Epilogue: Vegas-The Exciting, Adventurous No Good Horrible Terrible Trip

It’s 4 a.m. and I am making my way down the strip in LV searching for a cvs that the casino security guard assured me was in walking distance.  The unnamed one needs some more Benadryl and none of the 5 or 6 convenience stores in the grand has nary a pill.  There must have been a run on them.  I admit, I was a little hesitant to take this stroll at such an hour but I had memories of a recent early morning run in search of pastrami in NY Greenwich Village that did not result in maiming or robbery so perhaps I would be safe here in sister city.

I made my way past the sleeping homeless sprawled on the sidewalk like discarded newspaper, the groups of runaway teens talking/ dancing /fighting away their methadone induced high, the hoochie mama dressed ladies of the night pacing in a small circle looking bored and tired, the sign carriers asking for handouts, jobs, prayers.  I had stepped into an altered universe.  I quickened my steps as I saw the nearby red lights of the cvs about 3 blocks away.  I walked with that I’m a bad sistah and don’t you mess with me cause I might cut you look.  It worked, no one said a word to me.

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I purchased the precious Benadryl and returned to the room.  By 8 a.m the welts on the unnamed one were starting to disappear.  But I was growing irritated… with the room, the lack of ventilation, the loud partiers, the shower with 2 speeds, cold and scalding hot, the no-service-will-be-given-during-your-stay and you must flag down housekeeping if you want a towel.  Enough is Enough. I broached the subject of speaking to the front desk  with the unnamed one.  I’m not sure he heard anything I said because Tiger was playing.  However, I persisted in my best Virgo/Libra  I used to be a Paralegal diplomatic voice.

You know this is Not right.  We should be in a better room.  You paid for a better room.  Are you just going to let them take your money? And then my Angry Black Woman tone. Why don’t you just man up and go down there and fix this problem!  I’ve already had to deal with Expedia, Delta and the changed seat screwup. Not to mention playing nursemaid  to you and your Ialmostdiedfromthis unidentified welt problem.

Sorry Maam, nothing we can do about the seat change.  But You could pay an additional $59 each for seats in the front.  May I speak to a supervisor.  Excuse me Sir,this is your fault not mine. Well, maybe we could put you in the emergency seats.  If you agree you are able bodied and can assist the other passengers in case of an emergency. Just sign this form.  You mean like the plane going down and I have to play flight attendant? My Xanax supply was getting low.

The unnamed one was unmoved… literally.  I donned my new paisley printed two piece and headed to the grand pool.  It was a beautifully designed area complete with cabanas, fake palm trees and a sea of deck chairs.  I found a nice pale blue chair that complemented the pink paisleys in my suit and donned some suntan lotion. Yes, Virginia good black does crack in 100+degree heat, and settled in for an afternoon of fun in the sun.  After about 15 minutes, I realized that this sun was not the same sun I sat under back home.  This sun was a fireball radiating spears of heat that obviously were on loan from Hell.

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I headed to the nearest pool peopled by folks of various ages, sipping iced drinks and talking in a cornucopia of languages.  Oddly, I noticed that of all the people in the pool, there was only one other dark hued person, a brother with a group of blonde tanned guys.

Flashes of 1960s movies and innocent little black children dipping their toe in the community pool and suddenly running for their lives as the pool was drained played in my mind.  It must be the heat…this was 50 years later…nothing like that could here. Could it?  Nevertheless, I found an unoccupied corner of the pool and carefully looked around before lowering myself into the heavily chlorinated water.  Minutes passed and nothing happened.  People continued drinking, talking, frolicking. I was safe.

Within minutes, I found myself in the center of a group of young men from England who were on holiday in LV.  They offered me drinks and conversation noting that they liked me because I was like the women they knew at home.  They had been warned to stay awake from the LV women who would steal their money and credit cards. Ah, Mother England.  We chatted for awhile.  One of them even snapped pictures of me. I began to feel waterlogged and a little high from the icy, sweet drink so I bid them adieu.

I reluctantly returned to the room. Several hours had passed and surely Tiger had won or lost by now.  Tiger had indeed lost and the unnamed one was not in a good mood.  I politely inquired if he had given more thought to the room situation and he said he was going to take care of it after lunch.  He abruptly left the room and I proceeded to take a cold shower almost scalding myself when I accidently jiggled the knob in the wrong direction.

