As Adults In Vegas

Alice L. Luckhart

© Copyright 2005 by Alice L. Luckhart


 It centers on a typical American family but all the individuals are grown adults. They decided to take a family vacation and include the mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. The trip had five adults ranging in age from 46 to 80 years old and all from Florida. The family adventure’s focal point was none other than Las Vegas, Nevada, the city that never sleeps. The article relates the unusual and funny mishaps the individuals enjoy in this adult playground. They were there five days but the story does give the reader a sense of what it was like among the lights and glittery that is truly Vegas.

 The Las Vegas weather for September was pleasurable with very clear blue skies, so different from the cloudy afternoons with summer rains we left in Florida. Even with temperatures being in the low 90’s, it did not feel hot, the humidity a mere 25% compared to Florida‘s 85%. On reaching our hotel entrance, The Luxor Hotel and Casino, there was a wait in several lines to be checked in and assigned rooms. Our small family group consisted of my husband’s sister, her husband, his mother, my husband and myself and so required three rooms. We selected rooms in the Pyramid section, having been there months earlier, we were impressed with the architectural design and shape of these rooms. The family was spread out over two different floors, but this was not a serious problem. We were on the 16th floor; his sister and her husband were on the 10th floor, and Mom in room next door to her daughter. There were four inclinator elevators, one in each corner but each would only go up to certain floors. We managed to get everyone to his or her own rooms and to know where the inclinator elevators were located.

In the evening, we started out exploring beyond our hotel. Using the people mover, we went to the Excalibur Hotel and then over to the New York New York Hotel. Mom was not too thrilled with the people mover, getting on, while traveling or getting off. She held onto one of the two men at all times. We each took care to watch out and assist Mom walking.

 After looking at some of the shops and then getting directions, we went to check out the Manhattan Express, the enormous roller coaster at the New York New York Hotel. As we had approached it from the outside, we could hear the screams of the riders and the crashing sounds as the wheels raced along its tracks. It was open until 11:30 PM and it was 10:30 PM now, so there was plenty of time to ride it at least once, possibly twice. At the entrance was a very small line, so it did not take long before we were placed in the roller coaster cars. My husband and his mom elected not to go on the ride and waited on the sidelines to watch the action. My sister-in-law and I were in the first car, then behind us my brother-in-law and another fellow. The ride workers explained about the different bars, restrains over the shoulders and lap and how to place one’s head securely in the headrest. The man riding with my brother-in-law commented he worked on roller coasters for Disney so this was a busman’s holiday for him. Before it started, I was asked if I screamed on such rides and my immediate firm answer was, “Yes!”. Well, the ride then took off, first climbing and climbing to a very large drop down and then a series of turns to the side and a couple loops where you were totally upside down. It was dark except for the Vegas lights and the headlights of the coaster shining on the tracks ahead. Everything was moving so quickly. The fellows behind me seemed to be calmly talking, comparing this turn and this loop. My seat partner was ecstatic, thrilled and looking forward to each sharp turn the coaster made. I wanted to scream but found it impossible. I could not get the sound out, just an overall feeling of being breathless. The ride had everyone bouncing up and down and from side to side. One’s head and ears banged against the headrest repeatedly. Several times, I felt my earrings had surely dislodged and fallen into the tracks of the coaster, lost forever. Three quarters the way through the ride I was asked, “Are you OK?” I managed a faint, “Ya.” At the conclusion of the ride, the coaster came to an almost sudden stop and then slowly moved into the unloading platform. We needed assistance to get out of the car. Everyone’s legs were more than a little shaky. Right in front was a photo of each car’s riders at about three-quarters the way through the ride. There were my in-laws smiling away, then I, with no color to my face, just an expression of terror. We purchased a copy of the photo and met up with the rest of the family. Everyone agreed it was a frightening experience but my sister-in law and her husband especially loved it! For me, I stated once was enough!

 For the remainder of the evening we played in a couple different casinos, all of us trying our hand at several different slot machines. It seemed like my sister-in-law had a “magic touch”, just about every machine paid off for her. The rest of us just kept on “feeding those machines” until we all decided it was time to call it a night.

 It was great to sleep in a little late the next day. Therefore, everyone took his or her time before meeting for brunch. Among the five of us was a debate of whether to have a meal at the Pyramid Cafe or in the Hotel’s buffet. After seeing the very long line for the buffet, the Cafe was the next best choice. Afterwards, everyone was ready by 11 AM to head to the Excalibur Hotel to catch the new monorail tram for the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It was a beautiful new hotel inside and had a colossal casino. In each casino, we would go to for the grand prize of a great looking new car. Therefore, everyone sat at the quarter machines surrounding the car to see what he or she could do. Mom had some early winnings, 100 quarters at a time, but put it all back and lost them. My husband and I couldn‘t manage to win at any machine. However, there were my in-laws, each on a different machine, winning every time they pulled the slot machine arm. If some of us went away for a little break, on our return their winnings had skyrocketed but not the right combination to win a car. The only diversion was when female drink servers in the casino caught the fellows’ attention. At one point, the men were trying to talk to us and could not get complete sentences or even words that made any sense out of their mouths, just as the scanty dressed servers promenaded by.

