After Christmas we were headed down to Las Vegas for a wedding (more on that next). It almost didn't happen because Joss came down with a virulent stomach bug and we worried that it would go through all of us right during the weekend. But he was much better the day before we were to leave, so we decided to make it happen.
We stayed here. Isn't that a great vintage neon sign?! It was an original two-story motel, but made for families -- we had a suite for six people that we could only have dreamed of during several points on study abroads.
We decided that since this was the first time the kids had been to Las Vegas that we'd take them to the strip. Only first we needed dinner. We checked out some places online and found a chinese place that looked good. After some tense moments looking for a restaurant in a strange town in the dark, we found it. Boy, howdy, what an epic fail! It was awful! A sad-sack place that hadn't seen a coat of paint since the mid-80's and served bland, colorless, MSG-filled slop. Ugh!
After that, we had to convince the kids that we had not lost our parental marbles. We drove toward the strip, followed some random SUV and parked behind who-knew-what hotel and complex.
We walked into the Miracle Mile shops and a certain child grabbed my hand. Somewhere word had gotten out that Las Vegas was a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" and they didn't want to get left behind. Maybe it was that article in the VIA magazine that had been passed around the back of the van. Joss was absolutely fixated on a neon hot air balloon that he'd seen there. He kept talking about it and we kept assuring him that yes, he'd be able to see it once we got out of the Miracle Mile.
We walked outside and there it was! Larger than life and just like he said it would be! There's Joss and his hot air balloon.
We wandered over to the Bellagio across the street
and watched the fountains play. Even the skeptics had to admit it was pretty fun . . .
(There. That looked fun, right?)
We wandered inside because we'd been told that the conservatory was beautiful. Also, we were lost.
The conservatory was really lovely. It reminded me of the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco where we'd had tea at Christmas years before. Then we raced down several blocks, missing the volcano at the Mirage by seconds, and waited for the pirate ship battle at Treasure Island.
This was another epic fail, and after this the kids asked us to turn in our parenting licenses. It was first off, not the show that we remembered from 20 years ago. Second, it was skanky. To the point that the kids were telling us it was time to go. Third, our ballroom daughter turned to me in the middle of it and said "They're crap dancers!" and I couldn't disagree with her. Here's a picture of the ship on fire, which is the cleanest part of the show, and the highlight. They should stick with fire and sink the rest of it!
The kids were ready to go home, but we still convinced them to walk back on the other side of the street so that we could at least look at the outside of the Venetian and the Paris, which weren't even there last time Rob and I had been let loose on the strip. (Will is having a problem smiling for the camera right now. I can only imagine he's trying to make life interesting for any future wedding slide shows. Click to enlarge here if you think I am exaggerating.)
Grandpa had worked on the Venetian years ago, so we appealed to the kids' filial piety as well.
They put on a good Christmas show and Rob and I at least wished we could have gone inside. Then we ran into a man we couldn't pass by:
an original Storm Trooper who let Joss hold his gun. Can you see the love in that kid's eyes?! He whispered to me as we walked away that he wants to be a trooper like that guy next Halloween (this is the highest compliment he can give right now; it also displaces Iron Man for Halloween 2013). I joked "That's just so you can have a gun like his" and he said "YES!!!"
So I'm afraid that while we did not impress our kids at all that night with our parental judgment, we did completely inoculate them against gambling, sex shows and Vegas. As we were driving out of the valley, Sebi said "Good bye, wretched place! You kept mooning me!"