things began to go south long before we ended up in the stank and skank that is Sin City*. 

True story: We had not even crossed state lines or even busted our way out of town before I looked up and saw a crack in the windshield, snaking across the passenger’s side. I noticed it as my husband was preparing to pull out of the QT parking lot without our middle child, who never misses a rest stopportunity even if it’s only 20 minutes after we left the house. To the hub’s credit, he did put the car in park and wait when I pointed out her absence.

Once our missing passenger rejoined us, on we went — while the crack stretched across the glass. When we hit Blythe, I called our insurance company to see about getting the windshield replaced. Naturally, over a holiday weekend this was not possible. It was also not possible to get a mobile service to come to us. We ended up having to wait until Vegas when we could drop off the car for FIVE hours because again, that is how we roll. Or, I guess more accurately, how we get rolled when we attempt a vacation. All we could do was hope that the windshield stayed intact and didn’t shatter onto my lap.

Luckily, we did have some nice family time in California, where we actually pulled on pants and sweatshirts, before we headed to the land of dejected looking people in tube tops. 

I could painfully spell out day by day and detail by detail just how much Vegas sucked was less than ideal, but I feel like this little adventure pretty well sums up everything:

So we arrive in Vegas Tuesday afternoon, in plenty of time to watch the Suns playoff game at a bar/restaurant that served 65-ounce cocktails**.

No. 3 is uncharacteristically not hungry when we sit down for dinner. He pokes at his chicken quesadilla and ends up asking for a to-go box. We head back to our hotel room and play some cards and No. 3 polishes off his leftovers.

The next morning, No. 3 has wicked food poisoning. Says he, “I thought that quesadilla tasted off.”


No. 3, remember, is a 16-year-old boy, so essentially he is mostly stomach with arms that exist solely for food shoveling and not putting away laundry or picking up dirty socks left on the floor. He just shrugs.

Oh wait, wait, wait. That isn’t truly the tale that sums up our vacation! Let me try again. Take 2:

So, the last basketball game of the day ends, conveniently, at 9 p.m. on a Friday. We head downtown to get food and naturally, we have to pay $2 to park because you still have to pay for parking until 10 p.m. We have a great*** meal and head back to the car. My husband wants to teach No. 1 how to play Blackjack and thinks we’re better off parked closer to the action instead of the darkened side street where someone could get stabbed.

We inch past mobs of scantily clad people, most lugging oversized plastic bongs filled with slushy liquid and straws long enough to choke whales and pull into a parking garage. It costs $8 to park. My husband prepares to back out, only to have someone honk behind him. Nope! We’re parking. We wind around and around up the hot, dark garage to the very top floor, into exactly the kind of swankiness you’d expect for $8: There are puddles even though there’s been no rain and definitely no cleaning crews hosing things down. I’ll leave that detail there for you to think about.

We look around and spot an elevator in the corner from the 1950s. It’s spray-painted with graffiti. The inside is worse.

The doors creakily slide open to reveal an oppressively hot, wood-paneled car with aluminum strips and smears all over the floor. Poop? Blood? I did not want to think about it and tried to straddle the smudges. It is definitely 155 degrees.

“We’re going to die here,” No. 1 says.

No, no, no! That wasn’t the story that summed up our trip. This one. This is definitely the one:

Me, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, after No. 3’s team lost its last and final game and was effectively freed from the land of the WALL-E scooter people motoring on the sidewalks: “Hey, so since we have the ability to do some advance planning, should we go ahead and make a dinner reservation?”

Joe: “Nah, we can just wing it.”

If I had a soundtrack, this is where the Dun Dun Duns from a horror movie would start because do note: This is the very same, exact day that some big, punch-y fight was happening and lots of people were in Vegas for this thing — Biebers, Kardashians, all the cool kids, clogging up the roads and taking up all the restaurant space, as we soon discovered.       

Our post-basketball game adventure involved a shower (a must!) and then trekking to a tiki bar in which Dole Whip is fashioned into refreshing cocktails and then we were going to eat amazing, highly Yelp rated Korean barbecue. At least, that was the PLAN.

What actually happened is that we weren’t allowed into the tiki bar because we had an under 21-er and the Korean barbecue place was popping. We stood outside, in the blazing sun, trying to come up with a Plan B.

“I don’t care anymore,” I said. “I just want to be somewhere inside with air conditioning.”

We piled back into the car while No. 1 searched for another Korean barbecue restaurant. It was a 20-minute drive, but when we rolled up, things looked like they were finally in our favor—lots of parking! 

We strolled up to the front door and my husband just started laughing. 

“What?” I asked.

He pointed to the sign stuck up on the door: “Sorry for the inconvenience! Our a/c is out!”

AND just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse…

We trudge back to our hotel, which requires passing through the casino and the air is thick and even staler than usual. It’s so foul smelling, in fact, that I cough so hard I’m on the verge of throwing up my overpriced dinner right there by the Wheel of Prosperity because what should also be happening right there in OUR hotel?

A cigar convention. 

And yeah, I do realize that everything I just said sounds way too over-the-top ridiculous, like it’s straight out of one of those “Hangover” movies where everything starts spiraling and going more wrong than you think is even possible. On the upside, though, no one ended up with a face tattoo****.

*Have I made it clear yet that Vegas is not my favorite?

**A 65-ounce cocktail is about what you need to make Vegas tolerable. That is, if it’s not watered-down.

***That part is not sarcastic, it really was a mighty-fine dinner.

****Not included: On the last day, dueling texts from No. 1 and No. 2 during their respective meltdowns because No. 1, who was flying back to California, missed her connecting flight after one leg of her journey was delayed an hour for maintenance issues and she faced the possibility of being stranded in Phoenix (eeewwww) for two days, and No. 2, who’d chosen to leave Vegas early and thereby avoid all the basketball stuff, was dealing with Dogs 1 and 2 chomping a dead pigeon in the backyard. I mean, there comes a point when it just strains credulity, ya know?

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