 In the afternoon at the MGM Grand Hotel, we explored its wild life exhibits and movie themes. We walked towards the casino to play a few quarter machines for the chance of winning a Vipor car. Again, the same two individuals won money, just not the right mixture for a new car. We were splitting up for the evening as my husband was taking his mom to see a live Wayne Newton performance. The rest of us were on our own to explore and go to other locations for the evening. We went out the majestic front lobby of the MGM, walked along the sidewalks, and then traveled the highway crossover to the Tropicana Hotel. There was a free pull for prizes at the entrance, but no one won anything. Handed to us was a coupon for a free deck of playing cards. We went to the counter to pick the cards up and inquired about the car the Tropicana might have to win. What we did not know was that the car was won last summer and they had not replaced it. Instead, they had a clear vault filled with 10 million dollars that you could try to figure out the combination to the vault lock and win the money. No one was interested in staying if there was no car to win, forget about the cold hard cash prize.

 It was decided to go back to the Mandalay Bay casino for the evening. Trying the same quarter machines that had been very successful earlier in the day were now not paying off at all. Therefore, we moved over to the nickel machines. Now the machines were paying off again, but just for the in-laws. The machine my brother-in-law used next to his wife had already paid 800 and 600 nickels to a fellow before he sat down there. Immediately my brother-in-law was running it up to over 1300 nickels. Well, I am thinking if I sit right next to them, maybe a little good luck will rub off but no, I continued to lose. At one point, my brother-in-law took pity on me and slipped a $5 bill into my machine to allow another chance. However, it still did not pay off.

We awoke the next day to cloudy skies and by the time, we finished dressing it was lightly raining. It was interesting to watch the rain drops speed down the slanted Pyramid windows at a swift pace. The family met for breakfast at the Cafe. We discussed our plans for the day which including a visit to the northern end of the Vegas Strip for shows.

The five of us made our plans on how to get to the northern end of the Strip but each way we tried to catch the Las Vegas trolley we met with a dead end. With time flying by, especially to see the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, it was decided to take a taxi to the Hilton and to the other places; we needed to get to that afternoon. There were several shops we wanted to visit so a taxi was haled and we were off. We would meet at the Stratosphere Hotel. While there, only my brother-in-law went the distance up the Hotel’s gigantic tower to look over the city’s skyline. Besides being a great view, it did make you a little “nervous” to lean over the edge and look down. There was also the 4 PM “Viva Las Vegas” show in the hotel. We had fairly good seats. The show was comprised of showgirls, comedians and a singer. The two comedians, especially “Big John” were the best and just kept everyone laughing. Even through my husband and I had seen the show at an earlier visit could not stop laughing over some of the things said by the comedians.

As the five of us walked along the shops in the Stratosphere, my husband pointed out a merchant / artist who wrote on a grain of rice. My brother-in-law looked over to see for himself and then walked back saying, “Is there really much call for that?” Well, that just cracked the fellows up and there was no holding these two back as they bounced that comment back and forth. The rest of us ladies chuckled also but still kept about six feet behind the boys.

 Outside the Stratosphere, we were able to catch the Las Vegas trolley. The fare had gone up from $1.40 per person to $1.50 per person since we had been there nine months earlier. The weather had cleared now but this would save a good deal of walking to our next stop, the Circus Circus Hotel. We entered into the casino first but thought we would have dinner first. Spotting a cafe and a small line to enter, we waited and waited but no one was being seated. There were available tables visible but no hostess. My brother-in-law became impatient and bypassed the other waiting people to find a hostess. A waitress told him, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to get back in line. With that, he suggested we find another place for dinner. Next, we came to the hotel’s buffet but that line went on forever. Checking out different maps posted and watching for signs, we approached another restaurant with a short line and a visible hostess. The menu posted was to everyone’s liking, including the prices. Within a minute or two, we were seated at a very large booth, which gave everyone plenty of elbowroom. We had great dinners of prime rib, pork chops, and spaghetti.

After dinner, we thought we would locate the Circus Circus Domed Adventure area. We found it, only it had closed at 6 PM and it was now 6:20 PM. Looking in via the iron gates one could see the indoor roller coaster and the log ride. Oh well, another thing we missed. It took us a while to find our way up to a level for the live circus acts that went on about every half hour. Once there we got seats and waited for the show to start in about 10 minutes. It was animal act, about six to eight house cats and one dog. The performance was very good but a little hard to see when the animals were on the stage level. The ringmaster stated all the animals had been rescued from the local pound. Another circus act was scheduled in half an hour. That gave several of us a chance to walk around the surrounding carnival area. Again, my brother-in-law elected to meet us back at the entrance of the circus acts. He wanted to try the slot machines at Circus Circus. When he rejoined the group, he announced he had won on these machines also, just within a 20-minute span. The next act was a girl who twisted, turned, and rolled in the air while being hung by her long dark hair. What was even more amazing was that she was not unsteady on her feet once she was back on the solid stage after being hung in the air for 10 minutes. It seems just one roller coaster ride can make some of us a bit unsteady.

