Thursday, January 19, 2006

Diamonds & Pearls

Man, where do I begin?

Ever since I've lived here, that whole 'going to Vegas' vibe has been totally different for me. It's tough for me to get excited to go down to the Strip and party all night and hang out with friends. Since I'm here every day, a little bit of the shine has come off of the diamond. But every now and then, I'll have a night like last night that puts it all back in perspective and makes me remember why I love being here and just how fortunate I am to have such goofy friends. Last night was one of those epic experiences.

Around 6pm, Angy called me and told me to meet her as soon as I could get down to the Strip, so we agreed on the Monte Carlo Brew Pub. After I hung up, I gave Andrea a quick call and she agreed to meet us again. 45 minutes later I found Angy and her husband Dave sitting at the bar with an empty stool next to them. It was pretty crowded in there, but Angy had the foresight to put us on the waiting list for a table. In the meantime we sat at the bar drinking High Roller Red and catching up on the days activities. After a round or two, our table was available and we sat down in the front of the pub near the stage.

Andrea was running late--her roommate's car broke down and she had to go pick her up, but she kept in contact thru text messages. We ordered some food while waiting, and the grub at the pub is pretty damn good. Angy got some coconut shrimp, Dave had a quesadilla, and I had one of their pepperoni pizzas. After dinner, we decided to change up our drinks, and I found the perfect one for Angy--it was called a 'Nutty Lady', and it featured rum, chocolate, and amaretto. It sounded so good that I had one too. Immediately our buzz kicked in.

This is Angy acting on a tip that Sarah Conner was somewhere in the pub

About that time Andrea showed up and the party was on. She had some catching up to do so we kept the waitress busy. We just hung out at the table telling stories and having some laughs, waiting until 10pm. That's when Purple Reign took the stage. Yep, the same Prince tribute band that's been playing at the Boardwalk for the past few years has upgraded to the Monte Carlo.

If you haven't seen them, you're missing out--especially if you're a child of the 80s like I am. They do a great job of covering and performing all the old Prince tunes, although I didn't hear Delirious or When Doves Cry in the two hours we watched them. They did, however, do a few minutes of Morris Day and the Time, and several audience members proceeded to make a mad dash to the dance floor and make complete fools out of themselves as soon as the band kicked in with Jungle Love. I probably would have, too, but somebody had to hang back and take photos.

Angy's husband bailed about five minutes into the show, so it was just the three of us after that. Like I said, we hung out drinking, dancing, and laughing till around midnight or so. The band took a break and the DJ took over, but by then we'd been in the brew pub for almost five hours, so it was time to move on. I suggested that since we were so close, we should just take the tram over to the Bellagio and see if we couldn't class up that joint. The ladies were ok with that idea, so off we went.

That was my first experience with the Monte Carlo/Bellagio tram, and I've got to say that it's probably the slowest moving train this side of Mr Rogers neighborhood. Luckily, we were the only ones in the car, so we had plenty of time for drunken buffoonery.

The three of us just before blast off on our mission to Bellagio

We finally made it to the Bellagio, and we stumbled around for awhile before we made it to the Conservatory. The holiday display is long gone, and now it's got a pretty cool Chinese New Year theme going on. I think it must be the Year of the Dog, or otherwise I have no idea why they put a 15 foot-high St Bernard in there. We wandered around a bit in there taking pictures, while Angy tried to stick her tongue in the water jets without getting shot in the face, and I made my own kind of fun with the water features, much to the amusement of our fellow patrons.

Don't cross the streams!

Andrea was laughing so hard at me pretending to pee, that she almost peed herself! We hung around in there for about 45 minutes taking various goofy pictures and trying to make each other laugh with our antics. But right after these photos were taken, they closed the Conservatory. I'd like to think we had something to do with that. But seriously, the display was really cool--in fact I liked it better than the Christmas one.

From there, we wandered the casino, with our ultimate goal being the Fontana Lounge. Unfortunately, it was full and there was a line waiting for seats, so we moved on. No couches available at the Baccarat Bar, either. So we ended up getting a table at the Petrossian Bar listening to a David Hasselhoff lookalike tickling the ivories. My requests for Free Bird or the theme from Knight Rider amused few people outside of our table.

The drinks at the Bellagio were pretty damn good, and we had some great top-shelf martinis while we listened to music and played Spot The Hooker. But that was like shooting fish in a barrel, because Bellagio is crawling with nice girls out looking to supplement their income. Actually, Mr Jaded Vegas Guy that I am, I was surprised by just how many there were. Walking to the restroom reminded me of a third-world shopping bazaar, with people grabbing me to try and get me to sample their wares.

The one that got the best laugh from the Angy and Andrea was one gal in particular who grabbed me on my way back to the table and said she was going to follow me wherever I was going. I didn't really have a problem with that, until I spied the classy 'Bitch' tattoo scribed on her neck. We thought that perhaps she was marketing herself to the wrong demographic, and figured she'd have more success if she strolled around in say, the Frontier, instead of trolling us high rollers there at the Bellagio.

But it was like that all night. We sat there for hours laughing at all the business transactions going down while we sipped on martinis. We met some of the other folks there in the bar, and a couple of them insisted on buying all of our drinks (the benefits of hanging with two attractive gals all night--free booze!). Toward the end of the evening we met some pretty cool Australian guys and invited them to join us--turns out they were playing the same game we were.

Angy was getting drunker and sillier, and her objective was to get thrown out--she'd been in town four whole days and hadn't gotten tossed from a single place, and she didn't want to break her streak. There was a huge metal horse in the middle of the hotel lobby that was covered with tiny mirrors like a disco ball, and she wanted to ride it.

Unfortunately it was too tall and there were no stirrups, so that idea never came to fruition. I'd switched to coffee by then, but the ladies were still trucking along like sorority girls at a fall mixer.

Finally around 5:30 in the morning, the show was pretty much over and we started getting hungry again. Angy wanted the Peppermill, and Andrea had never been. So we said goodbye to all of our new friends and headed back to the Monte Carlo. Along the way Angy was feeling a little dehydrated and needed to pay a visit to the water fountain...

After another trip on the tram and a hike through the Monte Carlo, we fetched the Ghetto Sled and headed north towards the Peppermill for breakfast. Luckily it was almost empty and they gave us a booth way over in the corner where we couldn't offend any other customers.

Help me! There is a flamingo trying to dig into my brain!!

We started with hot chocolate, and the girls had omelets while I went with eggs benedict. Of course the food was fantastic and by that time everyone had started to sober up and we had an excellent conversation. Angy was sad, however, because she was heading home later in the day. But we made plans to get together again in March, and since Andrea and I are both relatively new in town, we decided that we'll go and try new restaurants together every couple of weeks.

After we finished breakfast, we made a quick stop back in the fireside lounge for a final picture, but Angy refused to be photographed, thinking that she may have been a little disheveled by that point. But me and 'The Mrs.' got a few snapshots (oh yeah, we spent the whole night telling everyone we were married, again).

Notice our holiday-themed sweaters. We're using this photo for our Christmas cards next year.

By then, the sun was starting to peek over the eastern mountains and the drunks on the Strip had given way to the joggers. We made our way back to the Monte Carlo, where I dropped the girls off at the valet. We said our goodbyes and goodnights, agreeing that no matter what, we'd have to do it again soon.

I drove home and went to bed, passing out as soon as my head hit the pillow. My last conscious thought was something about the diamond being shiny again.

I love Las Vegas!


PS. Click on the pics for full-sized goodness!

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