Thursday, April 29, 2010

The (dirty little) Meadows

The Meadows....ahhh. Does it make you think of grassy green terrain? Flowers swaying in the breeze. Maybe a little Sound of Music in the background. You know what I do not think of when I hear those words? Desert.

The Meadows. This is actually the Spanish translation of Las Vegas. Funny, that seems like an unusual fit to me. I can think of a litany of names for Vegas that begin with words like dirty, wicked, fun and do not end with The Meadows.

JohnnyMac just flew to Vegas. And we laughed about our last trip there. While in Vegas, I was reminded that you will experience no better people watching. A virtual visual carnival. Without the sexy costumes. Since I went to bed early the first night (oh yes, I have NO problem swishing back the dirty shots when my BFF comes to Atlanta but get to the real dirty universe, and I am a rather proper, dainty dame. Bed early? Yes. Early morning workouts? Yes. Limited cocktails? H YES!)

I was up at 7 am ready to start the day. Oh, not so fast. Day doesn't start here at 7 am as I quickly realize. In the land of neon lights, one knows better than to operate by standard tools of the everyday man. Clocks? Meaningless. Fresh air? Who needs it. Vodka and negligible cigarette haze? No shortage. As I pop downstairs for herbal tea (you have to bring your own) I see people on the tail end of their nights. Downtrodden and disheveled, nothing looks better on your countenance than an all nighter. It is one of the few cities I go to where I literally think my clothes need to be washed ten times before they can safely return to my closet.

I ask the bartender (still working) for some water. He looks at me, perplexed. I show him my travel mug with a smile. And I proffer up, "it is also what you use to wash away your sins." Thankfully he laughed and didn't put me in a headlock. (You know the Vegas bartenders likely have to dish out a headlock here and there.)

There is no sense of time, except, maybe Day wraps up its shenanigans at the club or on the casino floor around 8 or 9 am, goes on hiatus until around noon, slowly rubs it eyes around 1 pm and is finally showered and ready to rumble at 3 pm. Only in Las Vegas.

It is a fun fun city, no question. The impact of iconoclastic Steve Wynn has raised the level of high gloss options away from the Bugsy Segal Flamingo to the revamped Mirage, Treasure Island and onto spacious and resplendent Bellagio, Wynn, and Encore. The shops at Caesars Forum and Pallazzo rival 5th Avenue. The four and five star restaurants increase every year, and there are more sommeliers on the strip than in all of NYC. 18 of the 25 largest hotels in the world are now in zip code 89109. The MGM Grand? Now the second largest hotel in the world. This ain't your Grand-Pappy's Las Vegas.

We went for an adult getaway. While my husband slept, I hit the first day running. Literally. Fresh from a workout, I wondered why these casinos have work out facilities. And believe me, I was not paying many visits to the gym in Vegas on any previous trips. One of the benefits of parenthood is that regardless of what time you decide to go to bed, your Mommy Clock has a permanent wake up call.

Due to chilly weather, I opted not to walk the one mile trek from MGM to Mandalay Bay. Why not take the tram. 200 other people had the same idea. It's fun to be in full body contact with Vegas visitors, especially when I observe a grown man wearing a t-shirt with the statement "Boobies make me smile" emblazoned across the front.  However, I believe the woman he was latched onto was his wife. When I can literally smell alcohol being sweated off skin, I know it is an ugly morning. And I wish I had worn my "D-bags kind of give me a tummy ache" shirt.

As a large man brushed up against me, I needed a towelette to wipe off the residual redbull and jagermeister left on my skin. And don't think I am belittling the people just rolling off to bed at breakfast time. You know the ones, who turn to a pile of salt the minute they walk outside the casino and face the sun? I may have stayed out into the "no one is pretty" hours a time or two myself.

I survived short tram ride to grab a great bite at Burger Bar and a quick visit to Lush for now necessary bath products.

Vegas intrigues me. You see all kinds. Tourists, Europeans, and SMF (which stands for Slick Mother Feckers). You will see Bachelorette parties Ga-LORE. Stomping around with their foot long plastic glasses filled with slushy drinks, heads donned with tiaras. The Bachelor parties come too. But you don't see them. Because they are at Spearmint Rhino....the entire weekend.

