Prior to the time when this song was salient with relation to this post, I had never heard the song before other than on Pandora, on my station that was started off the tag of The Weather Channel’s Smooth Jazz collection CD. However, I heard the song “Afterglow” for the first time outside of Pandora on August 12, 2008. How fitting that I can turn this into a Throwback Thursday post!
Unfortunately, there is no YouTube link available for this song, but it’s the smooth jazz song “Afterglow” composed by Pamela Williams.
Tuesday, August 12 ~Las Vegas vacation
I beat my alarm clock at 05:55, and put on my blue/flowers Hawaii shirt, with zip-off shorts. I didn’t sleep very well last night, but passably. Of course, the original pancake plan was 86’d, since the stove disaster last night destroyed the griddle energy as well. Instead, I had beef bacon and Tang. It wasn’t a bad alternative…thank goodness I can be somewhat flexible! I read the Journal-Star, but it was mostly scanning. Tim Johnson is back to manage the Saltdogs.
It was 06:45 before we left the house. It was a struggle to fit everything into the black Prius, but I lost out this time [not sure what I meant by that, but Casey was also flying to Texas this same day]. Oh well… it’s just 90 minutes, and if this is the worst of the trip, I’m damn lucky! We first stopped at the office to drop off phones and pagers, and a few other things. Then, we stopped at Wells Fargo to withdraw our funds, and left Lincoln, by taking Cotner to Holdrege out to 84th and then…
En route to Omaha, it was fairly boring. Dad encouraged me to play Battle, but we got a bad signal and didn’t take the risk of dropping out while driving. The men ended up winning 2-1 and I would NOT have fared as well. There wasn’t much conversation, and traffic was manageable. We took the North Freeway to Cuming and then to the airport. We dropped off Mom & Casey at the gate and then continued to Abbott Parking.
There wasn’t much to carry, and the driver was right there for us. We went back to the terminal and I commented on the red-circle-slashes. The “no parking” one looks weird since it’s a backslash rather than a front slash like you would normally see. We waited a few minutes and then Mom & Casey arrived for us. Casey’s suitcase was overweight, so she had to remove stuff and carry on more. The check-in people for Southwest seemed really cheery today, and there was no security trouble.
(Note: The previous paragraph implies that I had been thinking about a previous post on this year for a long time!)
We took the escalator upstairs and took Casey to the south end where her gate was [of course we didn’t pass security THERE…] Along the walls, there were historical tidbits about Omaha, Eppley, Omaha’s abroad sister cities, and some boardrooms too. I had never known about these things on the upper level! I gave Casey a hug before she went through security and then we (Mom, Dad, and I) went toward our gate: B16. We stopped at Hudson News without buying anything first. That’s fine to me! The security check caused no problems and we sat at the gate at 09:10.
While waiting, I got a cinnamon roll with peaches inside. It was different, but not BAD. Mom asked, “Did you bring any money to gamble?” I have a little bit ($39.00 plus some change), but I probably should have ATM’d it yesterday. I also forgot to bring my pedometer too… oh well! There must be some reason why I forgot these things. Time passed and then boarding time came. We were among the last to board (our number was B40). They have a lineup pillar now with letters and numbers.
Of course, there was no opening with 3 seats, but I did get a window seat (my favorite) in Row 16, next to 2 ladies en route to Utah. It took a few minutes before takeoff, but it was fine. I held off on journaling until we hit the air. It was clear in Omaha—even at 10,000 feet, I could see the ground. There were no video screens like United, so the safety stuff was mimed by the attendants as the captain said everything.
I started by journaling a few paragraphs, but once we hit cruising altitude, I turned the journal back about 120 pages and turned on my PC in order to transfer. I got from May 28 to June 2. Partially, the slow pace was due to that Monday’s full journal [the first day of my REU that summer], but the bigger reason was that the person in front of me was reclining his chair, which prevented me sitting in an ideal position. The one next to me was also journaling, which was pretty neat.
