We have not been to Vegas in a year and a half, which is a lifetime to Joe. He thinks two or three times a year is practically a minimum requirement. A couple of weeks ago he found out that he has two compressed disks in his back which are causing severe sciatica. He can barely get around. Muscle relaxers, pain pills, Jack Daniels and black jack. What could possibly go wrong?
Tres and Julia met us there. I’ve been friends with Julia for 24 years and I’ve lost count of the number of trips we’ve shared. She is family and I have missed her immensely since my move to Midland. Happily, we scored an upgrade to a two bedroom Salon Suite at the Encore Towers…approximately 3100 sq ft of luxury. My first trip to Vegas with Julia was a girl trip at least 20 years ago. All four of us shared a small double queen room at the Excalibur. We’ve come a long way, baby. Digs like this can spoil you. The first time we stayed in a Salon Suite, it was an unexpected upgrade and Joe warned me not to get spoiled to it. Now he is all Mr. Are-There-Any-Upgrades-Available. So far it’s worked out well for us.
Left to our own devices, Joe and my typical trip to Vegas consists of roaming around, a little black jack, a few drinks, a lot of dining, usually ending up someplace dangerous like the Forum Shops. We rarely have a plan and there seems to be a lot of sleeping in and “What do you want to do today?” “I don’t know. what do you want to do?” Besides a few favorite eating spots, we’re pretty loose in the planning department.
Keeping with tradition, we kept the dining portion of our trip, with stops at Capital Grille, Cabo Wabo Cantina and Mesa Grill. We enjoyed filets and rib eyes, scallops, two kinds of calamari, three kinds of ceviche and creme brûlée. In fact, we pretty much ate non-stop, because you don’t want to drink on an empty stomach. On our way home, sitting in a little Mexican joint at McCarran airport, and mind you, at 1 o’clock we had already eaten twice that day, the following conversation occurred. Joe: Do you want anything to eat? Nachos? Me: No thanks. Joe: Chips and salsa? Me: No, I’m good. Joe: Ceviche? Because you know, airport ceviche is really the king of the ceviches. Always marry a man that can make you laugh.
Anyway, back to the trip, Tres and Julia saved us from our aimless wandering by booking a helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and the Vegas Strip.
Every time I’ve flown a commercial airplane close enough to see the Grand Canyon I’ve thought to myself what a sight it is to see. It never gets old, but 30,000 feet above is as close as I’ve ever been. I’ve often thought that the first settlers, when reaching the eastern rim in their covered wagons, must have thought to themselves some version of, “Well, crap” or “You have got to be kidding me.”
Seeing the Canyon by helicopter is truly something to behold. The colors and sheer magnitude leave you in awe. In a word, spectacular. It’s one of those things that remind you of your insignificance in the face of God’s creation. And yet, in spite of our seeming insignificance, I think about the 24 year friendship that brought me here. I think about 24 years of places I would not have seen, adventures I wouldn’t have experienced and laughter I wouldn’t have shared if not for one special friend. That is not insignificant, not insignificant at all. That is important. It is the stuff of life. The helicopter ride was a highlight, but not the only highlight, not even the most important highlight…and I am truly thankful for that.