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Las Vegas visit was one big losing streak
VITAL TRIFLE, BY LAURI GROSS
Las Vegas visit was one big losing streak
On a recent five-day trip to Las Vegas, my husband and I had this much fun: none. We were there on business, and neither of us enjoys gambling or wanted to see a show. Even so, we did find quite a few ways to avoid anything pleasant.
When our plane landed in Vegas, we were finally in a cab after standing in an airport line of about 200 people. We asked our driver to take us to the Imperial Palace hotel. With a knowing guffaw, he said under his breath, "Nothing Imperial about that place."
There's something you must know about our family and travel arrangements. My husband usually makes all the arrangements, and for good reason. Even when I consult the same Web sites, follow the same budget, schedule and priorities, I still usually end up making bad choices.
Or I do something like lead us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon when I had made our campsite reservations on the South Rim. I did actually do that and can now tell you the answer to the question I asked that day: How long can it take to drive around the Grand Canyon? Answer: A really, really long time.
But I digress. Back to Las Vegas.
I booked our hotel based on location and room rate, and I consulted my husband during the booking process. Trying to be supportive, he agreed, but I should have known by the hesitation in his voice that I was not making a good decision.
We arrived at the hotel and discovered a line of about 70 people waiting to check in. We needed to be at a meeting, so we left our bag in the old and shabby lobby with the bellman, who assured us that, if we returned in a few hours, there would be no check-in line. We returned to find a line so long that it took us about an hour to reach a check-in clerk, who told us that our room faced the strip and would be noisy. She even wrote "NOISE" on our check-in papers, so there would be no misunderstanding. We reached our room, which looked pretty much like the picture on the Web site: un-exotic but adequate. And so far, it was quiet.
Next, we left the room to head down the elevators for dinner. At the elevator waiting area, we met a nice couple from Canada. After chatting a bit, we all noted that the elevators were really slow. We waited several more minutes, and then I decided to take the stairs down the six flights to the lobby level. A sign warned that we'd only be able to exit on the first floor, because the doors on the other levels would be locked. No problem. I was headed for the first floor anyway. I began my descent and soon was joined by my husband and the Canadians.
A sign on the first-floor door warned that, if we opened it, an alarm would sound, so ... we walked back up the six flights. The sixth-floor door was, of course, locked, but at least there was a phone. The security guard who answered knew my tale before I told him -- everything except the part about the Canadians. Apparently, we weren't the first ones to get stuck in the stairs in an attempt to thwart the elevator issue.
Over our remaining days, the best thing that can be said about our elevator experiences is that sometimes the elevator actually did show up. Usually, it was so jammed with people who had all undoubtedly been waiting as long as us that we would all regard each other pitifully before the doors screeched closed and left us waiting once again. After one particularly long wait, a security guard appeared and invited us to use the freight elevator. Another time, we helped ourselves to the freight elevator, since it appeared to be our only choice.
On that first night, after being rescued from the stairwell, we were eager for the hotel's fabulous dinner buffet. After we schlepped to the far end of the hotel and up several escalators, we discovered the fabulous buffet was closed. It was Monday at 8 p.m., and it was closed. We had dinner at Bessie's, where we ate chili, which actually wasn't bad, and some fresh fruit that had seen better days.
At this time (about midnight Cleveland time), we just wanted to go to bed, but the entertainers and revelers outside our window apparently did not. No more than 50 yards from our window were throngs of people boisterously enjoying a live rock band. Happily, we discovered that the fan on the heating-cooling unit in our room was almost loud enough to muffle the outside noise if we turned it up high. So, every night until 3 a.m., when the music usually stopped, we got up periodically to switch the blasting air from cold to hot, not quite able to decide which was worse.
The next day, we left our room, intending to take the monorail to a meeting, but the monorail was closed. A sign indicated that it began running at 7 a.m., but a few minutes before 7, everything was still gated and locked, so we took a taxi instead.
That night, we made sure the hotel buffet was open and decided to give it another try. The good news: It was open. The bad news: It was open. We truly are not that picky about food, but this food was truly bad. Our first clue was that nothing appeared to be the color Mother Nature had intended, from the broccoli to the meat.
Finally, our trip was coming to an end. We looked forward to Auburn Township's fresh air and Ohio's no-smoking laws. Apparently, everyone who voted against the Ohio smoking ban has since moved to Las Vegas. We arrived home, where everything was as it should be, except it took some time to readjust to the deafening silence of our home at nighttime.
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