Surprisingly, you often see families with children in tow. Someone may have taken a wrong turn toward Anaheim. Few things replicate "GOOD FAMILY VACATION MEMORIES" than parading kids through a casino with smoky haze thick enough to resemble a bear skin rug and people yelling at slot machines.

And it is called Sin City for a reason. When we checked into our hotel, the staff don't assume the person with you is your spouse. Oh no, they cleverly inquire "And Mr. JohnnyMac, the young lady with you?" How wise, but wow, how representative of the debauchery that goes on here.

But between the shows and entertainment options, you are no longer restricted to men with  tigers or Wayne Newton. My favorite of all time: Cirque du Soleil's Love. And the restaurants? Amazing. Some of our favorites: Aureole, Bartolotta, Fiamma, NobHill, Stack but with new places opening every day, the options are fabulous.

In warm weather, rent a cabana at the pool and enjoy the top notch service of having your own tv, fan, and waitstaff bringing you snacks and beverages. All day long. And the spas? Dreamy. Nothing like a eucalyptus steam room session to treat those pores. And I certainly went to the shops at the Palazzo. Do you know this shoppingpalooza? I do which of course is why I told JohnnyMac on his departure, "Don't forget baby needs a new pair of shoes." And I am not referencing MiniMac.

My Hub will likely need some serious rest after 3.5 days in Vegas. He will be welcomed home by a giddy toddler but I will just patiently wait for the shoes.

62 comments:

LouBoo said...

Brilliant post and I echo your sentiments exactly. Vegas is a very cool place you just have to take it for what it is. My husband goes there on corporate things about once or twice a year and we did make the trans-atlantic trek for a four day whoop-it-up too. Love it. You have captured it completely, I smiled in recognition all the way through reading this! Louise x

the walking man said...

It must be nice to know that win or lose JennyM gets a new pair of shoes. The Meadows...one town I have never taken my pleasures in.

Leiah said...

Now I want to go ever more so after the way you describe it. Seriously. And Cirque du Soleil?...shut the front door! Love every one of them. Oh well, guess I'll have to get my slushy drink from the Frosty Factory and pretend again this weekend here in the bayou state.

Will Burke said...

You sure paint a picture, not sure I'd want to visit or not. I'm guessing my wife wouldn't want to be called "the ladt with you" Actually, she'd laugh her ass off!

Little Ms Blogger said...

I love Vegas for the people watching - it is truly the place to go.

I have to admit, Cirque du Soleil frightens me. I haven't been, but the commercials remind me of mimes performing and that really scares me.

Simone said...

I've never been altho I know a lot of people who have....sounds like you have captured it perfectly.

Definitely somewhere I will be visiting some day, sounds like a lot of fun....as long as you don't stay too long :)

Eric said...

Sure, people say Bellagio and the Wynn are great, but the new wing of Caesars is my favorite. With a rented cabana at the pool of course.

Any favorite games for you guys, or is it just a people watching experience?

Joann Mannix said...

Girl, we are just so much of the same like.

I had never been to Vegas until about 5 years ago. We decided to hop on over there for a couple of days during one of our wine jaunts. My Hubs kept saying to me, "I know you. You're going to hate Vegas. But, you've got to go at least once, just to experience it."

And I did hate it, for exactly all the reasons you so succinctly wrote about. I hated the slimy feel of the place. I hated the debauchery. I hated, absolutely hated the over-the-top opulence. I wandered about muttering about how much fresh water could be produced in Africa for all of the excess of that place.

I hated it and then my Hubs took me shopping. That part I liked.

Now, my Husband takes a dude trip out to Vegas every year. He's not so much of a gambler, so he goes and hangs with the guys for a couple of days and then he flies out to The Wine Country to visit with all his wine friends. This last time, he said as he was leaving to go to the airport at 6 am, the guys were all coming in from the night. Reeking of stank and bleary-eyed, my husband looked at his haggard friends and said he'd never been more relieved to leave a place.

Love this post. It sums up everything there is to know about Sin City.

