Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Much Awaited and Equally Overdue Trip Report - Part 1

As everyone is aware, I recently went on an eleven (11) day trip with Danielle to the American Southwest. This trip was, top to bottom, a fantastic experience. Danielle set about planning the entire thing around Thanksgiving of last year after I told her that it was absurd that she’d never seen the Grand Canyon after growing up in Southern California and that I’d like to go with her. As some of you can appreciate, I’m not a salaried worker with vacation time and the like, so the concept of taking over a week off is a bit of a scary one. To run out the math would be a bit silly, but suffice it to say that such a venture figures to cost me several thousand dollars, and Danielle was thrilled that I was even willing to do it. So, without (even) further adieu….The trip report.

The trip started on a rather ominous note, with Danielle and I ending up at our gate some absurd amount early due to a late delay that we didn’t know about. So we got some iced coffee and tea, I grabbed a salad, and we set about sitting about. The only entertaining thing we saw was a toddler whose method of locomotion was nothing like I have ever seen before; basically, he sat with one leg straight out and the other bent at the knee so that his foot was basically touching his butt. Then he swithed the positions of the legs, and in process moved forward about 3 inches. It was not unlike something you’d have seen in Patrick Winston’s Blocks World AI Program, where “beings” evolve in a constant battle over a pellet of food in the middle of their plain of battle (I can't find the video for this, but rest assured it's pretty cool to watch these things try out new strategies of procuring the food pellet). Anyway, we did eventually get to Las Vegas (after miraculously getting an exit row to ourselves), and proceeded promptly to the rental car center, at which the ominousness continued.

Our reservation didn’t start until Sunday (it was Saturday), which was done in an effort to save us a little bit of money. We didn’t really need the car, since we were staying at the Bellagio and it was pretty unlikely that we (or at least I) would even go outside. However, we forgot to take into account that fact that there is a free shuttle from the airport to the rental car center, which pretty obviously does not exist from the Bellagio (ditto on any sort of free shuttle from the airport to the B). Therefore, not renting the car for Saturday was going to cost us a pair of cab rides, or somewhere around $30, and a lot of Danielle’s time on Sunday as she went to pick up the car. Since our rate was something like $37/day, it made more sense to just try and get the car a day early, and we were assured by Dollar that we could extend the reservation at the same rate. Sadly their use of the word “extend” was a bit misleading; we were welcome to keep the car an extra day, but starting a day early required an brand new reservation, from scratch. This information was disheartening enough, but coulping it with the fact that we had to stand in line for over 20 minutes just to get it made for a real KITN. A plan was hatched to split up and stand in line at a few other companies to see if we could get a reservation on the fly. After a few quotes north of $600 (our original number started with a 3), we decided to bite the bullet and take a cab back to the Bellagio. The lesson here….well, there are a few that should be pretty apparent actually.

The first 2 days of the trip were booked for Las Vegas, primarily so Danielle could take a 10.5 day vacation while I took only a 9 day one. As it turned out, this was one of the worst ideas I’ve had in my entire life. But first, a small victory did occur. The rates at the Bellagio are, as you are likely aware, generally absurd. Specifically, our quoted rate for the two nights (Saturday and Sunday), was $359 and $169. We were, however, assured by the poker host Eva that all I had to do was come to the office, get myself a tracking card, play 6 hours a day, and then our rate would be reduced to $259 and $109. So after putting myself on a list that was longer than my johnson, I walked back to Eva’s “office” (really just a room in the back behind the cage with a computer in it) and was greated with a scary sentence. “Our rates have changed since you booked.” Oh boy, I thought. We’re gonna end up spending $600 on two nights of hotel; I better run good. Much to my delight, however, the rate change was in the other direction. Our new charge would be just $159 and $99, and there was no need for a tracking card; the room was so busy they didn’t have time to track everyone and I should just “play and have a good time.” Nice hand, Jesse! I hadn’t even been dealt a card and was already ahead over $100.

So back into the war zone that apparently passes for a poker room at the Bellagio I went, only to find myself on the second page for both 15/30 and 30/60. I went to the pool to find Danielle but failed, as she was actually in it, not laying beside it, and thus didn’t have access to her cellular telephone. I ate a sandwich (the second time that day I’d eaten out of sheer boredom). I considered blackjack. Then eventually I decided to play some 4/8, because what the hell, I have to stay next to the poker room anyway if I ever want to play. I promptly turned a straight flush in a blind defense, laughed a little too much, then realized there had been a changing of the guard at the “mid stakes” floor person station. The new guy calling names didn’t have a damn clue who I was! Fantastic. Usually I don’t do stuff like this, but it was gonna be literally HOURS until I got into the 30 game (the 15 didn’t look quite so grim), so the next time he read a name and said “last call” I shot my hand up in the air and locked up a seat. Problem solved, if unethically. I didn’t feel too bad, as I had actually waited over 90 minutes, which to me seemed more than reasonable.

Originally I was planning to regale you with stories of 2 outters and suck outs and missed OESFDs, but after the ass-kicking that was laid upon me today I think just noting that I lost 3 racks of $10 chips in 5 hours should be sufficient. The only really interesting thing was that I ran into a veritable who’s who of NorCal mid stakes hold’em, including Ali the Bay 101 Prop, Ed Hardy John, JS, AC, Tom G, Sarah who plays the 80, and, everybody’s favorite, Frank the prop from Garden City. That’s right, I flew 500 miles, waited in line for 90 minutes, and got to sit down with Frank the prop calling my early position raises with 54s and T8o. I discovered the nutritious (relatively) and delicious secret of the orange and strawberry juliuses (and was accidentally served a daiquery once), and generally had an awful time until about 10pm, at which point I retired to my room wondering if I’d brought enough cash for the trip.

The next day went a fair amount better, with me finishing the day up about $600. I won a little at 15/30, then eventually went on a pretty big run in the 30/60 to come within about $1000 of even for the trip. It was not to be, however, as I managed to leave the game with the fewest chips I’d had in over 5 hours around 7pm, probably after taking some re-donkulous beats that I can’t even remember anymore. At this point I was incredibly hungry, since I'd skipped lunch in favor of about a half dozen juliuses (julie-i?), and Danielle and I made our pilgrimage to the world famous Bellagio Buffet.It was just as good as usual, and I ate way too much as usual, focusing mainly on the crab legs and sushi (which as it turns out I really like but just don't eat that much in real life). Afterwards I convinced Danielle to play a little blackjack with my money (we sat together and took 2 hands at a $10 table, but all the money in play was mine). A small loss later, we headed outside to watch the world famous Bellagio Fountain Show, which we thought went off every hour. Much to our surprise as we ambled down at a quarter til the show was already starting to the tune of "Proud to be an American". Turns out it runs every 15 minutes, so Danielle and I just stayed for the next one (pictures). Afterward we walked back to our room and went to bed, me secure in the fact that I had both gone outside and failed to lose the entire $5000 I brought for the trip.

The next day started with a trip to Frye's on our way out of Vegas because Danielle had forgotten to bring some important widget that allowed her iPhone to connect to our Toyota Highlander's speakers and thereby produce music. From my last trip to the southwest (with my parents in the 4th grade), I knew that Navajo Nation didn't really have a whole lot of selection around the radio dial, so I deemed this a pretty worthwhile stop. While in Frye's, Danielle walked past digital camera paraphernalia. This is called foreshadowing.


3 comments:

Captain R said...

I haven't had an Orange Julius since like 1986 or something. Must get one in Vegas, mmm...

jesse8888 said...

And you gonna like it

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