Lunch was a buffet.  I am not fond of food that has been handled by strangers with grimy hands.  So I settled for a glass of water.After lunch, the unnamed one quietly walked to the front desk of the grand.  I followed at a polite within in hearing/video taking distance.  Unnamed one picked out a young, friendly Hispanic clerk and began to explain the room situation in that I am a veteran and used to be a mailman friendly voice.

There was a lot of gestures and hmphs and uh huhs exchanged.  Finally friendly desk clerk said he was going to grant our wish and give us the room we had reserved…a grand king in the tower part of the hotel far from the dank, dark world of the west wing. We were given shiny new keys and instructed to move our things immediately.

In a flash, we were out of the old rom and stepped off the elevator into a well lighted section of the grand where the walls were painted in soft hues and adorned with pictures of Frank and the rat pack.  The carpet glowed with freshly vacuumed cleanliness and the quiet was palpable. This was the grand I had seen online.  An older part of the hotel but clean and well kept with lots of character in the room furnishings.  And there was a tub, a desk, a chair, an expansive view of the strip, mountains, airport and even the iconic grand sign high in the air.  I could feel my breathing lighten and I put the Xanax deeper in my purse.

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(Oh, Reader, you thought this was when you found out if the Unnamed One made it on the plane back home? Dang! Well, it’s called a plot twist…you know to derail the reader’s expectation.  But I promise, the last and final installment of this TRUE story is coming to you.  Stay tuned and thanks for Reading.  Comments are welcomed…and Appreciated!)



Part 3 Vegas: The Exciting, Adventurous, No Good, Horrible, Terrible Trip

Reader, I’m headed out of town on another Adventure.  Thought I would wrap up this tale before I depart.  Enjoy!

I awakened to the quiet hum of the room air conditioner.  I look out the huge window marveling at the expanse before me.  It is Saturday and the sound of young children pattering down the hall laughing softly greets my ears…Wait a minute, back up this is not a Romance novel.  This is the exciting, adventurous, etc. LV trip. Let’s get to the Horrible part.

With no agenda to follow, we decide to walk down the strip and take pics of the hotels especially the Bellagio fountain and the monte carlo volcano.  The coolness of the casino has made us forget the 100+degree temp.  A worker told me they actually pump pure oxygen into the casino…ostensibly for the cigarette smoke, but probably to add to the lightheaded, giddiness of the gambler. We are assaulted by the heat and decide to duck in and catch a nearby movie.  Rock of Ages is about to begin and even though the unnamed one hates Rom-com, I convince him that it is a musical with lots of classic rock and roll tunes.

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The theatre is almost empty.  We find seats with sufficient legroom and within minutes, unnamed one is snoring.  Two hours later, I am dancing in my seat having totally enjoyed the movie.  I wake up the unnamed one and we head to the Hard Rock café for a classic burger and fries to cap off our classic filled day. A stop at the liquor store and the unnamed one settles in front of the tube to watch a game.  I busy myself reading the latest edition of O magazine.

Just as I am about to doze off, I hear a loud Oh, hell no coming from across the room.  I turn to see the unnamed one holding out both of his arms which are now covered with the most horrible looking angry red welts.  Within minutes, he is also scratching at his legs and the welts magically envelope his body. My super mom training kicks in and I quickly hand him 2 benadryls and a Xanax.

After about an hour, the welts are still spreading and I can see he is in a great deal of distress.  I call the front desk and ask about medical service.  They inform me that the nearest clinic is a few miles away.  We discuss the feasibility of going to a clinic and I decide he needs immediate medical attention, so the paramedics are called.

Within minutes, the hotel security is knocking at the door.  They are accompanied by two grand staff members.  They all try to act matter of factly but register shock when they see his swollen arms and legs.  One asks if he is having difficulty breathing.  The paramedics arrive and immediately hook up an IV to administer Benadryl.  They monitor his blood pressure, breathing and heart.  He tells them he does NOT want to go to the hospital. After some discussion, the decision is made to go anyway.

