I've been remiss at blogging much lately, but at the same time, it's been a bit of a whirlwind. My soccer season started up, so I'm now playing a game a week in addition to watching at least a couple of matches, while the gridball season also started, which means fantasy football. Some people may not understand the appeal of setting up a pretend football side, but in my case, I've been running a league now for just over 17 seasons. We'll hit our 20 year anniversary in 2012, and I still get a kick out of seeing everyone in the league, even if it's just once a year.
I've worked with everyone in the league at the financial institution I work for, and so we all could commiserate about the trouble we saw daily for a day outside of work, and then have something else to talk about during the football season. Owners have come and gone, but the core group has remained for these past few years, and I consider many of these guys true friends. They've seen me during fun times and not so fun times as my team implodes, but it's always been a blast. Granted, the prize money is always a nice touch, but at the same point, I'd do this every year with them even if it was for free.
My draft was held on Saturday, August 29th at Buffalo Wild Wings, so I had to make it back from Vegas in order to run things. That's the responsibility of the commissioner, and for me, a role that I take very seriously. Outside of my friend Obi who ran the league in the first season, I've been the only guy in charge of the league through its growth, and we've managed through owners moving, an owners mutiny, countless rules changes, and the annual joke of trying to draft Fred Lane. It's a joke that only our group would find all that funny, and at the core, it's kind of demented. But then again, that's what we are.
But before I can talk about the draft, I need to finish up the business of our Vegas trip, for as we last left our journey to the land of cheap buffets and slot machines, we were dealing with the aftermath of girl's adventures in gluten.
Thursday, August 27th
We again got up a bit late, but it was understandable after the stress from the preceding evening. I awoke with plans to head to the gym for a second straight day, which I did pretty much right after noon. It was a relatively nice workout, but I felt badly that in the eight days we'd been here, we had only made it to the gym twice in that time. However, I know that rest and relaxation were the bigger part of the plans, and we'd done a pretty good job there.
After I had returned from the gym and gotten in a shower, we decided to get things organized and packed in the room, and then head out for some dinner. We had also discussed trying to see if we could check out later in the day to get one last morning at the pool before our flight on Friday, but when I checked with the desk, they said I'd have to arrange that on the morning of our departure. So, we got everything packed as best as we could, and then headed to the Luxor for another round of buffet.
The Luxor food just has it all, representing the food groups well and providing girl lots of great gluten free options for her consumption. We ate rather well, and I even got some much needed water and other food groups covered, and so after eating, it was time to go back and finish up the packing so we could then decide on plans for later that evening. While we were gone, the hotel had left us a message letting us know we could stay an extra night for a reduced rate. When I called the front desk about this message, I said we couldn't stay the whole day but could we check out late for a reduced cost, and they said sure. I arranged to get us checked out by 2 pm, so that would give us plenty of time to get to the airport for our flight at 4:30 PM.
As we were packing, we had noticed that of the liquor bottles we had brought down, only the vermouth and whiskey were remaining. The vodka, rum, and countreau were all gone or close to being gone, and I was determined to make sure the whiskey was gone before we left. Ok, it was just over half full, but I made it my mission to get this consumed. While girl was getting a few things done by email, I went on a mission to get our large drink glasses filled with liquor for one more night of gambling. Because the main drink place was closed, I ended up heading to Fat Tuesday to see if they would refill our drink container. Since it was at MGM Grand, they would for $9, and I got girl her favorite, the 190 Octane. She was happy we could get it refilled, and soon the packing became drink time. Plus, while I was down there, I heard a gal yelling about hating Shittle, and I got a chance to share my hate for the city, soccer style. Nothing sounded better than doing a "fuck Shittle" at a bar in Vegas between people who hate that place.
I was pretty happy at the point that we decided to head out again to the Luxor and Excalibur for some last night gambling, and wandering about. I probably wasn't going to drink much more than I had, but girl wanted to drink a slight bit more so we headed out for more. The Luxor gambling was actually rather quiet, so we ended up going back to Excalibur to hang out. A usual tradition of our was to head to the game arcade downstairs, which we hadn't done, and so that was our destination when we first got there.
