I am back from Vegas … arrived this morning at 2:30am, asleep by 4am, back at work by 9am! WOOO!!“1 Photos, a Trip summary and more will be on its way shortly so keep your eyes peeled. [/u][b]Update #2[/b][/u] [L=http://rand0m.org/gallery.php?gid=20]Las Vegas Photo Gallery[/L] is up and running. Comments on all of those photos will be along shortly, as will be the cruise photos. Check ’em! [b]UPDATE!![/b] I had Amanda put together the trip post because I am already forgetting bit and pieces. Photos are on my laptop, but need to be uploaded. I’ll re-update this bad boy with comments about what she has to say and post the pics at the same time, maybe later today. The Totally Biased Review of Fabulous Las Vegas (by Amanda): [u]Day 1:[/u] Randal works until lunch time, in the sense that he is physically present at his office, but his mind is already in Fabulous Las Vegas. Check-in at the airport is speedy and smooth, followed by a cholesterol extravaganza at the airport A&W before boarding the plane. Short layover in Phoenix then touch down in Vegas at about 5:15 Pacific. Ash and Jesse are still not married. We gather our belongings and after a 45 minute shuttle ride down the strip with good conversation from the driver and fellow passengers, we check into the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino. Upon arriving, our options are a conservative 1950’s holiday vacation room with 2 double beds across the room from one another, or a king size smoking den. We opted for the king bed with some hesitation, but looked for another option once we opened the door and wondered if Marge Simpson’s sisters had just checked out of it 5 minutes ago. Randal’s post-smoker sensitivities to the perfume of ash tray had him dialing the front desk before the door shut. Imperial Palace sent us up new room keys after a short negotiation, and we upgraded to a lovely room on the 15th floor. Ash and Jesse are still not married. Around 7:30 we go down to the lobby to sing praises to the hotel manager for his speedy resolve of our needs, which apparently hasn’t ever happened in the history of the hotel, because he looked at Randal like a three-headed Fyarl Demon. Ash met us there in the lobby and hurried us into the car and off we went to the Nevada Department of Shotgun Civil Ceremonies, or something like that. Amanda played the part of official witness, and Randal was the photographer, capturing all ten minutes of moments. Wham, bam, that was it, so we hopped in the car and went to catch the Fremont Street “experience” of the whole roof lighting up with video propaganda to gamble, drink and look at titties. It was pretty. For dinner, a sort of ghetto dim sum of deep fried oreos, cheese dogs, and chocolate dipped bananas. We walked about and saw the sights of Paris, the Bellagio and Caesars Palace until we just couldn’t stand up anymore. The two couples thus parted ways and settled in for… none of your business. [u]Day 2:[/u] Champagne Brunch with the Newlyweds at the IP tea house, then back to the Bellagio to catch the fountain in the daylight, and see their gallery display of Impressionist Landscapes from Corot to Van Gogh. The collection was really amazing. The heavy hitters like Monet, Renoir, Gauguin and Van Gogh are always wonderful to see originals, but it’s great to have a style exhibit, rather than just a name exhibit, because you see the hidden treasures of the era that stand up to any of the big names in excellence, like Boudin, Rousseau and the Corot. The gift shop prints did none of the works justice, but a print of an oil painting never does. Ash and Jesse headed back to LA, and we were left to our own devices, so we walked Caesar’s Palace and otherwise “did” the Forum Shops, complete with wildly expensive designer boutiques, and a wildly sexy foreign automobile showroom. I think you can refer to the July Defcon/Vegas photos for highlights of the very same line-up of hot rods. The Venetian: Venice, Las Vegas is sooooo much better than Venice, Italy*. You’ve got Doge’s Palace, the Grande Canal and Saint Mark’s square, but in Vegas they’re clean and pretty, and filled with restaurants, shopping and casinos with gambling, instead of restaurants, shopping and churches with nuns. Sometime after sunset (which is hard to tell the difference between night and day in Vegas) we went on a lovely gondola ride for two, complete