The hotel security leads us down a back, secret passage of the grand to the waiting ambulance.  Amazingly , we Never saw any guests…guess that wouldn’t be good for business.  I sat in the front and the driver kept up a friendly banter all the way to the hospital.

At the hospital, we were greeted by a team who quickly went to work assessing his condition.  He wasn’t able to provide much history, but I retraced all the possible things that may have led up to his condition.  The doctors finally acknowledged that he had a bad reaction to something…might have been on the plane, the mosquito bite in ATL, the Mexican food, the change in climate, Stress, heat, Anything really.  The good news was they could treat it and he would be back in the hotel in a few hours.

Meanwhile, the doctor said they would give him 2 medications via IV and a prescription.  A short time later one of the nursing assistants came in and announced she had another medication for him.  Do you like cranberry or apple juice...We both were a little puzzled since the doctor had administered two meds before leaving the room.  Cranberry, I guess.  She began squeezing the contents of a hypodermic into a glass of juice…this is Dexa..something…a steroid.

As she approached the bed holding the red juice, I stared at her and she glanced down at his hospital wrist band.  A worried look came over her face and she backed away…I’ll be right back.  A few minutes later I heard Nursing assistant telling the patient in the next cubicle...Sir, I have your medicine…it’s a steroid that will help youI hope you like cranberry juice.  Reader do I need to say more? Deadly cocktail averted. Malpractice suit aborted. Dang!

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The next morning, bright and early I was making my way to the 24 hour CVS to fill his prescription.  It was indeed open but the pharmacist didn’t start her day until 10 am giving me about 2 hours to wander around the store, trying on different lotions, makeup, even standing on that foot machine to learn what type of ortho support I needed…hmm 240A. I kept the support on while walking around the store.  Remembering to take it off  and put it back in the package before I walked out lest, I become a residnte of the Nevada state facilities.

The rest of the day was spent tending to unnamed ones’ needs.  Stopping at Mickey Ds for plain oatmeal, administering medicine, finding a deli that had chicken soup and unprocessed sandwiches, making small talk when he was awake , going to the liquor store, Dasani for him and mini bottles of Anything for me.  And, Oh of course, talking to the grand people about his need to stay in bed despite the impending 11 am checkout

Oh yes, we heard about what happened to him and the ambulance and all…we are so sorry…late checkout?  let me see…we can only extend it to 6pm because the room may be booked…Oh he has to stay in bed?  And your flight isn’t until 11 tonight.  Okay let me check…No, its not booked but if you want to stay until 10, I’m afraid we will have to charge you for another day.  I’m sorry,is there anything else I can do for you?

The day wore one and I gathered up our things.  This was the first trip that I had Never fully unpacked my suitcase.  I suggested to him that rather than stay and pay for another night, we go the the movies…yes, another one.  It was 110 degrees when we stepped out of the hotel.  I knew he could not walk the 2 blocks to the movies so I went to the valet stand in front of the grand and told the guy our destination.

Well, lady the movie is just around the block.  I understand that Sir, but he just got out of the hospital and can’t walk that distance.  We will pay the fare plus a generous tip.  Please. I don’t remember the name of the movie…something sci fi with a lot of blood and heads being ripped off.  I took a Xanax and promptly fell asleep while the unnamed one sat glued to the screen.

At the airport, we managed to find a restaurant that was still open and shared a sandwich. Of course, we both were stopped at Security because of the Dasani bottles in his carryon/my purse.  They had been meant to fortify us at the movies and I had forgotten about them. The plane was on time.  A quick stop in ATL enough to get coffee and the flight to home was ready to board.  But wait ,the unnamed one was… Missing.

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I had heard him mumble...I have to go to the bathroom.. and just like that… Gone.. Passengers in zone 2 we are ready for boarding now.  I call his cell, search down the corridor, call his cell, call his cell.  It’s time to make a decision.  The last people have boarded and the flight attendant is looking sternly at me.  Can you wait just one minute?  Only One.  My cell rings.  It is him.  The plane is going to leave You.  I’m boarding.  Yes , Reader, this is the Titanic moment...Save yourself sistah.  He can take the next one.  Besides everyone knows there is a bathroom on the plane.