Mighty M said...

I am a get up early and work out kind of girl too, but I tend to slack off in Vegas, since it's only for a few days.

This just made me so excited for my trip in just a couple weeks! People watching - can't wait!! :)

Nat said...

Great post - it exactly reflected my impressions of Las Vegas. Spent 2 days there a couple of years ago, and that was enough...I was exhausted by the overdose of sensory stimulation!
I do think everyone should experience Sin City once in their lifetime though...

mama-face said...

Perfect travelogue showcasing the best part of going pretty much anywhere...people watching. My husband and I were there SEVERAL years ago and L.V. was trying to sell itself as a family destination. That didn't last long.

I'm daydreaming of that cabana by the pool...

ps. I am a little confused about the shoes...but I am tired...

Happy that you had good time! you know, other than that tram ride. :)

The Boob Nazi said...

I've never really gotten the appeal of Vegas.

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

We used to live in Vegas ... in fact, our oldest son was born there. The families with kids in tow that you see may be locals and not actually on vacation - I remember so many times when we had our kids in the casino, on the way to, say, the Rainforest Cafe at the MGM where they loved to eat, and people would look at us with such disdain. Multiply that by two when I was heavily pregnant with our second son. :)

For the most part, I loved Vegas. I was lucky enough to work for a local magazine at the time which was geared toward the city's most affluent residents. I had a column called "Hotspot," in which I got paid to go to the swankiest new restaurants and clubs and then review them in the mag. So I got to see many of the most awesome places in Vegas on someone else's dime. What's not to love?

It isn't a place to raise kids, though, which is precisely why we left there and moved to ... drumroll please ... Iowa. :) It wasn't even the debauchery I was worried about so much, but the general attitude of most of the people I encountered there. Selfish. Greedy. Shallow. Looking out for no one else's interests but their own. It's a very profound difference from the Midwest, where I grew up, and it wasn't an attitude I was comfortable with my kids learning.

Pricilla said...

I love Vegas - for about three days and then I'm done.

AmyLK said...

I loved Vegas when I was there. So different from the little farming community where I live.

MindyMom said...

I just got back on Sunday after celebrating my 40th for 3.5 days. SO much fun! (wrote about it on the blog)

Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!!! Whooo!

Michael Rivers said...

I love Vegas. It's always a great time. It's been almost a year since I was there. I need to go!

The Girl said...

Ha this was a great post, really reminded me of when I went there for a brief 3 days pretty much 2 years ago to the day. I spent the whole time permanently wired and unable to settle, it's a good job the trip wasn't any longer or I'd have probably collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Vegas + jetlag = bewildered English person. I had no idea if I was supposed to be awake or asleep.

And we almost definitely were one of the people fogging up a tram car with our alcohol fumes on a Sunday morning. That was a dicey ride. Unfortunately I'd left my "Boobies make me smile" t-shirt at home that day..

Slamdunk said...

People watching in Vegas would be the best.

I hope the Mr. returns with is required gifts and some good blog-worthy stories for your humor.

Jessica said...

I live right by a casino here in pittsburgh called "the meadows." Didnt know that was why! Thanks!

Doula said...

Well this post couldn't have had more perfect timing for me! The hubby and I are leaving for Sin City come Memorial weekend for our first visit to Vegas!! We are so excited since this is our first "adult only" vacation since becomming parents. I'm looking forward to some fine dining and fabulous shopping. Thanks for the suggestions.

Herding Cats said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Vegas. I think it's a dirty, dirty city....but it's oh so much fun!

Bossy Betty said...

You really summed up the atmosphere of Vegas perfectly here!

Doula said...

Oh, I almost forgot! We have already purchased tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Love!! I have heard nothing but fantastic things about it! I cannot wait.

Intense Guy said...

Brilliant... You had me at the "Boobies make me smile" T-shirt.

I think I'd stick to the Hoover Dam and the Atomic Bomb Testing site just outside of town myself.

Oh, and maybe a side trip to see (and not use) the brothel that went bankrupt while the US Government running it.

Kristina P. said...

You are right about the people watching. We live about 6 hours away from Vegas, driving, so if we want a mini vacation, that's where we go.