with singing of some of the mobster/rat pack favorites by our gondolier, who was a black man with a fake Italian accent and an amazing operatic singing voice. Unforgettable. Dinner at the indoor “streetside” Italian cafe was the perfect roundout of the evening. The food was well done, the wine was right, and the waiter was a fresh-off-the-boat silver-haired Sicilian gumba with the “I’ll break your knees” attitude to go with his suit and pinkie ring. Everything right down to the zabaigone for dessert fit the evening just right. Back at the Hotel, just when you think we’re about to crash, Randal gets a second gambling wind, so Amanda dresses in as little as possible and hangs off his arm while he rolls high on the $5 craps table. With $50 bucks, Randal can play craps for eternity. Perhaps it’s because he’s so good with numbers, or perhaps he was blessed by a witch doctor, but that $50 will never turn itself over to the house. Sometime around 4:30 in the morning, Randal took his $50, left the craps table and blew it on the worst bottle of wine France has ever crafted, and two collector’s edition silvery official Imperial Palace wine glasses. We drank ourselves silly and eventually passed out. [u]Day 3:[/u] We slept in. Room service was lovely, and the rest is none of your business. [i]Edit: Yes, all day.[/i] [u]Day 4:[/u] Checkout time was at 11:00 am, and our plane did not leave until around midnight, so we had all of Vegas to see and no hotel room to fall back on. Lunch at New York, New York was the best deli sandwich you can get west of Queens, and the digestion time for those 2 pounds of thinly sliced meats was spent seeing “that end” of the strip. And, of course, the final shopping extravaganza, in which Randal spent most of his time on those “man seats” in the corners of cosmetic stores reading a magazine. What a trooper. Keeping with the culinary theme of the day, we caught Nathan’s Famous for dinner, the official hot dog of the New York Yankees. A 7 o’clock show of Blue Man Group at the Venetian was the final destination of our trip, and a fine ending it was. The show was really incredible. Whether you’re into the wonders of technology, slight of hand, tricks of the eye, or really dry humor, the Blue Man Group is a must see. Then, back to the hotel to fetch the luggage, off to the airport and tucked in at home by 4 am. A hell of a trip indeed.
I’m heading out to Vegas here in a few minutes with Amanda. Awesome. I’ll be back late Monday night. I did buy a new truck. That whole thing below was part of an elaborate ruse so that Amanda wouldn’t know. It worked too 😀 … anyways, [L=http://rand0m.org/images/truck05/]http://rand0m.org/images/truck05/[/L]
OK So an UPdate! First things first, I made a myspace account, and it is the most ninja shit ever. You can check it out at [L=http://www.myspace.com/randalk]http://www.myspace.com/randalk[/L] – don’t forget to add me as a friend. On that note, myspace is more addicting than cocaine, tobacco and alcohol combined. I can’t stop refreshing all of my friends profiles, hoping for an blog entry, a sign of life, a comment, even a new photo – anything. It’s really pretty sad, but at least I am the EREETEST NINJAMAN ON MSYPACE. Amanda and I are going to Las Vegas for a friend who is eloping. She is flying into Denver on Wednesday night, we both fly out of COS on Friday afternoon and return late Monday night. Then she sticks around until the following Friday, so I get a LOT of Amanda goodness. She’s pretty awesome. I’m sorry for all you blokes out there who haven’t really liked someone – it changes everything. And this isn’t puppy love, first time love, fuck-until-we’re-raw love, it’s just straight up goodness. It’s so good, in fact, that we are wondering if it is abnormal. It must be. But I’m crazy about her. SO yes, going to Vegas on Friday. My mom went into surgery last Monday morning to have her knee replaced. I spoke to my dad about it, he said swing by on Wednesday or Thursday. I went by there, met up with my dad and visited. She was really out of it. It is extremely difficult to see someone who is invincible, hobbled. The worst part isn’t that she was in a lot of pain, or that it will take ages for her to recover — it’s that there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. That makes it terrible – just watching her suffer and struggle through it. She always says “This too shall pass” … let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later. I don’t know what our Christmas plans are, but I imagine they will be low key. [b]Update[/b] –