Part 2 Vegas: The Exciting, Adventurous, No Good, Horrible, Terrible Trip

Well Reader, here is the Exciting /Adventurous part of the Vegas trip.  The unnamed one and I are both anxious to get to the Grand Canyon.  Many years ago, I had been on a road trip from LA to Michigan with husband #2 but I had only glimpsed parts of it as he put pedal to the medal in that classic Riviera .  The unnamed one and I hurriedly dressed mindful of the searing heat that promised to abate once we arrived in Arizona.

According to the website, the Bus would leave at 6:15 a.m., stop at the Bridge leading to the Hoover Dam, make a rest stop in Kingman, Arizona at the Mickey Ds, continue on to the Natl Geographic Museum for lunch and optional IMAX.  Then on to the GC with two stops along the South rim and lots of photo opps and trail climbing time.  The return trip would include dinner at Mickey Ds again (they must have the hookup) and then back to the hotel by 8 p.m.

The Bus arrived promptly at 6:15 and every seat was taken.  Once we got underway, however, the driver announced that he was Not taking us to the GC, but instead he was transporting us to a site where we would be divided into groups to board the actual Bus to GC.  Huh?  The early hour and heat prevented most of the passengers from doing anything but grumble, but certainly no one had expected this twist in the plot.  This is what I like to call a bonding moment…like in the movies…when the actors realize their/our fate lies in the hands of someone’s Employees.  The Bonded Bus Riders all exchange an anxious, half smiling, querulous look.

After about 30 minutes, we arrived at what could only be described as the cattle pen.  Hundreds of people were lined up in front of a building boarding/waiting for buses.  We sat on our Bus another 20 minutes before being herded into a huge building and told to form two lines:  the West rim and South rim groups.

A perky employee launched into her presentation and soon the West rim group was on their way to the buses wearing the important red tag.  I overheard their perky presenter say their 8 hour trip included  a skywalk, helicopter ride and pantoon boat. Our group was given a green tag and advised that unlike the West rim people, our trip was going to take 10-12 hours.  The entire group simultaneously turned to their partners/significant other and repeated..did she say 12 hours? In the background, perky employee droned on…But Guests, I always save this for last because I want you to know YOU are getting a much better experience than the West rim people.  She must have bumped her perky head!

Normally, my legal training kicks into gear when I am booking anything online and unlike most people, I do read the small print and the terms and conditions.  Never did I recall reading that the trip would take 12 hours.  Bait and switch strikes again.  We consumed the sumptuous breakfast of oj and mini honey buns while listening to perky presenter extol the wonders of the IMAX presentation that would be held during lunch.  I mean, who needs to see the real GC when we can watch it in IMAX.  Finally after another 45 minutes, we were allowed to board the real Bus to the Grand Canyon.

Our driver was a frustrated actor who was determined to narrate the entire trip in a droning, robotic voice that sounded worse when amplified by the speakers.  Oh, did I mention the website said it was a deluxe double decker motor coach.  They must have removed the deluxe and double decker before delivering our bus.  Nevertheless, the droning continued despite the early hour and our need for sleep and the fact that half of the Riders were non English speaking.

Does anybody speak English?  How long before we get there? Oh, we will be there in 5 minutes.  Really? No 5 hours…

After stopping on the bridge to view part of the Hoover Dam, we’re finally on our way.  Kingman, Arizona and the Mickey Ds stop took up considerable time as it was packed with other bus passengers.  We finally reached the lunch stop just as the IMAX was starting. The lunch was a choice of pizza, hot dog or rice bowl.  We were told by Security we could NOT take our lunches in the theatre.  The IMAX was supposed to have been award winning…maybe the photography was, however, the acting was poor and offensive to the Native Americans who made the GC their original home.

By the time we arrived at the first stop on the GC, we were already 2 hours late.  Madam driver said we could only go down to one spot and under no circumstances were we to go down Any Trails because it took twice as long to come back up.  And she was NOT waiting for Anyone.

We stumbled out of the bus into the 90 degree heat awed by the raw beauty of the GC.  Cameras snapped, brave men/women stepped over the guard rails to perch precariously on the edge..it was a sight to behold. In a matter of minutes, it was over and we were herded back on the Bus headed to the second stop.

