Desert, Vegas, hills, wind arose, not the beginning, _a_ beginning, you all know the drill.
I took off from beautiful balmy Alllllllllllllbuquerque late Wednesday afternoon, after the sun had had all day to get the air over Arizona good and roiled. Some sixty minutes of bouncing and jouncing later, we touched down in Vegas and I was faced with a dilemma: how to get to the Golden Nugget.
Your average socialite faced with such a situation would likely have taken one of the many shuttles that run between the airport and the major hotel/casinos of Las Vegas for a nominal fee, typically between 4 and six American dollars. I opted to rent a car (more on that later) and headed Northward Ho! in search of the Nugget. Upon arriving in the most Nuggetly-promising part of the city I found myself circling a several-block region, looking into the now-closed-to-vehicle-traffic Fremont Street area like Moses looking down into the Promised Land. I must have lost a good half-hour trying to find the parking garage for the Nugget before stumbling across it (strangely after finding myself in a turn lane that traffic prevented me from exiting, thus resulting in my finding myself on a street I hadn't intended to find myself upon...ahh, Fate).
Having parked as far away from the garage exit/hotel entrance as was possible (the universe wasted little time in applying Hooke's Law of Luck to my life) I checked in and went up to my room. I figured I'd find out What Was Up and called the front desk to see whether someone picked at random from the list of expected Wednesday attendees had checked in yet -- it turned out to be the Dilicks, and they were in, and I had the hotel person connect me to their room. The phone rang. And rang. And rang again, then was answered by a rather sleepy-sounding John Dilick, who quickly snapped to alertness and began a frenetic stream-of-consciousness conversation that left me needing a drink. We agreed to head out into Vegas in search of said drink and decided to meet in the lobby presently.
Arriving in the lobby I saw Novak and New People who turned out to be Bill Garrett, Chris Mullins, Kkkenn, and Hawk. We set out for the Strip to engage in a pleasant evening of yapping, ambling cluelessly, and generally trying to keep Bill away from a blackjack table until his head exploded. The best we could do was a momentary rise in blood pressure but I can safely say that we gave it The Old College Try. Our blitzkrieg through the MGM Grand, Nueva Jork Nueva Jork, Excalibur, and Mandalay Bay left me with the sense that I had seen a Polynesian bellydancer wrestling a fire-breathing dragon on the streets of the Upper West Side accompanied by a Tina Turner soundtrack. Fortunately, calm was restored and we returned to the Nugget in Dilick's rental car. Unfortunately, we returned to much Hawkly abuse for taking the through-the-city scenic route instead of the 15-515-baddaBing! route. We Meant To Do That. Intangible plans were made to Do Something the following morning and I returned to my room on the 14^H5th floor.
ObPeeve: Pandering to the fuckingly boneheaded superstitious by pretending that 14 follows 12. But I digress.
The next morning I arose, performed my morningly ablutions, and turned on CNN for a few minutes while dressing. Hearing about some guy on a shooting rampage in Atlanta, I thought "Another day in the Republic" and flipped the channel to ESPN. Only later did it occur to me that I might be getting a bit jaded.
Soon after, Hawk called and orde^H^H^H^Hasked me to come to the den of sin she and Garrett were sharing, as "Everyone else is meeting here." I ambled up (OK, I took the elevator like a fat fuck) and bumped into Hawk in the hall. She and I were in pursuit of the non-phone-answering Dave Hemming (representing the Former Evil Colonial Overlords) and were met with silence at his door (turned out he had just showered and didn't want to answer the door for Housekeeping while nekkit. Presumably no such reservation would have applied had he known the knockers' identities).
Abandoning the FECO, we returned to le boudoir du Hawk et Garrett and I was introduced to Tshen, Trent, and the Amazing Mutant Swede (he has the torso of a normal man but his legs are about twelve feet from hip to ankle). Hawk was gracious enough to donate Bill's bottled water to the cause of slaking my thirst. As I swilled it, we were joined by (in no particular order) Drew, Noell and Eric, John and Annette Dilick, and some other folks. I wasn't taking attendance, so don't get bitchy.
We decided to take Vegas for all it was worth, so a passel of us piled into the various and sundry rental cars and headed to Treasure Island. After a bit of misdirection that led to my group ending up in Caesar's Palace (and my being proclaimed a genius for intuiting that the casino/hotel with shit named "Nero's Massage Parlor" and "Appian Way Geegaws" was probably Not The Mirage) we met up with the others at TI and endeavored to keep Bill from the tables a bit longer. That mission was quickly abandoned in favor of eating, which led to consumption of the most flavorless French Dip sammitch it has ever been my misfortune to consume. Following the repast of champions, we headed to the casino floor and I proceeded to put money into the slot machines for the benefit of Drew and the Dilicks. After they'd sated themselves with foodpelleting, we returned to the Nugget to prepare for The Reception.
