Unlike my usual behaviour of just stuffing my duffel bag a few hours before my flight, I was packed and ready to go to Vegas a good day or two early. The anticipation was so great that I didn’t sleep all that well the night before my flight either. I double-checked my list of things to bring and ended up leaving for the border a good half hour early. Turns out to be a good thing.
I booked my flight (well, truth be told, Denise booked it for me ) out of Bellingham, WA in order to save a little over $100 on my ticket. The Bellingham International Airport is only about a 40-odd minute drive from my house, so that was a good deal. The parking was very reasonable too; only $10/day. I approach the border a little after 8 in the morning and the signs are already saying that there’s a 45 minute wait at the crossing that I’m taking. From past experience, that’s usually a very optimistic time frame. It’s usually a good 10-15 minutes longer than that. I get into the Nexus lane and start passing the huge line of cars waiting to get into Washington using the regular traveller lane. I remember gloating. Instant karma came and bit me on the ass. I take out my Nexus card sleeve from my passport wallet and take a look at it, only to find my lovely girlfriend looking back at me from the card. The last time we went down to the States, it must have gotten into my passport wallet by accident. That meant that my Nexus card was currently somewhere in Amsterdam (where she was on her cruise). Awesome… I duck into the Duty Free shop to try to bypass the line a bit. In order to get out of the Duty Free parking lot, you have to show a receipt that you purchased something. Great. Two bags of beef jerky and three chocolate bars later, I’m cutting into line a good 30+ minutes ahead of where I would have been if I would have gone into line at the end. Yay!
At the airport, finding a parking spot was like playing Where’s Waldo. After my third trip around the lot, I finally found someone leaving and jumped into their spot before someone else could snipe it. I was glad I had left early because of the extra time at the border and this treasure hunt. I now only have about 90 minutes before my flight is scheduled to leave. I hoof it to the airport and encounter a great long line in one of those rat mazes. I dutifully get in line and proceed to stay there for a good 10-15 minutes before I realize I didn’t actually have to be there. I was in the line for people checking luggage and needing boarding passes. I only had a carry on and had checked in and printed out my boarding pass already at home (which was a bit of trick considering my internet had been out for the previous couple of days).
Going through security was relatively painless. There was a bit of a hiccup when I forgot to take my shampoo, shaving cream and toothpaste out of my hygiene kit. After I was told what to do next time (put them in a clear ziploc bag or into one of the bowls they provide) and one of the TSA agents saying to another something about job security, I went to my gate (which isn’t actually marked on the boarding pass, you have to figure it out from the departure listings displayed). A guy came over the PA to inform passengers that the flight to Las Vegas was delayed by an hour. Something to do with the trams at the Vegas airport not working. Awesome. All that rushing, just to wait an extra hour. At least there’s free wifi in the airport.
The flight was fairly non-eventful. This might interest Denise though: my two row mates both had the same Coach purse. Me telling them I felt left out of the club pretty much was the entire conversation I had with them. I spent the rest of my flight reading and took a few pics of the clouds throwing shadows and of some mountains. I don’t know how I do it, but every time I fly I end up just behind the right wing. I really need to try other parts of the plane. About the plane itself: Nice, comfortable seats with plenty of ass and leg room. The flight attendants were friendly and quite jokey. I’ll definitely fly Allegiant again.
I rented a van once I got to Vegas. This was a bit sticky because there were 8 of us in total. Most vans only seat 7. I found one and they wanted $450 for it for the 4 days I was going to be in Vegas. That was more than my flight and hotel combined, so, no. After some dickering, I got them down to $360 with unlimited mileage. Much more reasonable. I got a newer Toyota Sienna with just over 5000 miles on it. First time I ever drove one… quite nice. Had a back-up camera and a USB port (which I only found on the last day there – thanks to Shelley for showing me where it was) that I could use to charge my phone. Handled very well, but it kind of smelled like feet when you turned off the AC.
After some texts back and forth, I locate my family in one of the restaurants at the Stratosphere, the hotel that we were staying at. Were they sitting at a table like civilized people? No… they were at the bar. Kim and her friend Diane had gone to the Billboard Music Awards, but my Mom, Aunt Wendy, sister Joyce and cousins Shelley and Bonnie were there. I hadn’t seen Shelley or Bonnie in 5+ years. With Diane, it had been since 1988 when we finished the school year and I moved down to Kitchener. I see everyone else each year when I fly back for my summer vacation. It was still good to seem them though.
After a quick snack of some pulled pork sliders at Roxy’s Diner (because everyone else had already eaten at the bar), Mom and I took a walk up the street to the huge gift shop so we could get a few things bought and not have to worry about them later. While there, we found a massive selection of hats and mom tried on a bunch of them. I was smiling so much that my head hurt. You can see all of them on my Facebook page when I get around to posting them. We could have spent another hour in there just trying on different ones. So funny.
We had dinner at the Top of the World, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere. Fancy. Expensive. uhhh… Revolvey. The food was kind of tasty, but I’m not sure that it justified the expense, nor the minimum $50 charge per person, regardless of what you ordered. None of my pictures really turned out from up there or on the observation deck. Should have had the flash on in order to minimize the camera shake/blur. Oh well. The observation deck was suuuuuuuper windy. Bonnie didn’t join us outside though… not a fan of heights.