Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Day 7, Las Vegas -- The Last Night

By now, the trip report is winding down rather dramatically, and I don't have much energy left for the remaining few hours. They were lovely. But I was exhausted from all the touring, the excitement of the trade show, and the excitement of leaving my cell phone on a monorail.

Once I had my cell phone back and realized I couldn't get anyone's name for a letter of commendation to the monorail authority, I made my way to my lonely little rental car and drove to the Hilton. I had been reading about Quark's Bar & Restaurant for weeks while I planned my big trip to Las Vegas, and I was glad to have a reason to visit it, even if it had been a wild day.

I met Amy in the parking garage, and we walked to the north tower without too much excitement. Believe it or not, I still remembered to turn my back on the passing scenery in the parking garage's elevator. I'm scared of heights, even at four measly stories.

I called Erikia and told her our plans -- drinks at Quark's, and then a quick run to the Tropicana to take in the Titanic Exhibit. Erikia had been invited to party with some luminaries of the scrapbooking world at the New York New York resort. We were happy to tell Erikia that the resort was on an opposite corner from the Tropicana, and that she would be able to join her other friends easily. She said she would meet us at Quark’s.

Amy and I were seated immediately, and we perused the menu at length. Thank heaven I had my reading glasses in Amy’s backpack, because the lighting was low in there and the menu’s print was tiny. I ordered an ordinary White Russian; Amy ordered a “Borg Queen,” which bore a striking and yummy resemblance to an apple-tini. We also ordered some Ferenghi flatbread.

Star Trek characters walked around lackadaisically throughout Quark’s Bar & Restaurant. I was never a big fan of “Deep Space 9,” but I did have a passing acquaintance with the original series, the Next Generation, the Voyager series, and of course, the Enterprise series. A Borg passed behind me, but Amy and I held out hopes of chatting with a Klingon. Everyone loves a Klingon, after all.

Erikia soon joined us, and the only character who paused at our table was an Andorian. Darn it, I don’t remember anything about the Andorians. We asked him if he enjoyed Ferenghi flat bread on his planet, and he said no. He asked me which convention I was attending, and when I said, “CHA,” he replied immediately, “Ahhhhh, then, your feet hurt.” ROFL!!!!

I would really like to spend more time at Quark’s someday – it was lovely and *very* Star-Trekkie. But I knew that the Titanic exhibit awaited us at the Trop, and Amy knew I was about to keel over from sheer exhaustion, so we didn’t even finish our Ferenghi flatbread. We drained our drinks and left all too quickly.

By the way, appetizers like the flat bread were half price for convention attendees – the waitress asked to see my badge before she gave us our check. And the flat bread was YUMMY – it was an extraordinarily large flat of yummy focaccia bread with melted cheese and a dipping plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was faaaaabulous. But the White Russian was even better, and *just* what the doctor ordered after my trauma on the monorail that afternoon.

And I *must* give a word of warning about the rest rooms. For the most part, they are totally clean and completely ordinary. However, I am 5’8” tall, and I don’t think of myself as tall until I encounter restrooms like the ones at Quark’s Bar & Restaurant. The toilets themselves are SHORT. I nearly fell down just trying to tinkle, for crying out loud. If you are tall, go to the handicapped stall. The regulars are, well, very well suited for the petite patrons.

Erikia went to put her things away in her room, and then we made our way to the rental car and the Tropicana, chatting gaily all the way there.

The Trop is an old-fashioned casino, and you really do have to make your way through a wild maze of casinos and slot machines before you find anything of significance. We followed the signs to the Titanic exhibit, and Amy too generously bought our entry. (I should smack Amy – she was too generous the whole trip long!)

The exhibit is set up so that you enter through a mock gangplank to a ship, and we were each handed a card with a real passenger’s name and whether they were staying in first, second, or third class rooms on the ship. The idea is to tour the exhibit, and near the end, read the plaque on the wall that tells all the survivors and all the victims. We were all given women’s names, and we were all third class, so I immediately said, “We’re all gonna die!”

Amy and Erikia disagreed – after all, we were all women.

Then we started touring. It’s fascinating. Parts are set up to emulate what the Titanic looked like – the hallways and some doors, and there are a few mock-ups of the rooms. First class rooms were smaller than I thought.

Erikia and I read every single card and plaque, and we gazed hard at each button, cup, dollar bill, leather wallet, doorknob, sink, bracelet -- *everything*. We were frequently passed by other visitors who would give a passing glance to a room filled with artifacts and then move along. They were stronger than I.

It was eerie. And sad. And fascinating. When I was 12 or so, I went through a phase of reading every book I could find about the Titanic, and when the wreck was finally located in 1985, I – like half the world – sat up and took notice. I never needed James Cameron’s silly movie to make me feel for the victims of that tragedy.

We must have been in there for an hour, during which time my feet resumed cursing at me. Fortunately, there are a number of benches scattered throughout the exhibit, and especially in front of some really long wall plaques with significant pieces of the timeline of Titanic’s sinking. Even Amy’s feet started to hurt while we were walking through.

Once we finally reached the plaque with the names of the passengers, we checked, and surely enough, all three of “us” were dead. Ouch.

Now, at some point during the evening, I casually asked Erikia how she was going to get back to the Hilton from the New York New York casino, and that apparently set off a chain of thoughts in her brilliant and very tired head. How *was* she going to make that trip? Cab? Monorail? Hitchhike??? So when we left the Titanic exhibit – and the commensurate souvenir shopping in the gift shop – instead of leaving us, Erikia decided to stay with us and have dinner in the Tropicana coffee shop.

I haven’t eaten in the Trop coffee shop in so long. It was a wonderful and familiar sight to my very tired eyes.

We all got variations on a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s Amy’s fault! She started it! It just sounded so good and right, we all ended up eating ordinary grilled cheese sandwiches. Well, Erikia and I added ham. That was as fancy as we could get at that point. And it was very affordable – probably the most affordable meal of my entire trip. The service was very good and friendly, and the company and conversation were fabulous. It was a nice ending to a lovely trip.

We took Erikia back to the Hilton and hugged her goodbye, and then I drove Amy to her car in the parking garage. The traffic was pretty thick for 9:30 at night on the way home – a route I finally knew without having to stop and think, “Where am I?”

Upstairs at Amy’s house, I started packing my things and sniffling. I wasn’t ready to leave. I missed my family. I wanted to stay and play some more without screaming, sore feet. I wanted my husband and kids to be with me. Wesley has never even been to Las Vegas at all – I’m sure he would enjoy it if he would ever get to see it.

I discovered two new blisters –- the same foot that already had a blister on the ball now had a blister on the bottom of my heel. And the other foot developed a blister on the ball. I’ve never had blisters on the *bottoms* of my feet before.

I brushed my teeth, set my alarm clock, and went to sleep with Leon snoozing on the floor next to my bed. Sniffle.


At 19/2/06 2:58 PM, Blogger Amy said...

You know, we spent a lot of evenings running hither and yon; we spent the weekend doing the shopping and shows thang; but I think that last night at the Tropicana capped off your visit perfectly. It was 1997 when we took a short vacation to Vegas, staying at the Tropicana after you had done exhaustive research on possible hotels that fit our limited budget. I remember so many breakfasts with you in the coffee shop. We learned to play craps at the Tropicana, and we took that beginners' luck to the Rio and Treasure Island.

You don't mention in your trip report that time is short for the Tropicana. The Titanic exhibit closes at the beginning of March, and the hotel itself is currently accepting reservations only through the middle of April. I'm glad we got to visit it again while you were here.


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