The Reception went about as well as one would expect. Many other people arrived, many drinks were consumed, and witticisms dropped unremittingly from everyone's lips. Those of you too damned sedentary to join us will have to wonder what merriment and revelries transpired.
Friday I awoke and performed my ablutions and decided that I wouldn't need that rental car after all (told you I'd get back to that). I returned it to Budget, paid for the time I left their car in a parking garage, and shuttled my way back to the Nugget. Total cost (including $5 for shuttle and $1 tip to shuttle driver): $163.61. I think only Skogsberg paid more and he flew from Sveeden.
I found myself in a casino before the morning haze had lifted and therefore I can't even recall whose casino earned twelve of my dollars. After a short bit of wholesome gaming, we adjourned to Nugget poolside to spend the afternoon in a state of heat-induced somnolence and pleasant conversation. It was observed that Las Vegas seemed to have more than its fair share of people missing at least one functioning extremity. More witticisms dropped and more than one bon mot found its way into the conversation. After a time, we retired to prepare for dinner, an activity more than adequately chronicled by Trent in his report -- save for my near-fatal choking as I tried desperately to hold my sides together while trying to Graffiti into my PalmPilot Novak's statement that "In the past 36 hours I've seen more gimps, cripples, and generally dysfunctional human beings than in my entire life."
After dinner we Socialized for a time, then John Dilick and I adjourned to Binion's Horseshoe, where we'd heard that a 2-dollar minimum blackjack table could be found. After waiting a time for seats to open at the lone qualifying table (cheap bastard kept their asscheeks on those chairs like there was a taproot connecting them) we promptly proceeded to spend the next 7 hours there playing blackjack. Miraculously, Dilick's entire night of fun was funded by a lone twenty-dollar bill. I dropped a bit but we decided that we'd had enough fun that we'd return the following day (which is to say, later that day).
I got back to my room and fell asleep with a thudding sound. Three hours later, the phone rang. Like a good sheeple, I answered it and found myself ord^H^H^Hinvited to breakfast with several of the gang. After a pretty fair breakfast o' flapjacks that went half-eaten after I nearly killed the raised-Catholic contingent with Yet Another Witticism, I went back to my room for a nap. Just after I fell asleep, the phone rang. My presence was demand^H^H^H^H^H^Hrequested at the pool for another afternoon of lolling and lazing.
I began dieting and exercising a few months ago in an attempt to get a bit slimmer. My weakening resolve was firmly strengthened by the sheer magnitude of some of the pool folks. There was one gal who, in the words of the immortal Coolio "gotta ass like the back of a bus does" in a B&W checkerboard print that made -- and I Am Not Making This Up -- a moire pattern with every beat of her elephantine heart. Where's that carton of nonfat yogurt?
After the lollfest broke up, Trent and I went into the hotel thereupon to dine upon overpriced fare. We chatted briefly with Mark and Deb Loy, who were just wrapping up a bout of torrid lovemaking on their table, then were joined by the rail-jumping John Dilick and soon thereafter, the rail-jumping Annette Dilick. We shanghaied Kate Nepveu and Novak for still more witticisms and then John Dilick and I returned to the Horseshoe to continue our assault on the 2-dollar-tables. Nine or so hours later, I had reclaimed my losses of the night before and even earned a bit besides. Yay, me. Having had no food for many and many an hour, we returned to the Nugget and again glommed onto some socializers for a late-night snack. Farewells to the Dilicks were exchanged and they left to get some shuteye before the next morning's early drive to Phoenix.
I sacked out around midnight, determined to sleep until I awoke.
I awoke to the gentle lateral motion of the Golden Nugget. We were having an earthquake, although I didn't know it at the time. At the time I was puzzled: surely a nine-hour sleep was restful enough to preclude head-spinning? During breakfast I was informed of the seismic activity and said (as any good midWesterner would) "Oooooooohhhhhhhhhhh."
Novak, Pam Korda, CD, and I retired to Novak's room ostensibly to play free blackjack but actually spent the next couple of hours as Novak, Pam, and I exchanged bitter yet amusing tales of grad school and teaching. When Pam had to catch a flight, we relocated to the pool for a few more hours of jabber, then I snagged a shuttle to the airport, experienced an undelayed and uneventful flight to Albuquerque, drove back to Los Alamos, and sacked out.
Back to life, back to reality.
I had a great time. As expected, the rasfwrj-ians I had not met before turned out to be as charming, witty, and Just Plain Fun as those I had. Special thanks go out to the organizing committee (especially Drew Gillmore) for turning the never-ending "We should totally have a national DFS" into reality. May they have a few months' rest before they take up the burden of "We should totally have another national DFS" into reality.