The Thanksgiving miracle

After several memorable/traumatic buffet outings we were getting a bit twitchy thinking about going to a Thanksgiving buffet with all the kids. I started asking every local I could get my hands on for a buffet recommendation that was non-smoking, would tolerate flopping and crying and was affordable. The unanimous answer was Excalibur!

We headed over after some swimming and as soon as we hit the door we heard multiple children crying. We smiled. We were among our people!

The buffet food was set low, perfect for the kids and had all their favorites front and center.

The hostess made a special point to mention that beer and wine were free and unlimited.

A huge bump in our growing love for the place was the inclusion of crawfish on the seafood island. Noble loved them. Not to eat of course, but to play with. The crawfish had many adventures at our table while we ate in relative peace.

Another big bonus was that after last nights sleepless misery Oscar finally fell asleep. Kaety and I got to enjoy the use all four of our hands as he slept like a rock in the stroller. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!!

The Venetian is a terrible psychological experiment

We thought that the Venetian was one of Las Vegas’s most unique Hotels. Come to find out it’s actually a hideous psychological experiment that had us in its clutches for most of the day.

It all started at the Self Park. The signs were confusing and the underground parking labyrinth we were dumped into was convoluted and dark.

We all paid attention to where we parked – Grammy and Symone always come up with a mnemonic device to remember where we leave the car. We walked through the hotel lobby and noted the giant, really hard to miss, naked women carved in crystal. Emmett’s big insight at that junction of our journey made the landmark even more memorable, “Why is everything naked around this town?!”.

We went up escalators and down elevators and wandered a maze of decorative halls with the ‘streetmosphere’ and ‘Grand Canal’ as our target destinations.

There was something sinister in the vague way the directional signs kind of pointed to the right, but if you looked again they pointed to the left. The building was huge! We walked and walked but found the destination always out of reach. We asked for directions from an older blond security guard but when we followed them we ended up somewhere else.

We finally emerged outdoors and not at all where we thought we should be. The kids were starting to lose it. As we were regrouping we looked over to find Emmett with half his clothes off. Apparently he was hot.

We began our journey back to the car. This is when things got weird. We followed signs to the Self Park to find the way changed in every way. Nothing looked familiar. We took the elevator down to P1 to find no cars at all.

I asked for directions again and was kind of wigged out to note the same older blond security guard who didn’t remember us at all…and we aren’t easy to forgot.

We wandered with purpose only to back-track our steps 30 minutes later. We were past losing it. We couldn’t escape the Venetian. It was feeding on our misery.

Grammy made a bold move to strike back at the organism holding us captive by stealing pens. Emmett expressed his displeasure by smearing foam hand sanitizer all over his face and Noble and Oscar started spitting.

All of these weird and primitive acts seemed to break the building’s hold on us because we inexplicably arrived back at the naked crystal women. It was only a matter of moments before we saw a chain of familiar landmarks and made our whining, crying, back arching escape.

We spent 4 hours on the inside and only had a wet diaper, a bad attitude, and some chocolate smeared hands to show for it.

UberEATS is the best thing ever for traveling families and pot smokers

It’s very difficult eating out with all our kids on a normal day – in Vegas it’s been even more difficult. Buffets are great because everyone can get what they want but with seven people even the cheap ones rack up a hefty bill not to mention the chaos we bring with us – A baby that scatters as much as he eats and two little boys that only eat yellow things, are done in five minutes and can’t keep themselves off the floors. Each meal involves some sort of spill. We joked that our lunch at Port of Subs was a success because it only involved one orange cone.

Basically, eating out sucks.

Which is why the hero of our trip has been UberEATS.

Kaety and I already love the ease and convenience of Uber when we travel for work and vacation and we always get a bonus of a life story.

UberEATS is an app.Participating restaurants in town offer a ‘delivery’ menu – You order what you want via the app and an Uber driver picks it up and brings it to you. In Vegas we are paying between $5-8 per delivery in addition to the cost of the food.

There are a LOT of choices of restaurants and they range from fast food to upscale.

The service has saved our sanity and we’ve gotten to try a lot of food from places we’d never be able to take the kids.

It’s been a fun daily routine of browsing about a hundred restaurants and putting in two orders: one to satisfy the kids and one to satisfy the adults.

I asked one of our Uber drivers about it – what he thought, did he do it, what was it like? Apparently Nevada’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana has made the service super lucrative for Uber drivers.

Of course it has.

Freemont Zip lines

My 90-some year old grandma Olive does zip lines all the time. How hard and/or terrifying could it really be?

Pretty terrifying.

Symone really wanted to try it – so we got in line for the Freemont street ‘Slotzilla’.

We watched many people fly over us as we waited. Symone got more and more keyed up as time ticked by.

They rigged us up in harnesses of overwhelming complexity and then sent us up the stairs to the launch platform. It started to hit me as we went up seven flights of stairs just how high we were. We got to the launch gate just in time to see a member of the party in front of us have a full blown panic attack. It wasn’t helping Symone and I keep our sense of calm.

It was our turn – they had us walk out to the edge of the void and ‘sit’ into our harnesses. The act of sitting triggered us to slide out over open space. It was really freakin scary. I have rock climbed, rappelled, and done all sorts of death defying rope work, but the ‘carney’ ride vibe was really tweaking me out.

The launch came and we glided out under a canopy of lights and over the heads of drunk people. It was pretty awesome.

We landed and both of us were kind of shaken. Symone said, “I was so scared I kind of cried while I flew”.

She replayed the whole thing over and over all the way back to the hotel. It was a good time!

“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.

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?’

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!

You can take it with you! Unless you kill it with antibiotic drops…

2 days before we were scheduled to share our germs with a tube full of people we all got pink eye – which should be more aptly named ‘really horribly red and disgustingly oozing eye’. We reacted quickly and everyone has been treated. We even have a note from our collective doctors that we can play with others – so Las Vegas and flight 2323 can rest easy that they will not contract our special gift of eye born bacteria.