We are masters of the claw machine, as our house is full of various toys we've won over the years. Our last wins were talked about in our trips to Shittle and Spokane, and so when I found a machine that had Simpsons dolls, I had to go for a claw win. Girl, meanwhile, found one of her favorite machines, the coin pusher. Essentially, you take coins and slide them down a ramp to fall onto a pile of coins. A pusher goes back and forth to push the dropped coins against this pile to make other coins drop, which will either win you more coins or tickets, or you win nothing. This game is all about timing, and girl is one of the best I've seen at this. At this arcade, you didn't win coins, but instead tickets, and so she had dropped a lot of money into this to win a boatload of tickets.
It got to the point that the arcade staff was watching her dominate the coin pusher. She's good, and this wasn't the only attention for the night. One of the employees noticed my Oregon Live shirt, and asked about us being from Oregon, as apparently she was from Albany. While my claw adventure turned out to be fruitless, girl had won a massive pile of tickets, which then allowed me to choose some prizes for our trip home. Girl had no interest in the prizes, she just loves playing the machine. I ended up choosing a calculator and DVD game for the tickets, and I was happy to see girl more spirited, as she dominated the coin pusher.
Unfortunately, the slot machines weren't being too nice, and we lost a bit more at the Big Ben machines before heading back to our room. They weren't being very nice, and apparently even girl's luck was running out a bit. Plus during her last play at Big Ben, she noticed someone watching her play that seemed to be very close to her. She felt rather uncomfortable at how close this person was, and even saw the reflection on the machine of somebody, but she turned and there was nobody there. I didn't see anyone that close to her at all, and when she asked me about it before we got up and left, we both realized that someone was indeed watching her from the great beyond. We then made it back to MGM for a bit more gambling into the wee hours.
We finally got back to the room later, and made our plan set for Friday to get up early, grab some breakfast and morning pool time, be back in the room by noon to finish up things, then get downstairs by 1:30ish to check out and then catch a taxi or shuttle to the airport. It was our last night in Vegas, and we were leaving with some prizes anyway.
Friday, August 28th
I was amazed that I woke up on time and was ready to go. I did ask for a wake up call at 9 AM, and sure enough, the call was done on time. We got up, dressed quickly, and were on the go to the pool within a few minutes. Since we were checking out late, we had to stop by the front desk to get new keys for the day, and then it was off to the pool. There were still plenty of spots available next to the main pool, so we set up camp there while I then walked to the cabana to order breakfast.
And it was freaking huge, as there was a huge meat omelet for girl and a breakfast sandwich for me. It was great to eat this much food after a night of drinking, and the extra water also helped hydrate me again. We soon were sunning and swimming in our last day in Vegas, and instead of hurrying around to get things packed before check out, we were relaxing and getting in some last rays and pool. I have to admit this was a nice move, and I'm glad we did it.
We left the pool area right at noon, and then it was time to pack up the suits, make the final check of the room to ensure we had everything, and then clean up the room before housekeeping came. Trust me, we left it in good shape, but they would have a massive amount of trash to dispose of with liquor bottles, chip containers, and paper. It was a rather impressive pile, but we tipped well, so we weren't feeling too guilty.
We then headed to check out where girl got a short list of the charges that I had made, and then we went to wait in line for the taxis. Because the line was fairly full, the taxi guy directed us to an available shuttle, which we hopped on for $7 a person, and soon we were off to McCarren for our flight home. We were both rather exhausted from our time there, and were looking forward to being back in Portland. The trip to the airport didn't take long, and soon enough, we were checking in for our flight.
Alaska doesn't have a nice first class lounge for us to enter, but we did get to use the shorter check in and security line. Well, the security line got us just ahead of the long line to get through security, but we breezed through things rather quickly. Girl had her massively cool laptop bag that allowed her to get through just fine, while I only packed essentials in my pack and packed sensible footwear. The only issue was me trying to direct us to the C terminal instead of the D terminal like we needed, but soon enough, we caught the tram to the D terminal.
First stop was Starbucks to get some much needed coffee, and then we settled in for a bit to wait for our flight. Girl pulled out her laptop and proceeded to do a little bit of work, while I read a bit in my magazine. I had gotten a text message that our flight was leaving slightly late from Vegas, so we were prepared to sit it out for a bit. This was the same terminal that we'd spent a good part of two days in around Christmas because of weather and plane mechanical issues, so we were familiar with where everything was, but honestly, I didn't want to stay here any later than we needed to.