Cara Smith said...

The eucalyptus room at the MGM...the closest place to heaven I have ever been!

Love, love, love me some Cirque. We saw "O" in Vegas over a year ago and it was a-maz-ing!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I hope to make it to Vegas one day!
<><

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

I enjoyed Vegas, but not so much that I'm eager to return. Problem is that my hubby likes gambling just a bit TOO much, and A. I'd never see him the whole trip, and B. he's not all that lucky (with a few obvious exceptions) and I rather like my house, thanks. Ok, he's not stupid, but why take the chance??? I'd much rather have him sitting here playing poker stars and the like on his laptop ;)

I like your idea of the cabana though - that's my kind of getaway for sure!

Eva Gallant said...

I love Vegas! Have only been twice. First time stayed at the Bellagio (had a son in the hotel busines at the time who got us a dream rate!) Second time stayed at the Stratosphere. Hope to go back again one day! Such Fun!

Aunt Becky said...

Bwahahaha! Best description of Vegas, ever. Also: am dying to go.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I'm always impressed that on a mid week night you can pick up a kick ass hotel room in Vegas for fifty bucks, but then I'm always sort of skeeved out because, really, how many drunken, vomiting, idiots before you have slept in it? Ick. Not that it stops me naturally. I'm too full of cocktails myself to really give a damn. Usually after a day of Vegas I'm ready to head into the desert and re-find myself.

Also, when I lived in England, there was a neighbourhood in my town called The Meadows. And you're right, it does sound lovely. Sadly, it was the neighbourhood you'd go to if you wanted to be shot to death by drug dealers. Even more unfortunate, my bus went through it on the way home from town and every night I'd stay away from the windows just in case.

Aging Mommy said...

I don't know quite what I expected the first time I visited Vegas but I hated it - it all seemed so fake and trashy. But on subsequent visits I grew to like it - you have to take it for what it is and anyone can have a good time there whether or not you like casino's as there are great restaurants, spas and shows to go and see too. After a business trip to Vegas I always felt I needed a vacation so yes, I imagine your hubby will come home needing some recovery time!

DeNae said...

Wanna know a funny statistic? One in ten Las Vegas residents is a Mormon. One in ten!

Of course, the other nine are cross dressing, Elvis impersonating prostitutes. So we still have work to do.

(JayKay, other nine LV residents! Totally JayKay! I know for a fact at least two of you are pole dancers, cuz you told me so at the PTA meeting.)

Grand Pooba said...

You describe Vegas to a T! I love people watching there, you're right, it is THE best!

Jen said...

Oh the experiences I have yet to have! Thanks for the recommendations, JennyMac. :-)

onoire said...

i have yet to visit las vegas, but hope to make that trip soon. after reading your riveting review of this entertaining city (to say the least), i know that i will be in for a treat :-)

Jennifer said...

Ok, thank you for reinforcing the idea that I never ever want to go to Vegas. About the only thing I'd want to do there is see Cirque and sit in a spa. But sadly, due to lack of fundage, that isn't likely in the cards.... s'okay though, I can see smoky debauched people in a daze at 5am anytime I want on Miami Beach. :) I'm more of a nature girl. Big stinky cities gross me out. Oh well. Still plenty of sites for me to see.

Mommy Lisa said...

I have only been twice.

Once with work and stayed in a casino conference room 90% of the time.

But the first time was with T-bone. We stayed in a hotel with no casino across from the Hard Rock and took a ride through the desert on a Harley. And we both got massages.....the SPA kind.

yes, we did whoop it up, but we went to relax too.

carma said...

I need to move to Vegas; I'd love a non-scheduled day like that :D

Myya said...

I love me some Vegas, but there is definitely an abundance of douchbagery! My fav Cirque is Ka... that was an awesome show! Last June my brother in law send me, my older sis & my younger sis for my younger sis' 30th Birthday. It was so much fun! He booked our suite, set us up with a spa day & booked 2 shows for us... oh & gave us spending $$$ too. How amazing is he!!! Great time with my sisters that was for sure!!!

I'm Jane said...