Flying over Utah was different from Nebraska—it was desert and mountains! It was easy to see: the only clouds were cumulus ones, and they were really pretty. To burn more time, I played diamonds and won with a score of 175. I got lucky on some removal cards and adeptly used the king of spades. After that, I journaled right to this very bullet while listening to the new music that I acquired like Whenever I Call You Friend, Enjoy The Silence, and Spiderwebs. We can’t be too far away: it’s 12:29 Omaha time now. Oops… forgot to start the stopwatch. OH WELL! We now wait for landing…
The plane landed at 12:50—er, 10:50. I waited for Mom to get out, and we exited too, walking toward baggage claim. Mom said, “Look Noah, it’s your first ka-ching-ka-ching! They are everywhere in Vegas, even in grocery stores!” [Of course, I’m referring to slot machines here!] We used the restroom and continued to baggage claim. There was a tram, as Mom said, “This is just going to be a week of newness for you.” Hopefully [the sensory overload doesn’t totally zonk me]!
Our bags appeared at Rack 6 of baggage claim, and the place looked a little like the Mall of America with chrome ceilings, double decks, and lots of people. We met Papa after Mom checked us in at the hotel. Then, he took us to the MGM Grand. It was a drive down Paradise Blvd, where we got a panorama of the Las Vegas Strip. We drove a little bit before lugging over bags into the MGM Grand.
What a place! It’s not a hotel, it’s a temple! The massive check-in desk has fresh roses, with ornate ceilings and floors, people were everywhere, and the ambiance was somewhat dark. We found the elevator lobby that had Floors 21-29, entered, and hit “27.” These elevators are like Abel [in that they service only certain floors].
Cleaning crews were still in our room, but they finished soon enough. The room seems quite ordinary with two beds, a bathroom, TV, and some pictures. Mom & Dad showed me out the window, with another panorama of the Strip. She said, “Anything you could imagine you can find here.” We doubled back the way we came—it’s time to lead off an adventure!
It’s warm outside, but the humidity isn’t bad. Dad said, “It’ll get to 105 [degrees Fahrenheit] all the time we’re here.” Oh well—we’ll probably be inside most of the time! We walked the sidewalk to a glass elevator, and ascended to an unenclosed skywalk. Papa was waiting for us, and we headed to the Tropicana. There was a free promotional slot, and as I drew near, the staff said, “People think you have to be 18, but NO. It’s 21.” When I was the next to go, he carded me [obviously] and incredulously said, “Barely passes, but give it a spin.” I got a flyer for a free deck of cards. We got into Papa’s car and drove down the strip toward The Mirage.
Lots of cars were bustling about and honking was commonplace. Lots of hotels, businesses, and commotion appeared, and ads were EVERYWHERE! This was indeed sensory overload! At The Mirage, Papa successfully got a handicap valet spot, and I noticed the misting things above, as we walked inside. In the entrance, there was an aquarium and you sometimes can see divers on the other side. We continued to a forest-like atrium, and that led to the casino. We bypassed the slots and tables, as we have another quest to fulfill first. Stores and a convention center lied beyond. I exclaimed, “It’s a hotel, it’s a casino, it’s a mall, it’s everything!”
A few turns later, we entered the ASD/AMD jewelry show. We left because of a Part B that Mom and Dad sought. More rooms awaited, and along the way there was a “puddle lamp” that was really cool. The second show was at the very end of the corridor. I was not very interested, but there was lunch in the exhibition hall—a terrible rip-off! The price for lemon chicken, rice, and a 10-ounce Coke was $15. The food was too lemony, but it’s better than nothing. We’ll do better tonight.
Papa, Dad, and I all left The Mirage, walking down the sidewalk. On the right-hand side, there was The Volcano that was undergoing repair, and we had to cross the street. Here, jaywalking will probably mean certain death because drivers are very aggressive here. An MIT’er would become a pancake. The sun was beating down and it was HOT. We crossed the street and entered The Venetian, and I marveled at the bastion-like façade along with the moat. Inside, the casino awaited, and we saw the (fresco?) ceiling and escalators. Navigating through the casino’s labyrinth, we saw some of the games. They’re probably more hopping when the sun goes down.
Sensory overload again as we walked to the mall/convention center part. This reminded me of the Orpheum Theatre somewhat, but of course this blows it away. We walked all the way down the hall, appearing at the ASD/AMD general merchandise show. Once inside, there was a NASTY smell and I looked around… it’s like the vendors in the basement of Devaney during the State Fair, multiplied ten times.
This wasn’t very interesting, so I’ll give some quick hits, separated by ellipses. The show is for wholesalers… there were lots of sex-related booths… toys, trinkets, signs, and clothing appeared at a few booths… at one booth we saw Jack Nsi of Omaha… Snap Caps are interesting to turn a can into a bottle… there were a few sword displays of which Levi would have gone nuts!
