Freemont street!

The buffet at the Freemont Hotel in old Vegas welcomed us with open, but slightly sticky and smoke filled, arms.

The little boys slammed their jello, macaroni salad and frozen yogurt and weren’t having any of the follow up patience – so while everyone else was finishing up I took them out onto Freemont street with no clue what I was walking into.

The covered light-filled street was amazing! While I was staring up I didn’t see that I had strollered and walked the little boys into two mostly naked show girls taking photos with tourists. Toddlers and infants bursting into the scene wasn’t doing a lot for the two older men’s mojo as they posed (aka groped) the young women. I felt bad for ruining the women’s enterprise and gave them a tip and tried not to look like a weirdo – which was pretty impossible with my sippy cup wielding retinue.

The naked girl sippy-cup middle-aged man fiasco made me realize realized that I had lost my situational awareness so I stopped and really looked around – the street performers were all over the map and the people on the street were all crawling to get onto the map. Wow! In 40 ft of street I had generated a hundred questions – and all of them would require pretty rigorous human subjects protections in place.

We wandered and gawked. Eventually Grammy, Kaety and Symone joined us just in time for all the tired little boys to lose their collective shit.

As we hurried the crying mass back to the van Symone and I made plans to return after we got the boys to bed to ride the Freemont zip line.

“See I can climb up here and not crack my head open”

“I hate the dessert! We’re all going to die! I want to go back to the hotel room!”

We were excited to go the Valley of Fire – the kids were not. Symone, afflicted by an early morning bad attitude, led the dessert hating charge. Her followers weren’t terribly focused or clever and weren’t really sure what they were participating in.

Us: “Wow! Look at those amazing red rocks!”

Symone: “Ooo rocks…I’ve never seen those before (eye roll), and ‘wow’ red, who knew rocks came in red (snotty voice). Can we go back now?”

The boys: “I like red, I knew rocks came in red. My butt!”

Once we got them out of the van and climbed up to see the petroglyphs we started to capture their attention. The petroglyphs were good, but the possible fall to a grizzly death really became the focus of the conversation. Several cave sightings really energized the group into the idea of the impending hike.

The hike was amazing! The White Dome trail featured death stairs, snake holes, slot canyons, baby arches, and stunningly beautiful red rocks to climb on.


“Does Captain America come to everything in Las Vegas?”

“What’s a spectacle?”

“It hard to describe, you’ll just have to see for yourself”

We had made our way down the strip, our jam packed minivan weaving slowly among limos, mobile billboards and sports cars.

We parked at the Bellagio along with 10,000 of our closest friends and launched our flotilla of strollers, diaper bags and general family uncoolness through the Bellagio and down onto the street the get a place to see the spectacle.

Emmett was delighted to find that ‘the spectacle’ attracted all the best people: Iron man, Batman, and Captain America…and show girls of course!

Once we got in place for the show he had a lot of questions for me, “Do all the spectacles in Las Vegas have superheroes and people with no clothes on?” I had to laugh, “Yes, a lot of them do”.

The Bellagio fountains started and we were mesmerized! What a beautiful creative piece of performance art. It blows me away every time I see it. I’m always surprised at how loud the explosive blast of the water is as it’s shot into the air.

“Once I start a fight they ask me to move on…”

The boys and I ‘cruised the strip’ in our minivan on our way back from Whole Foods at 8 am.

Emmett was completely impressed with the city. As we slowly drove the strip he started a running dialog as if he were an adult living in Las Vegas. I was both amused and appalled at the snippets of dialog he’s picked up from his 6 years on the planet.

“I’ve lived in many of these hotels. Once I start a fight there they ask me to move on”

“My boss works there so he got me and my friends in for free”

“I had one girlfriend who lived there, and another girlfriend who lived near there. I wasn’t very smart because I should have picked girlfriends who lived farther apart. They met each other by accident one night near the fake statute of liverty and fought me. It was bad. They asked me to move out”

“I helped build that place. It was all my idea but people I worked with lied and said it was their idea instead and everyone believed them. I got revenge by building the place across the street that was even better”

“I invented the laser, but it didn’t work very well so the people I sold it to made it into a big sign in Las Vegas”

“I only come out at night and kiss people with big butts. “

“I have a lot of trouble in this town but it’s also been nice too me. Street tacos make me feel better when I’m sad about my two girl friends fighting me”

I had no words.

Whole Foods to the rescue

They are all normally early risers at home, but our hotel rooms in Vegas didn’t have the isolated and electronically enabled infrastructure that our home does – so 5:30 am had everyone awake, bickering and crying. Kaety and I looked at each other through tired grumpiness and gave each other that knowing look that says, “I have no plan whatsoever”.

Another 10 minutes of early morning “He touched my air” and I hit the eject button and took two out of three on a forced march to Whole Foods to buy groceries.

The distraction was successful. We hit the market and I knew from the boys reaction that we’ve been shopping deprived living in Newport. Noble and Emmett were overwhelmed by the fruit and juice selection – and I have to say I got pretty giddy at the idea of ripe pears, avocados and hand-press pumpkin guava persimmon juice.

They each talked me into rubber balls, which from the price I guess were made from hand-pressed organic free-trade rubber.

Instead of bouncing and kicking them they played ‘guess what we are: pregnant or ate too many tacos?’


“What reservation?”

I chased three cooped up bord boys around an opulent Art Deco lobby while Kaety’s body language radiated impatience, anger and silent screaming at the check-in counter.

Having us spend too much time in their lobby while they pulled all the levers and twirled the dials that made our reservation come back to life really started showing some diminishing returns for the Hilton. By the time we heard, “Oh, that reservation!”, we had chewed several potted plants, licked the Art Deco windows, climbed the Art Deco railings, used the drink caddies as scooters, moved a lot of cool white rocks to alternative locations around the lobby and had conducted multiple flopping fits in the middle of the through-way.

Instead of adding my awesome male vibe to the already tense scene going down at check-in I ordered a big drink and had Kaety and Robin do some counter side chugging. And on a side note you know you are in Vegas when the bar tender asks if you want your giant mixed drink in a ‘to-go’ cup.

Eventually all was well and we made our way to the 18th floor to our bee hive of adjoining rooms. Everyone got their turf staked out and noticed the awesome swimming pool down below. It’s winter here at 73 degrees, which is basically summer swimming weather for Oregonians. We were the only ones in the pool.

The magic we lost along the way

Traveling with kids has its down sides but it also has its delights. Kaety and I have gotten jaded about the pure wonder contained in automatic rotating doors and the airport shuttle bus – but the kids thought they were amazing! We’ve also really lost any sense of magic around seatback trays – that latch that turns and lets down the tray? Come to find out -Hours of enjoyment!

Are we there yet?

The kids ran around and around the circular hall at the PDX Embassy Suites yelling “I love Las Vegas!!”. We realized that we need to take them out more. Oscar was thrilled to not only run by also find the occasional snack outside people’s hotel room doors. He was also thrilled to be able to climb on the luggage cart and touch two forbidden objects: the TV and the remote. All the remote fun ended when he threw it in the toilet and tried flushing it. I suspect that escapade will show up as an incidental charge on our bill. Emmett took one for the team and pulled the urine soaked remote out of the toilet and then walked around the room staring at his hand and yelling “I touched pee! Kaety and I stuck all the kids in one bedroom and she and I took the pull out and the baby. The pull out was a huge bumpy concave arc that had each of us clutching the edge of the mattress all night to keep from being sucked into the void.