Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vegas, low-key style

Phew. So, it's only mid-March and Callum has already been on five planes this year. And, if I'm counting correctly, he will go on another eight planes before the year is over. Oh MY. Well, we always said we wanted to raise a little traveler--and given how far both of our families live from us, it was sort of inevitable. Also, we totally have the airport routine DOWN. (Though I was thrown for a loop this last trip, our first post-bottle weaning, when the TSA agent made me open the sippy cups--they don't do that with bottles--because apparently sippy cups are too likely to leak inside their little machine so they use a handheld sensor instead, though it doesn't actually touch the milk.) Callum has also already been to eight states (plus DC), and will add a ninth next month. So yes, turns out we are raising one of those little traveler babies like we envisioned way back when.

Anyway! The most recent two flights are the subject of this post. Torsten had a work conference in Vegas, and the host put him up in a lovely hotel. The conference fell during the one-week break I had between grad classes. It was over a weekend and then on two weekdays, and it just so happens that I have two floating holidays at work each year. So, I was able to go without falling behind on schoolwork and without dipping into vacation days at work. All we had to pay for was my plane ticket (from Denver, pretty cheap) and we had our very own mini-vacation.

Well, it was a mini-vacation for Callum and me, anyway. Not so much for Torsten, who was at the conference from daybreak til well after sundown, though we did arrive early the first day so that we could spend some time together, and we did manage to squeeze in a nice dinner on our last day (though we were both quite disappointed in the restaurant, and wouldn't go back).

I had never been to Vegas before, or the state of Nevada, for that matter. I mean, I knew it would be glitzy, over-the-top, indulgent... but I wasn't prepared for QUITE the level of glitter and tackiness. There's a reason it's called Sin City--it seems that everyone goes there to indulge their vices and basically eat, drink, smoke, and gamble as much as they want. We took the monorail a few times, and it is cleverly designed to force you to walk through a giant casino at each stop, so we got a good look at a few of them, and they were depressing. Dim, smoky, low ceilings, no way of telling whether it was daylight outside or not, and people sitting there, playing the same games over and over with the same results. And it was crowded... and that's before we get to the guy who made a crude catcall regarding my "booty" while I was dealing with my toddler in the middle of the sidewalk. Just really not my style. For an over-the-top vacation with lots to see and decadent restaurants, I would a million times prefer New York. And for a quick weekend getaway not too far away, I would choose Santa Fe every time.

That said... I had a great time, and so did Callum. We saw what we wanted to see, did what we wanted to do, and basically approached the city our own style. I can't imagine there are too many people who go to Vegas to have the kind of vacation that we did, but it worked for us. We spent a lot of time in the hotel's amazing pool complex (and saw a real, honest-to-god lifeguard rescue of a small child, though it was less dramatic than it sounded). We were staying in a hotel that was originally designed to be luxury condos, so we had a gorgeous kitchen at our disposal and ate a lot of meals in. Callum napped for several hours each day (traveling seems to take it out of him) and I did a lot of reading and enjoyed the amazing whirlpool tub.

We did some of the typical touristy stuff, too. We ate at Burger Bar, which was fantastic. We went to Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden, where Callum could not have cared less about the lions and tigers (I'm pretty sure he has no idea that they are any different than dogs, and he certainly doesn't know that they are special or exotic in any way) but was completely captivated by the dolphins, and even started saying "dolphin" ("DA-da"). We enjoyed the Bellagio fountain show. We wandered around a fancy shopping mall. We walked the Strip. I considered doing the gondolas at the Venetian, but it just felt like too much for such a short trip, so we skipped it.

It was lovely, all told. The weather was perfect, mid-70s and breezy. Callum certainly enjoyed himself and spent a lot of time just looking around, taking it all in. The next time Torsten has a conference there (and he definitely will... the high hotel availability makes Vegas a very popular conference spot), I will go with him again if the scheduling works out. I think next time maybe we'd like to rent a car; then we could get out and explore some of the natural beauty outside of Vegas, check out the Hoover Dam, etc. (We loved the view from the plane... and realized during the flight that we have never actually flown west from Denver before... and would love to see some of that stuff from the ground.) Renting a car would also let us escape the Strip a bit, and maybe check out the children's museum, which is supposed to be excellent.

So, something to consider for next time. But there will definitely be a next time.


  1. Sounds like a nice little trip! I love Vegas for a quick getaway, but I can only do about three days, and then I'm over it.

  2. I *love* the Hoover Dam. Recommended!


  3. VEGAS IS SO OVERWHELMING. So over-the-top and naked boobies in your face everywhere, man.

    It's so much fun, but also SO MUCH.

  4. Hee! I love the pic of Callum in his carseat and sunglasses. What a smile! He looks like he loves Vegas!

  5. this is very enlightening, because every time i've been to vegas i've seen little kids and wondered WHY parents would choose the strip as a family vacation (given.. you know... everything about vegas). but it makes perfect sense if one parent is there for a work function - and with SO MANY conferences held there, i bet that's the case many times.

  6. Dude! I think we were in Vegas at the same time! We were there for a frisbee tournament, and also took the little one. AND we went to Burger Bar twice, so tasty!

    Did you get comments on having Callum there? We got a TON. If Kevin had Eliza as we walked through to our room, people thought it was hilarious - oh look, baby in a casino/Vegas! But when I had her, people were like "I can't BELIEVE you'd bring a baby here! I would never do that!" - it was nuts.

  7. Well I live in Las Vegas and I don't ever go to the strip unless we have visitors. Renting a car is a wise idea, as there is lots of nature to see (Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon) and Hoover Dam is for sure not-to-be-missed. I say skip the cheesy hotels; they are pretty much all overrated and the ones that are not overpriced are seriously underwhelming.

  8. I could say that he's a lucky little one. My first trip with a plane was when i turned 21 and my last one was about 3 months ago. As long as he doesn't get sick, he's gonna be a wonderful traveler.