Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vegas With The Kids: Highlights and Lowlights (Part Two)

All thoughts of Vegas being a family-friendly destination pretty much vanished at 6:25 a.m. on Easter Sunday, when the pounding on the door and the shouts of "Metro Police!" awakened us. Burly officers then hustled into the room, turning on all the lights. To be fair, once they spotted the sleeping kids on the pull-out couch in the suite, they switched the lights off and conducted their search by flashlight. But it was a post-dawn full room search, bathroom and balcony included. I sat up in bed while my husband, who'd let the cops in, dealt with them, and managed to blurt out, "What's going on?"
The cop in charge, whom I can barely remember save his gun belt and shiny badge on his jacket, barked, "We had an incident nearby, ma'am. We have to make sure everyone is safe." Only later, at the breakfast buffet, did word trickle back: there had been a shooting at a hotel up the street -- the old Tropicana -- and apparently the suspect or suspects had fled.

We were fortunate that Thing 2 slept through the entire search, and all the pounding on doors that followed up and down the hallways and on the floor over our heads. Thing 1 woke up from the noise, but only after the cops had exited the room, and Late Blooming Dad brought him into bed with us, where he eventually fell back asleep. Sleep wasn't so easy for we parents, though, worried as we were about suspects at large, and Grandma and Grandpa, whose sleep had also been interrupted by cops searching their room.

Since this was the most dramatic thing that occurred in Vegas on our trip, no doubt it's the memory that will leave the deepest impression on me of the trip. But to be fair to that fair city, there were some nice moments of family togetherness ....

We ate the one reasonably priced meal of the entire trip at a Johnny Rocket's a cab ride away from the strip; the kids happily tucked into their familiar favorites, a kid-sized hamburger, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, french fries and milk flavored with syrup (chocolate for her, strawberry for him). The charm of the half fries/half onion rings order wasn't lost on Grandpa either.

We played games at the New York New York arcade, and strode across the faux Brooklyn Bridge after admiring the faux Statue of Liberty.

We enjoyed watching the mama and baby dolphin swim in tandem at Siegried & Roy's Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden, and got a kick out of the baby leopard playing like a kitten.

Thing 2 got a ride up the faux Eiffel Tower with Grandma, and when we got to the top, the Bellagio Fountains across the street went off.

And everybody enjoyed the late-afternoon ritual of kids watching cartoons on Grandma and Grandma's bed in their room while mom and dad got some nap time of our own.

On the other hand, who ever heard of a California Pizza Kitchen franchise lacking a children's menu? I kid you not: the one inside the Mirage Hotel doesn't provide one and no amount of pleading will get your kids an order of mac n' cheese, despite the fact that every other CPK in the world makes it.

The M&M World Store seems designed to be soul-crushing on purpose. A poorly placed elevator, displays with narrow aisles, and insane amounts of spring break crowds made the visit pretty hellish, as did the fit Thing 1 threw when his M&M-shaped popsicle proved to be green-colored despite the red on the packaging.

While Grandpa was anxious to show off the classic cars at the Imperial Palace, the kids were only interested in the machine that flattened pennies and made souvenir coins, and of course the gift shop, where they took forever to make a decision when Grandma offered to buy a toy.

And nobody ever got to sleep before 11pm -- so much for mommy and daddy's plan to enjoy the suite by closing the door to the kids' room after they went down.

The trip back was marred by traffic delays -- accidents and construction detours and such -- and a late dinner at Denny's somewhere a good hour from home. It shouldn't take seven hours to get from Vegas to L.A., but it did.

Still, the best part was that Grandma, Grandpa and the kids hung out a lot, and that, of course, was the point. (Well, Grandpa might say the point was the money he won in the slot tournament. But that's another story -- his. He was gracious about sharing the winnings).

I can safely say I and my tobacco-reeking clothes were happy to come home, but happy we showed the kids a good ol' family time in Vegas ... despite the police search!

1 comment:

William V. Madison said...

I've been to Las Vegas several times on reporting trips, and each time, the locals brag about the ease and thoroughness with which the city reinvents itself. My last trip there (New Year's 1999), the Luxury Destination phase was in full swing, marked by the rise of the faux cityscapes; the Family era was on the decline, though a few places still claimed to be kid-friendly. Your experience reflects what struck me: how kid-friendly can a casino be?

Yet it sounds as if you coped really well, and quality time with grandparents is a blessing, any place.