Oh, I nearly forgot. Tonight, after 7.5 years of faithful service, I will trade in my white 1982 Toyota 4×4 Pickup truck in for a green 99 Ford F-150 XLT 4×4 pickup. It’s in superb condition and the price was right. I’ll see if I can get some photos sometime. That whole thing fell through when they saw what a POS my trade is. *sigh* Another one bites the dust
OK So I went to North Dakota. I’ll just kind of give a play by play here, with some little things tossed in for good measure. As I had said, security at DIA was sucky. I had wireless internets there, though, and that was pretty cool. On the flight to North Dakota I got to sit next to this nice girl from the SF Bay area named Karen, who was visiting her Fiance-to-be’s family in Bismarck. She was expecting her boyfriend, an opthamalogist who lives in Oregan, to propose to her over Thanksgiving. She showed me a bunch of photos of their trip to Australia, and next thing I knew I was flying into Bismarck’s Airport. Flying into Bismarck at nigt is very weird. You’re flying along, flying along, flying along and all of the sudden the inky black flatness turns into an airport and you’re on the ground. Fly fly fly fly fly fly fly fly OMFG LIGHTS land disembark. It’s crazy how the city and the airport spring out of nothingness. And I mean nothingness. OK So I land in Bismarck, get off the plane last (I was seated in the very back), get off the plane, and there is the embodiment of awesomeness herself, Amanda. So we hug and kiss and hug and kiss some more, and it was good. Really good. Reunited at last. Then we got into the truck and headed home. Home being her parents’ place, in the basement. Yep, shackin up, visiting in sin. 😀 It was a looong 2 hour drive across the black, black planes of ND until wha-Bam, Minot! I think I napped during the drive. Then we were there. I don’t think we did much Wednesday night besides talk to her parents and snuggle. Oh, we got some coffee. Twice. And I met Amanda’s friend Renee, who is supposedly a lesbian but recently juked fate and married some dude … she worked at the Starbucks that we visited. Oh, and there is 1 Starbucks in Minot. Small Town, USA. Thursday was Thanksgiving! Amanda and her Mom cook like fiends on meth. We didn’t poke our heads up until noon or so, went and got some coffee from the bitter working-on-Turkey-Day starbucks folks. I wore pajamas all day until just before we ate. Amanda also got all done up, but Amanda’s Folks wore pajamas and flannel throughout. That was really relaxing, seeing that they really didn’t care. Dinner was incredible, the talk was incredible, it was all a good time. We watched “Waking Ned Devine” after everything, then got to the snuggling again. Very low key, very relaxing, super duper thanksgiving. OK So Friday came around and it was busy. We had Moxie Java, coffee that is sold only at random gas stations in ND, with Amanda’s friends Krista, Manders (aka Amanda) and Manders’ lesbian SO, Sonja. The coffee was fucking terrible. Krista thought it was the greatest thing ever, but it was actually god awful. Potentially the worst mocha I have ever had. Anyways, had coffee, then went over to Manders’ & Sonja’s place. We hung out there for a while and talked about all kinds of things, from NuvaRing to Boys to college, to family and more. It was a good time and I think I made a good impression on Amanda’s friends :-). So we left Madners’ place and headed home, had some leftovers (mmmm) and then headed over to the Blue Rider, a local bar in ND. I determined two really odd things about ND and it’s bars: 1) There are fifty bazillion of them and 2) 2/5 bars are smoke free, something that is close to extinction here in CO. Anyways, the Blue Rider is a quaint little smokefree joint that serves beer and beer only. It was maybe … 40′ deep by 15′ wide. Tiny place, and slammed accordingly. Anyways, they had a decent Hefeweizen and a *SUPER* local band called [L=http://www.greenmanband.net]the Greenman Band[/L]. The band was comprised of Amanda’s elementary school orchestra teacher, Minot State’s Music Theory prof, a highschool vocals instructor and her husband, an english teacher. All teachers, all cheery, friendly, very