Again, the warning Do Not Go Down The Trails…but That’s were everything worth seeing is..and the website specifically said Trails included. A young man lamented and whipped out his ipad dashing off a complaint letter to corporate no doubt.

Oh, did I mention, the unnamed one was in Rapture at all of this Nature, snapping pictures and even pulling up a purple flowered plant that he carefully put in his Dasani bottle for the trip home. Huh..really? Did you Not see that sign about desecrating the national park and what about the Airport baggage check?

After about an hour, we boarded the bus for the return and were matter of factly told by Madam Driver, we would Not arrive at 8, but closer to ll p.m.  The non English speaking people had to have that bit of information translated for them and there was much swearing in multiples tongues throughout the bus. One couple pleaded with the driver that they had to get back before 11 because they had purchased $150 tickets to a show and the bus company had assured them they would be back in time.

Madame Driver was adamant..11 or later…take it or leave it.  Her attitude had changed into one of near hostility and I was glad I had brought a Xanax so I could retreat into another world on the ride home in the dark, already scary, multiple S curve mountainous terrain.

As we neared the strip, Madame Driver announced  that she would have to Stop Driving as soon as she reached the Boulevard because she had used up All her Driving time.  However, she had radioed the company and another driver was being sent to meet us and transport us back to our various hotels.  The Bonded passengers all exchanged looks of  how did we get here…and as soon as she pulled into the parking lot of the Excalibur everyone jumped ship following the bright lights, speeding traffic, winding parking lots back to their respective hotels.

Finally. The day was over and if I could just hold my nose and make it down that long, dank corridor, surely tomorrow would restore some balance to this crazy, up and down trip.  Safely in the room and drifting off to the land of nod, I felt someone poking me ( No Reader, get your mind out the 50 Shades book…lol). The unnamed one nudged me awake and pointed to a growing sea of red welts down his arm…mosquito bite? too much tomato juice on Delta? stamin from the liberated purple prairie flower?  What the hell?

Thanks for Reading…comments Always welcomed…Stay tuned for Part 3?

VEGAS and the Exciting, Adventurous, no good, horrible trip- Part 1

Recently, several people have inquired how I got into the business of Blogging. Although my profession was teaching, I fancied myself a writer having authored several nonfiction texts for young people (to provide authentic, researched text and illustrations for young readers on Ancient African history) and labored over the Ultimate Memoir/Fiction tome-All The Lies Are True. I was also a modern day Griot (storyteller) and known for regaling party goers, insomniac phone callers with my tales.  After a life changing visit to Vegas, I found myself retelling the adventure over and over to the delight of the listeners.  (Funny how people take pleasure in others’ misery).  So I decided to start a Blog and post the Vegas Tale there for all the world to see. It is lengthy and I will be posting it in readable segments always conscious of the time constraints of busy Readers.  Part 1 awaits…..Enjoy!

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It all started back in March when the unnamed one asked me to accompany him on a trip to the wild wild west for a family reunion.  Mind you, this is not his true family, but some kind people he lived with as a teen and who considered him their ‘brother’.  I had previously accompanied the unnamed one a few years prior to the lovely Myrtle Beach for a similar event and made note that June in MB is akin to running with scissors.

But the chance of going to Vegas made me go blind and lose my mind for a moment and I said yes.  Somewhat like the proposal from husband #1 when the ring fell in the gutter and washed away…Warning! Warning!  I was blinded by the visions of desert, cactus, prairie flowers, casinos, bright lights, and the Bellagio fountain. Plans were made, Expedia was googled, securing a wonderful package via Delta complete with a room with a view at the mgm grand.

My first hint that something was askew happened when Delta changed our return flight time from early to late. This meant we either checked out of the hotel and wandered the halls of the grand (must be a marketing ploy for casino) or pay for a whole ‘nother night and remain in the room a few hours until flight time. But dilemma solved when I remembered I was in possession of a coupon for a free room in Vegas courtesy of eldest daughter who had sweet talked me and my cash into going with her and youngest daughter in the dead of February to Atlantic city via the ‘hound’.  That is another Adventure not to be regaled here.

