Disclaimer: this is my version of events. No children were harmed in the making of this trip. Some names will be left out to protect the innocent.
It was a early Friday morning when I woke up to my husband (will call him Joel) asking me what I thought about us skipping out for the weekend to Las Vegas. This was very last-minute, and would mean we would have to be packed and in the car within the HOUR.
Of course me being the awesome and very attentive mother that I am, said I had to think on it. Thirty seconds later we were running around the house like crazy people trying to pack.
My two daughters who are ages five and nine, immediately started following me around asking questions like “What’s Las Vegas mama?” and “Will there be a pool?”
As I was rushing through the house throwing random stuff in bags, I rationalized it to myself that Las Vegas could be fun for kids. I’m sure there were plenty of things for a five-year old to do in Vegas right?
Plus we had the trump card: We had the grandparents who were already there visiting family. That was really the main reason we were even going. To visit family.
This was still my first trip to Las Vegas however and Joel had advised me it would only take us six to eight hours tops to get there. So I packed up some snacks, a few dvds, and a halfway charged tablet.
We were on our way.
I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t the most exciting thing we had ever done last-minute as a family.
Visions of the movie Vegas Vacation kept dancing through my head.
Of course for me it was mainly the parts where the parents were alone in Vegas doing fun things like gambling and meeting Wayne Newton.
I’m not a big fan but it sounded like a lot more fun than cleaning my house and taking care of kids at home all weekend.
Not to mention we were getting a chance to visit with a part of my husband’s family we rarely get to see. This was going to be the best trip ever!
Fast forward an hour later: the girls were fighting, the tablet was dead, and our DVD player we realized was to dark for daylight viewing. In not so many words, we were screwed.
Four hours in, and we had hit a huge traffic jam. It was the middle of October but in California that means nothing. The heat was blazing and at one point our truck started to make a funny noise. “Joel is that our truck?” I said with a tinge of fear in my voice. “Maybe it needs water?” “No!’ Joel answered “It’s just the air conditioner. I will turn it off”
The truck deciding instead that wasn’t good enough, made a final sputter and then nothing. The truck had died.
Over heated in the full death grip of the angry October sun.
We sat there for a while letting it cool off. It was then that I noticed cars in front of us pulling onto the other side of the highway, and heading back the opposite direction.
The truck next to us rolled his window down to tell us there had been a huge mudslide a few miles ahead.
Luckily for us after a few minutes and some water, our truck started with no problems. We eventually we made to the front of the line just to be detoured back the way we came.
Afterwards I thought about how I should have let Joel make that illegal U-turn he wanted to make hours ago.
Nothing we can do about it now. No reason to make that thought public. Besides he didn’t listen to me about the whole water fiasco earlier. So by my count we were even.
In the end it took us 13 hours to make it to Las Vegas. That’s five hours longer than I had originally anticipated being locked in the car with two little tiny crazy people.
Not to mention a very irritated Joel.
We reached the hotel around midnight to find most of the highway traffic was now in line in front of us at Circus Circus.
We had now entered the seventh circle of hell.
My five-year old looked at me and then back at the smiling clown with the evil gleam and then back at me. The clown was offering her what appeared to be some sort of balloon animal.
That. Was. It. Her breaking point.
She began to sob heavily. The tired look in her eye forced me to hold her dead weight for the rest of the lines duration.
Would this day ever end?
Finally we reached the room. I tucked the littles in bed with me. Joel who was still pumped from the ride over took off to hit the casino for a while. I just needed sleep.
Tomorrow would be better. It had to be better.
The next day we took the girls to the The Pawn Stars Pawn Shop. We waited twenty minutes in line to walk a crowded 10 paces ahead and turn around to go right back out the front again. Not bad. At least it killed time and it was free.
Later we met up with the family and afterwards we were given the chance to really experience Las Vegas. Without kids.
First things first, we went back to the room so I could change. As I was getting dressed I started noticing Joel skulking around the room. It look like he lost something. “Joel honey did you lose something?” I said sweetly to my husband.
“Ugh it’s nothing. I think I might have lost a 25$ poker chip in here somewhere” he said.
30 minutes later I was ready. Joel on the other hand was still looking for this chip which I finally convinced him was no big deal and to forget about it.
He later told me he didn’t want to ruin my night but it was a 100$ poker chip, not 25$. He had taken a 100$ and tripled it on the black jack table in three hands the night before. That was a third of his winnings!
After we ate dinner and gambled a bit we walked down the strip. I had a couple of drinks at dinner and really wanted to take in a show.
Suddenly a young women stepped in front of us. She was offering two tickets to a show with a limo ride included. What luck I thought. I was in! Joel (who never drinks) politely declined as she handed him a card.
To a strip club. In the worst part of town.
This was the city of sin right? No reason to be shocked at the lack of respect this women had for the sanctity of marriage. Besides apparently she was willing to give us a two for one deal.
A little while later we ran into another man who was trying to sell us some tickets. This time it was to a club event that Bruno Mars was going to be hosting that night. He had to tickets for 60$. We said no and kept walking.
An hour later we saw the same man. He told us he only had two tickets left and that he would give them to us for half price. I looked at Joel and said “why not?”
So we did it.
I figured worst case scenario: we lose 30$. Which I could easily have lost playing the slots. Best case: we get the best night of our lives. It’s Bruno Mars people!
The club which we had passed on the way into Vegas was on the opposite end of the strip and we held in our hands the best counterfeit tickets those bouncers had ever seen.
Yes we got ripped off. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Not one of my proudest moments.
Plus I’m sure Joel was kicking himself by now that he let me talk him out if that live Brittany Spears show earlier. To his dismay she even managed to have some sort of wardrobe malfunction that night.
It took us an hour and a half to get back to our room on the bus.
The next morning we picked up the kids and headed back home. The detour was still in effect and it took us another 12 hours to get back. On our way out we stopped at a drive through for breakfast.
At least we can save some money somewhere on this trip I thought. We where only in Vegas 36 hours and had spent close to $1000!
We should have stopped and ate somewhere else. Anywhere else. All the rest of the trip my five-year old had the runs. I was down to using puppy training pads I had got off the grandparents.
Thank god they followed us back! I probably would have resorted to using every article of clothing we brought otherwise.
While we were trying to maneuver our way home we got lost. Two hours later we finally saw a gas station. My husband pulled over to use the bathroom and pay for gas. Meanwhile I changed another puppy pad and then we hit the road again.
It wasn’t until we were ten miles down the road that we realized we never pumped the gas we originally stopped for! It was at the point I felt my emotions get the best of me.
This was my breaking point.
I could feel the tears prick the back of my eyes. As we were driving back to the gas station I looked my husband dead in the eye and said : (okay I’m not going to lie, I may have screamed it) “This is the worst trip ever!”
I knew as soon as I said it was a mistake. The look in his eyes told me so. I hurt his feelings. After all he was just trying to take his family on a last-minute fun-filled road trip. He couldn’t control a damn mudslide, shitty people, or even shitty food (literally) for that matter.
Later after first apologizing to my family, I realized something: life is full of unexpected events and missed opportunities. It’s who we experience those moments with that matters most.
For now anyways I’m pretty sure my Vegas days are behind me. Unless of course Bruno Mars is hosting at one of the hottest night clubs in town!