An Engagement in Las Vegas
During part of our stay in Denver, some friends invited us to Las Vegas where they were going to be engaged. Eager to help them celebrate and craving some resort travel time we made it the next stop on our trip. We left Colorado late one evening via the dirt tracks on “Oh My God Road”, headed west on 1-70 past a silent, empty Breckenridge and drove through hulking rock formations that would have been beautiful in the daylight. We arrived by 9am thanks to hard driving and a one-hour time-zone change.
We had been to Las Vegas before both for work and on one of our first vacations together so there wasn’t very much to explore. To us, every trip to Las Vegas is different. In past trips we watched the strip light up at dusk from the bar at the top of the Stratosphere and saw Tom Jones live from a tenth row table at a dinner theatre. This time we got dressed up and had pre-dinner drinks at an Italianate patio in the Bellagio that was behind the fountains. A show happened every fifteen minutes less than a hundred feet away. We felt the spray as water moved to Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” and fountains shot twenty stories in the air.
Another highlight of this trip was watching a couple get engaged during a cheesy lounge show. The man was called onstage as a guest singer. We wondered why he looked so nervous, then complemented his voice as he sang to his girlfriend. Deb was remarking on his feelings for his girlfriend for singing such a romantic song in public when he fell to one knee and proposed. We, along with the audience, were stunned with tears in our eyes when she said yes. Our soon to be engaged friends, who were supposed to meet us there, weren’t with us yet and we were glad.
One of the more unusual moments of our trip also happened in Las Vegas to our friends. Upon coming from the airport in a shuttle van, they were seated with some aggravated men talking in a foreign language. The shuttle driver drove more slowly than usual, dropped the men at their destination and then told our friends he overheard the men discussing some sort of disturbance they were planning at the Las Vegas speedway. Our friends convinced the driver to call the FBI and we were in their hotel room when they were interviewed by an agent by the phone. Later, we went to the Bellagio, where the men were staying, and saw that security was checking all cars entering the parking garage. We felt closer to the terrorist war than we had ever felt before.
While in Las Vegas we knew we wanted to gamble but our first priority was pampering and relaxation. We got them both at the swim up blackjack tables at the Tropicana Pool where we were staying. The Tropicana pool is one of the most noted in Las Vegas, with a winding design providing nearly endless swimming, tropical foliage and people watching. With piped in disco music and a couple of drinks delivered to our deck chairs it felt like we were watching a 70’s pool party come to life. We enjoyed it for the first couple of days but after awhile it got boring, the sun got tiring and the crowds got a little too close, leaving their dirt and empty drink glasses everywhere including the pool.
In Las Vegas we also took time to eat at some nicer restaurants. One was at Lawry’s, an under rated, upscale Prime-Rib restaurant owned by the makers of the famous seasoning salt. Outside of a large table celebrating a birthday and a couple of business people we were the only people there on a Friday night. There are now so many good restaurants in the area that Lawry’s will probably get lost in the shuffle despite the fact that we love them and have been there several times. They have a 1930’s art-deco atmosphere complete with waitresses in old-fashioned high-dining server uniforms who carve the slice of your choice at tableside from a silver truck rolled between tables.
We also went to Batista’s Hole in the Wall, a decades old, classic Las Vegas Italian restaurant behind the Flamingo. The food is nothing special but the atmosphere features dark walls covered by autographs of Sinatra-era celebrities through to Tom Cruise, all of whom ate there after performing or visiting one of the casinos. After the Wedding reception you’re likely to see there, the endless complementary carafe’s of wine, or the end of dinner spumoni, one of the unique highlights of dinner is Batista’s accordion player. He’s a small, older man who plays for diners, asking them where they’re from and getting them to sing rowdy songs about their home state between glasses of wine.
And through all the things we did in Las Vegas, our friends did manage to get engaged. He proposed to her in front of the Bellagio after taking her to Cirque du Soleil‘s water show. She was thrilled, said yes immediately, and they spent the rest of the time drinking champagne and telling friends and family. We went to Batista’s the night after our friends got engaged to celebrate and, while we drank wine and watched another wedding reception that was in the next dining room, the accordion player sang for them at our request.