I’ve had some great travel with TNP. New Orleans, twice. Both great. San Francisco? Amazeballs. Chicago? Awesome. So when I was offered the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to (wo)man a table at a meeting for Hospital Pharmacists* I tripped over myself leaping at the chance. It’s been a while, and I was eager to get back.
The itinerary was:
- fly in on Saturday
- exhibit on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday
- sleep on a 12:45am red eye flight home (via a layover in Minneapolis/St. Paul.) Wednesday morning
- sleep at home Wednesday afternoon
- head back to work on Thursday, refreshed and tan.
I shipped my exhibit box out on Tuesday, via FedEx 3-day saver. It was supposed to arrive at the Mirage by Friday at 4:30pm. I’d sashay in on Saturday afternoon, check in, putter around, and get a great night’s sleep. Sunday morning I’d get the box, set up the table and exhibit like a champ.
Mmm. The first indication of trouble was when the box decided to stay in Memphis, TN for the entire day Thursday and didn’t leave for Las Vegas until 3:47pm Friday. I thought there still might be a chance, with a speedy flight and the time difference, that the box would make it to the Mirage later that night. For the first time ever, FedEx let me down. It arrived in Las Vegas at 4:51pm, and was sent to the local facility at 10:17pm. Three-day saver doesn’t include Saturday delivery.
I flew out Saturday morning, connected in MSP without incident, and arrived on time to Las Vegas. It took forever to get on my pre-reserved shuttle to the Mirage, and I didn’t get to the hotel until after 5pm. By then, the FedEx offices were closed, not to reopen until Monday. UGH. I was irritated. If this was my first solo meeting, I think I would have panicked. Instead, I called FedEx as soon as I got to the room and asked for the box to be delivered first thing Monday morning. They were happy to do that, since nobody could explain why it sat in Memphis all that time. I found a Walgreens across the street and purchased a large bag of candy. Meeting-goers LOVE candy. I was dead tired, so I ate at the buffet and passed out.
The next morning, I printed off a few things at the Mirage’s business center and got the table set up as best I could. During the break I had a pedicure and bought a ticket to see Boyz II Men at the Mirage’s theater. When I was done exhibiting for the day, I ate at the buffet (again) and got dressed to the nines. That’s something I didn’t remember from 2006 – it’s really easy to look like a bum if you’re not dressed up.
The show was phenomenal. I saw them when they opened for NKOTB last year. With an entire show to themselves, they showed off a lot more versatility. They performed a tribute to Motown which even got the comped older people on their feet. And they handed out roses during I’ll Make Love to You. I rumbled down the aisle to try and snag one, but I was a few seconds too late. It’s okay. I have great pictures. 🙂
And then I sidled up to the roulette table. I LOVE to gamble. I love gambling so much that I don’t gamble anymore, if you catch my drift. But WM and I agreed that I’d take $200 to play with. By the time my trip was over I was up $264, all from roulette. (I also turned $20 from my mom into $45 on slots.) Number 23 has always been good to me. Before I went to bed, I watched the Mirage volcano show. Explosions every 30 minutes! My throat was sore, but I chalked it up to the dry air and all of the smoke.
On Monday I woke up with a small cough. The exhibit hall’s start time was 10am but when I went down there at 9:00am there was still no exhibit box. I gave up and called my manager back in Philly to ask him to call FedEx and track down the box. It finally showed up at 11:30 and I had the table set up by noon. Not bad, but that was half of the exhibiting time on Monday gone. As I predicted, the candy was a huge hit.
After work, I went back to Walgreens and bought cough drops, because my cough was intensifying. At this point I knew I was getting sick. But what could I do? I lay by the pool for a bit trying to get enough Vitamin D to scorch out the germs. Then I had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen (so adventurous) and hit the High Roller, which is a brand new Ferris – I mean OBSERVATION wheel – on the strip. It was $34.95 to ride, but it was a half-hour long and I am a sucker for HUGE Ferris wheels. I bought a cupcake at Sprinkles, but by the time I got back to my room, I fell asleep without eating it.
Tuesday morning I felt AWFUL. Definitely a chest cold. Because I was due to check out by 11am and the shuttle to take me to the airport wasn’t picking me up until 10:45pm, I originally made plans with a college friend to have dinner at his house. But since I was bona fide sick and he has little kids, I cancelled. It was the right thing to do but I’m still bummed about that. I dragged ass to the lobby at 8am and asked for an extended checkout. The woman at the front desk said that extended checkout cost $79 and lasted ’til 6pm, but she’d make a note to extend it ’til 9pm. OH THANK GOD.
I muddled through the exhibiting and probably infected five dozen pharmacists in the process. (Ironically, I was giving away hand sanitizer. I should have told them all to use it.) Packed the box up, arranged to ship it home, and then went back to Walgreens. (Again.) The pharmacist recommended Advil Cold and Sinus to dry me up before the flight. Looking back, I should have seen a doc at their in-store healthcare clinic. Instead, I decided to be a dumb tourist and see the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
That was a VERY BAD DECISION. If you don’t have a car, don’t visit the damn sign. Seriously. I took a bus to Mandalay Bay which is the last casino on that side of the strip. The Internet said the sign was a short walk. And yeah, it’s a short walk. But it was 97 degrees without a cloud in the sky and it was the hottest 20-minute walk in my life. Stupid me. When I finally arrived, the sign was was much smaller than I thought and there was a line to have your picture taken. Screw that. I selfied and started back. I was dragging so hard that I grabbed a water at a dinky Subway halfway to the bus stop. Once I got on the bus, it was another half-hour ride back to the Mirage. I collapsed in my room. I took a shower. I napped.
Knock at the door at 4pm. It was someone from housekeeping, wondering why I was still there. I explained I had late checkout, and she said I had to call the front desk and confirm it, or else they would continue to try and clean my room. (??) So I called, confirmed I was there ’til 9, and they stopped sending Housekeeping. Napped again. The phone rang at 6:15pm. It was the front desk, wondering why I was still there. With what little voice I had left, I explained I was there ’til 9. Did I have the name of the woman I spoke to at 8am that morning. No. After 10 minutes on the phone, they let me stay. I packed my bags, set my alarm for 8:45pm, and tried to nap. At 8:30 there was a knock on the door. Two Mirage employees were there asking if I was okay. They still had no record of the 9pm checkout, so according to them I was supposed to be gone two hours ago. I was tired of fighting, so I smoothed my hair, grabbed my bags and left.
I checked my bag at bell services, cashed my chips, and slumped at Starbucks. I sucked down Iced Chai Lattes for an hour and a half surfing the web. The shuttle came on time, and I said goodbye to the strip.
I flew home without incident, except that the pressurization pushed all of the fluid into my ears and I lost hearing in my right ear. I had a 90-minute layover in MSP again, so I had another giant Iced Chai and wished for a time machine. I was a sorry, sorry, traveler. When I finally landed in Philadelphia at 10am Wednesday morning, the first thing I did was call my doctor and get an appointment. My souvenirs were asthmatic bronchitis, a double ear infection, and a note to stay home from work ’til Monday.
Today is Sunday, and I am still coughing. Viva Las Vegas!
* For the long-time stalker/readers: The irony of this was not lost on me. No BvP sightings. If I had, though, I probably would have dragged him to Walgreens.