For all of you horror movie fans, this is when the music changes and you start to clutch your seat.  What I failed to notice in the email from Delta was not only had Delta changed the flight time, they had also given us new seats which were 12 rows apart!  Did I mention that neither the unnamed one nor I had been on a plane since 911?  I, who used to blithely fly from LA to the East Coast and then anywhere else my wandering soul wanted to go suddenly found myself earthbound and limited to snail travel. But we rationalized it would be foolish to  drive or take the train to Vegas. The only way to go was in the friendly skies and besides we would be together (if something happened), wouldn’t we?

And we’re off…bright, sunshiny morning. Bags weighed and measured, liquids and powders in right sized containers, easy to remove shoes…we were the perfect travelers. I got pulled over by the TSA as soon as I walked through the scanner.  The frisker said it was my cell phone. What? its in the bin like the sign said.  He took out a special cloth and  calmly wiped the phone around the edges, slid it across a machine and said, you’re okay…have a nice flight.

And a nice flight was had by all.  An hour and a half later descending into ATL with enough time to grab lunch and run/walk/take a people mover to the gate for our connecting flight.  Did I mention that the unnamed one sustained a flying insect bite while we were in the ATL airport?( I think they are attracted to people with high alcohol counts in their blood). This Reader, is what is known in literary circles as Foreshadowing.

We arrived in Vegas tired but happy to be on the ground. The temperature was a mere 100 degrees as we waited for a pricey shuttle to take us to the mgm grand. They did not offer free service, one of the many things I was about to learn about the not so grand, grand. Business was a little slow at the front desk, however, a couple next to us was engaged in a serious discussion with the clerk about the condition of their room.  Words like substandard, dank, dismal were being tossed around by the angry, red faced man.  Having been the recipient of some poorly outfitted rooms in the past at my favorite haunts, I was all ears and calmly asked the clerk about the room we were being given.

She looked at me as if I had had just arrived from Pluto and said tartly, It is a king like you requested and is 350 square feet! She then directed us to pictures from a notebook showing what seemed to be a modern, stylish room. After paying the abhorrent daily  ‘resort fee’ (not mentioned in the Expedia small print),  She politely pointed us to the West Wing where we were instructed to walk down a long corridor, turn left, pass through the bar, continue on to the row of elevators that would deliver us to our suite.

Hah, words fail me here.  The  corridor was indeed long and dark and painted with some metal gray color left over from a battleship.  The rug reeked with the scent of wet feet and musk. I could barely breathe by the time we got to the room, as we were in what appeared to be the basement of the grand.  And the room. Someone must have photoshopped the picture she showed us.  Yes, it had a king bed, but there was no desk, no drawer, no tub…only a shower and the view was of an alley.  It didn’t even have a coffee pot.  I later learned that Starbucks was doing booming business selling caffeine craving guests their expensive $10 a cup coffee.

Motel 6 had better rooms.  But this was the great mgm grand. Beyoncé and Jayz had stayed here.  Surely, there had been a mistake.  I was disheartened but summoned up the strength after our $70 dinner of Mexican food (isn’t that just beans and cheese?) to call Expedia and complain about the accommodations.  Any of you readers who have dealt with these third party booking services already know what I am about to tell you.

The representative was in the Philippines. He was reading a script. He was sorry I was having a problem.  But there was nothing to be done. Oh, you want to speak to my supervisor?  She is in a neighboring country, but hold on a minute.  The supervisor listened patiently and then informed me that she would note my concern about the room and the misleading information on the website for future use.

And by the way, I would have to take up the room issue with the grand because they had no relationship with them and no power to change the room.  Is there anything else I can help you with?

The heat, the stifling air, the loud noises of partygoers in the hallway, the sudden 4 hour time change And the two margueritas And shot of Patron together with the nouveau chille relleno all conspired against me and I surrendered to that wonderful panacea…sleep.

I would deal with this, or rather I would have the unnamed one deal with this in the morning. But wait, tomorrow was our trip to the Grand Canyon and the bus left at 6 a.m. sharp…was that eastern or mountain time…so the room issue would have to wait.  And so will you dear reader for Part 2 of the Exciting, Adventurous, no good, horrible, terrible*Las Vegas trip.

(*Reference to popular children’s book about Alexander)

Love and Light! Comments always welcomed.