Friday, May 4, 2007

Leavin' Las Vegas Behind


I had a good trip to Las Vegas, but I guess the price for that is working a 13 hour day today. You know how mass never goes away, it just changes its state? It's the same with work and time. If I'm out of the office for 5 hours, I've got to stay 5 hours late.

I flew out to Vegas Sunday on a 7 a.m. flight, a nearly miraculous feat for Sandi of the Rises-Late-in-the-Day tribe. I wanted to have some time by the pool and actually enjoy my trip, rather than just working the whole time. I'm glad I did - I flew on a refurbished Song airplane on Delta Airlines, which meant a TV at my seat and the opportunity to watch the fantastic flick The Pursuit of Happyness(which I'll be quoting henceforth until further notice). I arrived in Vegas happy.

I got sunburned in like 10 minutes at the pool, with record 90+ degree heat and burning sun. Caesar's Palace has three pools but I couldn't stay out any longer so I only got to swim in one of them...So much for the exercise I was hoping to get.

But, we were in Vegas for a work conference, so I can't complain much. And boy did we work. Lots of early mornings, chasing people down, handing out business cards, taking copious notes during keynotes and panel discussions....EXHAUSTING. We barely wanted to leave the hotel.

mirrored ceiling tub
Had I been there on vacation, I could've made more of our crazy, gaudy, old school Vegas hotel. My room in the Forum Tower was some kind of hedonistic chamber, with two remarkable features: 1) a mirrored ceiling above the bed, and 2) a big round tub on a raised dias in the bedroom. Total party bath. What a waste to be there alone.

The last time I was in Las Vegas, I stayed at the Stratosphere with the worst flu of my life. Back then, even through my sickness, I always thought Vegas had no character of its own and, like Epcot, was just a composite of copies of other places. In good health during this trip, I felt the same. But my hotel room - despite its "Roman" theme - gave me a little glimpse of a bit of Vegas character. Or at least my fantasy version of it.

Still, most of the restaurants we ate at - Mesa Grill, RAO's, Spago - were just reproductions of New York or LA establishments.

Everybody loves Vegas and Atlantic City for the gambling or the drinking or the general sense of debauchery I suppose, but the normally party-centric Sandi takes a break in those circumstances. Yes, I gambled a little, basically breaking even with a $2 deficit, even playing roulette for the first time - but the highlight of my trip was the relaxing massage I got courtesy of the conference hosts at the Bellagio spa. It was a little unnerving because during our tour of the facilities, they pointed out the jacuzzi room and said that swimsuits were "optional." After a double take and asking if they had any swimsuits to borrow (I didn't bring one, and they don't), I turned to Edith and said, "I dare you."

I got out of my massage before she did and ran right in there. Imagine her dismay when she entered the room in a robe and I'm submerged in the bubbling bath, wondering how she's going to manage getting in the pool naked. Of course I wasn't comfortable either. I don't think the bubbles hid anything.

the view from BOA's terraceBut it was all very relaxing and set us up to have a nice Casa Noble tequila at Bradley Ogden and a business dinner at BOA. We didn't have much energy to go gambling again but we made a valiant effort to check out the MGM Grand and Paris casinos. I wished I'd been able to find a Press Your Luck slot machine like the one I won $100 on years ago, but I entertained myself with the bonus rounds on the I Dream of Jeannie penny slots ("Does that make you happy, master?").

Unfortunately my relaxation ended as soon as our return flight started circling over New York City, unable to land because of JFK's inclement weather closure Tuesday night. When we finally did land, the lightning on the field prevented any staffers from guiding us into our gate. We sat a long time on that plane.

The weather was still bad when we finally deplaned, and I had the pleasure of waiting a half hour for Carmel to pick me up in the rain. No Carmel. No cabs (and a looong taxi stand line). I finally had to call my old Atlantic standby car service NYC Two-Way, who came to my rescue and finally got me home at 2:30 a.m.

I'm a little dragged out and have got to take the train out to Connecticut on Monday for work. But three friends' birthdays this weekend should help me find some, ahem, relaxation before I have to start working like a dog again.