The day is May 5, 2010. The hour is 5:47 pm Eastern. The place? Tampa International Airport. I am about to venture into unknown territory. Destination? Las Vegas.
Not long over take-off we were crossing the Gulf of Mexico. You’re just high enough to wisp through the clouds, yet not too high to see the whitecaps as they crash together below. That beauty soon turned to heartache. The oil spill, which was about the size of Ohio at the time, soon came into view. The sight of it was horrific. You feel helpless, and sadness for all the loss that this disaster will soon reveal. Moments later you see New Orleans, with the devastation still in view. Then came the turbulence. The remainder of the flight brought on many prayers and approximately 3.7 glasses of wine - not to mention the complimentary mini bottles (yes, that was meant to be plural) of Bailey’s. My coffee was quite enjoyable that flight. Then came the landing …
Just in time to see the sunset on the Western coast, I (just barely) land in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Pronounced Na-vadd-a, NOT Na-vod-a; a friendly tip I learned very quickly). Sunsets on the West Coast are incredible - even if you’re not right on the coast. Breathtaking, really, especially when the sunlight just barely touches the peaks of the Grand Canyon. A very spiritual moment when you can look down and see something of such greatness as it appears to be nothing bigger than an anthill. Had I not been to John & Jane (soon-to-be) Doe, I would have enjoyed that moment, but instead I had to hear the saliva exchange between their lips. I’m all for some lovin’ but when you are crammed against the window on the very last row of the plane, lacking personal space and legroom, it is definitely not a pro-lovin’ time for me.
My dear friend met me at the airport and away I went, ready to be lost in the commotion of one of the busiest cities in the world. Being that it was Cinco de Mayo, I quickly changed into my ‘Aztec’-ish, Mexican-inspired dress and zoomed on over to the Cantina to meet my lovely friend Jennifer. Upon my arrival, it was apparent she had already been enjoying the festivities for quite some time but still managed to hang in there long enough to introduce me to some very lovely Las Vegas natives, Miguel and Roberto and of course The Most Interesting Man In The World (who would later leave with and accompany us to the Hard Rock). I tasted my first margarita that night. I vowed never to taste the awfulness that is tequila ever again, but when in Vegas .. It was horrible, and luckily I had a nice cool Dos Equis in my hand to chase away the ick. About the time I lost the last few hairs of my (fake) mustache, we skipped across the street to the Hard Rock - and yes, I am pretty sure I skipped. Once inside we quickly became local celebrities - thanks to the company of The Most Interesting Man In The World. After a few photo ops, a little gambling, an almost-tattoo session and a pizza it was time to head to bed.
Thursday, May 6, 2010. The temperature that morning was in the 60’s and the sun was shining bright in a cloudless sky. This meant pool time. I scurried inside and came out donning my favorite bikini, with a tall order of water and a copy of “Eat Pray Love”. The picture of (almost) perfection. After a few sun-kissed hours in the sun my first random thought lead me to the spa. Mani-Pedi it was. Once I was painted and pampered my sense of adventure landed me on the strip. There were cab rides with strangers, multiple people-watching stops then finally wound up meeting my new friends at Wet Republic via the MGM. After a thorough bag check and a nice little stamp I was cleared to enter the outside oasis, featuring itty bitty bikinis, designer shades and cocktails aplenty. I made my way to the cabana. Once there, my neon purple leggings and baby tee momentarily made me feel a little out of place, but after I sat down any discomfort faded away. After some chit chat and lounging it was go time. Not only was I famished I had a time crunch to work with. I accompanied my new friends to the Rainforest Cafe. Best Earth Burger EVER. I passed on dessert and caught a ride back to spruce myself up some some QT with friends. Sushi was on the menu, with exhaustion lingering nearby. A pot of Sencha assisted in my removal of said exhaustion. After a lovely evening with friends we headed home, saving ourselves for Friday night and little did we know then just how much we would need it.