 Making our way through the casino, we watched a woman put in a $1.00 at a gigantic slot machine. On her first or second pull, she won about $90.00. She put another dollar into the machine but did not win this time. Before she had a chance to put more money in, a gentleman (possibly her husband) comes over to her telling to stop and collect her winnings, which she then proceeded to do.

 Just as we exited Circus Circus, the Las Vegas trolley pulls up in the loading zone and we jumped on the trolley. It was a slow bumpy ride south on the Strip but all the lights of the Hotels were shining. The driver was pointing out several of the hotels especially as he made various stops. The trolley was fairly full but a few more people managed to find seats. We got off at the Mandalay Bay stop and entered into their lobby area. We saw other sections of the Hotel we had not seen yet. It was very beautiful, decorated in marble and crystal with a waterfall as a backdrop to a staircase. Continuing through another part of the casino, we were trying to follow the signs to the walkway between the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the Luxor Hotel. Mom needed to stop and rest while we were still in the casino area. As we took some seats, I casually mentioned to my winning brother-in-law, “Why don’t you try and win $50 dollars while we are waiting?” He then proceeded on the other side from where were seated. Within less that 20 seconds he calls over to me, “Hand me a bucket!” Everyone races from their seats to the other side to see him playing a $1.00 machine and on one pull had just won $90 dollars. We all took turns looking at the Hotel slot machine coins, each one representing a dollar. He gathered the coins up telling us how he only had put one dollar in the machine. Everyone just rolled his or her eyes in disbelief and amazement. With the coins turned into green paper cash, we proceeded back to the Luxor. Later his wife told the story that after having played the slot machines so long put a $5.00 bill in a machine thinking she had 100 credits when in reality she had one credit. The machine was a $ 5.00 slot machine rather than a 5-cent machine which she thought she was using. With only one try, there was no win this time.

 Over breakfast, the next morning plans were made for the day. We headed through the Excalibur and across the crossover to the Tropicana Hotel. We proceeded into the Tropicana to the vault with 10 million dollars in cash. It was decided to stay a while and play some nickel machines even if there was no car to be won. This time everyone was having some winnings, nothing on a large scale, but at least ahead. Only my brother-in-law needed special assistance, he won so much, he had emptied the machine of nickels and the cashier had to refill it.

To the East Side of the Tropicana Hotel, the Las Vegas trolley could be boarded. It was a full trolley and those of us standing had to hold on for dear life as we bounced along some of the side roads. Our stop was to The Venetian Hotel, one of the newest hotels on the Strip. This was where we headed only we were not at the front door. Without many directions to go by we made our way via the parking garage of The Venetian, up one level by elevator, then across a walkway to some double doors. We felt as if we were entering by way of the service entrance. Once inside we kept watching for signs and maps to see where we were. We came to the Hotel’s shopping area, which had canals winding alongside the shops and restaurants. Gondolas traveled the canals carrying passengers and operated by singing gondola drivers. We tried to find a suitable cafe or restaurant but nothing seemed to our liking. We finally found the Hotel’s version of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. It was much smaller than the true Square but you still got a sense of being in Venice. There was a restaurant right in the Square, so we decided to eat there. This was the area where passengers boarded the gondolas for $10.00 per person. The ceiling had the domed sky effect, rotating a morning, afternoon and evening sky within a few hours.

After a relaxing lunch, we wandered around to other areas within The Venetian. There were many beautiful reproductions of Italy’s greatest artistic works all along the walls and covering the ceiling in the main entrance. At one point we were about to descend the escalator to the casino, my brother-in-law first, when the rest of us spotted the large glass doors that opened onto the second level overlooking the front entrance. Too late, he could not get back up and had to go the full distance down and then around to the ascending escalator. We all stood out on the upper level to look over the Vegas Strip. The Mirage and Treasure Island Hotels were right across from the Venetian Hotel. Additional canals were below us and on the hour the bell in the tower was rung and doves or pigeons were released over the outside front palazzo. It was a beautiful sight. We headed back in to the main lobby area first going in the great hall between the casino and the lobby. The interior decorating was quite majestic with its rich carpets, flowers and crystal chandeliers. The Venetian Hotel was extremely impressive. On reaching, the outside from the grand lobby there was a line waiting for taxicabs. It was about 6:20 PM, so many were going to dinner outside the Hotel. The wait was not too long as the Hotel had attendants to move passengers and taxis along very quickly. On our way back to the Luxor, we did get to see the fantastic performance of the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel.

The next day was our flight back home after a few great days in Vegas. In this city playground for adults there was still so much to see and do, we hardly scratched the many layers to Vegas. Before leaving, the family had one last opportunity with the slot machines at the airport gates. Again, the in-laws walked away winners. However, a good time was had by all in the city that never sleeps.

I am a Florida native and a graduate of Florida State University. In Stuart, Florida between 1972 - 1990, I was a 7th grade social studies teacher. In 1983 I married a fellow teacher and we both ran the family business after his father’s death in 1984. The business was sold in 2000 and I was then able to pursue my interests of genealogical research and nonfiction writing.

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