Monday, October 22, 2007

Leaving Lost Vegas

You know when you're in Las Vegas or some other adults-only destination, and you see a family loaded down with a bunch of little kids and strollers and diaper bags and all that goes with them? And you think to yourself (or in my case, sneer out loud), "What kind of complete idiot would bring small children to Las Vegas?" Well, as it turns out, I would be just the kind.

And you know how Las Vegas is now supposed to be hip and trendy and cool and high-end and even, dare I say, classy? Well, apparently the Imperial Palace was stuck in 1981 and never received that particular memo.

Combine these two facts and imagine the fun my family and I had in Las Vegas this past weekend. We were there to join my mother-in-law's family as they celebrated her dad's 90th birthday. Most of the gang was there from the East coast, and as we had missed the official celebration in August (being that we have all these kids and live on the West coast and Poppy lives an hour plus away from the nearest po-dunk airport and 3 from JFK or La Guardia), we agreed to drive out and meet everyone there.

We knew that the trip would be challenging and we were alarmed that the family had been led by an imbecilic travel agent - probably the only one in America who's never actually been to Las Vegas - to stay at the Imperial Palace. Still, we were glad that Julia was getting over the sore throat and fever she'd had all week and we were hoping to make the best of the trip. So, armed with snacks, drinks, books, DVDs, crayons and more than a few prayers, we set off on the 6 hour trip. Miraculously, we got on the road early, the kids did great on the drive, and we got to the city in great time.

We got our first taste of things to come when we hit Friday afternoon rush hour traffic just as Ethan announced that he needed a bathroom. We had no choice but to pull over to the side of the off-ramp and let him moon the entire city while cars inched by. Classy.

The kids ooh'ed and ahh'ed as we drove past the giant hotels and beautiful facades. And then we reached our hotel.

The Imperial Palace is neither imperial nor palatial. It is a shithole.

To ramble on and on about just how bad the IP sucks would result in much too long of a post. The decor, the smell, the's just all bad. We shared a swanky 2-bedroom penthouse suite with Ray's mom and his aunt. The mini-fridge smelled so gross that my kids refused to drink the milk I had stored in it, complaining that it tasted like cabbage. They've never even tasted cabbage. The toilet seat was worn away in so many places that I think Frank Sinatra himself probably used it at some point. I shudder to think what a regular room is like.

When Julia was 4 months old, we traveled to Florida to visit Ray's elderly grandfather (the other Poppy). We drove in from Atlanta and had to spend the night in Alachua in the grossest, creepiest motel I've ever been to. There were blood stains on the towels and I refused to step into the nasty shower. It seriously grossed me out to take my perfect sweet baby girl and stay in that filthy room. The Imperial Palace is the Alachua of Las Vegas. Other guests joked that the initials IP really should stand for ImPlode.

Mercifully, we finally got out of there for a while the afternoon after we got in, but not before having two meals at their nasty coffee shop, the Tea House (which came to be known by us as the Pee House). We headed to Circus Circus and the kids had a great time. It was like Chuck E. Cheese on steroids. It actually brought back happy memories of my own trips to Las Vegas as a child, begging to go to Circus Circus and playing the camel race with my cousins. A more recent addition to Circus Circus is the Adventuredome, a smoke-free mini-theme park with rides, junk food, and more games. This was a great way to spend our day.

From there we headed to Paris and tried to survive another meal while Bunch screamed. I have to say, he was fairly cooperative on the trip as a whole. Between his new obsession with Legos ("eggos") and the few words he now uses to communicate, the screaming has decreased. However, going from car seat to stroller to high chair back to the stroller is not his idea of a good time and even he's got his limits. The big kids got new Webkinz from a store there, which helped to allay their disappointment that we couldn't go up the Eiffel Tower due to the high winds. In fact, the fountains and volcano were also turned off because of the weather.

The highlight of the trip for me was jumping out of the car at the Bellagio to show my two older kids the stunning Chihuly installation in the lobby. A while back, they had seen some photos of Dale Chihuly's work on the internet and had showed some interest. I've been a fan of his work since we got exposed to it while living in Seattle. I couldn't resist the opportunity to show them the actual work when it was so readily accessible. I figured they should know that Las Vegas isn't just about worn vinyl and giant belt buckles. Ethan wasn't that impressed but Julia was very interested. We also went to the conservatory which never fails to stun me with its beautiful seasonal decorations. This time it was an autumn theme and was absolutely gorgeous. Even Ethan enjoyed the "waterfall" of apples. The only bad part about our little 15-minute excursion was that it underscored just how crappy our own hotel was when we returned to it.

I could go on and on, but why? Everyone knows that when you travel with a lot of people, decisions made by the group are not always best for certain individuals. This is magnified when one member of your group is a spry 90-year old birthday boy who still needs to get a nap in now and then. Going on this trip was the right thing to do, and it was lovely to see Poppy and his "girlfriend," whom I'd never met. She is a sweetheart and couldn't have been nicer to me and the kids. Everyone else did their best and we even got to leave the kids with Grandma and go play a little blackjack at night. Our itinerary and accommodations did nothing but make me long to go back to "Lost" Vegas, as Ethan calls it, this time in a nicer hotel, with better entertainment, different traveling companions and no kids. Like I said, what kind of idiot would take kids to Las Vegas anyway?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who's been concerned about our safety during the fire season. Although we drove through some fire areas on our way back from Vegas, our town is not affected. Our hearts are with the firefighters and those who are in the fires' path.

Thank you dpdixon for the photo of the Strip and ladnlins for the gorgeous picture of the Bellagio lobby.


NikJustNik said...

Oh Sweet.. I am so sorry the hotel sucked. Thanks for the Paris link though I am so staying there if I ever make it over LOL!!!

You and Ray desire a break so make sure you take that trip some time soon. Lord knows everyone needs a break once in awhile..

I am so glad that you are safe. I have been so worried about you..

Anonymous said...

T, I am one of those people that would never take my kids to Vegas. Although I know that many of the hotels cater to kids, I just don't care for the over all ambiance for kids. Then again, I'm not much of a Vegas fan myself, although I do enjoy a relaxing R&R there once in a while.


p.s. glad you're all safe!!

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

thinking about you and the fires!

I had Lucas pee while waiting in a drive thru burger joint.

Wild World of Scrap said...

Oh sugar, I'm so sorry you had to stay at an undesirable hotel! I'm glad you're home, glad you had some beautiful things to look at while there and glad you're out of a "danger zone" at home.

I know the feeling of the babies going from car seat to stroller to high chair and back again. Does not make for a fun afternoon......


Meghan said...

So what are you real feelings on the Imperial Palace?
Don't hold back.
Tell it like it is.

Kathy Carr said...

I wanna go to Las Vegas!! Sounds like you had a great trip!