Friday, May 7, 2010. Another beautiful day in the desert. I woke up as Jen left for work and got myself ready for a day on the strip. I mosied on out to meet my cab and had the greatest cab ride to date. My driver, a woman who would turn 60 the very next week, encouraged me to see the world while I’m young; never to settle for a man that wasn’t a 10 on his worst day and to laugh at the little things. She got a nice tip for her upcoming trip back home to Africa. I had her drop me at The Venetian. After venturing through the casino and little boutiques I found myself on the balcony, overlooking millions of square feet of fun and excitement. I hit the pavement, without a plan and with my phone in hand - ready to snap my first shot of the day. I wandered around for hours, stopping for ice cream, a Peroni at Serendipity 3, taking pictures for couples who wanted to be in the same shot for once, often looking up to admire the grand architecture of some of the greatest resorts in the world. I wandered inside Caesars, putting myself directly into “The Hangover”. I made my way into the casino and dropped $100 on Blazing 7’s, just as I was told to, and lost every last penny. It probably should have been my sign when I had to page the attendant twice because it ate my $100 bill, then had to ask how to work the machine. Oh well, on to the next one .. I stopped at the Bellagio to enjoy the water show and the sounds of (my dream husband) Andrea Bocelli. It was moving and definitely got an 11 out of 10 on the goosebump scale. So good I stuck around for another. I then made my way further down, stopping at the New York, New York. This was actually one of my favorites. It had a sense of the city, the hustle and bustle, the ambience. I could be wrong in your eyes (whoever you are) but to me that is exactly what it was. I made my way through the arcade to the entrance of the roller coaster. I purchased a single ticket and made my way to the line for the front car. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it big. I was paired with a (married) man from Spain who literally knew 3 words in English, including “ahhhhhh”, and I found that is exactly what we had in common at that first big drop. Like any proper tourist I purchased 2 key chains, showcasing my big screaming mouth and the adorable Spaniard sitting next to me in the front row. I took my windblown self back down to the strip and made my way back down to the new City Center. I cruised into the new hotel, Aria, and managed to swindle my way into the pool. I lounged for a while with some additional new friends then got far to antsy to sit around any longer. At this point I was a little hungry, and while I do not eat fish I wanted a taste of Michael Mina and walked into American Fish. I had the most amazing Spring Greens salad and Truffled Mac & Cheese. I left there a very happy girl. It was time to cross back over to the other side - of the strip, that is. I got distracted and wound up in Miracle Mile. A mile’s worth of shops. Insane. After plenty more stops and circling the entire strip almost twice, it was time to leave - but only for a bit. After several wardrobe changes, some singing to the radio and lots of primping Jen and I were back on the road. First stop? The store, to purchase two disposable cameras. Yes, you read that right. Next stop? The Palms for dinner at Nove. We walked in to a sea of girls, all vying for their shot at meeting New Kids On The Block. After being escorted up the elevator to the 50th-something floor we arrived. First request? A drink. Mine was honest-to-God called the Pimp Cup. It was a goblet of some gin-inspired mojito-ish drink, which was quite delicious. Jen, unfortunately, didn’t have the same experience. I definitely ventured out there and tried things I normally wouldn’t order while on this vacation and it certainly didn’t end with this meal. I ordered the ravioli. Walnut pesto, spicy ricotta tomato sauce and a bowl full of absolute goodness. Are you salivating? You should be. Along with the various breads and dips we snacked on before our meal, everything was superb (except of course Jen’s drink). Now, my friends, it was Hofbrauhaus time. We met up with our pals and joined in on the German - Bavarian festivities. A round of shots were ordered, Jager for them, Apple Schnapps for me. They came out resting on what looked like a wooden paddle. It was indeed a wooden paddle. Following the consumption of said shots, we each had to bend over, elbows touching the table, and prepare for the paddle to make contact with our bums. Yes, that was the first time in about 15 years that I have been paddled. Annnnnd on to the next one … We cruised down the strip to the Encore. After a pit stop at the casino bar, a berry-infused vodka, photo ops, and trying to tear Roberto away from the craps table, we finally arrived at XS. Honestly, one of the coolest set-ups in my experience. We hit the floor, taking our time to settle in. Walked out to the pool, took more photos then wound up directly under one of the poles AKA dance platform. Being the incredibly superior females that we are, little blondie was pressure off the platform and we, of course, took over. After a few minutes in the spotlight Jen got my adorable little friend Louie Vito to come over. Picture? Umm yes. This kid is so cute that if I were about 15 and subscribed to Tiger Beat magazine, I’m sure his poster would be on my wall - or ceiling. We eventually ended up hanging out at their table and met a handful of other people. Thank you, Supercross, for blessing Las Vegas with so many people I follow in sports - well, and music. The party ended at XS approximately 2:30 or 3 am?! That’s a guess because at this point exhaustion and the over-zealous pours of my new friends, I consciously checked out, but I do remember finally getting that kiss .. Thank you (again) Las Vegas, for one of the best days of my life.