The plane finally did arrive about an hour late, and through some good fortune, we made a quick turnaround in getting people on the plane to leave. This was different that the plane to Shittle that was leaving our gate before us, which was held up because one of the passengers had ordered food at the Starbucks and didn't want to leave without it. Ok, she ordered it rather late and had heard numerous calls to get on her plane so they could leave, but it didn't matter. She even yelled at flight staff about being rushed to the gate, and she didn't want to fly without getting food cause she was hungry. It was a rather impressive display of selfishness, only compounded by the fact that a drink was forgotten and an Alaska employee had to retrieve it and bring it on the plane before they could go. I wouldn't want to be on that flight, which was also very light, trying to explain that we were late because somebody needed food and ordered late.
We were soon loaded and up in the air in what seemed like moments. I loved the first class leg room again, and having all you could drink diet pop helped me stay awake. We got a very nice vegetable plate and some snacks, and I felt pretty comfortable during the flight. Unlike our flight down which involved food and drinking like crazy, this was a lot more mellow. Because of the flight crew's amazing work, we had made up a lot of time in the air, and we actually landed in Portland on time. Not bad for a flight that had left an hour behind.
As we were deplaning, I ran into an old colleague that I used to work with at the bank, and we talked about old shop for a bit. It was good to see him, especially since I don't quite look like I did when I worked at the bank back then. My waist line is a bit more trim, although my hair line isn't what it used to be, and I'm clean shaven, apparently I'm still recognizable. We soon retrieved our luggage and were off to catch our shuttle van home.
The instructions on where to pick up the van were slightly confusing as we headed to the wrong island at first, but soon enough, we were at the right place, and the driver had noticed we were there. The driver was actually the same gal that drove us home in December, and she was still as chatty as she was back then, sharing her life story over and over. We talked about our trip, the fact the island instructions were confusing, but soon enough, we were off and running. Within an hour of touching down, we were back home and in our drive way. And to keep with our theme, the gal got another good tip.
We were finally home, surrounded by cats who were upset at us being gone so long, but fascinated at the smells of our luggage. I was happy to be back, but was soon dealing with an issue with my fantasy draft. Apparently, the relaxation was now replaced with the reality of life. One of my owners couldn't make the draft, and so I had to figure out plan B to get this working. Just what I wanted to deal with on my return home, but instead, I focused on getting relaxed and unpacked.
We filled in girl's mom on our adventures, I went for pizza at Bellagio's for the house, and within a few hours, I was partially unpacked and falling asleep before my draft. It was a great trip, and while I was sad to see it end, I was happy to be back to reality.
The draft on Saturday went off with only a few hitches. The wayward owner communicated by email so we could pick for him, and we were done in record time, as Buffalo Wild Wings took care of the site and food. It's actually a great place for pretend gridball drafts, and I was happy they agreed to take care of us. Plus, my draft strategery fell into place, as I got Peyton Manning in the third round. Not bad.
We then went to a Timbers party on Saturday night, and saw many of our friends, who wanted to hear about our trip. I didn't drink much, as I had a soccer game on Sunday, but girl tied on a few. We also got to see the public unveiling of our friends Firestarter and Green Sailor, who are now a couple. It was great to see these guys hook up, and I hope they'll be very happy together. We also told our friends that we needed to do a Vegas road trip next year, so we'll do that for one of our trips next year.
Sunday's match was fun, although we had to move locations because of field conflict, but I didn't play that terribly and it was great to get some exercise. Then, finally, our friend Dick Danger was having a going away party, as he was moving to Charlotte, NC. I'm upset to think about him moving, but he wanted to move up in his job, and this was the best way to do it. He's a great guy, and he keeps Firestarter in line, but I think that somebody really sweet just enlisted for that job. We ate a little bit, drank a little, but by about 7:30 PM, girl and I were tired and it was time to head home. We'd been through enough adventure, and it was time to relax.
I don't remember what time we fell asleep, but the thoughts of the vacation and memories of our trip and arrival were still buzzing in my head. I'm glad that I have such great friends and great people to experience things like this with, especially girl. She's great for me, and I'm looking forward to the next set of adventures whenever that may be. And I'll be bringing you all along for snippets of the trip. But for right now, it's time to turn out the lights, because the Vegas party is really over...until next year!!