We left but a slightly different way, through the main entrance. There was a nice domed area with more ceiling-fresco art, and the floor looked like an optical illusion of steps. We returned to The Mirage and Mom was at the jewelry show. I was not very interested but here are a few things that I won’t dwell on: Dan Moran was from Israel, where most diamonds are cut… there was a wholesaler from Spirit Lake, Iowa, and one of the exhibitors has a daughter at ICCC.
After a (seemingly infinite) time, we found restrooms that were more ornate than the ones at the downtown Lazlo’s. Dad said, “I’m good for 4-5 more hours.” [At this point, I believe the time was 16:00 Vegas time]. We then entered the casino, and found a penny slot machine—it was “Ring Quest.” Mom explained how it worked, with feeding it money, and choosing the lines to play. [Most penny slots have five reels and various types of lines that you can win on.] I ended up in a bonus round and won about $6 there, but continued gaming until I fell to $20.15, and that was still a win [given the initial payment of $20]. Not bad for my first outing!
We returned to The Venetian and found the Grand Lux Café, which only had a 10-minute queue. I saw on the menu that it is owned by The Cheesecake Factory, which was Dad’s inference based on the design of the area. Mom got a pork chop, Dad got some chicken/shrimp dish, and I got chicken pot pie. The service wasn’t spectacular, and we lost our first waiter. The bread was good, and while we waited, we assembled an approximate itinerary. Then, the food arrived. It was too creamy for my liking [and I probably should have realized that since it was like the Cheesecake Factory, I should have recalled that I didn’t like it very much in San Diego either…]
After dinner, we waited in a short-but-slow line in front of the theatre in order to get Wayne Brady tickets. They were having some technical difficulties… GO FIGURE. That will happen! We left for Treasure Island afterward. Mom held a spot for Dad & I at the edge of the moat [they will have a show at 21:00-ish]. Dad & I walked along the gangway into the hotel and walked past the casino. This one didn’t look much different from the other two that I saw earlier today. Past the casino, there was a large betting lounge on sports, with TVs, scores, and other things everywhere. We continued up an escalator to the mall and there was a bridge, so we doubled back and killed a little bit of time. Then, we returned for the Sirens show.
A young sailor finds his way onto a ship with Sirens. He is wondering how to escape, but the Sirens entice him to stay with song and dance. His own pirate ship appeared on the opposite side of the bridge, firing cannonballs (i.e. fireworks) at the ship that were loud. Actually, hot fire was induced as part of the show too. The pirate ship sunk, but the pirates swam across the moat. There was more fighting, but at the end, a cool romance scene atop the crow’s nest. It was a fun show, and free too!
The foot traffic took a while to clear, and we walked along the east sidewalk past The Mirage. There were people all along snapping cards for “girl delivery” which got very annoying after a while. Walking past Caesars Palace, I heard something familiar from Harrah’s on the other side of the street… and indeed! The song Afterglow by Pamela Williams was playing. Then, as we continued walking, we entered the Bellagio. Inside, we found a VERY EXPENSIVE mall area, with stores like Gucci and Prada. The area was unlike anywhere that I had been before, but I’ll muck the details. The casino was on either side of a walkway, and in the lobby, there were glass floral arrangements hanging down from the ceiling. We turned right, snaked, and found the Conservatory. They had the “Beef—It’s What’s for Dinner” theme song playing, and flowers hid two-way water fountains. A train track, eagles, and lots of greenery awaited. Mom said that the display changes nearly quarterly. Obviously, I used my Word of the Week—WOW!
We continued to Jean Philippe: a bakery. I got a tiramisu/stracciatella gelato cone, and we sat down nearby (FINALLY). This hotel seems a lot fancier than the others. Unfortunately for me, at this point my internal clock said it was 00:15 on Wednesday since it is currently 22:15 in Vegas. We saw a little bit of the Bellagio water show, but were at a really bad angle. We continued toward the MGM Grand, and went through a stuffy construction tunnel. Entering through the West Wing (alley entrance), we navigated to our room and I was fast asleep almost immediately.
> TO BE CONTINUED…
Today is the one-hundred and twenty-eighth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes eighteen weeks and two days.
היום עשרים ושלושה יום, שהם שלושה שבועות ושני ימים לעומר
Today is the eighth day of the third round M.A.P.L.E. That makes one week and one day.