Saturday, May 8, 2010. I woke up wondering how I was perfectly dressed in my cute little pj’s. That’s how the night left me. On this morning I was supposed to leave for Los Angeles. It didn’t happen. After quite a few laughs and stories and my freaking out that we lost the one camera that contained my photo with Louie, we headed out for a bite. Here, my fellow diners, tried to get our little waiter boy to kiss me. It didn’t happen, but thanks anyway guys. It was decided that we would head to the pool. I was on the verge of what could have been the worst day-after ever, but a pitcher of strawberry mojitos saved me. That and the sun. The sun is always so good to me, especially in the desert. It can be 97 degrees and the desert out West is still incredibly superior to doldrums of Florida. It also helped that there was a high wind advisory throughout my entire Las Vegas stay. Once again met some chill people and lounged for hours. My prolonged stay in Vegas was attributed to some friends from Florida flying in that night. The plan (and I never have a plan) was to meet up once they arrived. After the pool and dinner and one of the best showers of my life the stay thus far finally hit me. I hit the couch and the next thing I knew it was 12 am and I’m getting a call from an unknown number. Alas, my friend. “Hey Tiff. My phone is kaput and this I’m using the driver’s phone. Let’s meet up.” I vaguely remember a similar form of this conversation.
Sunday, May 9, 2010. Apparently, between my sleep talking and no contact number for them, I woke up the next morning feeling quite refreshed. I somehow managed to book a flight for the following evening - thank goodness. I tagged along with Jen to church. Yes church. In Vegas. And no, not to get married. Actual church. With scripture, singing and even communion. God was speaking to me. He knew my conscience all too well. Following church I finally got my order of French Toast with peanut butter. The best combination ever. Add a little strawberry and you have culinary heaven. It was decided that we were going to the Stratosphere. Operation Sky Jump. Side Note: Sky Jump is a controlled free fall that adds up to about 855 feet, 108 floors. I can’t even sky dive, how the heck am I going to do this?! So the Sky Jump didn’t happen as a result of a time constraint. We did, however, get to enjoy the strip together though. Hit some souvenir shops, caught the back end of yet another Bellagio water show, photo op with Kiss and nearly got blown away by the wind. All in all, a great day. I got dropped at the airport, bound for Los Angeles. And what? My flight was delayed nearly two hours. At this point you’re at a loss. You head back to the strip, but for what? By the time you get somewhere it’s time to turn around so you can wait in the ridiculously long line for security then get back to the terminal just in time to board. So, I hung around. Met this fabulous (and by fabulous, I mean FABULOUS) guy who was heading to LA to see his boyfriend after 3 months. He was adorable and we chatted for the duration of the layover. He had been in Vegas for Supercross, as he was a sports news guy. I wound up in an aisle seat next to two very pretty models, Jemma and Alyse. Nice, which is odd because most models I met while working in LA were not so. Amid crying babies (which why do you take your FAMILY to Las Vegas for vacation) and a crankly elderly couple we safely landed in Burbank just under an hour later … And now, it was time to see my Linda and the place I once called home ..
Stayed tuned for L.A. Diaries ..
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