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Friday, August 14, 2015

Brady Guest Blogger: 21st Birthday Vegas Trip!

My birthday is typically a non exciting event. I can't really even remember most of my birthdays, and I think most of them were just another day with cake and maybe a card from my mother. My birthday is at the end of summer when school is out, and I wasn't a really social kid, so I never had a birthday party where people would care besides my family really. I remember my 8th birthday, as I got to have some friends over and we did a little campout sleepover thing in the backyard, I remember my 18th birthday, as I was up in the Sawtooth National Forest in the White Cloud Mountains on a backpacking trip on high adventure back when I was still LDS, and my 20th birthday I got my tattoos and made Super Mario Piranha Plant cookies with my friend just coming back from a trip to Puerto Vallarta Mexico to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday. So that's three birthdays I remember.

This however, this was the first birthday where I actually celebrated it. My 21st birthday, the big one. The one where society in the United States trusts me with everything really except maybe renting a car, and what better way to celebrate the age you can drink than by going on an ultimate trip to Vegas.

Vegas almost didn't happen. My mom had talked about earlier in the year that we should go to Vegas with my brother and sister in law, but then she cancelled because she's been trying really hard to get out of debt and get a new roof for the house. So then I was left to finding friends... *facepalm* my awkward life. So, if you don't know me that well, I'm not socially awkward, but I am introverted. I can have perfectly normal conversations and make friends with people, but I don't typically hang out with people outside of the place I know them from like work/school/extra curricular activities. I did have this one friend named Christyn who I met my first year after transferring to the University of Utah. We both sat in the front row of our Calculus III class, and were both in Computer Science, and have been friends ever since as we ended up being in a lot of the same classes. This last year, we were joined at the hip as a lot of our assignments turned into group projects. She also hinted that I should go to Vegas with her for my 21st birthday while we were still in school. So this summer, we actually did end up hanging out once, and then I asked her. Then the adventure was on.

Before the trip, my mother sent me a little package in the mail.


There was a cute little card, some movies for my iTunes library, and then a ton of balloons! I decided to pour the balloons out to see if there was something at the bottom. Then I pulled out one of the popped balloons and saw that there was money sticking out from inside and realized that every single balloon had cash in it. I quickly popped all of the balloons and was surprised to see that there were some pretty large bills in there. I think after I counted, there was about $300 in cash - a glorious amount of spending money for food, transportation, and fun at Vegas.

Day 1:

On the day of my birthday, I woke up, got ready, and packed for my trip. My hair was looking pretty cute that day, but when I went outside to go to the Trax station to go to the airport, it was raining pretty good outside. Shortly after stepping outside, my straight hair immediately went into a giant curl, and then I just kind of had to suck it up the rest of the day.


The flight went pretty good as well. Christyn and I talked pretty much the whole time, and the flight was offering complimentary wine and beer on our flight. I however declined because it was a red wine instead of a white, and I haven't enjoyed red wine or beer yet in my short experimenting while in Mexico last year. Once outside of the plane, the hot air of Nevada hit us like a brick wall. I was pretty well contained, but the highs in Nevada were about 108 degrees and in Salt Lake it was about 86 degrees. Once inside the airport, we both laughed as there were already slot machines just outside the gate. I could just feel the sales pitch, "On a layover in Las Vegas? Want the Vegas experience? Now you don't even have to leave the airport! Go ahead and lose all of your money at a slot machine only 20 feet away from your gate before you leave!"

Anyway, we go out and take a cab to our resort hotel called Treasure Island, and our cabby is very nice and talkative the whole time. We told him that is was my 21st birthday that day, and he instantly lit up, started basically giving us a tour along with a list of fun things we could check out while we were there, many which were already on our list. The best line he said was, "If you look hard enough, you can find anything here," and then he started to awkwardly transition into drugs. He then started saying things like, "Marijuana is almost legal here, and the cops are pretty chill about it. If they catch you with a joint, they'll probably grab it from you, slap it onto the pavement, maybe fine you, but as long as you aren't carrying bags of the stuff around you should be pretty okay."Cristyn had this other friend who went traveling and told her that they got stoned on their trip, and she was like, "How do you even know how to get drugs in a new city that you've never been to before?" and her friend replies, "Oh, just ask the cabby or the bellhop, they always know where to get drugs." Bam, there it was, first had experience, cabby knows where to get drugs. Christyn almost pushed it and wanted to ask him where we could get drugs just to confirm, but decided against it (which I'm glad she did because that would have made my nervous).