Burger Bar is the BEST! Thank heavens they put one in San Francisco. And screw the burgers...I go for the sweet potato fries and the Nutella milk shake.

Allyson & Jere said...

What a fabulously written post. Seriously, so spot on. Having just been there, I can say, people watching there is the BEST! Freakshows,freakshows everywhere.
I too had the same thought, WHY are there people here with kids. This is NOT a family vacation type of place.
Anyway, thanks for the laugh.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Las Vegas is a pretty epic place these days. Nothing like it was when I first started going in the early 1980s, if just for the eating and shopping opportunities.

Writing Without Periods! said...

Love your take on Vegas. I'm practically a native.
Mary

Christopher said...

I'm off to Vegas in October for a weekend. I just threw out my "Boobies make me happy tshirt" just for you.

J.J. said...

Vegas tried to tout itself as 'the family place to go'...

It lasted about a year.

Karls said...

I wanna go to Vegas! Sounds like one big adult fun park!

M-Cat said...

I need that D-bags shirt. To wear here in good old UT.

Headed to Vegas this summer. I plan on watching the people, while my GF's go see Lady Gaga.

I think I will have more fun : )

Tgoette said...

Glad you enjoyed your stay at "The Meadows." My brother lives in Vegas, which is all the excuse I need to go visit there and suckle from it's hedonistic teat. Your story describes the life there in perfect detail. Well done!

JenJen said...

All I could get stuck on is that it was too chilly in Vegas (nee The Meadows) to walk somewhere.

Wrong.

shortmama said...

I can almost smell the vodka cigarettes and cheap women...cough cough cough gag

The Random Blogette said...

I love this post. The hubs and I are planning on taking our first trip to Vegas next year. I know it is a sin that we haven't been there yet. We will definitely be that couple sweating booze after an all nighter!

Sabreena said...

Visiting from Follow Fridays. I live in Vegas and let me tell you, kid friendly it ain't. I struggle to find cool stuff to do with my boys. Our "aquarium" the Shark Reef at Mandaly Bay is a 10 minute walk through and our 5 acre zoo is full of depressed and at times dehydrated animals. Being a local though, we avoid the strip and livea pretty normal life (we're up at 7am everyday). The nice thing about living here is that when you want to party it's only a few miles away so date nights are kind of awsome. I wish sometimes I could see the city through a tourists eyes and today you have given me that. Great blog I am a new follower.

HalfAsstic.com said...

So I am assuming that you gave him quite specific instructions as to which shoes to purchase? ;-)
The hotel desk clerks certainly could share their learned response to room sharing adults. The other day John and I were eating out and, while on his return trip from the bathroom, he ran into an old boss of his in the same company he now works. I wasn't close by and still sitting at the table where we dined, while the ex-boss was seated facing me several tables away. Therefore, I didn't get introduced.
The next week John was told by his boss that he heard that he was out to eat with "some good looking girl". Implication being a girlfriend. He assured him that the girl in question was his wife, but, while I am flattered, it makes me wonder about his ex-boss that he automatically assumed I was the mistress.

Ron Cooper said...

Following you this beautiful Friday, please return the favor!

My latest postings are, “Smiles,” “Spring,” “A Feast,” “Love Lifts,” “Wake Up to Serve” and “Soul-itude.”

http://inspiredbyron.blogspot.com/

Tracy said...

"Love" ROCKS and don't forget Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesar's. The sweet potato tamales and New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin are to d-i-e 4.

Dustjacket Attic said...

Oh brill JM, loved this review on sin city. Lush is great isn't it, but sounds like it was a rescue mission for you this time.

Mmm the cabana sounds good to me and love Cirque do Soleil.

xxx DJ

secret agent woman said...

Personally, I'm hoping to make it to the grave without ever setting foot in Vegas.

Pamela said...

I hope he brought back some awesome shoes for you :)

The Naked Writer said...

Excellent post! Lush always makes everything better again!
:o)

Clemson Girl said...

We went to Vegas for our honeymoon. It's definitely not meant to be a vacation that leaves you feeling rested, but it surely was a time I'll never ever forget. I'd love to go back with a group of friends.