nice and extremely talented. Right, so there was the bar and the band, and we met Mike and Kendra there, who are some friends that we know from Colorado Springs! It was like transplanting home to ND, and it was good. Met Kendra’s Mom & brother, Lucas as well, but unfortunately the four of them had to leave pretty quickly.. Stayed, enjoyed the band, then our ride showed up and we headed home. I think we watched a movie Friday night, but I don’t recall which. So Saturday rolled around and we woke up late, as usual. And then … I don’t know what we did. OH right we went over to Amanda’s Mom’s studio in Burlington. Right before that, though, we swung by Starbucks and a bagel shop called the Bagel Stop? and picked up some yummies. At Amanda’s Mom’s shop we met a couple of the family friends, who were all very pleasant and happy to finally meet the much renowned me. From there, we were supposed to hit up Kendra’s pottery show at the Uni, but unfortunately our schedule didn’t permit it — we busted straight from the studio to Garrison, a town ~60 miles south of Minot, for the annual [L=http://www.dickensfestival.com/]Dickens Village Festival[/L]. The Dickens Fest is basically where the entire (tiny) town of Garrison converts into somethhing straight out of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. We walked the entire town, had a smoked turkey leg, had a supposedly famous but not-too-tasty Waffleberry donut, and watched their little parade. Then we went home and stayed up really late chatting … at least 3am or so, but then fell asleep. Sunday. We didn’t wake up until something like 2pm. We had no idea it was that late when we got up, but it was a really good nights sleep. So we woke up, and were supposed to do something … mmm … I don’t recall, but I think it was supposed to happen at noon. So then we went to Grizzly’s with Amanda’s folks and had an early dinner. From there we went and had coffee with Manders, Sonja & Krista again at 4:45. That was a pretty good time, but we kinda had some other stuff to do. Ran a couple errands, headed up, fired up the DVD player and watched `Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants` and `My Big Fat Greek Wedding`. Yes, I already turned in my Man card. Anyways, they were both good movies, and after drinking a gallon of Wassail we snuggled and hit the rack. It was nice having a low key Sunday, being my last full day there and all. Monday is kind of a blur. Woke up to Amanda leaving for class, fell back asleep, woke back up an hour later, took a shower and started packing. Amanda came home and we finished the packing and clean up and all that, and then … mmm … shit I don’t know. I know we had a tasty breakfast casserole, then … something or other, I don’t know. We left Minot around 3:30 and headed for Bismarck Airport — another two hours of travelling the black emptiness of non-city ND. On the way there we stopped at a Lewis & Clark exhibit museum thing. Blew an hour there, and it was pretty interesting. Anyways, we arrived at the airport, spent a while kissing, hugging and crying and really not wanting to part ways. Finished all that, blew through security and that was that. The plane ride home was really uneventul, sat next to an older guy who works for the DoD who was very quiet. I took a nap, arrived in Denver, met James at the airport and headed home. That’s the entire trip in a few hundred words. It was really a great trip — I got to see one lovely young lady for never-long-enough, visit North Dakota and enjoy a vacation. It was a helluva time. I can’t wait to see her again, here, there, anywhere. I’m all twitterpated. Every time I think about her I get this googly-eyed-shit-eating-grin look on my face. She does all these cute and awesome things and just makes me feel like a million bucks. She is unbelievable. I know I missed a ton of things, so please feel free to ask questions or, in the case of Amanda, point out missing things :-). I had a sore throat on Sunday, lived through it on Monday and have been enjoying a full blown chest & head cold since. I’ve been sleeping like crap, and my back hurts. Hence the whole fell-asleep-while-posting last night. Also, the same reason that it takes me forever to type this up — if I focus at something for too long, like a laptop screen, my eyes tear up and I get a head ache. So I’m going to hit the rack.