We get to our hotel, prior to the trip, my mom and I decided to splurge and pay a little extra for a view of the strip.

That was the view we got from our window. Yeah, it did have two really big parking garages in front of it, but that's still a pretty decent view of the strip nonetheless.
The first thing we wanted to do was figure out transportation and get to the Mandalay Bay hotel to pick up our tickets for Blue Man Group later that day, and to visit the Shark Reef Aquarium, accompanied by a lovely birthday dinner also at Mandalay Bay. We figured out that we could get bus passes that pretty much patrol the strip frequently for only $20 for our three day stay.


The Shark Reef Aquarium was spectacular, I got some really good selfie pictures in.
     






After that we went out to eat at Strip Steak. It was very funny because we realized that everyone thought we were together, but nope. I'm into guys, and she's into girls, it just wouldn't work out. I was surprised when she grabbed the bill though. She wanted to treat me to my birthday dinner. I compromised with her and told her that I would give her half of the resort fee that we split at the hotel. My dinner would have bout about 2 weeks worth of groceries at home, and is probably going to be the most expensive meal I'll have until I'm 30.

I am glad I decided to get desert though, I was going through a really bad chocolate withdrawal as I was basically cut off for the last four days due to me running out of food at home and not wanting to go shopping. I didn't take pictures of my food, but Christyn did grab this little shot of my Chocolate Napoleon cake.


Then we went to go see the Blue Man Group show. We booked our tickets on vegas.com basically at the same time, but we ended up sitting in completely different areas from each other. Good tip for anyone making reservations for a show, if you are going with other people and you don't get to chose your seat, only your section, make sure you buy them with one transaction and have the other person pay you back. It wasn't too bad though. She sat next to me pretty much the whole time before the show started, and left when the people with the assigned seats arrive, which wasn't until the end.

Before the show they were flying around these giant remote controlled floating eyes, and they were handing out this florescent streamer thing that everyone was putting around their head, so I followed suit. It's hard to explain what the blue man group is. It was kind of like several short skits, interesting music, and at the end there was a lot of confetti, streamers, and giant balls that they let us bounce around the audience for about five minutes. It was pretty trippy, and I'm glad I went.

After that, I we went out Fremont Street, and it was the first place I got card checked. I was actually really surprised that they didn't card check us at Strip Steak for the wine. The barmaid hurrahed that it was my birthday, asked if I wanted an extra shot of liquor in my drink, and I was like, "Sure! Lets do it!" and then she also asked if I wanted an extra shot of rum, and I think that shot was on the house. So I had in my hands the most alcoholic beverage I have ever held.


That picture of my drink is the level at which I was drunk, that's how much alcohol was in it. I have never been drunk before in my life. I asked my friend Christyn if I could stop, to which her reply was more of a cheer, "Not drunk enough! Not drunk enough!" And she made me finish the whole thing, such a good friend.

Now, I am a light weight, I don't drink, so this is probably the most drunk I will ever get in a while. I didn't really like being drunk. I've had drinks before, and I have wondered if I was actually drunk and just didn't know it - I have felt completely in control every time I've had a drink. Nope, I think that when you're drunk, you know you're drunk. I was trying to stay in control, but there was this odd disconnect between my brain and my body. Yes, I didn't trust myself to walk in a straight line at the level when I took my picture, and I was probably slurring, either that or I develop some type of drunk accent because hearing myself talk while I was drunk was a new experience on it's own. Also, my body would giggle a lot at things, but my brain was like, "Okay Brady, it wasn't that funny, why are you laughing." And then there was this certain point where I couldn't really seem to focus on faces that well. I can also totally see why someone would probably be a slut when they're drunk as well. First, you're in a really good mood, and you feel like making out with someone would just make you feel that much better. Second, because you can't really focus on people's faces, you don't really care how attractive they are. I mean, I wasn't at the level of drunk to where I could wander outside of my type preference - I wouldn't make out with a girl, or a black guy, or a really muscly dude, or an old dude, because those are not my type - but if there was a white skinny boy that came up to me and was like, "Hey, can I make out with you?" I would be like, "Heck yeah! What's stopping you!? Come here!" All in all, for the most part I didn't enjoy being drunk enough to do it again; it's not something that I think is fun, which is good. The reason I abstained from alcohol even after coming out is because the church taught me to be afraid of it. I was super worried that I would get instantly addicted and fall into this dangerous lifestyle, but it didn't happen like that at all. I'm not worried about becoming an alcoholic and I think it's fine for people to do, just be semi responsible; don't text people and don't drive.


Anyway, Christyn and I after a late night stumble onto the bus to take us back to Treasure Island, and there were like these really nice people on the bus with us. They handed Chistyn all these cards for a "Gentlemen's club" and then she started to hand them out to people as they came on the bus, and it made me super embarrassed, but she made a great card pusher, I have to admit.
The reason I say the guys on the bus were nice is because they made friendly conversation, they didn't mind that I was sloppy drunk on my 21st birthday, and best of all, they told us that our stop was coming up so we could get off. Christyn and I were just chatting up a storm and if they hadn't said something, we would have kept talking until we hit the complete south end of the strip and had to get off and wait for another bus going north back to our hotel.


Christyn and I had some pretty great open drunk conversation. We both kind of sat in the bathroom drinking water out of the sink so we didn't die the next day. When I went to bed though, I totally got the hiccups. Christyn thought it was funny, she's like, "Who actually get's the hiccups when they're drunk!?" to which my response was, "People! It *hic* 's a thing!" Then, when we stopped talking and I was trying to hold my breath to get rid of my hiccups, out of nowhere Christyn just goes, "RAAAAAA!" and jumps across half missing and half attacking my bed. I'm like, "What the *hic* heck was that Chrystin?" and she said, "Sorry, I was hoping I could scare the hiccups out of you (me hiccuping in the background), but I don't think it worked."


Day 2:

The next day we woke up, got our next show tickets at the Wynn which was a very nice place, it had this very Great Gatsby theme to it - this like 1900's elegance. They had this big waterfall, chandeliers that moved up and down in one room, and a hot air balloon and a merry-go-round that were entirely made out of flowers!


Then we decided to go on a bus tour, like on one of those actual two story buses without the roof on the top with the whole tour guide pointing to things as we pass buy explaining what they are and fun facts about the place. 






After that, we decided to walk the strip, go to the M&M world, Coca Cola store and the Hersey's Chocolate World on the strip next to New York New York. We were a little dehydrated from the bus ride, so I didn't remember to take many pictures as I wasn't too impressed by the things and stuff at the time. However, when we did go into a store to buy bottled water, we saw those same nice people from on the bus the other day. It was soo weird.
We then went to the pool at the resort to relax a little. After that, we went back to the Wynn to watch Cirque du Soleil : Le RĂªve (The Dream). I don't have any pictures of the show of course, but I have a really bad dark picture of the Aqua Theater, which was this happy world of genius engineering and beauty. All the performers were on point, and the costumes and special effects were glorious.
A clip of the show from YouTube:
Day 3:

The next day, we wanted to check out Circus Circus. They had an amusement park inside of a giant dome. However, after arriving, my opinion of the place was that it was pretty ghetto, but what can you do.


But honestly, after the theme park and getting a tad motion sick, we ended up just going back to the hotel and having an extremely lazy afternoon. On the first day of the trip, we were put on a complimentary champagne list because it was my birthday, so we ordered that from room service and spent the whole afternoon watching TV. We would have went back to the pool, but it was kind of cloudy. 
So, when the time came, after watching a lot of rich people eat food on the tele, we went out to a classy French restaurant at Paris on the strip. I had escargot for the first time which was a bonus, and of course slaughtered a lot of french pronunciations, my French teacher in high school would probably cry.

We then tried to do a lot of the free night activities. The Bellagio (featured in Oceans 13) was pretty close to Paris, and we watched a few water shows. We then tried to basically sprint to the Mirage to see the Volcano Explosion. It was swarmed by tourists and I could barely see the thing on my tip-toes.

Then, we were hoping to see this thing called the "Pirate Fight" at Treasure Island, which was our resort, however, apparently the show was cancelled 2 years prior, so we just had strawberry daiquiris in little cups that we got to keep, and then retired to go back to the airport the following day.

Yeah! That was it. I really loved the city and the sky scrapers so much! I really wish every city was designed in as much excess as Las Vegas. I think I really have to live in a place with a lot of sky scrapers when I leave Utah. Now I'm looking forward the next adventure in the not so distant future.

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